Friday, October 30, 2009

The challenge to climb a GLACIER!

Last August I climbed the highest mountain (3'402.2 meter above sea level) in Ticino, the only speaking-italian region in southern Switzerland. The mountain posses two names: Adula in Italian and Rheinwaldhorn in German. The mountain Adula stands on the border with the Grison canton (the eastern German-speaking region of the country) and it is surrounded from three different glaciers one of which is called Adula like the mountain. The Adula glacier has shrank the most in the last 50 years compared to other glaciers in the region, retrieving about 900 meters in the last 60 years which correspond to 1/3 of its initial length. It is an amazing excursion that you should try to plan during the months of Summer (June, July, August) where the temperature on the top of the mountain is still comfortable. The walking track starts from either Olivone or Dangio (in Bellinzona region) and it takes maximum 3 hours to reach the first hut, CAS (Club Alpino Svizzero - The Swiss Alpine Club, which website offers a list of all the huts in Switzerland).The first part of the walk it is easy and very relaxing. It starts to be arduous and tiring from the CAS hut to the UTOE one climbing for about 2 hours on a steep rocky mountain with an altitude difference of 381 m. From the UTOE hut you can enjoy an amazing view over the Swiss alps and relish the comforting sounds of the nature. The hut offers the essential facilities such as a large dormitory, showers and kitchen to spend one or more nights (about 25.-- Swiss francs per night with breakfast included). From spring until autumn there is always a guardian who looks after the accommodation and usually a menu of basic dishes is provided as well. Once you have reached the spot and decided to overnight, you can't miss to climb the Adula glacier the next day! You need to get up quite early, about 6 am, to be able to walk on the glacier before noon when the glacier start melting. Bring with you the necessary equipments, which you could also rent in the hut, such as cramps, pickax and rope (we were fine also without rope)... and even if it is August remember to take gloves, a scarf and a warm hat since it is quite windy and chilly on the summit. The whole way up is a gorgeous varied landscape from minimal greenery, to rocky until you will be surrounded from a flat, white surface. It was quite scary to walk up the glacier; a steep, slippery expanse which could hide a few cracks and therefore you have to watch out not! Walking on the ice with the cramps is an amazing adventure... all around you is flat and white with the majestic alps dominating far away the wide, enormous area. It is a feast for the eyes! To climb up to the peak took about four hours and only two to walk back... it was absolutely exhausting but incredibly satisfying!

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