Day 10 – Via Ferrata Che Guevara (Monte Casale)

The sun was out and so were we. At the crack of 8am-ish we headed off to find the Via Ferrata Che Guevara, a monster klettersteig north-west of Lago di Cavedine. It was about 1400 vertical metres of climbing with something like 1000 vertical metres of Via Ferrata. The route started near a quarry in the town Pietramurata and proved more difficult than we expected at the beginning. We were worried it might turn into something nasty later on. As we rounded a corner Frauke spied what looked like a rope running up through sheer cliffs. Oh no, we were not sure what to do but as we approached we discovered it was a power cable. Thankfully the hardest sections were at the beginning and it wasn’t long until we were romping up the cliffs.

Taping up fingers (Lago di Garda, Italy) resize Frauke looks up at the cliffs (Lago di Garda, Italy) resize Climbing the klettersteig (Lago di Garda, Italy) resize

Above left: Taping of fingers. The combination of steel wire and sweaty hands caused by the intense heat lead to blisters. We stopped a couple of times along the way to tape our fingers. Above middle: Frauke surveys the route-to-come. Above right: Chris and Frauke tackle the next section.

It really was a sweat-fest and we were guzzling water at a rapid rate. We were happy once we finished the last section and reached the top. It was a little strange. We expected a rough rocky summit with perhaps an Italian flag but instead we came out of the trees onto a vast manicured lawn. At one edge there was someone doing yoga and another relaxing on a rug. Bizarre. We descended by another route and rode back to Torbole. Another good day out.

Cris reaches for ladder (Lago di Garda, Italy) resize Klettersteigers 2 (Lago di Garda, Italy) resize On the cross at the top (Lago di Garda, Italy) resize

Above left: Cris reaches for a ladder half-way up the climb. Above middle: The gang. Above right: We made sure we climbed to the highest point on the mountain.

Day 9 – Monte Stivo mission

We split into two parties for our assault on the Monte Stivo Massif this morning. Frauke and I left first before the intense heat began and we rode on the small very steep road we had taken last time to Santa Barbara. The ascent was far from ideal with nasty nasty bitey flies attacking us. There were vast swarms of them and they managed to bite through our thin protective lycra layer and sink their jaws into our rumps. The only thing we could do was ride/run as hard as we could up the hill flailing appendages in all directions to try and ward off the worst of the swarms.

Just as we were leaving the forest Frauke got a puncture and we feared that we might remain there slowly ravaged by the nasty flies. Luckily we were just far enough out of their feeding zone. Apparently Emily and Chris enjoyed the flies about as much as we did. Later on I received the following text message

“16 July 2010 – 11:24 – Emily Wall – At Santa Barb now. Interesting ride up – flat tyre and flies from hell with demon fangs.”

We met the others a few hundred vertical metres below the summit and Chris convinced us to lug our bikes to the top. Good thing too as there were some premium trails off the back of the summit into another valley. The descent lasted quite some time and had lots of delicious flowing sections, rocky parts, steep technical bits, and plenty of opportunities to hurt ourselves. By the end of it we had all ridden some technical stuff and had executed some marvelous aerial stunts. Frauke walked the last section after landing one too many times on her hand.

At the bottom of the trail we found some tunnels to ride through to top off an already very good route. We cycled back to Arco and ate ice creams, which were well earned after our 12 hour mission.

Frauke, Emily, and Cris carrying there bikes to the top of Monte Stivo (Lago di Garda, Italy) resize Chris descending through forest (Lago di Garda, Italy) resize

Above left: Emily, Frauke, and Cris carry their bikes the last few metres to the summit of Monte Stivo (2058 m). Most of the route to the top had been rideable or semi-rideable and it was just this last section (perhaps 10 minutes) where we carried our bikes. Ok, it looks pretty rideable in the photo doesn’t it? Above right: Chris comes up to a tricky rocky corner.

Girls on bikes (Lago di Garda, Italy) resize Cris flying (Lago di Garda, Italy)

Above left: The girls at the bottom of a section. Above right: Cris is an advert.

Day 8 – Climbing

Frauke and I attempted some climbing near Arco on a slabby rock climbing crag. I say attempted as we were hampered a bit by the weather. The rock was interesting. It was just one large slab with little pocky finger holes. Normally I don’t like that sort of climbing but the rock was at a fairly gentle angle. It was drippingly hot again and this was causing the hampering.

We started up a multi-pitch route on the slab. I lead the first pitch and then tied into the bolted anchor. Frauke climbed up next and anchored also. I lead another pitch and set myself up to belay Frauke again. The rock was ridiculously hot and my feet felt like they were burning. We decided against the third pitch due to it being quite uncomfortable. Instead we abseiled down to the first anchor, tied in, and abseiled back down to the bottom of the climb.

Cris on wall (Lago di Garda, Italy) resize Quick draws on Frauke's harness (Lago di Garda, Italy) resize

Above left: Cris leading the first pitch. Above right: Draws on Frauke’s harness. Below left: Frauke getting ready to abseil. Below right: Cris abseiling.

Frauke with climbing gear on wall (Lago di Garda, Italy) resize Cris abseiling 2 (Lago di Garda, Italy) resize

Emily and Chris had gone off in search of new mountain bike shoes for Chris as one of his broke yesterday. If the time-stamp on the photo below is to be believed (and it is), they were eating ice creams as we sweated in our harnesses at the top of the first pitch.

Chris eating ice cream 2 (Lago di Garda, Italy) resize

Above: Chris and Emily avoided the climbing by eating ice creams and looking for mountain bike shoes. Chris looks particularly pleased with his choice.

After drinking a lot of water we decided to try another climb. I started leading and clipped a couple of bolts before deciding that it was all getting a bit silly. The rock on this climb was black and was unbearably hot. The ambient temperature must have been over 40 degrees and the rock really was hot enough to burn. Crazy. Frauke went up and rescued my draw and we bailed. We rode back to the Gardasee and went swimming. Much more pleasant although the climbing was quite interesting.

In the evening the two of us went for a quick ride up the little hill between Torbole and Riva. Chris and Emily cooked a Chris-and-Emily feast.

Cris descending (Lago di Garda, Italy) resize Frauke and view towards Riva (Lago di Garda, Italy) resize

Above left: Cris descending on a little rocky section during a quick ride in the evening. Above right: Frauke looks out towards the lake from the Riva side of the hill. Below: View out towards the Gardasee.

View towards Riva (Lago di Garda, Italy) resize

Day 6 – Heat, riding, ice creams

We headed up into the hills again and began our day of sweating. Our route took us towards San Giovanni where we rode in June. We turned left onto a little gravel track and rode up it until we were thoroughly toasted. We had a steep descent from Bocca di Tovo (1079m) on loose rocks that was a struggle to ride.  Then we descended by a fun rocky downhill that we’d done last time. Fun fun fun. It was 36 degrees in Riva when we finished and we bought ice creams which promptly melted all over us.

Lift off (Lago di Garda) resize Pink fixers (Lago di Garda) resize

Above left: Cris is sick of riding and decides to try flying. Above right: Emily with her pink fixers. Today was the beginning of a line of punctures.

Below: How not to eat ice-creams. We do our best to eat delicious gelateria ice-cream in the 36 degree heat. Unfortunately our best was not good enough and we ended up with sticky hands and chops.

Eating icecreams (Lago di Garda) resize Frauke starts the impossible task (Lago di Garda) resize Messy 2 (Lago di Garda) resize

In the evening we drove south and picked Chris up from a train station. He’s joining us for the next few days.

Driving through a tunnel (Lago di Garda) resize Emily, Frauke, Cris (Italy) resize

Above left: A tunnel. Who would have thought? Above right: Emily, Frauke, and Cris at the lake further south. It was still very warm at 10pm.