Whilst it was as delightful as ever in Timperley today, I thought I would take a break from the local Autumn scenes (they will no doubt be kept in reserve for dull winter days to come) and recall one of many Happy Days from this summer.
The picture is one of my favourites, despite tonight being rejected from the shortlist for our 2008 calendar. If any of my readers doesn’t recognise the fabulous outline of the Tre Cime mountains a few miles north of Cortina d’Ampezzo in northern Italy…you have a treat in store. As they are iconic in stature these three peaks arguably provide better views for non-climbers like us than they do for the brave souls who actually try to get to their summits.
And so it was on 16 July 2007 that the five of us parked up at the end of the toll road by Rifugio Auronzo and headed off to Forcella Lavaredo for what has become a traditional self-timed snap. As usual, the sun beat down and we headed on for drinks and ‘apfelstrudel’ at Rif 3 Cime, with more fabulous views. After taking lunch at a small col just beyond the refuge, Julia left to walk around the neat little mountain named Torre Toblino whilst the rest of us donned our Via Ferrata kits for a more sporting traverse of the 2617 metre summit.
I recall, on my last ascent of the VF delle Scalette route, being hassled by aggressive Germans. But the etiquette this year has been impeccable as we have encountered mainly Brits (very courteous) and Italians (prone to coach parties but not deliberately rude or incompetent). And so it was that the Italian party ahead moved aside to let us pass, and it was a delightful, traffic free ascent to the compact summit. I had the place to myself for 30 minutes before the others (they have a more purist technique that if I employed would result in unnecessary injury) arrived, and then we regrouped to descend via the easier Sentiero del Curato Militare Hosp route, leaving the Italians to enjoy the lovely weather on the summit.
Soon we were reunited with Julia outside the chapel next to Rif 3 Cime. There was a sad note on a scrap of paper next to some dried flowers lamenting the death, yesterday, of Silvano, a young man in his 20s.
We continued our stroll around the iconic mountain that continues to exact its toll on human life, despite no longer being a war zone, following the Alta Via 4 route back to Rif Auronzo, past a herd of cows desperately sipping water from the only small stream to be seen.
Compared with the difficulties and the ecstasy and agony of success and failure on Tre Cime, our day had been easy and relaxing, the only stress arising when the car failed due to having had its lights left on all day. And with power needed to release the electric handbrake, it was fortunate that we quickly located a friendly local with jump leads who happily took a break from supping schnapps!
And so it was that we got back to Cortina before the shops shut, and enjoyed a fabulous al fresco meal back at camp, with the usual cold beers and lovely evening light.
A day to remember – and the photos could fill an album.