Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pass of the Billy Goat to the Gianna Pass

Interesting trip with the courageous Mrs. Baldrick to try to connect Colle Dar Moine to Colle della Gianna despite being warned against it. The weather was fantastic and we plodded along at a slow old pace peering into this, looking at that until we got to the Pass of the Goats. or more correctly apparently, pass of the Billy Goat (don’t ask me why). From the pass we cut across some lunar looking landscape to Rocce Fons. which is where I got to the last time before turning back. Last time I started to descend and then turned back because of the fog. Seeing where I had been jauntily rock hopping, now there was no fog, I gave myself a slap on the wrist for being so nonchalant about it.  We took it a bit at a time, reserving the right, if we felt the risk was too great for our  physical constraints, me, backache, Mrs. B, knee. to turn back. The whole descent is on scree and rotten rock and even what look like solid hand holds turn out to be huge lumps of loose rock too.  But most of the top section was treacherous under foot and under hand and looking back after 10 minutes or so we soon changed our minds about wanting to face the known again. For once, facing the unknown was infinitely preferable.  There were a couple of tricky exposed passages along (sort of) ledges each with it’s own overhang, meaning we had to remove the rucksacks and throw them ahead to pass under. I had expected to do the route barefoot but seeing the type of terrain I thought it better to put shoes on unfortunately I only had sooth soled tennis shoes with me which made the going probably far worse than barefoot so every pace was checked and double checked. The route was quite easy to find as there are numerous cairns marking  the way. Every time I see a cairn and am thankful for it, I remember a regular on the OutdoorsMagic forum,  the personification of the word dumbfuck,  who confessed to always destroying cairns wherever he went. Thank god he lives in Scotland because without cairns where we were it would have been really difficult.  I suppose, to anyone used to rock climbing, this brief descent would be child’s play, but neither Mrs. Baldrick nor I have any sort of head for heights so we were quite pleased with ourselves to have done it.
We had a leisurely lunch in the windbreak at the Colle della Gianna, as like every time I have been to the Gianna, the wind was freezing.  The trip back to the car was interminable. I’m pretty confident that I will not be going back to the Colle della Gianna again. Compared to the Colle Dar Moine it’s a bit of a let down and both a horrible climb up an even worse slog down. Too may cows too (I hate cows and sheep) and as punishment for trying to avoid cows with calves, I got yet another healthy shock off an electric fence. It cured my headache though. What with plodding and peering and leisurely relaxing, the whole circular route took us 10 hours but you could probably do it in 7 if you went at a decent pace. I was most impressed with Mrs. Baldrick’s courage in tacking the tricky bits on the ridge especially seeing her nervousness about the sagacity of the descent at the start.
Oh look, a yellow marmot

Bit of an embarassing photo innit?

Next cairn, just round corner

Now where?

Mrs Baldrick spies on mountains

Space the final frontier

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