On our last day we decided to be a bit cultural and made our way to lovely Trento, which was hot and sunny and pretty. That was pretty much the last highlight of our trip to Italy this time, if we don’t mention that thanks to air traffic controllers being on strike (the French ones of course, that goes without saying) the next day, we missed our vote in the brevet referendum.
Given that Sosat was under snow, we decided to do Osvaldo Osat – but alas! the road to that was so bad that we didn’t dare to take carcon, our rented friend too far on it, and had to turn back. What was left was to go back up to Rif. Stoppani and do the Gustavo Vidi, a nice unchallenging horizontal traverse once again (we did this a couple years ago), but this time to finish the whole circle on the other side of the ridge. Weather was fine and views were spectacular, and unlike the last time, there were still fairly large snowfields to muddle through this time (I was trailblazing the way for us of course), so it was actually a bit more challenging up to the Pass dei Tre Sassi.
From there, we needed to drop hugely on the other side through a long and steep scree, which was a bit annoying, but after that it was mostly traversing back towards the rifugio. The only problem was that we were a bit tight on time, to get the last cable car at five. If we missed it, it would be at least a couple of boring hours of descent back down to the road, and we were really not feeling up to that. So, it was a bit of a race, I admit I was losing my hope for a bit there, but eventually we made it with about fifteen minutes to spare – beer never tasted so good!
Got up, packed up the tent, said goodbye to Cortina and headed over to Madonna di Campiglio, for a bit of change of scenery. Had a nice strudel breakfast by the lake. Then we drove merrily out of the mountains and into the sunshine.
Arriving to Madonna in the afternoon, we stopped by Passo del Groste for a quick trip up the cable car to see the snow situation for tomorrow. We pottered around Rifugio Stoppani for a bit, and indeed it seemed that Sosat ferrata still under snow and closed – which was then further confirmed by a couple of German climbers who’ve just been there.
For now, we walked up a bit towards Gustavo Vidi, and the place was alive with marmots. We had especially one fun encounter with the brave soul of the pack who gives the warning to the rest, and who valiantly faced us standing up.
In addition, we saw a great bird of prey, which was truly huge & majestic, of which Iest thinks was an eagle, which probably was not but huge, it really was.
Afterwards we took the last cable car down and found our usual campsite at Adamelo, and – after a little search around – also our usual restaurant for dinner.
The morning sky was overcast but with high clouds so not so bad, so we decided to do a hike & ferratas with the prospect of some beautiful views, in the Nuvolau group. We took the lift to Rif. Scoiattoli, right by the famous Cinque Torri, and from there a nice hike over to ferrata Averau. The views were truly epic in all directions.
We reached Rif. Nuvolau (2.574) in good spirits, and had some tea and snacks. When we walked down to Rif. Averau the weather turned really quite bad, snowstormy with zero visibility. We obviously had no choice but to get us a couple of cakes in the hut, and see if it blew over, as we wanted to do a quick up and down on the ferrata Gusela to the top of Averau (2.649).
Fortunately, after the cakes we had a sunny break, and we quickly ascended the last peak, and downed it the same way but fairly quickly as the weather was coming in again. From there it was already close back to the cable car station, and we got there just in time before closing for the day. By now all the great views were already immersed in fog and it started to rain too, so we were very happy about how lucky we were for the day.
We were pretty tired too, so we took a shower and dropped into Cortina for a nice dinner, with a proper tiramisu today. The usual evening beer in the camp, but off to bed early.
In the morning the sky was fairly clear, sun on the tent, even though some clouds on the ridges. After a hearty breakfast in Cortina we set out to Capanna Rio Gere from where we took a cable car up to Rifugio Son Forca, and from there another one up to Rif. Lorenzi at Forcella Stanniers (2.918m). The weather was not great already, so we were not really convinced to do the whole great ridge of Ivano Dibona ferrata, as visibility was low and it was snowing.
We had a tea at the hut to see if we can wait it out – but it was getting worse if anything. We decided to at least do the very beginning over to the awesome suspension bridge, and then we had to go back down in the funny little pods. The second cable car was not going because of the weather, so at least we had some time for an apple strudel and teas at the hut. Dinner in Cortina and sleeping like babies – the fresh air is doing us good.
In the morning the sky was surprisingly clear – hard to believe. There were some big fluffy clouds in all the directions , but the sun was totally shining on our little B&B, and all looked shiny and bright. Iest said it won’t take more than half hour before the thunderstorms start but I was already happy with this unexpected glimpse of sun.
We had a nice breakfast and coffee, packed up, said goodbye with our host, and set out on our way to Cortina. We didn’t know if the road would be cleared up but we found soon enough – on the next main road intersection we were told no way. So we took the detour via Auronzo and Misurina and arrived in Cortina from the east. Surprisingly, the weather was still great – not totally sunny but plenty of sun around, and big chunks of clouds covering some mountain ranges, while others were in total clear. Beautiful drive with dramatic views. No rush, we got to our camp for about one o’clock. It was open but still visibly pre-season, very few people around yet. We picked a spot for our tent but seeing that the weather was unexpectedly good but unpredictable, we decided not to pitch yet and rather set out for a walk to make the most of it. We decided on a walk up from the the Falzarego pass – that’s a nice short walk with a lot of altitude gain providing amazing dramatic views in all directions. And plus – if one does not feel like walking walking down on the other side, there is an awesome cable car to take.
We started walking up at about two o’clock up the steep path from the pass. Weather was still holding nice but it was clear that some nearby ranges could not really claim the same. At about half way up we got to the interesting part of the path – a nice hanging bridge over a waterfall and some scrambling with a secured line over a narrow ledge. Afterwards we got to walking again, and some small snowfields crossing. The weather moved in a bit on us, and it started hailing – not too badly, and we thought it was better than raining in any case. When we were almost up the high point from which the path traverses almost at level to the refugio, we saw some lightning in the sky – it was still far away, over at another ridge but it still freaked out Iest a bit.
But at that point we were practically up and just enjoyed the flat bit of the walk on the top, with some amazing views all around. Then we got a tea and coffee at the hut and walked to the cable car to get us down. Iest didn’t really like the look of the gondolas as the cables were very steep down and he thought the wind was going to swing them all over the place – but he was too lazy to walk down as well, and in the end it turned out to be a pleasant little ride.
We went back to the camp to finally pitch the tent and then to Cortina for pizzas. Evening in the camp pub with a bit of beer and tea. Once we crashed in our tent a big storm started, proper with lightnings and thunders and a massive downpour – a nice soundtrack to falling asleep.
Long awaited start of vacation finally arrived but the excitement was tempered by the weather forecast for the Dolomites that showed a washout of truly apocalyptic proportions with no end in sight. I suggested we just ditch the tickets and go to Wales for the week but Iestyn was against, and he’s the decision-maker. So we bravely got out of bed, finished the packing and took the bus to Liverpool Street station for our Stansted express train. We arrived at the airport with plenty of time and with our biz+ tickets, which didn’t save us too much time on the check-in due to some local mismanagement but we did get to go through the fast track security. After that we had a quick lunch, and then it was already time to board. The plane was jam-packed but everything went well save for some turbulences for which totally freaked out the girl next to us, and soon we were landing in hot steamy Treviso. We got our little car (carcon), and off we went up north under the gentle guidance of our Google navigation.
Once we drove into the mountainous region the overcast sky off before became a range of heavy low lying clouds hanging ominously over all the peaks and hills. It started to rain too. We didn’t let that discourage us as we were also already prepared mentally for the situation and soldiered on towards Cortina. Alas! about 8 km from Cortina there was a road block – but just that; no people guarding it, no sign with explanation, nothing. We saw everyone else just turning around, so we decided to return to the last town on the road to get us some dinner, and see what the situation is after. In San Vito di Cadore we saw carabineri turning cars away from the road, and they explained that the road to Cortina is closed because there some landslides, and won’t open tonight. The alternative detour would take almost a couple of hours. We sat down for dinner in La Stua pizzeria, and while munching on a couple of delicious pizzas we were thinking what to do. It was rainy, getting dark and unpleasant, and we were facing still quite a drive – so the prospect was to be pitching a tent in coldness, rain and total darkness, way after Gina’s usual bedtime. So we just gave up that idea and searched some B&Bs nearby. We found one not so far away, in Caralte, which had good ratings, reasonable price and the inviting promise of a proper bed – so we booked it and set off. Shortly after nine we arrived and were met by a nice owner; our room was up in the attic and had its own balcony (we left the door open for the night), and we were the only guests around. After a nice hot shower we crashed into our bed and were out right away.
Another nice weekend on our hands, decided to potter around a bit, nothing serious. On Saturday, we went to the Horniman Museum and Gardens, which was quite nice and we also saw the Horniman aquarium with loads of little creatures. Then we drove down to Crystal Palace for lunch in a nice hipster place (the type that is a cafe but also a vintage crap type shop, managed by three guys in skinny jeans, one of whom brings the coffee late on purpose just to be able to make an excuse for ‘having to get the grind right’ – so, right down our alley, and by ‘our’ I mean Iest’s).
On Sunday we decided to go all the way to the coast to Seven Sisters, which gave us an opportunity to drive through some nice english Sussexy countryside. We arrived at about noon, which turned out to be super busy on a sunny Sunday, so once again, we had a problem parking. Eventually we found a spot, and finally made it out of the car into the sun. In the visitors’ center we got a little seaside life guidebook, which was on sale and is from the same series I already got the bird book and insect book, so I am all set now for my nature explorations. Then we walked the usual path along the river bed toward the cliffs, and in the meanders of the old river branch we saw a beautiful grey heron, very majestically owning the place. And not only that, there was also a little egret sharing the space, all white with a black beak and yellow feet, elegantly wading the waters. We were very excited to be able to observe them, and took many cool pictures.
When we had enough, we continued the South Down Way path away from the river and up on the cliffs. It was a beautiful day, so there was a lot of people, but the cliffs were nice and shiny and it was a pleasant walk. We then made it down to the main beach for a little stroll in the cool water.
By then of course we were already really hungry as we had no lunch or snacks, and so we started to make our way back to the car. On our way down we saw a great looking pub in Friston, called Tiger Inn, but when we got there around four they were not making food yet. So we drove back to the Cuckmere Inn by the Seven Sisters’ park, and we definitely did not regret (egret?) our choice! From the deliciously refreshing virgin cocktails through rustic bread starters and big burgers to the freshly made desserts, everything was perfect. Plus, the outside terrace where we were sitting was flooded with scores of little birds, waiting for crummies and being all cute. A great finish to the day. Well, except for the drive back that was still awaiting us but Iest totally covered that. I managed not to fall asleep throughout, although I did have a couple of weak moments. Fortunately there was and 80s hour on the Heart radio, so that helped to revive the zing in Terrell for the rest of the trip.