Alpe Sattal

The clouds were low in the morning, no peaks visible. It’s still quite warm though (and humid), so shorts and t-shirt is plenty enough for hiking. As we got higher on the mountain, we were in the cloud and visibility was reduced to less than 50m at times. The group was keeping a fast pace again and I had no chance of keeping up, I was working as hard as I could but they just disappeared in the cloud. There are marathon runners and fitness freaks in our group of 12 people, and I’m neither. I’ve just recovered from overtraining and my right knee keeps reminding me that it exists, but even without all that – I would still not be able to keep up. And I don’t even want to try, because I still have a long week ahead and I don’t want to break myself before I reach that top on Friday!

It’s also worth noting that the mountain sides are very steep here, and the trail goes up (and down) all the time. It doesn’t even flatten out at any point to give at least a few steps of recovery, it is just a relentless grind with different kinds of obstacles – high steps, loose gravel, slippery rocks and grass (as it had rained and the sun is not out to dry the ground).

It’s a real pity that there is no time to stop at all, I don’t mean just for a brief rest but also just to have a look around. Today’s hike went though some beautiful alpine meadows with all kinds of interesting flowers, I would have loved to have a closer look. Some of the flowers I knew (like the alpine yellow-violet which was growing at 2000m!), some I recognised as close relatives to our flowers, and others were completely unknown to me. I think I should book a botanical trip next time!

Finally at around 2380m, me and another girl from the group caught up with the rest. There is apparently a spot about 200m higher up that’s the altitude goal of the day, but I was in a desperate need of a longer break so I just sat down (and there are no views anyway in the cloud). It felt like no time at all, I just ate my energy bar and the group was already back. Now we were going to keep the altitude to take a shortcut to another rifugi, Alpe Sattal, for lunch. The trail was interesting, it is apparently quite new so it contained some challenges, besides the fact that you had a very long and steep drop on your right side so you kinda tried to lean to the left all the time. Then at least if you lose your balance, you’d just end up sitting in the wet grass instead of rolling down a few hundred meters!

Alpe Sattal is a testament to what you can achieve with a lot of determination and hard work. The owner is called Giuseppe, he bought the stone ruins and then built a house on them with his own hands. Every day for two years, up and down the mountain to get supplies, and work 17 hrs. Respect. But then again, there is a great view towards Monte Rosa from this spot and it’s easy to see how someone would fall in love with it!

Today’s lunch by the way, polenta again. I think I’m done with polenta on this trip now.

The sun finally came out while we were eating, and we got a good view of Punta Gnifetti with the Regina Margherita hut on top (the highest situated building in Europe).

Monte Rosa
Monte Rosa

And then all that remained was going down… which I found to be incredibly challenging. Very steep with high steps at places, my knee was really taking a beating although I was using hiking poles. I was lagging far behind the group again but I just simply refused to go faster, all my normal safety margins were already passed and I was starting to freak out about the knee. It’s only the second day!

In the evening I noticed that I had been so worried about the right knee that I had missed the ache in my left knee. You don’t need to have any old injuries, those steep trails can take their toll on perfectly healthy knees as well!

As for photography, I was still carrying the two Sonies but had ditched the filters, it became very obvious yesterday that I would not have a chance of using them. And today it became very obvious that I don’t have any use for a wideangle lens either.

  • Today’s ascent: 1210m
  • Highest altitude: 2384m
In the cloud
In the cloud
Alpe Campo
Alpe Campo
Going to Alpe Sattal
Going to Alpe Sattal, the guide didn’t want the group to split so he ordered me to go first after him! Which gave me this rare opportunity to stop and take a picture of the group coming towards me for a change.
the clouds had started to lift
When we reached Alpe Sattal, the clouds had started to lift. Alpe Campo that we passed on the way up is now visible.
Punta Gnifetti
And finally, even Punta Gnifetti was visible! Regina Margherita is the rectangle on top, and we’re supposed to go there on Friday. Holy…
Val d'Otro
The light green patches belong to Val d’Otro that we visited yesterday

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