Sunday, 25 April 2010

The Greater Ranges.Part Two.

I was out on Sunday and had a good time cycling round Loch Leven in sunshine but as Alex is still kaput with a bad back I`ll save you numerous pictures of my trusty bike with a backdrop of hills behind it. Instead I have laboured mightily to produce this from a collection of old scanned pictures, some a bit faded, ( like myself) of trips abroad. I`ve actually got enough for several themed galleries but I thought I`d post some pictures relating to the last one two weeks ago so you can still compare them easily.

This is the Alta Via 1 in Italy. The Classic 10 day backpacking route through the Dolomite's. The big cliff is known as the wall of walls. Its over a mile long. We met a guy here, an Italian, who spoke some English and asked him what mountains he thought we might be able to climb without a rope. He rattled off a few names then dismissed them as either too dull, too hard or too prone to stone fall. I had been looking at the guidebook the night before in the tent and mentioned Monte Pelmo, never having seen it before.

His eyes sparkled as he obviously remembered some great exploit on it from years ago.
"Bella Monte Pelmo!!" he roared. "You have to climb this!" Turned out he was a base jumper.
So that was that then. A week of walking later we were right underneath it. I was secretly appalled. How could we climb that! The only route description we could find was a small picture postcard at a hut with a vague zig zag dotted line on it two inches long for 4500 foot of cliff. This was our guide.

At the bottom of a large cliff we found this painted order. We attacked. Luckily for us Brian (he of Brian and Martina`s USA epic walk blog ) is good with heights and an HVS climber. No Alex this time. John (owner of wee white randy dog Chalky featured in a back story) was the third of our team.

Although not that difficult, mild scrambling only, the exposure was immense, nearly 4000 feet straight down at this point.

This hill is also known as God`s Throne due to a huge bowl formation on its upper slopes that makes it look like a vast armchair seen from a distance from this side.
Up close its impressive too. A mass of shimmering white limestone that dazzled us the rest of the way up.

The camera was equally dazzled, kind of a bleached effect here.
The view from the summit rim was stunning. The Throne of God Indeed. Going by the sealed notebook at the cairn it does not get many ascents a year. Very short window of a few months. Would not like to climb it in snow, even with a rope.

We came upon this brilliant bothy protected from stone fall later on in the journey built into the cliff. Inside it looked like Snow White`s cottage full of hand carved chairs awaiting the dwarfs. Amazing place.

We spent a few days here in the town of Cortina as classic easy ( ish) via feratta routes start from the hills around the campsite. This is us starting one. Thunderstorms seemed to build up during the day with big lightning storms hitting the ridges by four o'clock regularly. You could set your watch by them. Not the place to be hanging off a 1000 foot metal ladder :0)

Ordessa Canyon. Spain. This picture is taken below the great prow. Where we were standing is right at the top in the photo 2 weeks ago. Interesting descent with a big rucksack pulling you off balance. Our packs were so heavy it was a real effort to pull them on. Once they were up there on our backs it was ok though. About 30kilos (4 1/2 stone) throughout this trip.

At one point( lower down luckily) I fell over and couldn't get up again, trapped like a beetle on its back under the weight of my pack. No fun that bit as I landed on my poor coupon and spent the rest of the trip in bars or huts looking like I enjoyed a good drink and a good face fight afterwards with the pavement.

Good path down though a bit on the narrow side for my liking after my tumble.

This is the hut perched on the mountainside at the upper entrance to Ordessa Canyon. The horse is bringing up supplies.

This is the start of the canyon. It has great balcony trails running on both sides with wide trails and dry basic shelters. We also stayed overnight in a cracking bothy during a massive thunderstorm that shook the mountains.
Mont Blanc next. A few more pictures from the highest mountain in Western Europe.

This was us going up from the French side.
A few years earlier we had thought of attempting it from the Italian side but the wind was howling and we all had bad hangovers. Someone had a birthday in our group the night before and I`d drank a full mug of Southern Comfort after wine in the hut then fell over my guy lines, lying out the whole night in the open just my boots sticking in the tent entrance. Ah, to be young again!

This is a girl in our old club. Good downhill skier. Always smiling.

Same girl on a rock peak above the Aosta valley near Gran Paradiso. Fantastic area for a hillwalking club to go to. Bags of easy peaks at all levels .Snow above 10,000 feet and rocky Cobbler like hills below that.

Same hill getting near the top. All the way up we were thinking bloody hell, hope we don't have to reverse this!
I`ve got bags more pictures of other areas abroad and at home so fear not, Alex the sunken hunchback can rest easy in his zimmer. We are not undone.
I`m now off for some well earned medicinal cider. Big time happy swally here I come.


The Glebe Blog said...

Spectacular locations Bob.You can say without contradiction 'Been there,done it,and got the T shirt'.
I'm envious.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic yet again Bob - thanks for taking the none too subtle hint and posting up more of your earlier exploits.

Graham said...

Great reports/photos Bob.

blueskyscotland said...

Soaked the tee shirt more like Jim.The temperature on some of these trips was in the high 80s.Great experience but one of my fellow backpackers put it well after the warmest of the lot- the Corsica trip.3 days of pleasure(the journey to get there and back) 9 days of flies, dust and heat walking bent over like a row of hermit crabs crawling up a mountain.
Would I do It again? Yup!

vally said...

Nice wee report and pics from some old club trips, but what about the other long distance highway in the Dollies, the AV2, and the GR20 in Corsica??

They were both good trips as well...and I was there with you!!