Saturday 17th August. On Saturdays there is a single 7am gondola from Sulden up to 2,500m which, if you get your skates on, allows you to climb Monte Cevedale 3,769m and get back before the final gondola down at 5pm. If you miss it you face a 2.5 hour 600 metre hike down into the valley. Having missed a gondola before it is not something we intend to repeat.
All looks good. However, I’ve made a mistake. How can this be? I’ve done my homework. I’ve looked at the map. I’ve carefully read the route and we have packed our kit accordingly. Mistake!? Moi?
With hindsight maybe I should buy a new guidebook. Glaciers change, routes change. And over the last couple of decades that change has been huge. When was my guidebook published? Hang on… just checking… erm… 1990. Just the 29 years out of date then!
A lot of exclamation marks in those last 2 paragraphs. I think you deserve a photo by way of respite.
Shortly after taking the above photo I realised my mistake. The previous night I had said to Mrs P, “We won’t need helmets. It’s mostly glacier.” Muppet! The map clearly showed a quick trip over the Eiseeepass. The reality showed a horrible, 150m high, choss ridden, rockfall zone of a gully filled with guide led groups comprising people with little or no idea of the danger of throwing rocks down in those below.
Dynamic risk assessment time… stuff it, we’ll go over the Suldenspitze (peak) and access the glacier system that leads to our mountain that way. What can go wrong?
Turns out nothing can go wrong and we get 2 mountains for the price of one. Result! Three of you count the fact that we must return over the same peak. Lovely, if rather crevassey (made up word meaning lots of crevasses. I shall write to the Oxford English and ask them to add it) glacier route and a bimble over an easy peak. Admittedly we had to descend a hundred metres the other side but, this supposedly slower route got us well ahead of a group we were climbing with just before they opted for the choss gully. Tortoise and hare.
Past the Rifugio Casati at 3,269m after 3 hours and onto the Vedretta (‘glacier‘ I think) del Cevedale.
We are now out alone in the middle of a few groups of climbers but near none. Stunning views. Glorious ice. Thin air. So, slowly, slowly. Mrs P may have a different view of my interpretation of the word ‘slow.’ However, she is on the end of a rope 15 metres behind me so I can’t hear if she complains. La, la, la… (to be honest, she never complains. Just gets on with the business of enjoying and being ‘ard.)
The final 200m or so is steep. Traversing a 50 degree slope (don’t fall off) leading to a circa 100m long narrow ridge. 70 degree ice slope on your right leading to certain deathville and a ‘best not think about it drop‘ on the left leading to the same place but with a somewhat faster acceleration approach. It’s fine though, the ridge must be a good 50cm (1.5 feet) wide of solid ice with the odd hole added for amusements sake.
Stunning views from the summit and a strange reminder of the futility of war.
just shy of the summit are the remains of an old guard hut. Very small, very exposed. This area was the scene of ferocious fighting during WW2 between the very nations who are now sharing a friendly lunch together. My futile message to world leaders is; ‘Stop fighting. The little people, who outnumber your millions to 1, really don’t care. Just let us have a quiet lunch together.’
That’s World peace sorted and it’s only noon. Time to go down. It took us 4 hrs 45 mins to the summit, last gondola is at 5. Easy. Gravity is on our side.
Descent via a restorative as we return past the Rifugio Casati. Coffee for Mr P, Coca-Cola for Mrs P. (Odd, she never drinks Coca-Cola!?)
Back at the gondola at 4.15. 9 hours on the go. Mrs P loves a good boot camp/grand day out.
Back with Gandalf at 5pm and drive down into the valley to find a campsite with a shower. It’s been 3 days of free camping so a shower is long overdue.
Great day. Great area. More things need climbing but for now, a couple of rest days beckon.