Saturday, July 5, 2008

Critical point - Adula

The critical point of every trekking tour that can lower your chances of getting to the peak with 100% is when your alarm clock goes off in the morning. It's usually that point in time that decides the success of your attempt, or its inexistence. I jump out of bed and dress quickly to avoid second thoughts on a sleeping morning. It's already late when I reach Dangio - 8.30 - and I start climbing to Adula. There are some particular ingredients that should never lack from a beautiful tour, getting lost is one of them. I'm wandering through the village of Soi, visiting all its 15 houses, till I realize the path goes left at the very first house of the village.
The worst enemies of a long, demanding mountain tour are wild strawberries, blackberries, blueberries. I'm fighting the first of them shrewdly grown in my path. Though I'm negotiating with the enemy from time to time (especially when the size and color are just too tempting to resist), I succeed in keeping my pace reasonably moderate. Lunch time finds me some 100 meters up Adula Utoe hut, but I decide to wait for the hunger to strike and take only a short photo break. There are some people going down the glacier, and I can even see a kind of path - seems the crampons will not be needed. This is the largest glacier of Ticino and it's continually retreating like the rest of the glaciers; actually it looks more like two patches of ice with 2-3 wrinkles on them. This year there was quite a lot of snow, which means the dinosaurs of Ticino are safe at least for one more year. 
The Val di Soi running from the glacier does a pretty steep bungee jumping over the walls circling lake of Cadabi; there's a carpet of forget-me-not flowers on the slopes leading to the abys which makes me think that nature does have such a sense of humor.
An easy scramble on the scree gathered under the walls of Cima della Negra where I meet a descending group, brings me to the beginning of the whiteness. I recall forgeting a most important piece of equipment - sunglasses - and the sun reflecting on the snow blinds my daring eyes. Maybe that's not so bad after all, looking too much down into the abys is probably not the best policy anyway. Hunger decides to strike exactly on this slope - the perfect place for picnic. The climb is but a walk in the snow, the only requirement is to keep yourself vertical, no slipping allowed. I'm back to my snail speed and the heat of snow-sun combination doesn't help much. It feels as walking on an oven. Luckily clouds are covering the sky; unluckily there's a gap exactly above my head. 
In the pass I forget everything bewildered by the scenery. There are another steep 50 meters to the top, I choose to scramble up the rocks till there's no other choice but the snow. On three sides of the crest there's a glacier; the sight goes down to the valleys far,far down, hundreds of peaks lay under the white clouds, some even meeting them, and in the middle of them all it's a small point, nothing to the world and everything to myself - me standing on Adula. I wondered where might il ombilico del mondo be - now I know. On one side the high german Alps, on the other the very high french Alps, on yet another the Italian Alps and prealps, and all around the high Ticino Alps, me standing on the highest ticinese peak (3402). In the winter time the scenery must be just wonderful (it is breathtaking now).
I can only guess the path crossing the glacier to Zapporthorn; because of the snow the path does not seem difficult. One helicopter circles around the glacier and before I dread another Rega intervention, it comes close to the peak so that I can see the tourists waving. I wave in response; they're probably tourists that have taken advantage of the helicopter service from Quarnei hut; as a bonus they've got the oportunity of saluting Otzi's descendant:)
Though with regret I part from the peak and start descending; in one hour I reach the Adula Utoe hut (must have been the weight of the 3 biscuits that I've eaten on the top that helped with the gravitation). The sun is my constant companion, which will turn me to my red-skinned roots for the following days. From Soi down I follow the road; it's long, way too long for my winter boots. I wonder if I really climbed it this morning, how could I ever have had the patience and not turned back from it? I must have been still sleeping. Amazing the things you do when you're not fully awake, I should try doing more things in the morning:)
I reach Dangio a bit too late for the 7 o'clock bus, which gives me 1.30h of reflecting-time. After a cultural visit to the center of Dangio (the church, and a pretty nice architectural building), I decide to take a walk on the path crossing the villages scattered on Val di Blenio, expecting to be going down. At a curve the sentiero basso decides to climb up the hill for around 10 minutes, getting down exactly on the other part of the curve. After such a consistent advance, I decide to call it a day and wait for the bus. The rain arrives just 10 minutes earlier than the bus does, which proves that even swiss meteo can miss some clouds. Getting back home there's one question that bothers me: just how wonderful is the view from Adula on a winter day? I feel I'll get over the critical point at least once next winter:)