06 August 21,2010: It’s a Mountain Time – Rifugio Monzino

Finally, on Saturday, August 21, 2010 it was time to take our first hike into the mountains. Back in Boston I picked a path going up towards Monte Bianco (Italian) from Italian side. It was a day trip starting from 1,500m parking lot and going as high as 2,590m at Rifugio Monzino. Just for a comparison Mont Blanc (French) is 4,800m (15,700’) high.

On the way there we stopped at a local supermarket – Supermercato Mont Blanc (Courmayeur) to replenish, and we also took a couple of pictures.  If you scroll the image down, you’ll see the vintage point. Smart people from the supermarket intentionally installed the inspiring view to entice the shoppers.

We started around 10:23 from a giant parking lot near Chalet del Miage (1,569m).  The road is closed with a check point and general public can’t go any further.

After a quick 10 minutes wooded area path number 16 – our path – jumped out to the open to cross many streams running on bear rocks.  After crossing several makeshift wooden bridges we quickly reached a point, where our final destination for today was visible.  It looked very close and within reach.  It was hard to imagine that the hut that we saw was actually 3 hours away.

On the Way to the Mountains – Finally Three More Hours to the Hut Very Beginning – View from the Bridge over Dora di Veny

I picked that trail, because it was marked as Via Ferrate middle portion of the way.  When ropes and ladders finally started, I got disappointed at first, because it was almost unnecessary and not too to steep for that.  But it was only the beginning.  As we get closer to the monolith, the real climbing started, and it would’ve been impossible to go up almost 90 degrees without support of metal steps and metal ropes anchored deep into the rock.

I divided several continuous Via Ferrate(s) (“path of iron”) into three distinct segments: Funny, Serious and Absolutely Necessary.  All the way to the hut there are no obstacles to the eyes, and you can see far in all directions.  The last (and least steep) portion of the trail is going over the ridge, so you can see deep down on both sides.


At 13:22 we reached the hut – Rifugio Monzino.  It was perfectly sunny, low wind, excellent visibility and just enough exercise for the first leg of the walk.  It is all downhill from here.

We took off all our wet clothes and socks to dry on the sun and affix them with stones of various sizes.  We put on all our warm shirts and light coats, because it was altitude of 8,500 feet after all.  Someday we might continue this trip higher, but it would require a multi-day commitment.  But as you know, path up that goes up and up is very tempting indeed.  Mountains are calling for you to return.

In addition to our nuts and chocolate and fruits we ordered some soup, and food and tea.  Prices are very reasonable..  And of course you can stay here overnight.  Bunk beds here are so luxurious, all in fashionable woods, and shiny hardwood floors, and sliding drawers.  Very upscale for the hut.

I tried to put as much as possible into one mural above, but now I think it is not good.  It would need to be replaced later.  It is too small to see the details, but too big to allow for a fast page load.  Anyway, on this collage you can see various signs in Italian, menu on the board, some local flowers; sign with instructions on attaching yourself to a rope with set of latches.  I also included climbing and drinking routines.  Also you can see there is an observation tube – it is apparently free and available at the hut.  But you do not need the tube to observe the massive mountains hanging high in the skies.

We spent a couple of joyful hours at the hut and begun our descent at 15:55.  This time, my wild experience wasn’t too spiritual, because it was too interesting.  When there are too many new interesting things, and views, and events all at the same time, there is no time for a quiet contemplation.  Our run down was great.  It was relaxing, it was fast, it was a sharp drop, it was still very lengthy and we reached the car at 18:20.  So, all in all, it was an excellent 8-hour day trip to the mountains.

We set GPS to go to Turin, and noticed expected arrival time 20:11.  The highway back into the hard of Italy was one tunnel after the other. How many tunnels? 20, 30, 40?  Too many to count.  Instead of going all the way to Torino, we exited at a place called Chatillon, just because we liked the name, and didn’t want to drive too far after that mountain walk.

We quickly found a room at a hotel Albergo Meuble Le Verger with a small parking, with a balcony, refrigerator, breakfast and all for 55€.  And all surrounded by gardens, and flowers and no insects.  It was a little more challenging to find a place to eat with people in it.  But we found a popular eatery (Bar Valdostano) with a very so-so service.  We manage to explain, what we wanted, and they manage to understand, what to bring (27€).  Amazing!  And this is not a touristy place at all.  This was 100% not a tourist destination.  And we loved it.

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Navigate through the List

  1. 01 Preparation for the Swiss Trip in August 2010 (2024/03/04)
  2. 02 August 14-15, 2010: Zurich (2024/03/08)
  3. 03 August 16-17, 2010: Luzern - Bern - Fribourg (2024/03/12)
  4. 04 August 18-19, 2010: Fribourg – Montreux (Nabokov) – Geneva (2024/03/16)
  5. 05 August 20, 2010 - Wake in Switzerland, Eat in France, Sleep in Italy (2024/03/20)
  6. 06 August 21,2010: It’s a Mountain Time – Rifugio Monzino (2024/03/24)
  7. 07 August 22, 2010: Genova – Columbus and Paganini (2024/03/28)
  8. 08 August 23, 2010: Camogli – San Fruttuoso – Portofino and Back (2024/04/04)
  9. 09 August 24, 2010: From Mediterranean to Lake Como and Bellagio (2024/04/08)
  10. 10 August 25, 2010: Around Bellagio - Pescallo, Regatola, S. Giovanni (2024/04/12)
  11. 11 August 26, 2010: Back to Switzerland - Airolo (2024/04/16)
  12. 12 August 27, 2010: St. Gotthard Pass and Lake Lucendro (2024/04/20)
  13. 13 August 28, 2010: Seewen - Rapperswil-Jona - Winkel (2024/04/24)
  14. 14 August 29, 2010: The End - From Zurich to Boston (2024/04/28)


  1. I have always love to explore the road less traveled and this post of yours make me more convinced about going to places that are not packed with tourists! Since I was in my teens, my family and I would do DIY trips and I had a grand time. Yeah, sometimes it’s a bit frustrating if the service is not as good as what you expect but then again, you’re after the adventure, right?

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  2. Wow those images were great. Hope you could have posted more pictures of your trips.

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