My first night in Italy was not pleasant and I kept getting woken up by the unfamiliar sounds and I was up and in the shower before 0700 and heading down to the bus station.
The bus was leaving at 0815 and I just had time for a quick coffee and completely failed in buying a ticket at the ticket office so I ended up buying it from the bus driver but it was hard work since none of my 10 Italian words seemed to be of any help and the driver was making fun of my language poor skills but also glad that I at least tried 🙂
After a beautiful bus ride I arrived in Madonna di Campiglio at 1215 and just made it to the tourist information before it closed at 1230 and that’s when the bad news started!
It turned out that all the Via Ferrata’s was closed due to the first heavy snow fall in the mountains and even worse, all the mountain huts was closing up within the next day or two leaving me with only what provisions I could carry.
I stopped for a panini lunch while I considered my options, the nearest area with lower altitude climbing routes was on the other side of Lake Garda, meaning several busses and at least a full day just to get there so I decided to stick to the plan and head into the mountains, thinking “how bad could it be”? But my bad luck didn’t end there because when I tried to stock up on my provisions there was another problem since it was Sunday and the shops were closed but I did manage to buy one bread from the cafe where I had lunch, so now I had a bread, two ready meals, a handful of musli bars and some beef jerky but no water, no gas and only a few gel pouches for heating food and melting snow. With my provisions packed up I set of in a taxi that took me to the start of the trail for €20 and armed with an illustrated map that looked more like a kids drawing but it was free at the tourist information and so it had to do.
The trail was good and easy to follow but hard going with a 20kg pack and as soon I came to the snowline I started to realise that they had not been kidding as there was a lot of snow on the ground and the rocks was all iced up but it was a beautiful day with blue skies and I arrived at Rufio Tuccket after 2.5 hrs and first thing I made a large brew from melting snow and ice. While I was chilling and enjoying my brew I came to think about a Simon Yates trick I heard at one of his talks, he always carry a straw for drinking melting water straight from the rocks but I didn’t have a straw so I used a rolled up €20 note, I figured that if it’s good enough for snorting coke, it should be good enough for drinking water and that would save my limited supply of heating gel for heating a hot meal later 😀
After I dropping my pack in the hut’s winter room I went for a wee reconnaissance to try and find the start of the Sosat (classic Via Ferrata route) but had to turn back when the sun disappeared behind the mountains at 1830 and on my way back I had a wee tumble as the darkness settled but nothing hurt apart from my pride and since it was getting bitterly cold after the sun had set I stopped for a quick pee and seeing it was bright orange/yellow I made a mental note “must drink more water tomorrow”.
I had brought a small one man tent but with the winter room open I didn’t need it and in fact I was not allowed to camp in the park at all so I made myself at home in the winter room, I had opted for my summer sleeping bag to use with a cotton liner to save weight and together with the heavy blankets that was already in the hut it was quite cosy.
It was still quite early but too cold and too dark to do anything but cosy up in the sleeping bag, listen to some tunes, text home, write diary and finally at 2030 hours it was lights out and go to sleep with the sound of Kings of Leon.