Wednesday, 2 September 2015
The Alps - Day 14 - Alta Via di Valmalenco - Day 2 - Rifugio Bosio (2086 metres) to Rifugio Ventina (1965 metres)
13 km, 1050 metres ascent, in 7.7 hours including breaks.
Weather: clouding over during the morning, then steadily heavier rain.
After a good hut breakfast we left along a mainly contouring path at 8.30. All eleven who stayed overnight set off in the same direction - along the clockwise AVV path. The party of three left first and were ahead all day. They provided a welcoming party at our destination. We overtook the party of four on the ascent to Passo Ventina and didn't see them again. We presume they are staying nearby at Rifugio Gerli-Porro. The tall man and his 6ft 3in daughter caught us up at Alpe Mastabbia, from where they descended to Chiesa.
After early sunshine it rapidly clouded over, and by the time we reached the long ascent to Passo Ventina it was spotting with rain. Waterproofs were needed for the final descent.
The statistics indicate a fairly easy day. That's far from the truth. After superb balcony paths for the first few kilometres, with fine views towards sunnier climes to the south, passing the remains of talc mines that were operating as recently as the 1990s, the path entered a landscape of fractured rocks. Gillian accurately describes the terrain as 'bare and desolate'.
It was enjoyable but slow going, with care needed to negotiate the slabby landscape. The route was easy to follow as it was marked with the traditional red and white mountain path signs, and also with a proliferation of yellow AVV marks and arrows. The man with the yellow paint actually went a bit over the top. There seemed to be yellow triangles with a '2' inside all over the place. I'm not sure what the 2 signifies, perhaps there is another Alta Via route nearby.
Other than the folk from Bosio, we saw nobody today, apart from one chap at a summer farm, until arriving in the rain at Rifugio Ventina. It was welcoming, as predicted by Gillian, and we were soon showered, washing done, and installed in a comfortable private room. There's just us, the threesome from Hamburg, and an Italian family with two noisy children. The two girls, 3 and 7, are Lightning McQueen fans so they got on well with Sue.
Whilst wandering around the balcony path and trying to post yesterday's entry (re-booting and re-composing being necessary) I had the pleasure of receiving an email from an old 'walking pal' Pete Skirving. Pete emigrated to Canada in the 1970s and we hadn't been in touch since then. It was great to hear from him. Isn't the Internet wonderful...
Dinner started with pizzocheri - short strands of buckwheat pasta tossed with potato and greens and a rich sauce of melted cheese. Delicious. It continued with pork cutlets, salad and veg, before moving on to slabs of cheese then slabs of cake then a bucket of coffee to wash down what remained of the wine.
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Today's pictures: (click on them for the 'full screen' experience)
Outside Rifugio Bosio this morning
Views from the balcony path (2)
The balcony path in the area of the talc mine
Ascending to Passo Ventina
Looking down towards Rifugio Ventina from Passo Ventina