Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Saturday 19 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 23 - Badia (Pedraces) to campsite at Lanzada in Val Malenco


 
Most of our group left early, so last night was full of goodbyes after an excellent week at Collett's Haus Valentin chalet. Today we bid farewell to the remainder, and to Collett's helpful staff - Cam, Claire, Ed, Henry, Poppy and Will. Plus one. Thanks to them all for helping to make the week a success.

By 10.00 Sue and I were on the road again, this time heading to new ground for us, Val Malenco.

Passo Gardena to Bolzano was slow going, then we picked up supplies in Silandro, soon after which a quiet apple orchard provided a good lunch stop, the only difficulty being that both Sue's supermarket apples were rotten, as were many of those in the orchard. 

Then a classic journey over the Stelvio Pass, where it was Sue's turn to drive - she remembered that it was me who had the honour last time. There was much jostling for position with motorists and cyclists, with motorbikes whizzing everywhere. Luckily I was driving by the time we needed to reverse up a tunnel on the descent. Today's pictures were taken at the pass.

At Sondrio, one of a number of nondescript towns in a nondescript valley - the Adda - we turned right up Val Malenco, reaching the campsite at Lanzada at the second attempt, around 6pm. A long journey, especially considering it was well under 200 miles in distance.  The campsite is not a great place but as far as we can tell it's the only site in this long valley.  The power station next door provides a hum that drowns the sound of the river that is full of melt water - today's temperatures were in the mid thirties. There's also the music from the climbing wall behind which there is space on the campsite for half a dozen tents. I don't think ours will be here tomorrow night. 

Actually, as I write, the sounds of the insects and the children playing is nicely overlaying the power station's humming noise.

We've enjoyed an al fresco meal from salad ingredients purchased en route, and beers from the campsite's bar, in the shadow of the Bernina Alps that tower above us. It has been hot and hazy today, with cloud building, but it's a very pleasant evening here in northern Italy.

Here's a slideshow for the day (21 images)
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Friday, 18 July 2014

Friday 18 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 22 - A Walk from Haus Valentin


 
For our last day with Collett's at Haus Valentin we hid the car and Sue left with Susan and Roy to do the classic Tridentina Via Ferrata.

They had a great day out. 

Meanwhile, I took the chairlift to La Crusc together with Mike, Gary and Jenny, and Mick and Gayle. .
It was a lovely ride, and great to arrive at the top café just as the sun appeared from behind the Fanes to warm the outside seating.

Andrew, Mike, Karen and Alan appeared from differing directions and set off towards the north. 

A couple of cappuccinos later the rest of us set off down path 15 on the start of our journey to San Cassiano. It was a lovely day with fabulous views and just a few fluffy clouds. 

Sass de Putia, yesterday's summit, was shining in the near distance (pictured - top), and there were fine views to the Marmolada and Piz Boe summits, the former of which was reached by Ken today.

Satiated with the views, we (I) missed path 12A, so we headed instead up path 12 to do a loop that took in the missed path. Albeit that involved an unexpected 300 metre ascent. 

After elevenses then lunch, both with fine panoramic views, we continued down paths 15 and 15A, to reach the valley to the east of San Cassiano, from where we strolled down to La Villa on the route taken last Sunday. 

The sun continued to beat down as we passed some lurid sculptures and interrupted a slow worm's sunbathing schedule. 

Our 21 km stroll with 500 metres ascent concluded with the riverside walk from La Villa to Badia (aka Pedraces), where the Tridentina team plus Bob and Margaret joined Mike and me at Ricky's excellent shop for celebratory cake and ice cream at 4.30. Meanwhile Jenny was admiring her pedometer's total of 36000 steps for the day - her best tally all week. 

Then it was back to Haus Valentin for a lovely evening with our entire team of nineteen, and miscellaneous other folk.

The two lower photos were taken during the course of the evening, which concluded with some reluctant goodbyes as many of the team need to leave early for home in the morning.

Here's a slideshow for the day (55 images)
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Thursday, 17 July 2014

Thursday 17 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 21 - Sass de Putia


 
Another 18km day, this time with about 1200 metres ascent. Yesterday was a similar distance, with only 800 metres ascent.

A forty minute drive saw the AV1 six plus Mike and Jenny at Passo del Erbe, the jumping off point for this easy ascent. 

It was a first visit to this location and the 'high season' feel didn't really endear it to us. But we managed to negotiate the crowds with some success. That was until after lunch on the 2875 metre summit with fine views across the Dolomites and towards the Alps. Then the descent along steep wires found us trapped in a Hillary Step scenario whilst a coach load of German tourists passed us on the way up. Sue, Susan and Roy muscled their way past; Mike and Karen had fainted at the sight of the wires; Mike B, Jenny and I sat it out until the crowd had moved on.

Today's picture shows what we thought of the crowds.

We made our way round the clockwise circuit via refreshments at a handy café,  then drove back for cake or ice cream from Ricky's in Pedraces.

A lovely evening followed the busy day.

Here's a slideshow for the day (43 images)
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Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Wednesday 16 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 20 - Via Ferratas Averau and Nuvalau, and an evening in the pub


 
Again, due to time constraints I'll let the pictures do most of the talking.

Eleven of us - me, Sue, Susan, Roy, Ken, Alan, Chris, Mick, Gayle, Jacqui and Jenny - headed up to Rifugio Averau on a lovely day. After refreshments at the 'hut', we managed to conjure up nine Via Ferrata kits for an ascent of Mount Averau. Gayle and I were content to miss out and head up to Nuvolau instead. We watched from there, outside the oldest mountain hut in the Dolomites, as the others summited Averau, before descending and ascending to the start/finish of the Via Ferrata after a leisurely lunch. 

We regrouped at the end of the Averau VF before heading back to Rifugio Averau for a third time for Gayle and me. Nuvolau was then chosen as the next objective. I was more than happy to revisit the summit, and content to assure Gayle that she could mark the occasion as a second ascent. 

More refreshments served by a grumpy waitress (they all seemed grumpy today, perhaps suffering from an excess of school children), were followed by the Nuvolau Via Ferrata, for which some of us used our VF kits. It was Gayle's first go at this activity, and she quickly followed Mick's lead by asserting it was "Quite Good Fun".

Some found the walk back to Rifugio Averau rather less fun, but Sue found a Frog Orchid, and a few gulps of beer later we were sufficiently revived to be able to head briskly back to Falzarego, and all but Mick and Gayle (staying in Colin), and Jacqui (tired) made it down to the Badia Pub by 7.30 to celebrate my official birthday.

Today's statistics - 18 km, 1200 metres ascent, taking 8.5 hours.

The sixteen of us had a great evening, but I now find myself unaccountably tired.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Tuesday 15 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 19 - Sassongher


 
The elite group for Sassongher was down to eight - me, Sue, Susan, Roy, Mick, Gayle and two Mikes. Six heroes - Alan, Chris, Jacqui, Ken, Gary and Jenny - went up the Piz da Lech via ferrata and arrived back before us. Andrew, Helen, Karen, Bob and Margaret preserved their energy on less sapping activities.

It was a lovely day as you can see from the pictures. Sue failed to extend her orchid spotting, but added Starry Saxifrage to yesterday's Birdsnest and Coralroot Orchids. 

The wires near the summit were easily dealt with after our ascent through the woods from Corvara, and after 15km and 1200 metres ascent we were happily back in Pedraces (now known as Badia).

I could invent lots of incidents, or even recall them if my memory was better,  but it isn't. Perhaps in due course more photos will tell the story of this classic day in the Dolomites. (They now do - see link below - Martin, 28/12/14.)

But for now.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Monday 14 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 18 - Col di Lana


 
Today  ten of our squad of 19 enjoyed the 12km with 1000 metres ascent walk up and over Col di Lana, a 2452 metre double summit, from the south.

The AV1 six were joined by Mike, Gary, Mick and Gayle for this pleasurable day despite a bit of cloud and a few light showers.

Sue was ecstatic when she discovered some 'new' orchids - the names of which I'll supply tomorrow. 

The summits are laced with trenches and tunnels, and the whole shape of the mountain was changed by huge amounts of explosives detonated by both the Austrians and the Italians in WW1.

The pictures hopefully provide a flavour of our day, during which we gained intermittent views between the showers.

Here's a slideshow for the day (54 images)
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Sunday, 13 July 2014

Sunday 13 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 17 - Pralongia Plateau


 
With rain forecast, seven of our party - Ken, Helen, Andrew, Roy, Mike, Karen and Jacqui - headed off to Bolzano to see the ice man.

That left twelve of us - me, Sue, Susan, Alan, Chris, Mike, Bob, Margaret, Gary, Jenny, Gayle and Mick - to meet in La Villa for the gondola up to Piz La Ila. After leaving my map case on the lift (it was recovered later).

The weather was surprisingly good, given the dire forecast, as we completed a leisurely 17 km circuit with about 285 metres ascent (or less). Lots of Rifugios were passed, with just one, Ulla Pralongia, visited for coffee etc. Lunch was taken on the way down to Armentarola and San Cassiano. Today's picture of the Conturines was taken on the way.

We were back at the gondola station by 2.15, so had plenty of time to enjoy the afternoon and evening at Haus Valentin, Collett's base in Pedraces where those of us without a camper van (ie all except Mick and Gayle) are spending the week in luxury - not that the camper van is anything other than luxurious, with its constant supply of tea and cake (just like Collett's!).

Here's a slideshow for the day (23 images)
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Saturday 12 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 16 - Rifugio Pian de Fontana to La Pissa, then Pedraces


 
Alta Via 1 - Day 7 - 11 km, 300 metres ascent, 4.5 hours.

AV1 Cumulative Total: 122.5 km, 7400 metres ascent. (Approximately)

A blue sky morning for our final section and the refuge was bathed in sunshine. Antonio refilled the bread basket as soon as it was empty, and the coffee pot too!

We got going at 7.45, soon looking back to the scene pictured above, before descending 300 metres through beech woods, then re-ascending a similar amount over crisp beech leaves through sun dappled woods to Forcella la Varetta. The path from there was a mule track, high above the narrow valley, and against the limestone we found the first Edelweiss of the trip as well as a proliferation of saxifrages amongst a fabulous selection of alpine plants. The umbellifers lining the path were huge. Orange lilies lay amongst them, somewhat dwarfed! 

Then, a steep descent and a cyclamen littered woodland section where, in the clearings, butterflies were enjoying the warm sunshine. 

A refuge at 1250 metres (Rifugio Furio Bianchet) provided cappuccino and chocolate-orange cake in the sunshine, before our final 800 metre descent. Mostly on an unsurfaced track, it wound gradually down to the valley floor. Some dark red helleborines were found, and there were lots of insects with black spotted wings. Four jovial Italian ladies on their way up to Bianchet stopped for a chat.

The last section was a steep path that crossed a bridge over a deep gorge, La Pissa, dropping us neatly onto a road at 12.15. We had time for a quick lunch of two-day old sandwiches, before our taxi arrived at 12.40. 

Dark clouds built as we journeyed back to Lago di Braies, through Agordo and Arabba, Corvara and Brunico, until 3.10 pm. Tea, then it was an hour's drive back to Haus Valentin in Pedraces, which we had passed earlier, and a rendezvous with numerous folk who will feature in the next phase of this Summer Holiday.

NB Delay due to my attempting to post as Nallo Lady, as today's entry is largely copied from Sue's diary.

Here's a slideshow for the day (38 images)
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