On skialps in four thousand
Skiing in four thousand with great descents even in such an unusual summer period. Accommodation in cottages Mantua and Gnifetti. Peaks: Punta Giordani (4046 m), Balmenhorn (4167 m), Piramide Vincent (4215 m), Punta Gnifetti – Capana Margherita (4554 m), Corno Nero (4322 m), Ludwigshöhe (4344 m). Arrival in the mountains through picturesque villages such as Scopello, where the Giro d Italia rides. August 2021
We did not want to take the skis at first, but due to the weather, which first cloudy for a week and then the forecast for five days was clear, it was decided. In the end, the biggest problem was in the cottages, set to summer mode, when he gets up between two and five o'clock in the morning. We tried in vain to explain to them that we wanted breakfast at seven o'clock. We didn't need to go out in the dark under the headlights and go on a hike while the glacier was frozen; And the descents were fantastic.
We did not want to take the skis at first, but due to the weather, which first cloudy for a week and then the forecast for five days was clear, it was decided. In the end, the biggest problem was in the cottages, set to summer mode, when he gets up between two and five o'clock, where we tried in vain to explain that we want breakfast at seven o'clock. We don't need to go out in the dark under the headlights and go on a hike while the glacier is frozen; And the descents were fantastic. While the rope teams marched up and down at a steady pace, we snorted it down in a few minutes. In addition, after two o'clock in the afternoon, the glacier was completely free, so we, for example, descended from Margherita hütte completely alone for those thousand meters. Beautiful. Cracks are clearly visible in the summer, we carefully avoided them. In addition, we returned the way we had climbed before. The weight spread over the area of the skis is a more suitable load for snow bridges than a man in cats, was the last argument, but you know that when you pass through a place where there is only a small hole in the dark, but under it you sense a crater, it is in you a little little soul. The photo shows the Margherita hut (in the clouds), the highest alpine hut 4554 m. The picture is taken from four thousand from the Colle del Lys saddle. It is the place where the border between Italy and Switzerland leads.
Arrival to the mountains
We drove to Alagna Valsesia, from where we went up the cable car to Punta Indren (3200 m). The villages of Piedmont, where the road was winding, enchanted us so much that we soon started googleing individual places on the map to learn that we were crossing several UNESCO monuments. Austere stone houses without facades are nevertheless picturesque in a mountain environment due to their design. Mountain stream, vineyards, everywhere full of flowers and especially lively traffic. Suspended pink wheels in various variants on the facades of houses, at roundabouts.
Acclimatization would have been better if we hadn't found ourselves so fast at a height of over three thousand, but you didn't want to and wouldn't be able to pedal in skis with skis on a bagel, because you wouldn't destroy them. Just as it doesn't make sense to pack for both variants – hiking and skiing. Below the temperature is about twenty-five degrees, above zero. Our head stopped aching only after two days (that is, who whom) and we also suffered from insomnia. Unfortunately, insomnia is one of the manifestations of the first stages of mountain sickness. Pictured is Cimalegna – Passo Salati (3000 m)
Ascent to Punta Giordani
The picture shows the view of the cable car to Punta Indren (3200 m). On the far left is the saddle, which we went down on the way back. The top of the first four-thousandth you have „on the shot“ – Punta Giordani (4046 m) is pictured in the middle on the right. The ascent from the cable car takes about an hour and a half, in the last third we had to change for cats and put our skis on bags, because the ice slid under the harshaynams.
Descent from Punta Giordani
The idea of going down the southwest ridge below the Vincent Pyramid (4215 m), or finding a passage in the snow in it and going down it, turned out to be odd. We patted ourselves in the rocks for about an hour (picture on the left), until we came across a few ropes of abseiling following the traverse. Rappelling with skis on a bagel, in addition to the side and on markers, which did not look completely trustworthy, really came to us as nonsense. So we humbly climbed back upstairs and descended the Indren Glacier. In the picture on the right you can see our ski tracks lining the path trodden by cats and also that rocky ridge. When we saw the ridge the other day from the other side, we tapped our foreheads and congratulated each other on the decision to turn it around in time. The path along the ridge is really there, but it leads along the rock all the time, all the „promising“ passages from above end in quarries.
Access to the cottage Mantova
Our group had five members. One professional photographer, one ski manufacturer (Four Oaks Skis) and one mayor (unnamed villages). Honza and I had eighteen years since the wedding that day, he didn't even give me a flower of holomek.
Wind Balmenhorn and Piramide Vincent
So the next day we walked up from Mantua's hut. It was clear sunny weather, but relatively windy. The original forecast did not completely include the wind reaching 50 km per hour in gusts, which is the speed at which your skis fly. The gusts did not subside and frozen crystals stabbed in the faces. A few dozen altitude meters below the peak of the Piramide Vincent (4215), we turned it around with the idea that the opposite Balmenhorn (4167 m) will be better and especially there is a bivouac. It was. In the photo we have a bivouac on the right and behind us is the flat peak Piramide, from which we wanted to descend. We returned to him in the afternoon, when the wind was at least a little warmer. We preferred to leave the skis in the saddle and only walked on the cats.
Ascent to the Piramide and Balmenhorn
The left image shows the last ascent to the Pyramid Vincent (4215), the image in the middle a short ferrata leading to the top of Balmenhorn (4167 m), the image on the right is taken from the top of Balmenhorn and looks northeast to Corno Nero (4322 m).
Jesus on the Balmenhorn
At the top of the Balmenhorn (4167 m) is the great Jesus. He's probably supposed to protect everyone sleeping under him in the bivouac. When the wind blows badly, you will also feel the stinging proof that there is no kadibudka, so you walk to the rock on the right. The bivouac is truly a miraculous refuge for those who find themselves here in bad weather. In any case, it was already occupied in the sun at noon.
The descent to the Gnifetti hut (we completed it three times in total) was always great. The soft summer firn just sprayed from the skis. The only thing that spoiled our impression were our burnt lips. Despite the fact that we constantly lubricated our faces with a cream with a factor of fifty, I still have blisters on my mouth. A short ferrata leads to the cottage from above. Helicopters circled overhead quite often – partly with supplies.
On the four thousandth Punta Gnifetti, or Signalkuppe (4554 m) is the highest chalet in the Alps, Capana Margherita. It is named after Queen Margherita of Italy, Margaret of Savoy, who opened it personally. She must have been a rather tough girl when she climbed so high on the glacier in her time, and certainly in a skirt, because women were not allowed to walk in their trousers at the time. The most famous Italian pizza is also named after Margherita. We went to the cottage on the third day of our alpine holiday.
Colle Del Lys
The wind calmed down relatively, although small flakes flew in the morning, but then the sky flooded with blue and we could easily climb to the Colle Del Lys saddle (4220 m), where you cross the border from Italy to Switzerland. There was a total of Václavák in the saddle, several rope teams of different nationalities. Don't get me wrong, it's not a climb, the saddle is a „badge“ where you can go smoothly from all sides – and you have views of all sides. In front of us opened the way to the Margherite hut (pictured on the top in the cloud) and a view of the Zumsteinspitze (4562 m) and Dufourspitze (4634 m) directly opposite the cottage. It is not far from here, it is common to walk to the Zumstainspitze, to the Dufourspitze – the highest mountain in Switzerland – it is a bit harder to climb over the rocky ridge. We removed the harshayns from the skis so that it would glide better on the belts, the road led slightly downhill from the saddle and then a few tens of meters along the plain. However, a climb of about 350 meters awaited us to the cottage. To the right of us stood the mighty Parrotspitze (4443 m), we discussed for a while whether we would climb on the way back, but then we rejected it, we just did not want to.
Beer on top of the world
We arrived at the cottage in about an hour, ideal for the snow to soften in the meantime – before we have a top beer. We had fun visiting the alpine toilet, where they literally asked you: „Try to shit on the hole“, water is simply scarce. Honza and Viktor took their skis to the cottage, so they enjoyed the descent on the icy forty-degree slope, the rest of us had them fifty meters below the cottage. The glacier was beautifully depopulated, we went all the way down to the Gnifetti smelter. On the way we took it around Jesus, there was a very nice freeride under him. At four o'clock in the afternoon at the cottage, there is three hours left until dinner served in bulk at seven in the evening, so perhaps just dry the jumpers, cats, belts and then try to rest, a sleepless night is probably waiting for us again.
Corno Nero and Ludwig's Hohe
Last day up, today we're going down. Libor looks unhappy – the height doesn't really do him any good – but in the end he also wants to go up again. The last two four-thousanders are waiting for us, around which we have only been walking so far – the round snow Ludwig's hohe (4344 m) and next to it the rocky canine Corno Nero (4322 m). The picture shows the climb to Ludwig's hohe, Corno Nero is the tip on the right – as you can see, the end (30 meters – accurately measured by our rope) climbs on fifty-degree ice, downhill is most often descended. It was quite an interesting diversion, there were quite a lot of groups and there was not much space upstairs. The picture on the far left shows the top of Punta Giordani, which we went the first day.
Exit to the cable car
From Gnifetti we descended a saddle in the Indren Glacier. Google created an interesting compilation from three photos, which quite faithfully captures reality. Much worse than the saddle was the gradual drive down the rugged surface to the cable car. In those four days when it was not snowing, only the sun was washing, the snow had decreased so much that we did not know the place.
Down the saddle to the cable car
Photos of conventions always look flat. At least Libor has a top racing attitude.
We anchored for the night in the picturesque village of Boccioletto and spent the next two days slowly returning to Bohemia with stops at Sacro Monte di Varese (Holy Mountain, UNESCO monument) and at the lakes Lago d ‚Orta and Lago d‘ Garda. Italian Piedmont enchanted us with its diversity and wonderful sensitivity of the local architecture.
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