Thursday, 7 July 2011
Thursday 7 July 2011 - An Alpi Marittime Trek, Day 6, Rifugio Pagari (2650m) to San Giacomo (1210m)
Trek Totals - 80km (50 miles), 6000 metres ascent, 40 hours including breaks.
Last night we enjoyed our best meal yet, at the hands of Maria of Pagari. Antipasta > lasagne al forno > polenta with vegetables, carrots and mushrooms, all with exotic flavouring > crostata della casa. Delicious. Vegetarian.
Yesterday's posting was written before dinner, after which despite the apparent presence of a phone signal from time to time, it took until we reached the village of Entracque this afternoon before it finally 'sent' and we received comments from the last day or two. We hope we didn't worry Gillian into thinking we may have come to grief on the high route to Pagari! The guardian there tells us that some years the high route is not possible at all without ice axe and crampons, but in other years the snow may be safe for ordinary pedestrians by mid July. Just now conditions are dangerous, with a layer of hard ice underneath steep soft snow on a 500 metre section of the crossing. Perhaps a rope would also be handy.
Thank you as always for your comments...
Alan, you are so kind! EasyJet to Nice beckons for you and Sheila; we are sure you'd enjoy it here. The opportunities for wild camping are exceptional as well.
Nick, we have Yaktrax Pro footwear. As you surmise, they are good for icy pavements, but also can be kept in a day sack for steep snow and other conditions where more grip is desirable but full mountaineering kit isn't needed. It's important that you test them in order to know their limits. I did that in the Lakes and on Ben Lomond last year and found them to be grippier than expected, but no use on steep ice.
How are you getting on BTW?
Nightbird, I feel ashamed to have distracted you from important work, and also to have found a temporary replacement for you in the 'Famous Five' team. You'll be pleased to hear that the finely tuned restructured team has now been disbanded, but we do hope to have a reunion. Neither Susan nor Helen could match your 'Nightbird' performance, though their ability to cope with steep snow slopes was ... well ... better?
There will of course be a slide show.
We enjoyed muesli for breakfast! If they can do that at the highest rifugio, why not at all of them?
So we set out well fortified on stage 2 of Gillian's walk number 19, the descent to San Giacomo via Lago Bianco del Gelàs.
It started as a sporty route along a narrow rocky path interspersed with steep snow traverses (pictured). Luckily the snow wasn't hard enough to create any particular dramas. The most difficult section was a short traverse across a collapsed gully. After that, a minor route finding dilemma was resolved by following the marked path to Bivacco Moncalieri, as far as Lago Bianco del Gelàs. Here, a family group of ibex watched as we investigated the memorial to a man killed in 1971 whilst working on the construction of a rifugio here.
All that remains of the structure is its concrete base and a few piles of rubble.
But Rif Pagari is about to be extended.
The long descent to San Giacomo was steep but delightful, with 'new' flowers to record and a plethora of butterflies to enjoy. We also saw a ptarmigan and a black grouse, and heard a chiffchaff.
There was nobody else on this route, and little sign of anyone else having been there this season.
The weather teased us by producing a short shower out of nowhere shortly before we reached San Giacomo and the end of this excellent trek, but by the time we reached the café there, we were able to sit outside to enjoy our celebratory platters of meats and cheeses, etc.
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