Way to 13 000 ft dream – ascent to hut

Already in 2016, we have planned with my girlfriend ascent to some 4 000-meter peaks. Dream come true in 2017. None of us have been in this altitude, so we were looking for something easy. Of course, we wanted to climb several peaks during one expedition. And of course, highest one. We are not climbers in meaning we could climb some technical ice. We were looking for mountains which are accessible for “walkers”. Those of you who knows Alps in Europe is already clear that we have decided to visit Monte Rosa massif on Italy Swiss border.

Before we could start planning this trip in more details, we had to solve one issue. We are just two and we need to find someone who will join us. Luckily friends who climbed with us Wildpsitze, were willing to join. We had discussed couple of details and wait for D day.

Saturday September 9th we are leaving Bratislava early morning and heading to Italy. With necessary stops we go directly to Verona. We walk thru the city for couple of ours, see old city because we do not want to spend all day in car. Later that day we continue to Aosta valley. In Point-Saint-Martin village we found cheap accommodation for one night.

Sunday morning means packing for mountains. We will drive for less than hour to Staffal, which is our starting point towards our four thousand meters dreams. On our way we stop in shop, where Vlado and Renata buy last supplies. At parking place, we basically put on hiking shoes and are ready to ascent.

Today we want to ascent about 1 000 meters of altitude to Orestes hut (2 600 m / 8 530 ft), where we plan to spend night. Hut is closed, but this is not bothering us. We plan to spend night in winter room. It is still first half of September but for most huts it is after the season. It was not easy to find out, till when Gnifetti hut will be open. This hut is most crucial for us, because we want to use it as base camp.

First half of the ascent follows cable car to Gabiet hut. Path goes thru woods with minimum views. Steep part is only at the beginning. At the end of the valley is another steep part which takes about 30 minutes. Luckily it ends at Gabiet hut.

Cable cars are open, but hut is closed for hikers a we have met only few people. On the terrace we will have lunch to get energy for the rest of the day. Our back packs are full of food. At this point we last third in front of us. We need to ascent for more than 300 meters, but steep part is just before Orestes hut.

Orestes hut is busy. I mean it is closed, but construction is going on. Winter room is bit stupid from my point of view. In the kitchen is fireplace, where you can cook and make it warmer. Next to kitchen is room with used as a storage place with all kinds of stuff. Last room is place where we are going to sleep. It is impossible to make last room warm.

We plan to sleep at the highest hut in Alps Margaritha (4 554 m / 14 940 ft). This hut is also closed, so we have our back packs and all necessary equipment to sleep in various conditions. Winter room is lovely place to spend a night.

Next morning, we continue to our base camp at Gnifetti hut (3 647 m / 11 965 ft). Today we have to ascent bit more than yesterday and also in higher altitude. Weather is so far great, so hopefully it stays like this for next couple of days. As an acclimatization trek we will go up to Alta Luce (3 184 m / 10 446 ft). It is remarkable view point and definitely worth of visit.

With help of local hiker, we are able to identify on horizon Mont Blanc and Gran Paradiso. Unfortunately, peaks where we want to go, are hidden in clouds. So far, we have done half of our todays hike. All of us are full of energy so I guess it should be easy day as well.

Not always it is as easy as expected. After short descent we have joined hiking path, which goes around Mantova hut to Gnifetti hut. Our ascent starts on big rocks and I have feeling that everyone is in better mood then me. My mind is working against me. I see Mantova hut not far, but feel like not getting closer. Path is steeper and steeper. With altitude it is harder to breath and I need longer breaks.

Finally, at Mantova hut (3 498 m / 11 476 ft). As expected everything is closed. I am wondering where is winter room, so I have at least info how it looks like, however I could not find it. Either it is close to stinky toilets or those arrows are misleading. Now it is time to change my shorts for longer pants. Without the fog it would be still good weather for shorts.

During short break I put on pants and eat something small. Now it is time to climb last 150 of altitude. It must be less than 30 minutes to the hut. With all the gear and food in back pack takes me almost an hour. We are already walking on a glacier, but without the rope. Path is very clear, it is like a highway in snow. More complicated it gets just under the hut.

To the hut is about 10 meters in distance, but about 20 in altitude. There is something what I would call via ferrata. Instead of iron rope, there is thick regular rope. Via ferrata itself is easy, problem is getting from glacier to rock. There is huge crevasse. After winter is probably perfectly covered by snow, but at the end of the season it is not easy to start climbing via ferrata.

Everyone has a hard time, but at the end we are happily and safely at hut. Night at hut costs 50 € per person – breakfast included. For very good dinner we have pay another 20 €. After dinner we are going to plan other days. We plan to spend here couple of nights to be perfectly acclimatized. Climb few peaks and be ready to sleep at hut Margarita. I believe that we will climb also Dufourspitze (4 634 m / 15 203 ft), which is highest summit of Switzerland.

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