Lessons learned and summary:
  1. 2 rifugios at this stage – rif Rosetta, rif Pradidali
  2. Ressuply possibility in San Martino di Castrozza (take a cable car from rif Rosetta)
  3. 20th September is the last day of the season. Most rifugios close, cablecars stop operation.

Although we tried really hard to find a flat spot yesterday, we were still sliding down during the night. We were not the only ones camping in the “ibex valley”. Some guys have built their tent under a big stone few hundreds of meters far from us. As we were passing by them later on, they were just crawling out of their tent. Nice to meet someone who has even slower mornings than we do.

We begin the day with a tough ascent. We find ourselves in the middle of a rocky wasteland. The whole ground is just one big rock….one giant stone. I think this is how being on Mars must feel like.

In the middle of wasteland

After we climb the first hill, we soon arrive to rifugio Rosetta (2,581 m.a.s.l.) situated near a cablecar station. We plan to take the cablecar and get down to a town called San Martino di Castrozza. We need to re-supply there for the rest of the trek. We stop at the rifugio for a quick Radler and espresso. There’s surprisingly high concentration of young people with big backpacks. They seem to be going to camp somewhere as well. See? I said the camping restrictions won’t be such a drama in reality. Meanwhile, crowds of people keep arriving by the cablecar and are slowly moving towards the rifugio. Time to finish our drinks and go.

We were super-lucky with the cablecar. On the way down we learn that today (20th of September) is the very last day of the season and therefore also the last day of the cablecar operation! Ufff…we were just in time. One day later and we would have been left with no food. We had to pay €25/person for a both-way ticket but it really saved us some time and energy. An idea of having to walk down on foot and having to get back up on the trail with fully loaded backpacks makes me sick.

When it comes to the town visit itself – we were rather unimpressed. The town seemed like one of those “wanna be luxurious resorts”….polished place with no soul. It’s basically just a cluster of hotels surrounding a road. There’s also a restaurant or a shop here and there…but that’s it. In any case, we were super-grateful that we got a chance to get here and buy some food. With backpacks full of sweets and pasta, we head back to the cablecar. In no time we are passing by rif Rosetta again, connecting back to the trail. Mission completed successfully.

There’s one more rifugio on the way today – rif Pradidali (2,278 m.n.m.). Approaching it, we see many climbers hanging around. The atmosphere seems friendly. We stop to take a short break.

So you thought it’s impossible to encounter a shitty Aperol Spritz in Italy? Well so did I….but it was a mistake. I order an Aperol at the refugio….the worst one I’ve ever had. I still drink it though. The alcohol blunts the senses and prevents me from falling into depression from the next crazy climb that we still have to do today.

Yes, it is just as terrible as expected. Maybe even slightly more. Once again we feel like on the way to Mordor. We find ourselves in the middle of a rocky emptiness, surrounded by a thick fog. And not a soul in sight. On the way we talk thematically about the Lord of the Rings. Thomas comes up with several quiz questions and tests my knowledge. It’s not great to be honest.

I’m grateful for both the fog and the LOTR distraction as another insane ferrata appears in front of us. One would think that we must be used to them already….but we ain’t. I still feel pretty nervous, especially with the full load on my back. Silently in my mind, I keep repeating my via ferrata rule of thumb: Don’t panic, don’t look down, don’t fall. Simple in theory, isn’t it?

When we finally reach the pass – Passo delle Lede, we are rewarded with a stunning view….

Nah, just kidding. We see sh**. But whatever….the important thing is that there will be no more ferratas. At least for today. We begin to descend again to the valley where we encounter remains of a plane crash from 1957. A piece of engine here, a piece of fuselage there….It sends shivers down my spine, I have to say.

When we get further down and finally escape the clouds, a beautiful view (this time for real) opens up. We don’t go much further. Despite the lame mileage, we’ve had enough for today. We nestle down on a nice flat grassy spot. While we cook the dinner, we witness another chilly incident….Rescue operation live! Out of the blue a helicopter apears in the sky and begins to circle around Cima Canali mountain peak. The peak is covered in mist. We observe the helicopter diving into it and appearing again for several times. The main action seem to be taking place on the other side of the mountain range. Nevertheless, we can still see that the copter managed to tap down on the peak at one point, pick up the climber and fly away. “Wooow, this almost made me sweat”, I say while still staring at the sharp peaks shooting out to the sky. “First a plane crash and now this? Is this place cursed or what?”

This whole incident reminded me of the importance of being humble and cautious in the mountains. It also evoked a feeling of huge respect and admiration for the people who don’t hesitate to risk their own lives in an effort to save those of others….

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