Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Friday, 19 February 2021

Summer in the Alps - 2005 - Sunday 28 August - AV1 - Lago di Braies to Rifugio Biella

Sunday 28 August - Lago di Braies to Rifugio Biella (by Martin)
AV1 Backpack - Day 1 

Sue and I were up at 7 am for more sorting out before a good breakfast and a satisfactory settling up with the owner, who advised us to arrange a taxi back when we reach our final rifugio. Lots of gear was put back in the car, which was moved to a suitable spot for a week's rest. So it was 10 am, after photos from a chap called Geoff, when we left in dry but very overcast weather, in the company of coach loads of groccles, along the start of Alta Via 1 (AV1) beside the turquoise / blue Lago di Braies. A black squirrel scurried out of our way, and jays fluttered in the pine trees.

The end of the lake was reached after half an hour. It was very humid but only 15°C. T-shirts for the rest of the day, despite the cloud. A signpost indicated Rifugio Biella, our destination for the day, was 3 hours away. We ascended through pines up a steep but well graded path, now quiet apart from a few backpackers, like us doing AV1. We would meet many of them again over the coming days. Everyone knew this, so greetings were friendly!

Signage at the end of the lake

The Italians go back to work tomorrow, so most people on this route are German, with a sprinkling of Dutch, American and other nationalities. We are still in a German speaking area. (These Italians really want to be Austrian!) An American girl from Oregon, Kim, befriends us - she is doing our first five days' walking in 4 days, all organised by (still going strong)

Sue lags behind, noshing blueberries before storming ahead. Phone calls confirm tonight's accommodation and also, later, tomorrow's. (I had booked all the accommodation long in advance - calls just being needed to confirm the bookings already made.)

We admired superb views down through cloud to last night's hotel, before reaching a flatter area on limestone. We stopped here for a brew and to nosh the excellent butties  prepared earlier by Sue, before continuing on up to a col with a prominent shrine, from which we could see Rifugio Biella some 80 metres below.

Lunch was 12:30 to 13:00, and we reached the rifugio at 13:40, so Sue and Andrew's speed on the ascent beat the 3 hours forecast by the sign we had passed. 

We booked in and installed the 5 of us in a room for 8 which was to be our own for the night. 

The shrine that sits 80 metres above Rifugio Biella

After refreshments, Sue and Andrew and I strolled up a further 480 metres, (having already climbed 900 metres and descended 80 metres) up and down Croda del Becco in clearer weather. Views to Tre Cime, Mt Pelmo, Tofane, etc, all with their heads in cloud.

Meanwhile, Jenny and Richard went back to our lunch spot in a fruitless attempt to locate Richard's brand new waterproof cagoule, which had disappeared. 

15:00 to 16:15, when we summitted (Sue 20 minutes ahead of Martin and Andrew). 2810 metres. A lost sole was found at 2500 metres. We lingered above the huge drop to the north for some time, before ambling down to Biella for a COPIOUS meal in the company of a Dutch couple, before our first, disastrous for Richard, not so good for Sue and Andrew, game of Uno. (See 2 September for revenge! - R)

Here's our route for the day, 9 km with 1380 metres ascent, and (below) a map that shows the wider area - as always, click on an image for a better version and access to a slideshow

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