Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca

Saturday 27 June 2009

The Ascent of Mt Ciampani - 2668 metres (Part 2)

The initial 900 metres of ascent led steeply up path number 1 to the aforementioned wired zone.

A further 400 metres of ascent saw us topping out on the broad summit with excellent views over much of the ground we have covered this week.

In between times the dark skies released a little of their contents, confirming that our decision to skip the new Col dei Bos via ferrata was a wise one.

Lunch on the summit preceded a gentle descent down the easy snow ramp known as path 11 (pictured) on which some of the younger members of the party reminded us as to the scarcity of snow in the UK.

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Saturday 27 June 2009 - The Ascent of Mt Ciampani - 2668 metres (Part 1)

This 1300 metre ascent included a few wired sections.

Nothing difficult, I can assure you, despite the absence of Julia (I took her to Cortina this morning - the start of her journey home) and Di, who commenced an exploration of the woods within 1km of Haus Valentin, Collett's base in Pedraces.

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Friday 26 June 2009

Four Go For A Bimble (Part 3)

By and by, after passing numerous hostelries (it's not a coincidence that Collett's name this the 'Six Rifugios Walk' - it's the nearest they get to a pub crawl) we came upon a fine establishment with a sunny outlook.

It was 11am.

Time for coffee and apfelstrudel.

We spent an hour or so at 'Utia Pralongia' (pictured), duly gorging ourselves. Sue studied the three remaining via ferrataists from afar, and announced that they had nearly reached the summit of Piz da Lech.

Mike was glad he had chosen the less energetic option today. Six days of exercise after 25 years of abstinence are starting to take their toll.

A short walk along a broad ridge led us into Pra de Stores, a valley in which a broad path gently descended over expansive pastures before entering the pine forest where we found a luncheon bench. No hut today. A shame, as it rained.

Numerous 'flower stops' punctuated our onward progress to Armentarola. By the end of this trip we should have quite a few images to display to those with a botanical interest.

The walk back to La Villa was mostly gentle and pleasant, following the Ru Giarie river down over a series of weirs, with a short climb up path 21 to get around a chasm at one point.

An easy day. By 4.30 Mike had flaked out on his bed, and Sue, Julia and I had enjoyed our mugs of tea and were heading for the sauna.

A night of revelry at the Sport Hotel will no doubt follow!

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Four Go For A Bimble (Part 2)

So, the gondola ride got us quickly up from 1400 metres to Piz la Ila at 2078 metres.

We were now on the Pralongia plateau, with fine views across to Piz Boe and the via ferrateers, as we strolled south along the plateau's gently undulating tracks.

Sue is pictured here, and, with telepathic prompting from a gentleman in the UK, is demanding "pass the muscle relaxant"!

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Friday 26 June 2009 - Four go for a Bimble

Whilst Susan, Gary, Jenny and Julie exerted themselves (in Julie's case failing) on the exciting Piz da Lech via ferrata, and Di continued in her bid to survey all the paths within 1km of Arabba, Sue, Mike, Julia and I chose this civilised form of transport to gain a little height.

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Col de Lana - a view from the summit

Here's the view towards the lower summit. The huge gash on the ridge is the WW1 crater following an Austrian attack involving 45,005 kilos of high explosive in October 1917.

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Col de Lana

Here's Sue, yesterday, on the Col de Lana in a brief shower. There's a wire to hang onto and this is classified as the easiest grade of Via Ferrata (1A). Only the most nervous require via ferrata kit on such routes. We met a party of Italians enjoying the ridge in full kit.

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Thursday 25 June 2009

Thursday 25 June 2009 - WW1 Artefacts on Col de Lana

Whilst Susan, now a fully qualified 'Via Ferrataist' was elected as surrogate mother to Jenny and Mike for their ascent of Col Rosa with the Collett's crew, and Di holidayed in Arabba, the rest of us took the short trip to Pieve and headed up Col de Lana.

NB 'Col' in these parts means a summit.

The via ferrata was a great success except for the 'lunch box incident'. When packing, Mike had noticed a lunch box in his pack. Job done, he thought. Not so. Said lunch box was mine - containing two squares of chocolate from yesterday. Mike's lunch box spent the day in his room's fridge.

It was a case of surrogate mum to the rescue (thanks for sharing your lunch, Susan), and lunch in the jacuzzi for Mike.

Those of us who went up Col de Lana enjoyed great views. Much of the Alta Via 1 route can be seen from here. The flowers were truly wonderful, including whole meadows of bright blue trumpet gentians like the ones shown above.

The summit is littered with WW1 paraphernalia - a crater where 45,000 kilos of explosive took out part of the summit ridge; at least 1 km of tunnels that we explored; and restored 'trenches' leading down the ridge and forming the footpath.

It was a short walk, taken at a leisurely pace, with a lunch hut at the summit. We sheltered from a shower there, and from a second shower in a tunnel.

Sue and Julie descended ahead, whilst Julie's phone made unprovoked calls to mine, including a voice message comprising muffled footsteps and chatter!

We arrived back at the same time - from different directions due to a girly navigation error.

Then it rained, but after our ritual sauna we enjoyed another good dinner at the Sport Hotel, albeit - in true Italian fashion - they struggle to please our two vegetarians.


JJ - get better soon, and Sue says she is finding red wine a very good muscle relaxant.

Collett's Mountain Holidays - have you nothing better to do than surf the web? I expect soon to find a comment on Chalet Barbara being a fine place to stay!

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Chalet Barbara - Our Home for the Week

Here's Sue (just visible, lower right), admiring the view from our balcony this morning.

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Wednesday 24 June 2009

Wednesday 24 June 2009 - A Grand Day Out

Today the dynamic quintet - Susan, Jenny, Mike, Gary and me (well, some may be dynamic?) - set off to practice their skills on a popular 'beginner's via ferrata route.

We followed a veteran car to the start at Passo Gardena - pictured above, looking east towards Corvara, before heading up the easy climb. Very enjoyable, if a bit short.

The weather was warm, and the suntan cream reserves took a fair pasting. We lunched above Jimmy's - a rifugio that has yet to open for the season - then headed along the Alta Via 2 (AV2) high level walking route towards the Puez Rifugio we visited on Monday. The mountain scenery hereabouts is stupendous - a high level limestone plateau sprinkled with lakes and peaklets.

There were few folk about and the area had a remote feel to it. A couple of German ladies were on their way from Innsbruck to Belluno in two weeks. Mike and Jenny pointed them towards the AV2 snowman they had just built.

Our route swung down towards Colfosco before wending its way through pleasant forest, back to Passo Gardena by soon after 5pm - quite a long day out.

Meanwhile 'The Four Cripples' had got bored with waiting in the sauna in a bid to ambush a Slow Man (or any other sauna totty), and had pottered about on the paths around Piz Boe, trying to identify wild flowers. "We found a gentian that's not in the book" they announced.

It was a lily!

Wednesday is a traditional 'rest day' for all Collett's staff and activities, so we were obliged to take a break from four course meals with unlimited wine. Beer and pizza went down well, and there shouldn't be so many headaches tomorrow.

Thanks again for your comments, and apologies to those with 'post-op' or work issues that prevent their attendance. (I can actually vouch for the excellence of this place when it comes to certain 'post-op therapy'.) We are impressed with the silver CSM medal, Helen - perhaps there were only three mixed teams competing?

To the other three members of 'The Famous Five' - don't worry, we have your messages and the bothy, the glider and the luggage will all be fine!

That's all I can manage for now.

"Whoopee!" went the cry!


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Susan's First Via Ferrata - Piz da Cir V - 2520 metres

Here are Mike, Gary, Jenny and Susan on the summit pimple.

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Tuesday 23 June 2009

Tuesday 23 June 2009 - Snowstorm on the Porta Vescovo Ridge

Today started fine, with eight of us happily finding our way onto the Porta Vescovo ridge above the 2200 metre Pordoi Pass.

The ridge is very much like a Scottish traverse. Unlike many Alpine ridges, you can stroll along its crest. A little scrambling is required. At 2600 metres, the summit is relatively low, but it affords fine views towards Marmolada - at 3300 metres the highest peak around - with worms of ascendeurs dotted about its huge glaciers.

King of the Alps (a sort of dwarf forgetmenot) was abundant on the ridge, as were the spring gentians pictured as foreground for the view towards the Sassolunga Massif shown above. There were views like this in every direction.

It was, however, cool. Gloves were needed. In the rifugio, hot chocolate took precedence over beer. After lunch the likeness to a Scottish ridge increased. The cloud lowered. It snowed.

We enjoyed the walk, though. The sauna, steam room and hydro-massage bath (did I mention that all our rooms have 'jacuzzis'?) soon warmed us.

The food here is pretty good, with unlimited chianti tonight to wash down the 'melt in the mouth' beef. The vegetarians got Frascati, but mostly supped the chianti. Fair enough I suppose...

Thanks for your comments / messages of envy. It would have been great to have you all along. You would enjoy it here...

...on last year's TGO Challenge we walked for a day with Susan and Roy, from Glastonbury, Connecticut, USA. We swapped email addresses and they have followed our trip plans on Susan is here, very much enjoying her week long trip, and looking forward to her first 'Via Ferrata' tomorrow.

That could have been you!

Meanwhile, Sue has a sore shoulder, and has borrowed a couple of bottles of chianti to supplement the vallium. She plans to while away the morrow in the sauna with said 'medicine' whilst I go for a walk. I wonder who gave her that idea?


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Monday 22 June 2009

Val Vallunga

Today wasn't the best weather we've had in the Dolomites, but it didn't rain and we enjoyed fabulous views like this one down Val Vallunga from near Rifugio Puez, after a 900 metre climb.

The hot chocolate at Rif Puez was so thick that it required the assistance of a spoon. The 'apfelstrudel' was also very tasty.

With around 20 of us on the walk, it was conducted ('Steady Eddie' from Collett's being our 'not a guide') at a satisfactorily leisurely pace.

The wild flowers, including gentians and alpine snowbells, were wonderful, and we had plenty of time to try to record them digitally. (Results to be broadcast in due course!)

The Chalet Barbara sauna was in fine fettle when we got back - very therapeutic, followed by a meal with lots more wine. So much that we are a little uncertain as to what to do tomorrow!

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Monday 22 June 2009 - Not from Timperley

Thanks Dot for your message, and Alan for yours. If we stayed in Timperley all the time, Alan, I suspect you may get even more bored than usual with the Bridgewater Canal.

Our team has now assembled at Chalet Barbara in Arabba, with an excellent meal at the Sport Hotel. And lots of wine.

There are 9 of us in our little clique (though we are of course friends with everyone here):
Sue and me, Mike, Julia, Gary and Jenny, Susan, Julie and Di.

Here we are today, during a stroll up Val Vallunga with several more of Collett's guests. That's a good thing about coming on a Collett's trip - they introduce you to places not previously visited.

That and the upgrade to a luxury apartment with a sauna and unlimited wine.

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Sunday 21 June 2009

Sunday 21 June 2009 - The Orchid Zone

This morning's four hour stroll up to 1500 metres (Molveno is at 800 metres) found us enjoying a multitude of alpine flowers as we passed through pine woods on our way to Rif Andalo (pictured).

The rifugio was surrounded by many different varieties of orchid. Wonderful!

Then we took a fine contouring path over mixed ground and descended down path 326 for lunch in Molveno before continuing our journey.

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