Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Saturday 20 February 2021

Summer in the Alps - 2005 - Monday 29 August - Rifugio Biella to Rifugio La Varella

Monday 29 August - Rifugio Biella to Rifugio La Varella (by Richard, and others)
AV1 Backpack - Day 2 

Note: 'Translation' of Richard's diary entry has proved entertaining, if a little hit and miss. He is free to pop round and borrow the diary to enable any appropriate 'edits' to be made... (or I could send him a scan). 

I awoke, and as the red wine wore off, my guilty feeling of sending Sue down to the hotel returned. (A plan had been hatched last night for Sue to go back to the car to collect a spare cagoule for Richard - nobody else had the energy.) Most of the group shuffled awake except Jenny who was her usual slow self. Breakfast was finished and the 'Angel of the Cagoule' was dispatched. The rest of the group set off in bright sunshine somewhere.

Arrived at Rifugio Sennes (where there were pigs).

Had a picturesque brew overlooking a valley.

Richard was assigned as Litter Monitor. Pictured by the Germans. (Their picture, not ours!) 

Text message from Sue "Ring ASAP", but no signal. This led to many men wandering around with mobile phones looking like lost sheep. 

Good walk down to valley then steep descent to lunch. Andrew fell on his arse (but that's not actually news). Sandwich and coffee. (Andrew steps in as Beer Monitor. No Beer.)

More Field Gentians

Woodpeckers live here...

Some sort of Spring Gentian

The sun was very hot and we all pitied the mountain bikers on their tough route. Suntan cream on, from Jenny's exploding bottle, and up the zigzag path up half OMC (Richard and Jenny gauge ascent data by comparison with the ascent of the Old Man of Coniston from Coniston - 750 metres) to top, then slightly descend into track to second brew stop. German now less interested - no photos. 

Sue now hot on our heels - only 2 hours behind. I wanted to wait and shout "Boo" but this was rejected. Finish with a half hour up to rifugio. Have excellent beer and chat with Dutch couple.

Other events, not in order:

Blue bag with spare cag - combination lock was the ' ring asap' message.

Kept overtaking the Americans.

Martin lost his sunglasses; Sue refused to get his spare ones from the bus.

Sue arrived one hour after us, but 'That's another story'.

Here's our route - 13 km with 670 metres ascent
Sue did an extra 11 km and 900 metres ascent!
(Click on the image for a better version/slideshow)

The 'Angel's' Day (by Sue)

Left Rifugio Biella at 7:40, lightweight. In 1 hour 20 minutes I was at the car, after jogging a lot of the way. The blue bag with Richard's spare cagoule was padlocked, and the team weren't replying to my request for the combination, so I grabbed Martin's spare yellow cag. Texts were exchanged, but unpredictably and too late to be of any help. (The yellow cag won't be seen. It spent the entire trip at the bottom of Richard's bag!)

A view from the descent to Lago di Braies

After the overtaking of about 15 Americans, the ascent was speedy - I was back at Biella at 11:20, fuelled by a coke at the Pragser hotel (who had not seen the missing cag), and a muesli bar. 

Then, on to the same day's walk as the others - saw climbers on the lovely slabs of the hill (Croda del Becco - pictured above, above Rif Biella) we climbed yesterday. 

Saw marmots - one huge one, one smaller, and one with a shrill whistle. 

Had lunch at Rifugio Sennes - bread and salami. Saw spring gentians just before Rifugio La Varella. Beer and showers welcome at the rifugio. 

NB Blue bag padlock code was broken near the lake, but not soon enough! 

M, A, R and J: Biella 8:45, Sennes 9:40; brew stop 9:50 to 10:30; Rif Pederu 11:30 to 12:15 (speck); 2nd brew 13:30 to 14:00; La Varella 14:40; 19°C all day; nutcrackers at La Varella; 550 metres ascent, 850 metres descent. 

Sue: Biella 7:40; car 8:56; leave Hotel Pragser 9:22; Biella 11:20; Sennes 12:15 to 12:50;  La Varella 15:45, where Martin was moaning about lost sunglasses and missing polariser / close up lenses for his camera. (Hence crap pictures! - M)

Next Day

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

Thursday 18 February 2021

Summer in the Alps - 2005 - Saturday 27 August - To Lago di Braies

Saturday 27 August - To Lago di Braies (by Martin) 

Hotel Tautermann obliged with early breakfasts and we (Martin, Sue, Ken and Helen) were on our way to Munich by 7:20. We were there by 9:20 - half the duration of last week's trip. The overlap with Ken and Helen being dropped off and Richard and Jenny being picked up worked well, and by 11:00 we were on our way again, this time avoiding the ever present traffic jam past Munich by going via the inner ring road, and reaching Innsbruck at 2 pm after a three hour trip. 

It took another half hour to locate the badly signposted Bahnhof and pick up Andrew. He had lunched at Wienerwald, our meeting place last night, whereas we had lunched on a sandwich at a German service station where the toilets cost 50 cents to use. (These were the days when charging for the use of toilets in the UK outside London was very rare. These days, if we could go to Germany, paying for toilets wouldn't be worthy of note.) 

And so, after speeding over the Brenner Pass we spent ages in a traffic jam before Brunico due to a diversion down narrow lanes, then shopping for final provisions was itself a little fraught, with poor signing and a storm contributing to the difficulties. Sue eventually emerged triumphant from a supermarket and we then sat behind a very slow vehicle before finally zooming up the road through lovely meadows to Hotel Pragser Wildsee, by Lago di Braies at 1496 metres. 

Arriving at 6 pm, we disembarked in the rain and Sue and I spent time sorting gear before we all bathed and adjourned for a set dinner at 7:30. A good meal, followed by a slideshow from Hermann which showed the area mainly in winter. High quality images and a slick presentation with carefully chosen music. 

Richard and Jenny then headed for the schnapps whilst the rest of us went to bed at 10 pm, but I think they soon followed.

Next Day

Wednesday 17 February 2021

Summer in the Alps - 2005 - Friday 26 August - Innsbruck Again

Friday 26 August - Innsbruck (by Sue) 

A very hazy morning at Camping Dolomiti saw us packing up for good, and by 9 am we were on the road, with Ken and Helen, to Innsbruck. High cloud built quickly and obscured views as we traveled north, in slow traffic, to the motorway. Stops for petrol and a coffee / cake break in the cafe with a conservatory that we'd visited previously. 

Successfully crossed the Brenner pass and booked a hotel in Hottinger Gasse using an information centre on the outskirts of the city. By 12:30 we were installed in our room for 4, finding places to dry the tent outers, and making lunch. 

Whilst Martin and I found a park (with a resident drunk that forced me to move benches) to dry the tent inners, Ken and Helen strolled around the old town. We met at 3 pm under the golden roof, and had tea outside a small cafe.

We visited the Dom St Jakob with its painted ceilings, extensive stucco, and gold leaf on the organ and altar. Ornate bronze columns, with vines and birds, held up more bronzes above. 

Then we climbed up the 148 steps of the old tower to see Innsbruck from above - green and red roofs and domes, the ski jump and the mountains, cloud hanging, obscuring the tops.

We waited for Andrew to arrive, after his train journey from Chur to Innsbruck (via Munich due to the storms washing out the railway line), over a beer under an umbrella. Enjoyed a nice dinner (three of us had venison, potato croquettes, red cabbage, apple and redcurrant jelly - yum), then headed back to the Hotel Tautermann for showers and packing ready for an early start. I finished 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' - a good read.

Next Day

Tuesday 16 February 2021

Summer in the Alps - 2005 - Thursday 25 August - Via Ferrata Ettore Bovero (Col Rosa) and a Walk to Rif Vandelli

Thursday 25 August (1) - Via Ferrata Col Rosa (by Sue) 
Another Dry Day!

Martin drove Ken and me to Camping Olympia for 8:30 am. Already clouds were hanging on Tofane and Cristallo. A wide path in the woods rose gently, then we turned left onto a path that climbed more briskly. Soon clothing was removed until we were down to shorts and t-shirts. Guidebook times were followed - 1½ hours to Passo Posporcora then half an hour to the start of the VF. 

A good bit of warming up on this section! From the foot of the VF there was a good view of the upper waterfall we'd been behind a few days earlier, and we could hear the roar of water. 

The final 300 metres to the summit of Col Rosa is the 'Ettore Bovero' via ferrata, and it is mostly vertical. I led to start, but Ken went first after a while, and both of us found some sections a challenge. The rock is solid but the exposure on the arete is significant. The step around a ledge is also pretty airy and Ken wouldn't stop for a photo!

Both our knees got knocked against the rock, drawing blood in Ken's case. Eventually the vertical nature of the ascent lessened and we were left with the final offset rungs that led to the summit. Although hazy, there was a good view down to Cortina. We sat next to the summit cross, with the summit to ourselves, just as we had the via ferrata. We spent a while reading comments in the summit visitor's book.

It was a leisurely hour or so, enjoying the views, eating lunch, and exploring the tunnels, whose entrance was from a trench about 25 metres from the summit. 

Then, a warm descent through scrub and gentians, enjoying bilberries on the way. The descent steepened, and a rest at the bottom, next to the river, was welcome.

A helicopter picked up several people in practice runs from the top of the Michielli Strobel VF to its base near Hotel Fiames. We were soon there, enjoying strudel and drinks, before Helen and Martin arrived.

The Col Rosa route is indicated below in red (the blue line is our earlier Giovanni Barbara route). Col Rosa is about 8 km, with 800 metres ascent.

Thursday 25 August (2) - Rif Vandelli (by Martin)

Whilst Ken and Sue were delivered to camping Olympia at 8:30 for a Col Rosa via ferrata 3B extravaganza, Helen was lazing at camp. I returned to do some much needed washing of clothes, then Helen and I set off for the Tre Croci Pass (10:30) for another pleasant stroll along the crowded path to Rifugio Vandelli (see 16/8 entry) where unfortunately the hot chocolate machine had broken down. It was warm, but after a clear start, very hazy with high cloud. Helen and I went up to Lago di Sorapiss for a pleasant alfresco lunch - during which an entire school of children passed by - we had earlier overtaken them whilst they had been restrained on the path up by whistle blowing teachers.

Left hut 12:20, left lake at 13.20. Strolled back down to Tre Croci ~ 300 metre ascent/descent - by 15:05. Sue phoned to say she and Ken had got back to Hotel Fiames, so we joined them there at 15:30 before returning to Cortina for the usual trip to the Co-op, and a compulsory gelati stop. (Nice Italian ice cream.)

Our route today, 10 km with 300 metres ascent (maybe)

Then a tomato sauce, spinach ricotta, courgettes and mushrooms, etc meal at camp, before schnapps and Scrabble (even Sue played, to avoid reading her dive guide). 

"Justa tell me whata you want" (ie 'don't murder my nice Italian language') said the nice lady in the campsite cafe.

Next Day