While Stu, Aria and Micah were exploring Granada I had the opportunity to meet up with my amazingly fun friends Chris and Dawn (from Squamish) in the southern Dolomites. I left the boat in Motril and made my way to the airport in Malaga, Spain to catch a 9am flight. By noon I was in Venice, Italy, met up with Dawn and Chris at the train station and then we were off to Madonna di Campiglio, a ski resort town in northern Italy. It was quite the transition from the hot weather on the coasts of Spain to the snowy mountains of Italy.
We took a gondola up into the mountains where they had had about 10cm of snow a few days before we arrived. Chris had planned our adventures, doing tons of research beforehand. Many thanks go out to him for this! He booked the mountain huts in advance too. Though several were closed as it was the end of the season there were still options that worked for us. Following the via ferratas was fairly straightforward with signs at most junctions and red/white marks with your route number painted on the rocks.
We had stunning bluebird days to start and hardly saw any other people. The limestone mountains have been explored by several generations of climbers and we could see different options all around us. From hiking paths to via ferratas to serious climbs, the possibilities were endless.
Puffy jackets, toques and long johns came out as well as our crampons for some steep snowfields and icy rock and snow sections.
By our third day in the mountains the clouds were starting to creep in closer. We would start our days in the fog at a mountain hut but could quickly climb our way up above the mist. It was surreal looking down on a sea of white.
The via ferrata routes made the rocky terrain climbable without ropes. Ladders and cables helped us get through the tricky parts.
The picture doesn't reflect how exposed this traverse is! The sheer rock dropped off endlessly beneath my feet.
Here is one of the huts we stayed at. It was always exciting to spot the hut way off in the distance.
The food in the huts was a highlight after a big day. Dinners and breakfasts were included with our hut fees, usually around 50 euros. As well we were assigned a cosy bunkbed with a fluffy duvet. It was chilly up in the rooms but the dining areas were very warm. A couple of the huts had pay showers but water is a precious resource and very limited in supply.
Each hut is owned by a different family and their meals often reflected their favourite recipes.
Even though the weather forced us onto a hiking route for the last 2 days rather than a via ferrata it was still incredibly beautiful. After snowing the previous evening the weather cleared for our hike out.
We gradually wound our way down through the rocks and alpine into the forests. Hidden from view off the path we found a glacially cold swimming hole fed by waterfall. After 5 days of no showers we felt that a quick dip was required. No photos of the actual plunge but it felt so good (and painful)!
Thank you to Dawn and Chris for helping tick this off my bucket list. Though, it really just made me realize that after our sailing adventures I would love to bring the family to share in the mountains too.
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