Lessons learned and summary:
  1. Be prepared to carry your trash with you (It’s not possible to dispose of it on the huts).
  2. Ferrata gear would come in handy on this stage. It’s necessary for the Pisciad`u peak summit. (This climb is, however, extra – detour; Alta Via 2 leads around it)
  3. 2 huts on this stage – Jimmi hut a Rif Pisciadú

The day today seems very peaceful at first, idylic even. After I wake up, I get a chance to observe a marvelous sky. Dozens of flaming feathers floating through the sky, melting away into the violet infinity. I’m enjoying my morning coffee, looking at this beauty above my head while Thomas is still sleeping.

We begin the day by a quick descent followed by an ascent to another little pass. Meanwhile, a helicopter keeps flying above our heads. There and back, there and back. We notice that it carries something – supplies there, trash back. Ah, so that explains why the visitors are not allowed to leave trash on the huts….garbage collection as well as supplying are done by helicopters. During our ascent to the pass a quickly proceeding girl outruns us. She carries tiny crop-full backpack behung with whatever no longer fitted inside. We greet each other briefly and a moment later she sweeps from our sight.

We’re progressing through a fairy-tale like hollow protected from both sides by sheer cliffs. I can’t get enough of this beauty and so I stop, stare, take pictures and videos every once in a while.

The traffic continuously becomes heavier, we meet more and more people. The descent becomes steeper and my left knee protests. Arriving to the civilization, we stop by Jimmi Hut near the cable-car for coffee, beer and already traditional limón-soda. “They don’t have to supply by the helicopter here, perhaps it could be a bit cheaper then”, we think to ourselves. Wrong. We pay the standard € 13. We also meet the quick girl again at the hut. We chat a bit and learn that she’s from Great Britain, also hiking Alta Via 2 which she intends to combine with a part of Alta Via 1. Unlike us she has ferrata gear with her and is not afraid to camp practically anywhere. She’s off soon to continue her journey, she planned also a summit to Pisciad`u peak (2,985 m.a.s.l.) for today. As we are far less ambitious, we continue sitting peacefully with the ordered beverages for a little while longer.

Before leaving the restaurant, we fill our bottles in the nearby vat. The sign on it says “non-drinking water” but with our water filter, this is no obstacle to us. While passing through the village (which is more like a small settlement next to the road), a signpost catches my eye. Literally devilish path is leading us to our next stop – Rif Boè… “Someone had a sense of humor here”, I think to myself. As it turns out few moments later, the name is not random but was chosen intentionally for sure. What is ahead of us could be definitely considered an infernal path!

Highway to hell

And yet it looks so innocent in the beginning. We walk the path of a countour line, we have an amazing view on the opposite ridge from which we came down this morning and on the road which wriggles like a snake between the verdant mountainsides. “What a thrill it would be to have a motorbike here”, occurs to me.

After a short while we get to the next signpost only to find out that we are at the end of the nice part. The sign points right up to the vertical hill above our heads. Looking at the hillside I conclude that it’s time for dopping – music, my best friend in crisis. I put on the headphones and off I go. The ascending is really hard this time – just as it seemed. The rocks slip under our feet and I’m super-grateful for my trekking poles which are not only preventing me from falling but also make the climb a lot easier. I pitty Thomas – till today stubborn antagonist of trekking poles. Well, well, advice is advice but own is experience irreplaceable. I have some serious difficulties to catch my breath and the sweat is pouring down from me like never before. But besides that it’s not too bad with Linkin Park in my ears and trekking poles in my hands. Well…at least till the moment when we reach the first via ferrata. “No, no fuck*** way! That’s not what I signed up for“, my brains starts protesting while seeing the chain of people scrambling up the rock. “Damn!”, Thomas throws in and only amplifies my already cloudy/panic thoughts.

I have to take couple of deep breaths and reconcile my thoughts and so I put down my backpack while still staring bluntly at the iron ladders in front of us. “Well, we can’t go back. I mean we can but we don’t want to when we got all the way here”, I deliberate silently. Meanwhile a group of people with Bernese Mountain Dog outstrip us. “Come on, that’s not possible for the dog to make it”. I really can’t see a way it could go. But apparently it is possible. Without any signs of hesitation, those people begin to climb the ladder while the dog takes a detour and follows them. “Come on, let’s go. We are blocking it here“, Thomas commands. Seeing the fear in my eyes, he adds: “Don’t be a funk, Kristýna“. “OK, OK, let’s go then“, I reply and attempt to attach the trekking poles to my backpack. I can feel my hands shaking. “Dear God, if only my mum knew what are we’re getting ourselves into here…“, my loud thoughts remind themselves again.

Hey momma
Look at me
I’m on my way to the Promised Land, ow

I’m on the highway to hell
Highway to hell
I’m on the highway to hell
Highway to hell
Mmm, don’t stop me

As I step on the first ladder, I can feel also my knees trembling now. I’m usually not afraid of heights but climbing a rock with heavy backpack and without being secured – well, that’s a first time experience. And not the best one I have to say. Luckily, I manage to pursuade my brain not to panic completely and I keep moving forward. After getting over the first ladders, things get a bit better. Now steel ropes enter the scene and one even gets the luxury of some sort of ground (or rock) under his/her feet and is not just hanging there in the air on a ladder. Still…when we get all the way up, I feel relieved. I can feel the adrenalin pumping through my veins being slowly replaced by endorfin, I gaze disbelievingly down there at the deep abyss and I can’t believe we have just crawled out of there.

That’s, however, not the end of today’s adventure just yet. After well-deserved lunch break, we arrive at the Pisciad`u hut (2,587 m.a.s.l.) from where we begin another ascent with another ferrata. As we are climbing, the hot afternoon sun is burning and I wonder what’s the wheater like in July or August here…Throughout the afternoon we progressively get as high as to 2,963 m.a.s.l. and I realize that it’s the highest I’ve ever been so far! On the way we get a chance to observe chamois as well as crazy people climbing the Pisciad`u peak. The summit looks even more challenging that the first ferrata we did. I bow to their courage and determination and cross my fingers for the British girl if she’s still up there somewhere. There’s no peak for us to summit, just a vast plateau to reach. Still we feel like on top of the world there. It’s a priceless feeling, well-earned too. I definitely surpassed myself today.

The sight from the apex plateau (Pisciad`u peak on the right)

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