Showing posts with label Italy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Italy. Show all posts

11 September 2014

Via Ferrata Italian style

It was the day we'd waited for, the day of our holiday that would see us in our climbing harness, ropes attached and hard hats on our heads.  Cima Capi Fausto Susatti was our target for the day which was billed as an easy(ish) Via Ferrata for folks new to this particular sport.
I was excited at the prospect of being roped to the mountain on precarious ledges and climbs however I was less excited about the 3hr walk up the mountain before the Via Ferrata part started.  Never the less it had to be done and what made it fun was the views that spread out behind us as Riva del Garda and the surrounding area came into view again and again.

It was a straightforward path upwards, steep in some places and well marked.  We met a few folks on the route but mostly it was just us 2.  The sun was shining and conditions were near perfect.  We had several layers packed as with any mountain the conditions can change in an instant so we were well equipped with waterproof and extra layers to be used should needed.
Before long it was midday and the first part of the via ferrata was in view.  Hats & harnesses on and clips secured on the wire rope we made our way upwards through the first narrow gully that would take us higher. 

We were then presented with a series of ladders, ledges and exposed pinnacles that was all very thrilling and over far too soon.  There were 2 German chaps in front of us (once who was very scared indeed) and we met them again when we'd reached the summit where the Italian flag flew.  There was a book at the summit where you could sign to say you'd been there but there was no working pencil so we couldnt add our names to the log, sadly.
Time to head down and we met a group of lads who were descending but without the via ferrata gear and on one particular scramble downwards we wondered how they would have managed with that as it was quite tricky and even though we were roped in there were still sticky bits that tested your logical mind to the max.

The weather was changing and our extra layer and waterproof coats were now needed as we made our way down the mountain.  There was a lovely forested area that we walked through which was about the time we relalised that it was getting late in the afternoon and the lady at the tourist office had told us that the last bus back from the village below was at 6pm.   We had to make that bus as our climbing gear had to be back to the outdoor shop in Arco by 7pm or we'd be liable for another days hire.

We quickened our pace as much as we could on the descent and arrived at the village about 5.30pm, well in time for the bus.  So, there we were, perched against the wall at the bus stop in the sleepy village and 6pm came and went with no bus.  We were about 10 miles away from Arco and at this point not sure if any bus would come at all.   We decided to stick our thumbs out and hope that some kindly walker type person would assist and get us at least back to Riva where the car was.   Fingers crossed someone would stop.

Many cars passed and it was now 6.20pm and we had almost resigned ourselves to the fact that we were not going to make it back in time when a car almost skidded to a stop causing the moped rider behind to swerve at the last min to avoid hitting the back of the car.  In the car was a lovely lady who offered us a lift.  She lived near a lake close by and was heading to Arco to get some painting supplies and although spoke very little English we managed to have a chat about the weather and the fact that her washing machine was broken, very random.

So all was not lost, we made it back to the hire shop in time to return the equipment and made it back to our tent in time for a quick change and wander into Riva for dinner.  Dead on our feet we returned to the campsite completely shattered and fell asleep to the now familiar sounds of thunder accompanied by lightning and heavy rain.........what a brilliant day !

21 September 2013

Stromboli - The volcanic adventure continues


Our visit to the island of Stromboli was for one purpose and one purpose only.  To climb it and see the much anticipated lava spurts of a still active volcano.

The island IS the volcano and has 2 small villages built into the mountain side on the opposite side of the crater,  There are signs throughout the island that inform on the actions to take incase of eruption and/or tsunami and the islanders live their lives day to day in the shadow of a lava spurting monster.  Will there be another major eruption, well yes of course their will be, no one knows when...........Behind our little apartment the puffs of smoke every 20 mins or so constantly reminded you of its presence.

We had paid to climb the mountain with a guided tour as its not permitted to venture up there without a guide but we didnt get off to a great start having been given the wrong time to arrive at the starting point and then having to rush up the fairly steep path to catch up with the group ahead.  The first 20/30 mins of the walk was at a fair pace and in the heat and with the steepness of the path I was just about done in before we'd even really started.  When we'd finally caught up with the group we found they were mainly American with one particular loud mouthed chap who never shut up but talked at a level that all 20 of us could hear.  A bit boastful about his work, the places he'd visited but he was a great distraction from the relentless march up the side of the mountain.  Stromboli is about the hight of Snowdon and we started at sea level.  I've climbed Snowdon a couple of times now but never at this pace and never in this heat.  It was a challenge.
We made several stops on route, one to taste some figs from a bush that was growing at the side of the path.  I found them delicious (albeit minus the nice bit of melted brie that would have made them perfect) but Chris didnt like them at all really.

The light was beginning to fade and just before the final path to the summit we stopped and layered up before the last of the sun dissapeared behind the horizon.  The last part of the walk would be in darkness and beyond the peak we could already see the rising smoke coming from the crater and the low gutteral boom of the lava spurts.  The boom was something that got you right in your chest.  It was a noise that meant danger but exciting, a noise that made the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end and I only wish I'd taken a recording of it as it was quite indescribable.

Arriving at the top we sat in rows on the top of the mountain and there in front of us was the crater with the sparks, smoke and frequent lava spurts of course always accompanied with that boom.  It was mesmerising and you really had to pinch yourself to remind yourself where you were and what your eyes were witnessing.  This is not a sight I'll ever forget as long as I live.

We sat there for the best part of an hour watching the show in front of our eyes.  All to quickly it was time to head down.  The path down was a different one to the one we'd come up.  Head torches guiding our way it was a steep march down in quite deep black sand which was being scooped by the bucketload into our boots as we walked.  There was a guide at the front of the group and one at the back and before long the 20 of us were split up over quite a distance.  The lead guide just took off like a rocket and it was quite hard work to keep up.   There were a few people behind us who fell and just couldnt keep up and by the time we arrived back at the start point in the village we could still see the head torches of people still quite a way up the mountain.  A harrowing descent but we got back safely.

After a lovely meal of pizza it took us quite a time to come down from the adrenalin rush that was our Stromboli trek.  A trip to remember and worth every penny, even if our guides weren't the best the experience was amazing............

15 September 2013

Vulcano - Craters and Sulphar

Having landed on the island of Vulcano a few days into our Italian Adventure the towering peak stood proudly behind our hotel and was just begging to be climbed.  At random moments of the day you could see plumes of sulphur escaping from different bit of the mountain and I couldn't wait to get up there so we could see the crater for ourselves.
So off we set, up the clearly marked path that wound its way up the hill.  Every 100mtrs or so there was a sign letting you know how far you had to go.  It was early so we practically had the path to ourselves which was a blessing as the early morning ferries bringing people to the island for their own walk up the hill hadnt yet arrived.

The path was easy and the best bit was the opening views up behind us.  All the local islands were now on view and we could clearly see all the way over to Stromboli which was another volcano on our list.  As usual and with the heat of the day rising there were plenty of flies so it was best to keep moving as when you stood still they tended to swarm.

In less than an hour we were at the top of the path and at the southern end of the crater.  It was here we could see just how prominent the sulphur plumes were and the gases were escaping from most of the crater rim and bowl.  The smell was incredible, rotten eggs and not a pleasant smell at all.  I guess you get used to it but in some places it was really overpowering.

So we made our way up to the right to follow the path up round the rim and back down the other side.  There seemed to be more people about now and several paths showing different routes on different parts of the hill.

There were 2 routes really to chose from to get us down.  1 was through the sulphur field which was the one Chris too and the other was a path that took you down a little away from the sulphar which was the one I chose.  Never the less I was still able to capture Chris on his suphuric journey down the mountain side and he mentioned it was smelly and a bit hot...........ewwwww!
Up and down in a couple of hours and before the heat of the day and the hoards of tourists that were now clambering up the sides spoiled our day. It was a good call to go early and a truely spectacular experience.