Roger Schaeli Forces Exacting Climb Up Little-Known Swiss Mountain

Roger Schaeli’s big new route in Switzerland looks like a gem. And it must be nails hard, because the world-class climber had to aid it to get to the top.

“Tierra Del Fuego” climbs a strikingly direct 600m line up the north face of the little-known Roda Val della Neve (2,682m). It goes at A2+, 6c — for now. Schaeli said after the first ascent that he’s targeting a redpoint bid next summer.


Schaeli’s choice to climb it in impeccable style appears to have forced the aid.

“I deliberately chose a very purist style of climbing: ground up, solo, and trad, bolts only at the belays,” he told (auto-translated).

Schaeli said the difficulties stack up in the first 350m of the route. After that, he said, “Tierra Del Fuego” eases toward the summit.

Tierra del fuego

The line proceeds through the big left-facing flake midway up the wall, then roughly straight towards the summit. Photos: Romano Salis


His mission on Roda Val della Neve, which nestles in southeastern Switzerland, was one of discovery. Schaeli had never heard of the mountain before a friend invited him on another climbing objective elsewhere in the area.

“If you have never heard of Roda Val della Neve, don’t worry! I felt the same way when Tom Barfuss — a good mountaineer friend from the Engadine — asked me to do a multipitch route together in Bregaglia,” he explained.

Five days on the wall

After Schaeli spotted the new line, he found tenuous purchase in a crack system that led him up the wall over five days. On, he called the face it fractures “extraordinarily mighty”. He also noted its compact granite, which “casts its shadow up on the roads of the valley floor”.

roda val della neve

Roda Val della Neve sits on the northeast ridge of Piz Cacciabella, seen here. Photo: Andreas Faessler via Wiki Commons


The route struck him as “cold and hostile”. The foreboding feeling may have borne itself out in other climbers, too — only a few scant routes trace the wall elsewhere, Schaeli’s research showed.

“But what interested me most were the many sections of the wall where no one had ever climbed before. In particular, the direct ascent in the steepest sector of the face attracted my attention. So I immediately made the decision to open a new line,” he said.

The route unlocked, all that remains is to free climb it. Schaeli did not render an estimate of the difficulty. “But for me, it is clear that this will not be [my] last route in this southern Grisons valley,” he said.

roger schaeli

Photo: Romano Salis

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents’ evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.