Monday, 4 July 2011
Sunday 3 July 2011 - An Alpi Marittime Trek, Day 2, Rifugio Livio Bianco (1910m) to Rifugio Questa (2388m)
A fantastic mountain day, the memory of which will stay with me for ever.
I have to be reasonably brief as Rif Questa is a most sociable place and it would be out of order to spend the evening writing the blog. I haven't seen any comments as reception today was virtually non-existent.
Breakfast was sparse, but the sun was shining so we were all happy.
The three of us got off at about 8.30, giving James and Helen a 20 minute lead, which they maintained all day.
A few others were seen on the way up to Lago soprano della Valletta, but none appeared to follow us to Colle della Valletta, where we were greeted by a fantastic array of peaks (pictured), with Monte Viso prominent in the middle distance.
We also enjoyed cloud inversions a plenty today. Lots of photos were taken - enough in one day for an entire slideshow.
The Colletto Est della Paur tried to live up to its name ('fear inducing'), but our Yaktrax crampons made the ascent of the steep snow slope very easy. We could, like James and Helen, have managed without them, but hey, we'd brought them with us so we used them.
After a steep but uneventful descent we glissaded (collecting James's jelly on the way) down to a small lake for lunch. Sue waded out to an iceberg and gave it a good trampling. It nearly sunk!
Well graded former hunting tracks (the Kings of Savoy hunted ibex to near extinction hereabouts) then took us all the way to Rifugio Questa, a small, basic refuge manned by Ennio and Temba. A ten year old stambecco (ibex) resides outside, and a redstart is nesting in the wall of our loft.
On the way here we saw more ibex and chamois at close quarters, together with wonderful displays of wild flowers.
Sue, Susan and James (still in remission from dropping parts of his lunch down a mountain) braved the cold shower, which is housed outside in a tin shack.
Dinner was an excellent hearty mountain soup featuring beans, chickpeas, rice, etc, followed by mashed potato and beef, then chocolate mousse.
There seem to be more than the stated capacity of 20 here, including an Italian couple we saw early this morning. They must have taken 11-12 hours over our 8 hour route. They looked exhausted, and were further dismayed when presented with an 8 foot ladder from which to enter their sleeping quarters from the main room of the quaint Rifugio. Everyone seems to be housed in a loft of some sort.
Earlier, James had commented that the timings in Gillian's book seem generous! Sometimes timings estimates can be a thankless task!
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