So much snow to plow, so little time to do so.
Incredible adventures of ski-mountaineering, knees and wind.
As anticipated in the latest update, something huge was coming and even if I’m holding on from fully discolsing other props, this one can’t be hidden.
Last summer, while touring through our beloved mountains, a sharp needle crossed my mind regarding the winter time and more in general how much time I can devote to alpinism. It is kinda easy to go climb a mountain during spring or summer, with warm temperatures and lighter backpacks (you don’t really need a grade 7 parka to climb in August), but during late autumn and winter my time in the mountains shrinked so much and got limited to “merenderos” (read as “touristic”) daily skiing in densely populated slopes. All of this not considering that also the closer grounds of Grigne becomes hazardous for my typical routine of solitary wanders at dawn, thus I had to find a way not to lose this precious season.
The solution popped out inside my head very quickly and so I decided to give a shot at ski mountaineering. For those who don’t know what that’s about, you basically strap some synthetic sealskins to your skis and get up the mountain, then you tear them off and ski back home freeriding through fresh snow (hopefully).
Sounds cool, sounds beautiful, hellishly hard to do.
So I started training harder and harder, lost a bit of weight and last month I started attending a specific course offered by the local CAI (Italian Alpinists Club).
The first tour was very introductory, thus to learn the various maneuvers to turn around, get on, get off and fall at best. Not willing to sacrifice the camera during the first falls I only brought with me the loyal GoPro, but I didn’t spend much time on it since I preferred to devote myself to the noble art of falling with style. And in the last of these attempts I accidentally injuried my knee due to a bad setup of the ski bindings. That night I slept so little, I almost tought something was broken; not a single position could ease the pain, and the day after every staircase was out of questions.
Bad thoughts have taken hold of my head, almost convincing me that the time of real alpinism was over, that I could never wake up before dawn and climb up my lovely ridges again. I really thought about the worst.
So for a week I soaked my knee in creams and lotions, stretching in the morning and finding excuses to have some walks at work. It worked, and the next sunday (last sunday) we had our second tour.
This time we reached the town of Albosaggia aiming to the higher alm of Campelli, but after dealing with the road covered by fresh snow the choice was clear: skis out and follow the locals.
We luckily met some indigenous folks that led us to a cut in the road crossing a forest, it felt like being in a fairy tail, the fresh snow was still covering the branches and the fresh snow muffled the steps and sound of ourslow but steady ascent.
The goal of the hike was to reach the peak of Pizzo Meriggio, but the wind was enough to have us forfait it in favor of a healthy preservation instinct. So we reached the closer Punta della Piada and powdered back home.
At this point, this very specific part of the tour where you have to pack bach the skins and start hitting the snow the great rise became even greater in its antipodal nature. Such a prefect snow is hard to be found, and we had the luck of dusting it out across wide couloirs, underwood and open fields, all of this sharing the experience with a great pack of crazy mountain lovers.
The adrenaline of that day pumped in the veins for a whole week, and today we had our third time on the snow. We bounded far beyond the charming town of St. Moritz, to the sweet and hospitable (no sarcasm intended) village of Bivio.
From here we rose up for 3 and a half hours, up to the Piz Scalotta (2992).
The beautiful day started with a clear sky, but in the morning some thin clouds began to lean towards our target, perhaps jealous of our goal.
The sun shined forth equally through these first veils of opacity eclipsing the sky, at the extent that a good part of the ascent was feasible even by wearing just a long-sleeved T-shirt.
After the plateau joining Val Beiva to the corridor interrupted by the Surpare-Pianoro catenedel, the wind started to whip us, making other layers necessary to avoid freezing.
At a few meters from the top we skinned the skis and with the bare boots we climbed the last few meters that separated us from the top, reached with an extreme sense of happiness and satisfaction after the intense sweat.
But it didn’t end there! A more demanding descent of the same slope was waiting for us, the snow warmed by the sun and winded by the sharp blows made the return more difficult than expected.
Today I learned what it means to keep the strength to have a reserve of energy, get down with tired legs from the climbs at alternate rhythms and the rapid shooting immediately after stopping for a photo charged his duty with burning legs, further tired by the “heavy” nature of the snow.
Arrived at the machines we broke the return with a fresh and deserved beer, even more fresh and good when it comes on occasions like this.
The mountain experienced in this way, appears even more like a mermaid singing a stinging chants, recalling ourselves to its beauty imprisoning us in its icy and voracious embrace of beauty and passion.
the door on, this friday will be a very special day for an even more special hike, stay tuned!