I remember this trip as one of the classic experiences that you look back on for years to come. Fortunately or unfortunately I did so many great things in Europe that I became a bit overwhelmed with all the blog entries I needed to write. I should have finished this entry earlier. It’s now 2020 and I still haven’t published it. I remember this trip brought me out of the Lindau grey fug and stress just for a weekend which was really healthy.
Leonie and I headed to Italy on Friday afternoon and camped beside the lake Lago di Molveno on the South East side of the Brenta dolomites. It sounds romantic but actually it was a crusty touristy camp ground. However, this was the only crustiness of the whole weekend.
The crustiness did cease on Saturday as we drove around the Brenta Group to Madonna di Campiglio. We grabbed a handy map from the tourist information there and drove up a typically narrow Italian road to a car park at the Rifugio Vallesinella. It was a perfect warm and sunny autumn day. We walked up into the mountains and instead of our original plan of going to the Rifugio Tuckett e Sella, we decided randomly to walk to the Rifugio Maria e Alberto ai Brentei. This was a good thing because it was in the sun until the evening whereas, as we found out later, the other Rifugio spent more time in the shade. Sun is good.
The rifugio was closed for the season but there was still a little bivouac open about 50 metres away. Although it had been a very warm day for the time of year the evening was cold and the sun set early. We discovered a little sign saying “acgua” (water), and I went in search of the liquid. I filled up from a little trickle below the track amongst the stones making it possible to stay the night.
Above: Leonie: Day 2: We drove to Madonna di Campiglio where we parked the car and started hiking to the Rifugio Maria e Alberto ai Brentai with 2 very heavy packs, as the Rifugios had closed for winter and only the bunks in the winter room were open.
Above: The sun on the rocks produced an awesome golden orange colour.
Above: This little bivouac was unlocked and was our base for the weekend.
Above: Our route (more or less…). We didn’t take some of the erratic jumps that the GPS shows. Map from Kompass Wanderkarte.
On Sunday we headed up to another Refugio (Rifugio Alimonta). Leonie rang the large bell near the hut and I took a look at the winter room. Then we headed onwards up a snow field to a saddle and immediately began to climb iron ladders up the rock into the sky. It felt like there was a lot of air below our feet as we climbed. Leonie doesn’t enjoy this sort of thing but she did well. The route was cut into the rock and after the ladder ascent we followed the small walkway dug into the rock around the first corner into intense sun and warmth.
We enjoyed the delicious sun until the first patch of snow in a shady section. There was no rope to clip into as it had likely been buried so instead we used our ice axes and picked our way through the snow trying to avoid looking at the slippery slide into thin air. Other people would probably have not thought twice about it but we were being cautious.
We continued in the sun with great views up to a big rocky spire in the distance. We could see climbers scaling it slowly. More sun, more shade and snow. We continued until we had a steep rocky descent with icy patches. Above us was the huge rock tower. The climbers were descending now. They sent some rocks hurtling down and we waited before crossing underneath.
We reached another small saddle of sorts. I thought the ferrata was over but it continued. I began to worry that we wouldn’t get down before dark when I saw that the route continued and looked pretty dodgy. Steep and lots under snow. It turned out ok though and we continued around until we reached another saddle. and we tried to pick up the pace a bit. We then descended back down to our biv in the dusk and cooked outside.
What I remember the most from that day was the beautiful colours. Golden autumn colours. Super intense orange looking rock in the warm sun.
1) We set off further into the hills to join the Via delle Bochette ferrata.
2) Leonie: The bell at the Rifugio Alimonta. I couldn’t resist – it was way too tempting.
3) The snow was hard as it was still in the morning shade. After crossing part of the snow field we decided to stop and put crampons on for the second part.
4) Arriving at our starting point (Via Ferrata Bocchetta Sentiero)
5) It’s amazing how these paths can be formed. A narrow path hewn from the rock.
Above: Leonie: The next day (day 3) we woke up to lovely weather (very chilly but sunny) and decided to go on a day trip. We therefore hiked to the Rifugio Alimonta from where we took the Via Ferrata Bocchetta Sentiero back to the Rifugio Maria e Alberto ai Brentai. There was some snow and ice on the Via Ferrata which made it a little tricky on the north side, so I was glad to have brought the crampons and ice axe with me.
1) Leonie: The north sides of the Via Ferrata were covered in a lot of snow.
2) The other parts of the via ferrata were free from snow and no problem. The route was very impressive. It’s cut into the rock in places like in this photo.
3) It was warm in the sun. A beautiful day.
1) Such an interesting route. We first heard about this via ferrata after watching a youtube video of some guys trying to take mountain bikes a long here.
2) Leonie: We had been watching climbers ascend the Campanile Alto. Here they are at the top.
Above: It was much cooler in the shade.
1) In the shade we found it difficult to descend due to snow and ice on the rock. The snow was just enough and hard enough to cause you to slide rather than sink in.
2) The route continued with patches of snow across the path.
3) We finished and began descending to the biv.
1) Leonie: The day trip literally took us all day and we arrived at the Rifugio just before dark.
2) The red rocks above the biv looked amazing in the evenings.
3) Us inside the biv in the evening.
On Monday we headed out for another ferrata route towards Refugio Tuckett e Sella. It was another intense hot golden day. The route was not too hard. There was a section with many ladders with a great view down into the valley, which Leonie didn’t like too much but she got through it. We cut the route short though after meeting a section of track completely covered in ice that looked a little tricky. Instead we descended a steep slope to meet the returning track and ate some food in the grass before looping back to the biv.
Above: On Monday we went for another walk in the sun and followed another easy ferrata route.
1) Blue sky and sunshine.
2) The route started in the full power of the sun.
3) Leonie: I did not like this bit going down due to the drop and me having to look down in order to place my feet.
1) Leonie: Meanwhile, Cris was doing fine.
2) Leonie: This section was a little more challenging and gave us the feeling of actually being on a Via Ferrata. We had to climb down several meters and then right up to the top of the mountain on the other side.
Above: Leonie: Luckily we had to climb up way more than down, so all was well 🙂 !
1) Once further along the route we reached parts that spent most of the time in shade.
2) Leonie and our little fire at the biv.
Above: This picture was my desktop picture for quite some time. There’s something nice about being away in the hills, staying in a little hut and making dinner from the supplies you brought with you.
Above: The nights were clear and full of stars.
Above: Our loop complete with little GPS jumps.
On Tuesday we walked back down to the car and drove back to Lindau stopping to look for a rock climbing crag in the autumn forests (and failing to find it).
Above: We walked back down to the car. We still had a good deal of stuff despite having been in the hills for a few nights.