By Alexander Matsko July 22, 2019
What do you need in the mountains? The most important is decent physical fitness and some willpower. You’ll have to cross some passes and peaks, and sometimes that is not easy to do, especially with a heavy backpack. You also should be able to carry your partner on your back for a reasonable distance. This is the person who you enjoy spending time with, who you value and who loves mountains and adventure the same as you do. Then you need good sturdy shoes, a backpack, a minimal amount of clothes, something to sleep in and some food. My most recent addition to this inventory is my KLŌS Carbon Fiber travel guitar. And this one is a special one because I’ve given it the name of the love of my life and reliable mountaineering partner, Lily.
The first time I visited the Italian Dolomites was two years ago—and they’re magnificent. Steep rocky cliffs combine with grassy plateaus, rivers and lakes. I’ve never seen so much wildlife before. This year I wanted to visit the Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park. After some research on available routes and planning, we knew that we should not go higher than 2000 meters and that the area should be clear of snow.
My girlfriend and I flew to Italy, where we were met by friendly and welcoming weather, Margherita pizza and Italian wine.
It was very convenient to take the KLOS guitar with us, as its size allows me to take it as hand luggage on a Ryanair flight.
After spending several nights in Treviso and Agordo, we decided to visit the malga (sort of a mountain hut in Italy) Erera in the heart of Dolomiti Bellunesi. Once we arrived, the hike began. We saw lots of fallen trees on our way up, some of which we had to climb around. And then suddenly at the height of 1800 meters, we encountered snow. This was a little unexpected, but friendly hikers coming down said that we should be able to get to the malga. And so we did! That evening was a relaxing one: we ate nice food and sang around the campfire. But we knew that more difficulties awaited…
Because our path lied through the snow, the ascent to Passo di Forca took us 3 hours instead of one. It was challenging but fun! Then we had to descend to 800 meters, and this was quite extreme. This was the first time we encountered snow lying on such angled surfaces - the slope was around 60 degrees! Nevertheless, we finished our descent and settled in a cabin above Palia. Thunderstorms started. We drank tea made from rainwater and marveled at the light of villages below while calming ourselves with a gentle sound of the travel guitar…
The next day we had to return to Erera. It was a difficult descent and then somewhat difficult ascent back to the height 2000 meters, and again a slight descent. We encountered a protected section on the trail—just some cables you could cross without equipment. The scariest part was not actually protected; we had to cross a river on a wet stone. I helped Lily to carry her backpack over while trying to stay as low to the ground as possible in order to not to slip down… Fortunately, all went well and we finished the day by sliding on the snow down the same path as we were climbing the day before.
And then was this day… This was the last we could handle. The initial ascent was okayish (some snow here and there, nothing serious), but then… We had to cross a big pile of melting snow. It took us around 45 minutes to make it to the other end, and we were under the risk of slipping down and an avalanche starting the entire time. Then we heard thunder in the distance. The trail that was ahead of us was nothing of easy—the slightest mistake could end our lives. So we carefully moved forwards, step by step, sometimes crossing snow piles, sometimes piles of loose stone. I even texted my friend with the location so he could call rescue if we went missing. Yeah, it was the scariest path I have ever walked.
Nevertheless, we made it! We found a sign that warned hikers about the dangerous path ahead (behind us in this case). Too bad there was no such sign on the other end of the trail!
But how beautiful was the place we slept in after the "expert" 851 trail! Casera Cimonega was surrounded by mountains from 3 directions, with rivers nearby and no soul around. We were still a bit shocked by the trail we had to cross, and we decided to go down to the city the next day.
On our way down we saw the consequences of the storm that occurred in October 2018. It was crazy - lots of huge fallen trees lying on the trail, destroyed roads near the magnificent Lago della Stua. We stayed in a house of a friendly Italian, where we played some music. Our adventure ended in Venice, crowded with tourists, which were a bit overwhelming after the calmness of the mountains.
The most important conclusions I’ve made during this trip are:
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