In the summer of 2012 I had the privilege to spend one week in the heart of the alpine kingdom of Monte Rosa, a mountain chain of the Pennine Alps, extending across the border between Switzerland and Italy. Here is the highest concentration of peaks over 4000 meters, a real mecca for climbers.
We were a team of two men – me and my friend Catalin. How many times we dreamed and spoke about climbing on Pollux and Castor! And now we were standing at the foot of the mountain, ready to start our one week adventure. We opted to ascend on the italian side. The accessibility here is not as easy as on the swiss side, but is definetely much much cheaper and allows you to acclimatize properly because you have to gain altitude by your own, not by using cable car – which is the case with swiss side.
Below you can make a visual journey to Monte Rosa and read a short description of this tour.
Day 1: Iasi (Romania) – Mezzalama hut (3036 m alt.)
We set off at 3 a.m from Iasi in a journey that would last 17 hours, with many many top notch connections and means of transport.
Iasi – Bacau (car)
Bacau – Bergamo (flight- BlueAir)
Bergamo – Milano (bus)
Milano – Saint Vincent (3 trains – connections at Chivasso and Verres )
St. Vincent – St. Jaques, Val d’Ayas, at 1700 m alt. (bus)
We started our hike after a short warm-up in the parking lot near the curch of Saint Jaques. It was 4 p.m. In one hour on a trail through a wonderful coniferous forest ( Larix Decidua ) we reached the glacial plateau Pian di Verra Inferiore (2050 m alt.) and after 5 hours more, we were at Mezzalama hut, explaining to some italians intrigued by our late arrival there that we were coming from the eastern border of European Union in that very day.
A huge glacial erratic in Pian di Verra Inferiore. Glacial erratics are large pieces of rock that have been transported away from their source areas by the glaciers.
We spent more than one hour at Lago Blu, mesmerized by the colour of the lake and the peaks we were hopping to climb on, within the next few days. From left to right we see: Breithorn West (4141 m alt.), Roccia Nera (4075 m alt.), Pollux (4092 m alt.) si Castor (4223 m alt.).
From Lago Blu the trail goes on a nice and gentle slope til we reach Pian di Verra Superiore, a glacial flat cirque and after that along the huge lateral moraine of Verra glacier.
Looking back at the flat cirque of Pian di Verra Inferiore
Along the trail to Mezzalama hut, where we arrived at 10 pm.. We get closer and closer to Pollux.
Pollux in all its splendour.
We had a very easy task for today – to reach Guide de Val d’ Ayas hut( 3420 m alt. ) starting from Mezzalama hut. We needed time to aclimatize to altitude properly.
Mezzalama hut ( 3036 m alt. )
First contact with Verra glacier, while we were heading towards Guide Val d Ayas hut. ( 3420 m. alt. )
After crossing the glacier the path continues on a steep slope; there are a lot of bridges and even wooden stairs with fixed cables right until we reach the terrase of the hut, which is perched on a rock promontory.
Laziness at high altitudes is definitely one of the key factor of a good acclimatization.