Friday 10 July 2015
A very tough two days
No phone reception for the past two days, which proved by far the most demanding of my journey so far. Altogether four 12-14 hour days one after another, with no recovery time, left me exhausted. So, although I'm almost back on schedule, a change of strategy is called for. Rather than taking rest days, after a few long, hard days I shall take an easier day, allowing me to recover yet not lose time.
On Tuesday evening I reached the Bosio hut tired, but it was a wonderful hut, I was the only guest and I had an enormous meal of pasta, bread, meat, cheese and pudding - too much for my digestion next day! After a massive storm in the night, I set out in uncertain weather up a path into a most forbidding area with rocky peaks all around. Coming across the old abandoned Desio hut, I left the rucksack there and had a superb climb on red rock, along a knife edge with rock towers looming up out of the mist -the Corno Rosso, part of the 'Mountain of Peril'. Then back down to the abandoned hut, pelted with hail and lightning striking 150m away.
Helmet on against the hail! This later froze. The abandoned hut was eerie in the storm. After waiting for the storm to abate, I descended difficult ground on a glacier, then stoked up on cake at a hut, before following the sentiero Roma, a high level way-marked route but with no path, across boulders, with chains over the passes - very difficult ground to cover with any speed, so in 12 hours I covered only 16km. Arriving at 8.30 pm at the small Ponti bivouac hut, I found two Italian lads there, so had a chat after eating. But there was no time to recover before setting off again at 6.25 in the morning to tackle another 28km of extremely difficult going on the Sentiero Roma. The whole way was continually up and down through hostile terrain with way marks to look out for, but no path, crossing boulder-strewn ground, with via ferrata chains in several passes. I've had to recalibrate my timing: even 2km per hour with a rucksack is hard to maintain over such ground. Carrying no food, I survived on breakfast at one hut and a bowl of pasta at another. This wasa day of real mountaineering, crossing a glacier with crampons, hard snow, and a nightmare descent over horrible loose scree, boulders and rocks in long grass. I was so tired I kept falling over and when finally I got down at 9.00 pm, there was no sign of the promised albergo. So I went into the village of Chiavena and found a restaurant of rather seedy appearance but had a good rest there.
Although the scenery has been magnificent, I was truly glad to finish this toughest stage of the journey - four extremely hard days of having to concentrate on every step to avoid a slip. Now I enter the easier country of the Ticino, but with failing equipment. The locks on my poles are going and my shoes are totally worn on the soles and split on the uppers. Interesting!