09 August 22,2008 – Back to the Wild – Rifugio Alimonta (2580m)

Friday, August 22 – From Molveno to Rifugio Alimonta

Next morning on Friday, August 22 we were ready with provisions and maps. We were ready to start our ascend.  We parked the car at the end of Via Rio Massò, packed our backpacks and started at 8:53AM.  Our breakfast was at baita Ciclamino [chiclamino] (mountain chalet Ciclamino – 926m) along the line not even 20 minutes into the trip.  This time we had both photo- and video cameras to assist us to memorize the trip.

According to trail markers we needed 5 hours to reach the all important mountain pass and start our first steps on vie ferrate.  It means that our schedule would be very tight.  With all the stops it looked like we would reach pass around 4PM and in another 4 hours we would be in our hut.

Our pass till 11:15AM was along the dirt road.  Finally, at Rifugio Croz dell’Altissimo (1480m) all roads are ended and we started to climb a real mountain trail up and up into the sky.  Mountain River at this point was completely dry.  Not a drop, not a wet spot.

Our next goal was pass Bocca di Tuckett (Bocca del Tuckett – 2647m) and markers showed 4 hours to the pass.  We both tried to save energy and don’t just run forward.  We both made small calculated steps up.  We did not use any walking sticks. We’ve met only few people on this stretch of the trail and everybody were going down at this point.  Weather remained good and calm.  We still where wearing just minimum of clothing and yet heavily sweating from the climb.

As soon as first ladders started, we had our lunch.  We put all the dry cloth on and hang everything wet on the bushes around.  By 3PM we reached the border of clear and cloudy worlds and decided that we are a few paces away from the pass.  We even saw Movleno all the way down several miles away with its lake and its valley sun.

Climb continued, and we entered a new world – completely quiet, completely obscured from the sun, completely lifeless.  Visibility at this point was only 50m and first snow was waiting for the lovers of winter sports.  Actually snow here remained because sun never reaches these grounds.  Even thousand meters higher all snow is long gone this year due to warm weather, but here it is remained.

Here we found last marker on the stone – red and white and red lines, and stopped, because we did not know where to go next.  Usually path tracks are visible on the snow.  This year all snow is gone and only small stones remained.  I stayed at the last marker and Lira went forward searching for any signs of the trail.  She discovered some stone cones, made of smaller boulders. And we moved in this fashion.  As soon as she discovers some sign of the trail, I will abandon my last post trying to mark it somehow with stones.  And all this, in a complete obscurity of fog.  We only knew that we have to climb, and I knew that we are falling behind our set schedule.  But we couldn’t see what is around us.  We could fill the huge wall of stone going perpendicular up to the right of us and we could hear some water gurgling to the left of us.

Twice I first heard and then saw Italian tourist bellow us.  At first I was glad to hear someone to follow our steps as a proof that we are on the right track, but he was as lost were we, and we could not quite breach the language barrier.  I saw that he did not have any bag or backpack with him.  I understood that he was looking for a passage to Rifugio Pedrotti, that I knew was in perpendicular direction to the way we were going.

All this seemed very strange to me.  When he reappeared for the second time, I thought that it is my death came for me.  But he yield from the bottom one more time is there any signs for Pedrotti, and I yield to check with Lira upstairs is there any pointers for Pedrotti, and of course – nothing.  He said “Chao” for the second time and disappeared in the thick fog forever.

Bocca di Tuckett
We started at 9am - We reached the pass at 5pm Now only 4 more hours to the hut

At 5PM we finally reached (Bocca del Tuckett) Bocca di Tuckett (2648m) and I had a grave concern instead of joy of achievement.  We had a little over 3 hours of day time ahead of us and about 4 hours to reach our destination – Rifugio Alimonta.  Plus we have the most technically challenging and elevated portion of the trail ahead of us.  Or we could start to go down on the other side of the pass to reach Rifugio Tuckett (2272m).  That would be just couple kilometers away, but that would take us completely out of our path with almost no possibility of catch up tomorrow.

I’ve check with Lira and she said that she doesn’t mind half an hour in mountains in a complete darkness.  With that assurance, I’ve decide to press on.  At this point I already was pretty exhausted, but we have no choice, but to continue on.  You can’t quit in the middle of nowhere.

This was famous Vie Ferrate in the Dolomites – Via delle Bocchette Alte.  That was the reason for us to return to these mountains.  And I couldn’t fully enjoy it.  I was tired and under time pressure to arrive to our Refugio at least in the dusk.  We stopped for some pictures and I ate half a bucket of yogurt.  It turns out I was very hungry.  My strength started to return to me.  We continue to climb higher and higher.  Our maximum elevation was possibly 2900m.  The second highest mountain in this area is Cima Brenta is 3150m, and we were right up there.

Around 7:30PM we started a frantic race with time.  It was going down this time.  Every step still has to be precise and calculated, but it is gaping emptiness bellow that we need to reach fast.  One ladder after the other.  And some ladders are starting perpendicular down and getting steeper as they follow the contour of the mountain.

We already saw the ravine that we are about to reach.  It looked smooth and gray, but upon touch down we saw a huge stone field with ups and downs and again – no markings.  Here too, all the show was gone, but this time we had visibility.  This time we saw where we should be going.

We made a small final zigzag and reached our Rifugio Alimonta (2580m) at 8:40PM.  We replace out boots with house slippers, we surrender our US Passports.  They did (!) held our reservations till that late hour.  We landed on a partially occupied table.  And they had food and showers (3€ for 20 litters of water) and some even speak English.

We sat at the tasble with another German couple, exactly as 4 years ago, and we got room named Cima Tosa (pronounced [chima]) and we had only two more people in our room.  And they did not mind an open window.  Perfect, perfect, perfect!

And still, I was overwhelmed by the odds.  I could not sleep.  I was all tense about us climbing at these heights without proper equipment, about our chances tomorrow to reach Molveno safely.  I was replaying the dangers of falling, and dangers of getting lost, and I was craving the safety of city life.

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Navigate through the List

  1. 01 European Trip 2008 to Austria and Italy – Preparations (2017/05/31)
  2. 02 Trip to Austria and Italy – August 13-14 – First Steps in Wien (2017/06/04)
  3. 03 Trip to Austria and Italy – August 15, 2008 – Wien (2017/06/08)
  4. 04 Trip to Austria and Italy – August 16, 2008 – Wien (2017/06/12)
  5. 05 Trip to Austria and Italy – August 17, 2008 – Salzburg (2017/06/16)
  6. 06 Trip to Austria and Italy – August 18, 2008 – Ice Caves (2017/06/20)
  7. 07 August 19, 2008 - Crossing Into Italy - Cortina d'Ampezzo (2017/06/24)
  8. 08 Austria and Italy – August 20-21, 2008 – Crossing the Alps (2017/06/28)
  9. 09 August 22,2008 – Back to the Wild - Rifugio Alimonta (2580m) (2017/07/01)
  10. 10 Austria and Italy – August 23-24, 2008 – Overwhelmed (2017/07/05)
  11. 11 Austria and Italy 2008 – August 25 – Venezia I (2017/07/09)
  12. 12 Trip to Austria and Italy – August 26-27 – Venezia II (2017/07/13)
  13. 13 Trip to Austria and Italy – August 28 – Back to Wien (2017/07/17)
  14. 14 Trip to Austria and Italy – August 29 – Back to Boston (2017/07/21)

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