Well what I thought I’d never do, I have done. I went to the top of both peaks of mount Frioland, 8,971 feet (sound a bit Pythonish doesn’t it?). So many years looking out of the window and gazing at it thinking how great it would be to go but never actually getting round to doing it.
I thought I was fit. Evidently I’m not as I found it hard going. Especially towards the top it was like all energy had been sucked out of me. It was worth it though. Four and a half hours up and about the same going down including natural history stops, widdle stops and grub.
Frioland is almost permanently covered in cloud. Even on good days about 9 o’clock up comes the cloud and today was no different so I wasn’t that disappointed really. Actually it wasn’t so bad because just as the August sun was about to make life intolerable, the fog came down.
Standing on top of a mountain with all the cloud below you is quite something. Of course it would have been nice to see something but I think the atmosphere felt more right with the cloud. It’s almost a pointed mountain. Like children draw. A hop, skip and a jump and you could fall right off it so it was like being on a tiny island in a sea of cloud (oh what a horrible cliché, sorry!).
I went up with two friends and Andrea was walking up it like he was walking to the post office to post a letter. Total nonchalance with rucksack slung over shoulder, chatting away, bending down to look at plants and insects and stuff. There was no way I was bending down to look at anything short of a gold ingot, ‘once up, stay up’ is my motto. I thought of kicking him but he is taller than I am so then I thought better of it.
When I got to the top I swore I’d never go again but I think I’ll have to. I’m not sure if the fatigue and permanent headache was due to the height, the early 5am start, the lack of food or a buggered set of lungs and half a century of not climbing mountains every week. So I’m going to get some training in, lose 10 kg and try again and see if it makes any difference. It’s important because I’d like to do Mount Viso too but that is a serious mountain, 12,599 feet, so if I have a problem with altitude I’d like to know beforehand.
I plotted the course with my GPS coming down so going up in the dark will be reasonably easy. It’s going to be dark next time because I’m going to leave at 3 am to be at the top for 7ish before the clouds, then I’m going to sit on the top in the cloud all day and contemplate my navel. As mountains go it’s got character only marred in my view by the crosses on the top which I suppose serve to remind us that we can never really get away from mankind.
One thing I like about the tops of the taller mountains is the register. There’s usually a box with an exercise book in it where all the people to reach the summit write their names and comments. Fun to hear the names of friends read out.
Coming down was much more fun than going up. The cloud was really thick and racy. Now you see me now you don’t sort of cloud.
On the wildlife front it was a bit disappointing. One eagle and a roe deer. We did however see a couple of rare things, three black salamanders (salamandra lanzai) and a couple of black vanilla orchids (nigritela nigra) and believe me it really does smell of vanilla. There were three of them up there. The salamander didn’t smell of anything.