Thursday, March 18, 2010

Via ferrata, snowshoes and tormented eyes

So woozle learns the importance of decent sunglasses. We went up to cateluzzo again  with snow shoes and it was a brilliant sunny day with those really deep blue skies and penetrating sun. I have glasses which seem to be OK for a couple of hours of snow glare but I suppose the sun gets in from the top and bottom unnoticed (rather than the glasses being poor quality) because after 7 hours boy are my eyes painful.  Considering how nicely red faced we were at the end of the day maybe the sun was stronger than we though though Baldrick didn’t even have glasses swarthy Mediterranean type that he is. Two days later my eyes still feel dry like they have grit in them but nonetheless keep watering. I’ve been wearing sunglasses indoors (very trendy apparently) and I’ve put a cold compress on a few times but little improvement so far. The problem is the cost of decent glasses. Traditional glacier glasses (can’t stand this new wrapround trend in glasses) are anything from 120 euros upwards. The wife would go apeshit.. Cheaper though, I say, than breaking your nose or limbs whilst flailing about blindly with fried pupils.
The walk was brilliant. Jus the right mix of snow, slope and sun.  We thought we’d try to go the eastern route up to the Castelluzzo crag in order to avoid  the hard slog up in powder snow on the other side. It was a tough slog anyway because it’s a very steep slope, just about the limit for snowshoes I should  think but a much shorter one. The unknown was the stretch of via ferrata, a grand term for 10 metres of fixed cable, and something that with no snow is no problem at all. Doing it in the snow, with snowshoes on feet with a heavy rucksack and with me not particularly loving heights was interesting. Of course Baldrick glided across like he was shopping for bleach in a supermarket but then he’s a climber and they don’t feel boundaries like normal people. And of course just after crossing and before finally exhaling there was a long, deep rumble that you could feel through your feet and I was so concentrated I mistook the dripping water above me for falling snow, precursor to an avalanche shooting over the rock face above me (impossible as the top is flat) and bolted for the crag upon which Baldrick was nonchalantly chewing a cheroot (he wasn’t but you get the picture). ‘Just my luck’ I though ‘safely cross the via ferrata only to get swept over the edge by an avalanche’. As it turns out it seems it was an avalance but on the other side of the mountain.
After the cable it was a steep hike up to the top following the trees to avoid the vast expanse of potentially unstable snow between us and the pass. Actually It was probably easier with the snow than without as you could cut steps as you went up. Baldrick who always leads, being fitter than me, fell in a couple of times up to his armpits despite the snowshoes. Quite amusing to see him flailing about but I thought better of filming it as, though I haven’t found it yet, I presume there is a limit to his patience.
This time the snow was harder on the top and more compact though with some nice pockets perhaps a meter and a half deep to fall in. The views were amazing
I stitched the few bits of filming I did into some form of order and bunged it on you tube if you’re interested -

1 comment:

Athena said...


You keep calling that dog stupid, but I could hear him thinking to himself, "Yeah! Well at least I didn't get eyeball sunburn!" Followed by a Mutley type laugh ;)
I don't fancy doing that because if I fell in where Baldrick did, you might just catch my short arse managing to wave a fingertip!