Alta Via 2 - shadowplay

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edhyatt
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Alta Via 2 - shadowplay

Post by edhyatt » Sun Aug 19, 2018 2:09 pm

Did I give up too much?

Probably; I know it is hard to get things back and easy not to try.

That’s where I started.

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Alta Via 2: a playground of the mind that chooses itself as flights were booked and wedding celebrations are afoot (not mine); not the original plan, but as it transpires, not a bad choice.

A good choice.

Not too hard (marriage? the route?), certainly not easy. Apprehension and self-belief are the main obstacles as ever.

Ski run climbs feed the easy choice of the Polse cable car, whisking me 600m into the day in minutes.

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It’s really not real yet, nothing tested.

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Elements are in fact quite unreal; here’s Mr Pretende(shush)…

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But these look real.

Memory and consciousness roil in response.

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The Forcella de Putia (2357m) looms ahead after a short road stretch. I can feel the hunger, its altitude….around 2300m is where it hits me (alas)…higher and the chest gets a little squeezed.

It is what it is but always takes me by surprise.

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The malevolent bud.

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Final ramps to a well-trod col.

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Then life becomes very fine, traversing at 2300m past a popular hut and down to a smaller establishment I’d hoped to bivvy at (it was not to be).

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At the aforementioned Megaldes-Alm I stop for a snack.

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No bivvying. Oh well. The sleeping area is OK, only five others, well separated. It’s even fun (fie!) to chat to them and pop out to watch the sunset together.

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Sandra who runs this place does a great job. The food is organic. They have a cow for fresh milk and yoghurt making. It’s a cool place.

They have wine.

Wine they have.

A woman tries to recruit me as a guide; one dissimulates.

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I’m awake early as ever; all others slumber. Fool around in dewy grass until I feel it is polite breakfast time.

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Yeah…right..

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The view over the next pass looked a tad intimidating yesterday evening; little better today with early mist swirling amidst austere towers whilst the valley is cloaked.

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I love the fragility of these things.

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So cute.

So tasty.

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Well, hellooooooo

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It’s damp and chill; perfect for me.

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Yeah, come on if you think you are hard enough.

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Just time for a few Hail Mary’s.

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My hypocrisy knows no bounds.

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As with many things of the mind the real is not as fraught as the imagined.

The transcendence of intelligence.

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Perhaps.

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So scenic.

Top out at the Forcella della Roa (2617m) - heart skipping, lungs collapsed.

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A short but airless climb leads to easy cables.

Fine rock scenery.

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Another cracking traverse through karst landscapes.

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You could eat that valley with a spoon.

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And so, to the Rifugio Puez, a bustling contrast to the sometimes stark plateau.

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Altitude and a lack of leg mettle mean I’m feeling it and this is but a 16km day, or so.

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But the vistas just keep on coming.

Austere. Peaceful. Harsh.

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Blue.

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Your eyes.

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Going left through screes to a small pas…tired as I am it feels big enough at this altitude with this attitude.

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The best view of the day; I can see the hotel.

Were I a guidebook sectioner or lover of huts I’d be relaxing now; but I’m neither. Bivouacs are the preference, but unfamiliar terrain make hotels an easy and fine choice for me, this is where I am heading.

Half-board.

Aperol-Spritz.

Passo Gardena; pretty much replete with posing knobs.

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Valerie the receptionist is fun. She finds me some moisturiser as she thinks I need it (she’s not wrong).

There is a bath.

Nirvana.

And dinner.

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The lovely Valerie books me two puddings as I have a double room.

I think I’m in love.

One must draw a veil over such culinary excess.





Tick tock; part of this trip is for work, a look at the use of technology in outdoor recreation; my resting overnight heart rate is 51. Other metrics are available.

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The initial steep pull up from the tarmac has me gasping, the heart rate evidently means nothing.

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The Val Cetus gorge is imposing.

Mists roil.

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I have a bit of a ‘valley of death’ thing going on in my head.

That unfamiliar apprehension again.

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Again.

This has billing as a hard day - 1300m up, lots of cables, late snow, and nearly 3000m altitude.

The mind; harbinger of doubt.

Far too much middle-class angst.

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Someone has a good sense of the macabre.

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Looking up; one stone kicking party above.

We are going up through that notch.

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Looking down.

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Going through the notch on cables and staples. Not much in the way of exposure. Some uber-fit female duo teams flash past…talking.

Talking?

I can barely breathe FFS.

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Disconcerting when the other team pull on harnesses and ferrata gear.

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Fantastic route. Hard and slow for me with the altitude (touching 2500m at this point, higher later).

Stunning light.

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I don’t stop; plenty to do.

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Path through the left screes to exposed cables, lovely small gorges, open sections, and snow-chocked runnels.

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This woman flies (literally, well) past me; we meet later.

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Pass the 2900+ m highest section of the Alta Via 2 and down into an open and flattish plain.

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Bit tired…so I f*ck up.

Onto a Via Ferrata, oooopsie

Could have gone back; too tired.

Truly folks, this is not wise; bravado aside.

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Really, how hard can it be?

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Well, not technical, but quite ‘exhilarating’ without any kit.

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It popped across the upper section of the face to the right.

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A couple of French women pass by; we chat briefly. They move off and I can hear one saying to the other with scathing tone ‘did you see his shoes; leisure shoes’ – I call after them ‘always the back-stabbing’

So much for entente cordiale.

The Rifugio Boe is swarming (there is an easier way in that I’ll use as an out); really, the contrast between the open spaces and the honeypots is super-elevated.

Someone might have a word (perhaps two) to say about this.

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Oh yes.

A lot of them.

There is a cable car up from the valley.

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There is also a 600m descent of meniscus tearing possibility.

After such a show of superiority one must walk down.

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I meet again the super-fit woman from earlier in the day. We chat a while. She’s fun and a runner; quite something to behold; possibly 40kgs all up.

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And then I am down at the Passo Pordoi (2239m) into Hotel Pordoi (original).

A fine day.

Full of early apprehension.

But getting there.

Legs, mind, and judgement kicking in again. Plodding when I needed to due to altitude.

Feeling a bit more synched with the mountains in mind and body.

All good.

Pieces fall into place when you work on them.

So sorry.

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Creaking again; no turmeric for days.

Breakfast adequate.

But hey this is a half day, this is the flowers day.

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…and so, they begin.

The pics tell it, a fine traverse through a high Alpine grassland. Distraction afforded by a mountain marathon whipping (in some cases) by.

Rather than follow the AV2 I stay high at the end for an even better path (thanks Tom).

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Pass groaning American ‘Gucci’ hikers…feel better about myself; then worse, for feeling better.

Life’s not easy.

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Flying if not flower.

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The Marmolada.

Oh, for some toast.

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Fragrances are so pure in this alpine meadow that you can breathe in the beauty.

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It’s a stunning path; I meet an older guy, I’d guess in his 80s, wandering along, so happy.

Oh yeah.

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….and then I discover a rival to the flourishing kale empires being hacked out from the rural wilderness; I suspect it is bitter, tough and largely suitable for livestock, so quite like kale and its promoters.

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Back to the ski run; a jarring counter to such natural beauty.

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Well, sometimes.

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Having just seen a big black snake a sunning itself, this little fellow holds no fear for me.

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My research ‘collaborators’ wonder what you do when backpacking, little realising what chores must be done. Washing clothes, kit sorting, fettling stuff. If bivvying the list grows.

They have little perception of the privations one endures.

Or at least had until social media temptations subvert mythology.

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Really. I needed it as today starts with a tad of light rain (joy) followed by a stiff 1100m climb.

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The gravel path is no fun but it gains fast and offers no distractions, apart from a pile of steaming shite from one of the 20 or so people I just met who’d descended from a rifugio higher up.

Right on the path.

Adorned with streaked toilet paper.

Really?

Here?

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My resolve has been to do 600m of ascent without a stop; somewhat amazingly I manage this.

After this the path gets wonderfully nice with a sweet ‘WW1 pony grade’ to it.

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Mr Beetle beetles on.

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Switchbacks start.

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Sustenance required.

Protein powder and organic cacao.

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Yep well, Forca Rossa seems appropriate.

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Slipping down the pass is pleasant, verdant greens dominate, meadows to follow; moisture abounds.

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Nature really does its thing here.

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I’d thought to eat at the Rifugio Albergo where the trail meets a track.

Its busy.

Too much for too little in my head at this juncture.

So, a couple of kilometres fast, passing the Sunday walkers to the Passo San Pellegrino (not that Pellegrino) to pizza delight.

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I am sticking to my plan; this is novel.

Booked the Hotel Costabella a week ago after thinking ‘what do I get from taking the bus down to a town when I can chill and do nothing in peace’ – it was a good decision.

I’d stay here again in a moment, I will stay there again when I can.

Thanks, Patritzio for your hospitality.

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I’m not sure what tempts me.

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Underdone pork; applaud a brave chef.

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A rest day of tranquillity.

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Does one walk up through the ski runs?

One does not.

One will be knackered by days end without that added joy.

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The initial ski tracks are in fine scenery, but unrewarding. Kicking off these onto a fine ridge into steeper territory is it.

Hard work but fine travel.

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It gets real.

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Quiet and terrifying in some respects; I never thought this way. Or did I?

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Not really; step up.

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This a wild place of beauty cloaked by my imaginations sense of foreboding.

Rock walls loom and dip, the mind plays tricks and wants more.

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It’s a fine traverse.

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The Rifugio Mulaz at 2571m

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Arrival.

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Bivouac.

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Tomorrow goes through the central notch, it looks scary.

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Dine alone amidst groups; life and social mores are funny.

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Overnight rocks clatter down in dark places.

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Early. Fine night’s sleep with the door open as I prefer.

Light steals in.

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Coffee while waiting for the Rifugio to awake.

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It’s an intimidating start to the day; the dry breakfast being the least of it.

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Tiring pull to the 2841m Passo delle Frangole.

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Rocks bang down nearby.

Fear rises.

Smell the sulphur of the random.

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Easy snow traverses are surprisingly pliable in the early shade; the pull onto the initial ladders is a test of mettle, life spirals away to nothing beneath.

I lean back into the void, fingertips on the rungs, feeling the ridiculous joy of it all.

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What lies above is a slipfest of loose fear and judgement.

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Fight the rising tide.

I think of mortality on occasion in these surrounds. Me. Her. Them.

Still here.

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The camera seldom lies.

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A descent no less scary.

Yet we all know this; where we choose to venture others have trod.

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Its exposed but technically easy; the surrounds, imposing and impending.

Fixed protections cut by rockfall and the winter.

Is there any place better?

Right here?

Right now?

Life flows.

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Breathe.

Why?

The slippy micro-stone and scree descent is no party.

But here you won’t die.

Handy.

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Total hero.

Cloaked in humility.

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My light. My shade.

The light.

Her. Us. Home.

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And drop down to a path that contours to the right.

Frankly the scariest thus far.

A mind game of constant exposure for several kilometres, reaching the cables after such is not a relief, more of a ‘why now’?

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Glance back to what was; we learn from this.

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Yeah; it’s interesting for a while.

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Yep.

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Now.

I don’t mean to preach but will; all in the mind.

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I chat with the French guys from last night’s Rifugio, they are all kitted up with ferrata gear; one is totally psyched – I can see this.

But we are in open space.

Sparse and harsh.

And fantastic.

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The Pedrotti.

Here with my brother years ago on high hut-to-hut routes.

I miss backpacking with him.

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Enough shmaltz, there is pizza.

Car down to the valley; such a dislike of huts I should overcome?

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And an apartment; I can cook for myself.

Joy. The routine of ordering, and too fast service as you are one and so forth is dispatched.

I dislike that.

Back in the Hotel Costabella they thought this through and gave me a fine table – real attention to detail. Most impressive, true thoughtful hospitality.

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And back up.

Austere.

So bright.

Cat 4s required.

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Taking the easy road.

But the wounds don’t affirm that. Slight, but painful.

This variant takes a high-level path late to emerge from snow; but is just possible with a little meandering.

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Breakfast two.

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Some slight technical moments on the way to the col.

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And there it is.

Passo delle Lede 2695m.

The descent looks shite.

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Fragility and beauty in life.

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It has been no fun for 200m, seems more?

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Plane engine debris from a crash in 1961; a lonely place to die.

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There is more wreckage including a machine gun and a plaque down at the Bivacco Minazio.

I trace the rifling with my finger, still sharp.

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I’d thought about staying in the eyrie above the valley with those dead souls, but it will make tomorrow a hard day.

That’s all done for you.

So, to descend.

It’s an evil, steep and treacherous down of over 800m.

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And due to carelessness, I take a fall here; stone is hard people, it stings.

Bad bruising to the upper thigh (arse, physically and metaphorically) and right shoulder rotator cuff a bit torn is my expert diagnosis.

Still giving me trouble; worse than I thought.

These are the culprits (I am going back with a geology hammer).

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But pride and bruised buttocks aside, the trail darts into shaded forests with pine needles underfoot to then cross a river and switchback up to the Rifugio Treviso. The friendly warden allows me to put my tent up behind a small altar; most apposite methinks.

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Waiting for breakfast; coffee on.

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Pull away from the slowly rousing Rifugio to enter forests damp with swirling mists; alas they are not cool, a cloying humidity adds substance to the air.

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One drips.

Or one drip.

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Looking up, somewhere there are the crenulations that mark the 2094m Forcella d’Oltro.

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Its atmospheric. I think I’ve lost most of my body moisture on this 400m ascent.

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Evidently hard enough.

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Quite the gates of delirium.

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Looking forward then back along the final ramp to the forcella.

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Voices through the mists; the French trio who were moving along with me (well, at a slightly faster clip).

Out now onto another steep belvedere, its exposure masked by the swirling mists as a traverse is taken to the south before a 600m descent to the valley, and for me, rest day deux.

A short but memorable morning.

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Another reasonably testing descent (arse intact this time) plunges into the soft green relief of woods and kind paths of leaf mould and detritus.

This is a shade I do not fear to slip into.

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At the Passo Cereda rifugio (no rooms for two nights alas) I sample the tagliatelle and hare in a cream and mustard sauce; oh yeah.

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Then the bus to the unlovely tourist trap of Fiera di Primiero.

If ever a hotel were aptly named.

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OK. I only have four toes.

So what?

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I’m not sure quite why I thought the last couple of days would be a gentle mellowing out of the route as tired and defeated it runs down like an old fighter; but oh no.

Perhaps I should actually read the guidebook, well, if I’d brought it. So, a shock to the system and a real test of mettle, as close as I’ve got to quitting.

Pull away from Passo Cereda.

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Easy lanes (yes, you relaxed too much) lead through forests and rural landscapes before moving up to climb onto the barren flanks of Sasso Undici.

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Makes you want to make bread.

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Looking back towards the Forcella d’Oltro.

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It rises, the journey into oneself.

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Around the corner after the staples and boom, into a vast rotten post glacial bowl of shattered rock and debris.

Scared.

Not often scared; but this, this seems oppressive.

Da da da dah…it’s the final countdown..

There’s a way out…two in fact, one retreats, the other goes forwards.

The razors edge.

Your choice.

Choose wisely.

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The images don’t do it.

There’s a biggish fresh (this season) rockfall ahead, and people, people turning back.

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They are a guided party and are retreating because of the rockfall in the upper section.

Fear rises, landscapes loom.

Squish it down, rest and think. Use your eyes. Brain.

They are wrong the route does not go up it takes the line of weakness following the strata to the left.

Now stop thinking.

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The cables are necessary (that’s a first for me).

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Rockfall.

I see their problem, its trashed the start of the traverse which is now a ball-bearing teeter totter.

It’s their judgement that is off.

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Once committed there is no going back, hard work, heart rate at 165bpm – too much for an old chap.

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The relative sanctity of a more made path is gained.

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I’m totally fecked and creep up the remaining rubble to the 2130m Passo del Comedon.

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At the pass I shake a bit; feel better.

Better than sick to my core.

Nothing compared to other things.

But more real and there; I’ll always wonder why.

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Nothing vanquished in this landscape; my doubts.

Mountains as mirrors, nothing more; everything.

A temporary respite or are we on the way back?

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A reasonably nasty descent follows, relaxation and ease would have been nice, but this is not to be; mind locked in concentration.

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There’s a team heading down to the Bivacco Feltre which sits above a verdant alpine meadow; rain in the air.

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Australians, Brendan, Maxi, and Toby.

We chat awhile while the rain comes down; nice guys. I’ll stay with them for today and tomorrow.

It’s good to have company and a degree of communal decision making.

Still spitting with rain as I head off behind them, soon haul back as one of them is worse with altitude than me; I feel for him.

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Another traverse, again looking unlikely and with some huge exposure to the left.

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The path is a ribbon through rock and grasses.

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At the Refugio Bruno Boz French is a common language. I bivvy up near the winter shelter, and following a fine repast lie in the tent as rain lashes, thunder rolls, and lightning flashes.

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A slow start through woods and wet grass, the boys are behind somewhere, group sloth always outs.

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Yet to the route, a superb traverse once through the first pass, following natural lines of weakness, going where it should, however rare and unlikely it seems.

Follow your instincts.

Run on skills and luck.

Brendan; such modesty.

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A marvellous path that exploits the weaknesses of the mountainside. Steep drop-offs are the norm, this a superbly entertaining start to a day in which the exposure keeps ramping up.

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You can just make out the boys in middle frame.

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We stand for a bit looking at this; where does the route go?

Well, up is the answer; after the initial rock spire (you can discern the switchbacks if you look closely) it rises through the greenery alongside that big slab to jink left on the highest grassy shelf - but you could not tell from looking.

Much is hewn from the mother rock.

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Cut steps after a precipitous narrowing.

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Looking back to yesterday. We came over the far col on the right, crossed the grassy ridge, and dropped down to the refuge. Today we’ve followed the trail alongside the green ridge in front from its central weakness.

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More cut steps; the exposure here is of the ‘don’t think about it’ type.

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The main hazards of the day are behind; but relentless exposure remains.

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Ulp; it hissed, a lot.

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The rest of this day moves into an open area of limestone and meadows, the trail following this ridge then crossing screes to the right before gaining a high valley leading into a fine glacial bowl and after another short climb the Rifugio.

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It’s all downhill from here, tomorrow.

Wine is purchased.

Vast amounts of food are served.

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I could camp if I wanted, but the whole area is covered in cowshite, so instead I go for an unoccupied dorm room.

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My ‘wake at light’ habit means I’m up long before anyone else. Make some coffee outside and watch sunrise.

The breakfast is good (this is a first).

Then down.

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A taxi to Feltre and a train to Belluno; my altered plans mean I don’t need to be in Vittorio Veneto for a couple of days.

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Buy some wedding shoes.

Some joyous clean socks.

Get a haircut.

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Aperol.

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Pizza.

Grappa.

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Wine.

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The Alta Via 2.

Paradise regained?

Perhaps so.

Keep trying.








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austex
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Re: Alta Via 2 - shadowplay

Post by austex » Sun Aug 19, 2018 7:03 pm

OMG Ed. Thanks for the trip reports to places I'll never make. Love the cheeky comments too.^leisure shoes` :lol: Thank you.
Last edited by austex on Sun Aug 19, 2018 8:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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rlown
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Re: Alta Via 2 - shadowplay

Post by rlown » Sun Aug 19, 2018 7:48 pm

Another amazing report. Thanks.

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rightstar76
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Re: Alta Via 2 - shadowplay

Post by rightstar76 » Mon Aug 20, 2018 1:08 am

Ed, it was wise not to come to Lake Tahoe and the PCT. Too much smoke. Where you went in Italy the air was clean. Also, what I am learning from your pictures is the difference between backpacking in the USA and Europe. One example of what makes for a communal dining hall for hikers along the PCT is an Asian to go restaurant in South Lake Tahoe. During the summer, there are usually more than a dozen long distance hikers in line waiting to partake in the inexpensive food. Most scarf it down while standing on the sidewalk before returning for a second helping. I guess that's USA through hiker style eating. :)

I wanted to mention your pictures - there is so much to see and appreciate. Such beauty! It's always a pleasure to look at them and your poetic descriptions. Thanks for sharing.

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gary c.
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Re: Alta Via 2 - shadowplay

Post by gary c. » Mon Aug 20, 2018 2:20 am

Just awesome is what that is. Thanks for taking us along with you.
"On this proud and beautiful mountain we have lived hours of fraternal, warm and exalting nobility. Here for a few days we have ceased to be slaves and have really been men. It is hard to return to servitude."
-- Lionel Terray

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edhyatt
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Re: Alta Via 2 - shadowplay

Post by edhyatt » Mon Aug 20, 2018 8:19 am

Thanks for the comments; its quite a route.

Ah but, I did go to Tahoe...flying the same day they shut the PCT section I was going to do. Went up onto the TRT for a couple of days but it was not great.

Now in Mammoth, heading off for a week or 10 days down to Cottonwood tomorrow; hoping some of the altitude adjustment from the Dolomites has stuck!

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rightstar76
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Re: Alta Via 2 - shadowplay

Post by rightstar76 » Mon Aug 20, 2018 12:35 pm

Hi Ed. The forecast is for cooler weather with the Monsoon moving eastward. Maybe that will mean the smoke gets pushed east too. Could be beautiful blue skies most of the time. Looks like excellent hiking weather on tap. Are you doing the PCT the entire way from Reds Meadow to Horseshoe Meadow (Cottonwood Lakes) or are you going to do a SHR/PCT hybrid? A day hike to Mt. Whitney by any chance?

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edhyatt
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Re: Alta Via 2 - shadowplay

Post by edhyatt » Mon Aug 20, 2018 2:14 pm

Thanks for that, here's hoping :)

PCT all the way, I've done the JMT and Whitney before; hoping to exit over New Army Pass....hoping to cope with the altitude.

I am going in over Duck Pass.

My packs heavy :crybaby:

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cslaght
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Re: Alta Via 2 - shadowplay

Post by cslaght » Mon Aug 20, 2018 3:17 pm

Ed, again, an amazing trip, enjoy your next one!
"The mountains are calling, but can't find my phone"

Charles

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