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Monte Croce


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Woke up in time for breakfast at 7.30am and yet another day with sun had been promised, at least down here in Champoluc, in Ayas Valley. It looked less promising at high altitude and that mountain peak we would climb during the hike today, and then it looked very cloudy and foggy. After morning meeting at 8.45am we gathered outside the hotel for joint jeep taxi up to the starting point for today. Again, the red group would have Patrick as mountaineering guide. With the help of three Land Rover Defender jeeps the red and blue group was driven through Saint-Jacques and up to Nana Desouss at 2062 meters above sea level. York (Lina and Patrick’s dog) would be with the red group today. York, who was being trained to be a Rescue Dog, was only 6-month-old and had just as much energy as any. He was high and low at the same time and ran back and forth. So, the gist must have been that York had run at least 3 times as much as the rest of us. And he loved carrying sticks around. Now we’re not talking about sticks at 30 centimeters but more like branches close to 1,5 – 2 meters. He didn’t seem to apprehend how long they really were, but dragged proudly the branches around.

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In the beginning the path was free from rocks and roots and pretty comfortable to hike along. But the higher we got the rockier it became and the sun did its best to shine I could tell you. It got so hot that York decided to lie down in a mud hole and cool himself down. And he really thought he lay well there having a nice time. And then he went up starting to shake off all the mud… less fun for the rest of us. We followed the alpine creek Torrente di Nana for a while before the path took off up towards Tournalin Dessous at 2544 altitude meters. At this point we started to get into the clouds and after hiking in the sun for about an hour at least I thought it was quite nice. Unfortunately, the view got limited then.

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Just before arriving at Tournalin Dessous we passed two Haflinger Horses calmly gazing in their pasture. Then we stopped at Rifugio Grand Tournalin for a technical pause, eating some snacks and refilling our water bottles.

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And now we faced a pretty intense hike up to Colle Croce at 2801 altitude meters. And once again the path was hard to distinguish and it felt pretty good having a mountaineering guide who knew the mountains in his sleep. During the ascent hike we once again spotted some mountain goats, but far away at a distance. When we finally fought our way up to Colle Croce, we were supposed to have an amazing view towards Matterhorn and Mont Blanc, but the clouds had decided otherwise. Well, well, you can’t have it all. Here we left our backpacks to climb up the very last altitude meters to the top of Monte Croce at 2894 meters above sea level. I can promise you those were the most challenging and daring altitude meters I experienced during this week. Here was barely any path but you had to get over boulders that lay on top of each other, sometimes loose stones. A part of the path we hiked along a steeply leaning mountain side (close to 70° angle) with only a very narrow path to walk on. And that path was neither exactly horizontal; it had probably a 20° angle sideways itself. And since we were up in the clouds, we had no natural horizon to refer to, which will make anyone dizzy and loose orientation. I will admit that it got dizzy for me a couple of times during that part of the climb but I wasn’t alone experiencing that in the group.

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But we all in the red group made it through and up to the peak of Monte Croce and got a group picture at the cross. Unfortunately, it was cloudy; otherwise we would have had a groovy picture if the view had been clear all the way to Monte Rosa Massif. We chose another path down to our backpacks again at Colle Croce. It was surprisingly how well York made it through all boulders and steeps, but on the other hand he has four legs to allocate his weight on, apart from us humans. We got down safe and sound to Rifugio Grand Tournalin again and the awaiting lunch. Polentas with beef stew (Carbonada), which tasted darn well after a tough hike. Polenta is the Italian word for corn and the coarse yellow flour manufactured by corn grain and is gluten free. Polenta is prepared by crushing the corn and contains a lot of fibers, proteins, amino acids and vitamins among other things. This is boiled into a solid porridge which solidifies. The Polenta is often boiled in a large copper kettle, called “paiolo” in Italian, and is all about a true slow cooking dish. The boiled cold polenta is then ready to cook. Polenta is often used in porridge, puddings and bread, but also as it is in shapes of pucks with cheese gratin, grilled or fried.

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When time for descent to Nana Dessous where the jeep taxi would pick us up, the sun started to shine again. We hiked together red and blue group, along the dirt track. At one point we could hear the marmots warning sounds, but shy as they were, we didn’t see any. We gathered by the jeeps and packed our backpacks onto the jeep roofs and rode down and back to Champoluc again. Dinner was served at 7.30pm and started as earlier during the week with a salad entree. Then there was Onion Tarte Tatin with Blue Cheese sauce as starter number one. As starter number two Aosta Valley Crèpes with ham and cheese was served. Main course was veal escalope with mushrooms and finishing off with a strawberry ice cream as dessert.

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Italy Tagged hiking

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