Chronicles from returning to the homey mountain and first ascent to one of many peaks.
Be(a)st days always start with a consistent sleeping deficit, hasty breakfasts and escaping traffic to ride the wave of the first transferers preceding traffic jams. This day is not at all different, and comes exactly two weeks after the first attempt to reach the peak of Northern Grigna with the now well-established model following me in these and other adventures. We leave at 6:30 in the morning with our eyes focused on that pile of rocks overlooking the lake of Lecco since eons. For months these have always repelled us in the attempts to go up together, but this day is different. After a quick break in the town of Fiumelatte, where we stock up on carbohydrates and second breakfast, because let’s face it, breakfast is always necessary, but the second one is undeniable before any physical activity.
We reach the very expensive parking lot of Cainallo (Thanks to Esino Lario) and leave at about 8:00, with us we find only pensioners (i.e. pensioneros), maybe not all of them are spending the day queueing at the doctor.
But no more drivels, the forecast promises rains in the afternoon so we can’t lose a single moment if we really want to reach the top before it gets swallowed up in the sky, again.
After passing the Bogani hut (which for us, friends, is still “The Monza”) we stop for the first time about three quarters of the way, where the first snow-covered sections started the last time. The rising summer melted the snow on our path, finally we found the higher cliffs cleaned up by the snow carpets that swallowed us last time.
We continue in the peace of silence that only this nature can give, sometimes a bird precedes us on the path, in some places we hear marmots warn each other of our arrival. It almost seems that everything was ready to receive the first guests of the day. So here we come to the slopes of the last section, almost vertical, leading to the top. Puffy white clouds alternate on top, but let it breathe giving us a fresh ascent. We overcome the last snowy stretches a bit creatively, some times we dig steps in the snow, other times we slide continuously and only sticking our hands in the snow we manage and force us to go back. Arriving at the last chain, the hardest and most vertical, the heart is already swollen with happiness as we lift lighter towards that cross pinpointing the highest strip of earth. Finally we are here, together.
First of the next adventures, last of the latest. There will be more, and some will be greater. How can we miss a promise recited in front of this immensity?
We celebrate the conquest with an excellent soup, and are ready to enjoy the view again on the way back. Here we pass the Monza shelter, feeling a more intense ringing in the distance, until reaching the climax of the sound near the mountain pasture below the refuge. The wandering of flocks of sheep has finally returned to these altitudes, along with donkey families that will help hut-ters in the supply of stocks for the season about to begin. Man and animal come together in this environment, one needs the strength of the other, who relies on the other for finding shelter and care.
The next day the alarm sounds hard only for me, the alpine course this weekend has a high-sounding, highly fresh and definitely … high destination:Monte Rosa, the Pink Mountain.
From my kitchen on clear days I have always seen that silhouette, majestic and corpulent, standing out on the horizon line interrupting it with a vertical bulge. Too high to consider it accessible, too far to be able to try in free time. But today it is different, today we are going for real.
After reaching Gressoney around 8 in the morning we take one of the first cable cars inaugurating the ascent together with other early risers. Tripping on the three cableways that lead to Punta Indren we see the first marmots of the season awaken from hibernation, slender, gray and ready to round up by becoming natural lawnmowers on these slopes.
We touch the snow at about 3200 meters, the day is damn hot and snow yields under our weight. The first steps are the heaviest because every movement sinks to the knee, fortunately the conditions improve as we go up.
At the Mantova hut (about 3500m asl), the first true high mountain panorama opens before our eyes.
A glacier in the background exposes structures of snow and ice high as ten-floors condos in precarious balance on rocky edges, ready to slide with great thuds towards the valley.
The crevasses seem to paint a movement, the snow blunts the most superficial cuts but can’t do nothing against the larger ice architectures.
After a quick stop at the Mantova refuge we continue towards the 3700 meters of the plateau above the Gnifetti refuge, we acclimatize hoping to mitigate the altitude sickness that could surprise us in the night.
The alarm rings at 4 o’clock, it’s time to get ready quickly and start walking towards the top. I tie with Pier, expert and well-run instructor who accuses a knee pain, we will go along the next 5 hours alternating pauses of acclimatization to physical recovery stops. The fatigue at these levels is accelerated by the lack of oxygen, a positive thing is that this allows to recover even after short breaks.
Clouds move as blankets on the dormant peaks, suddenly a pink light start shining through them evolving in a white-bright.
In the background legendary peaks are emerging: Mont Blanc, Lyskamm, the Christ of peaks appears from behind the spur elevating it as guardian of these heights.
On the final stretch the Matterhorn abandons shyness and finally shows up.
Approaching the top my heart was bursting of fatigue and happiness, seeing the shape of the highest hut in Europe revealing itself after a final series of inversions felt like liberating grip. An uncontrollable emotion took over after looking at the sea of clouds below.
I have always seen the shape of this mountain from my home, in the horizon shining bright pink at the first light of dawn, scratching the drawing twilight with its crests when the sun was setting behind it.
Days passed staring at this massif with the distant eyes of those who see a remote background, unreachable like the stars illuminating the night. I would never have thought that one day I would have reached this refuge so perilously perched on this spur
And yet here we are, facing the vastness of a world that has always attracted those who can see a more intimate and deep beauty in creation beyond the sweat of the ascent.
Maybe due to extensive fussing or perhaps the bitter cold gave me some sickness, so I started the descent (2h and about 1000 meters of downhill outing) carrying this uncomfortable companion. There is a price to pay for this beauty.
Of course not, this is just the beginning.