We are for the first time in the nice area of Madona di Campiglio. Surprised with the beauty of the place - on one side of the valley high granite mountains, covered with glaciers, on the others side the dolomite of Brenta group - we are doing ambitious plans for a young family. Our boys are 14 and 11 years old and just fit enough to be ready also for more demanding tours. While on the first day we do the "Five Lakes Round Tour" with Cima Serodoli, on the second day's schedule we already have the highest mountain in the area - Cima Presanella.
Despite the early departure from a parking place on 2120m of altitude, the path to Rif. Segantini is winding left and right over the high plateau, up and down over the side mountain ridge, so it's already a high day when we reach the hut. A bit further up the valley a path deters right. Above on the Monte Nero glacier we can see a good track, but still we don't dare to use this route, as we have only two ice picks and two sets of crampons for four persons.
Towards Monte Nero we see a good track . . .
The route around, over the Passo Quattro Cantoni, is longer, but we know we don't have any problems with endurance. And also weather is perfect. So, after less than an hour we are already sitting among the towers of this nice pass, taking a short rest.
So, after less than an hour we are already sitting among the towers of this nice pass . . .
Now we need to descend a few hundred meters. As high as possible we are crossing the slopes in order not to lose too much of altitude. The Nardis glacier is waiting for us, from a deep shadow of this western side of the main ridge we ascend fast upwards, where the most beautiful part of the tour awaits us. The panorama is broadening and the summit approaching. We are still the first party ascending today from this side of the mountain. But suddenly a nasty notch stops us. I'm confused, certainly something is missing in my route description! On the right side there are several hundred meters of vertical rocks. Straightforward - impossible, only granite towers. Also towards the left there's a steep gorge in shadow, to us, non-climbers, looking too hard to pass. We're desparate. So close to the summit - we already see the Orobica bivouac - and so far from a success.
So close to the summit - we already see the Orobica bivouac - and so far from a success. . .
Reaching the summit of Cima Presanella would mean a lot to me, so I propose to go all the way back down to Nardis glacier, around and over the southern slope to the top. We are fast enough, we can do it! Others don't comment at all my proposal, they only turn back and start descending. But after losing some 100 meters the first party comes up the ridge. A guide and his client, arriving also from Segantini hut. And the guide says we were OK on the notch! There you need to climb down some 30 meters, find a narrow ledge towards the right and by a steep, snowy ravine climb up again on the main ridge. On the notch there's even a hidden peg for securing. Well, these guides do hide some secrets, but some times they are also willing to reveal some to poor amateurs like us!
Despite the low morale, climbing is not hard indeed. Would be around UIAA II grade, we have 20m of a rope and clear heads enough to reach the ridge again. The way on top is opened! Boys hurry up so fast that I'm hardly catching up. The guide and his client arrive many minutes later and from other sides also other mountaineers start appearing. Now we can enjoy a long rest and a broad panorama.
Now we can enjoy a long rest and a broad panorama. . .
Everybody has already left the summit, we depart as the last ones. Our guide and his client descended again by the shortest route, but we opt for the south slope. It is steep enough on top, but the snow is soft already. We descend on the rope as we are also not familliar with a crevasse danger. It looks good though and we try to keep left towards the side moraine. Below we also find a still good ice pick. Yes, now, when we don't need it any more! Further below the snow is even softer. It's hot and we exit snowfields on the left moraine.
It's hot and we exit snowfields on the left moraine . . .
On the ascent of Quattro Cantoni Pass we are already a bit slower. It's been a long day, we realise. But on the other side we hurry again down to the Segantini hut. Having a deserved rest there, our friends - the guide and his client - come down the mountain. They can't believe it. Again and again we succeed to overtake them, and allways they are the ones who go by the shortest route!
Finally, I must go across the ridge to get our car, but the sun is still high on the sky when we meet again down in the valley. On the other side of it the ledges of Brenta group are already calling us! They are our tomorrow's challenge.