Between 26th and 29th of July, 2009 we had a short but eventful trip to the Carnic Alps. This time my companions were all girls: an old friend and classmate of mine, Anikó; and two of my students from the university: Melinda and Adrienn. Our plan was to visit two sub-groups of the Carnic Alps: the surroundings of Zuc dal Bôr, and the eastern part of the main Carnic ridge around Sella di Aip. This report is abuot the first region.
We departed from Budapest at half past five AM. After seven hours of driving we arrived to our starting point in the valley of Rio Gravon di Gleris, near Aupa. Our plan was to get to the Bianchi bivouac at the foot of Zuc dal Bôr. We left the car at the end of the road, and started to ascend via the path no. 430 towards Forcella della Pecora.
The path went on the paved road for a while. After a few hundred meters it turned right and started to ascend in a beech(?) forest. Of course we missed that point and walked until the end of the road where we realized that the markings are gone. A few minutes of walk downhill and we’d found the right way. Another half an hour of walk and we reached the point where the path to Forcella della Vacca deviated.
From this point the path became steeper. Shortly we entered the rocky couloir under the Pecora saddle. Adrienn and Melinda, who had their first alpine hike this time, realized that „hiking” in this area means more than simply walking on well-maintained paths. Two steps uphill usually involve one step sliding downhill. There are spots where you have to scramble a few meters and so on. So it was not surprising that they got exhausted when we finally reached the saddle.
The saddle itself is a narrow gap between two rocks, but its southern side is more friendly: steep, but at least green slopes towards the valley, and the path is also getting wider and easier as we reached here an old military mule-track. There are various signs on the rocks indicating easy (UIAA II) scrambles to the neighbouring peaks.
We had a break, ate some food including „cake powder” (as the cakes made by my wife and daughter had lost their original shapes in my rucksack), and drank a lot of water (while hoping that the fountain near the bivouac exists not only on the map but in the reality also).
From the saddle we followed the path no. 425. It was much more confortable than the previous one, but still ascended until a small saddle on the shoulder of Monte Chiavals. Here we had another break. As Anikó and I wasn’t so tired, we dropped our backpacks and quickly walked up to the peak of Chiavals. The panoramic view from the top was fantastic. We saw the whole Hohe Tauern range in the north, the nearest towers of the Dolomites on the west, the massive peaks of the Julian Alps on the east and of course the wild mountains of the Carnic Alps around us.
From Monte Chiavals we shortly reached the bivouac. It is on the edge of a nice alpine meadow, and the map was right: only a few minutes walk towards the Alba valley there was a fountain with fresh water.
The only bad news was a printed sheet of paper on the door of the bivouac telling in three languages that the old normal route to the top of Zuc dal Bôr had been destroyed by rock slides and lightnings, and the new route needs some climbing equipment which we didn’t bring with us to the mountain.
Knowing this, we had to review our plans. The new plan for the next day was to divide into two groups: Melinda and Adrienn are going to the safe Monte Chiavals while Anikó and I will try to reach the peak of Zuc dal Bôr.
Meanwhile the Sun sat behind the distant peaks and its place on the sky became occupied by the growing Moon. We also went to our beds and discussing our first day we slowly fall asleep.
The morning was clear and cool. We got up around six o’clock, and after having breakfast and packing our things we modified our plan: we headed together towards Zuc dal Bôr, to see what the path is like.
Half an hour later, when we reached the first rocks we returned to the original plan as the path became to UIAA II grade scrambling, which proved to be too much for my students. So they walked back to the hut and then proceeded to Chiavals while we started to climb.
The scramble was not long. The terrain became easier soon, and shortly we reached the northern ridge of Bôr. From this point the path followed the ridge, which was rather asimmetric: the western side (from where we arrived) is a steep grassy slope while the eastern one is a vertical wall with a height of 500 meters.
We slowly approached the summital towers of Bôr and finally we reached the foot of the main tower. A wooden sign with „ZUC” script indicated the new route. It followed a rocky couloir first (UIAA I-II) and then proceeded on a ridge. Soon we’d found a cliff with a short fixed rope hanging on it. We dropped our rucksacks and walking sticks and climbed up. We found ourselves on a ledge, and there was a second, much longer rope on a vertical rock wall. After examining the rope we decided not to risk the further climb (I have kids waiting for me at home) but returning another time with the appropriate equipment. Before turning back I glanced to my GPS and realized that we are approximately 20 meters below the summit.
We went back to the bivouac on the same way and surprisingly noticed that my students hadn’t arrived back yet. I worried a little so started to search them. Luckily I glanced them a ten minutes later, walking downhill on the slopes of Chiavals. They explained that the western ridge, where Anikó and I „ran up” to the peak on the previous day was wet in the morning and they spent a lot of time to find a safe route. They also experienced the usefulness of their helmets as a chamois above them kicked down a few stones almost to their head. But the summital panorama was magnificient again.
We had a lunch, packed our stuff, cleaned the bivouac and after examining the map we choose the route on the eastern side of Chiavals to get back to the car (paths 428 and 429). So we walked up to Forcella Chiavals, and started to descend on the other side.
After the first few paces the path became rather difficult and it was clear that it is too hard for my unexperienced students, so we changed our minds and headed towards the Vacca saddle, just next to Pecora saddle. We were walking along the path no. 425 again. When we reached the saddle, I tried to find the way but there were no signs or anything looking like a path. We reached the Vacca peak looking for the path, then we turned back, and fnially found the way. It was exactly where it had to be, the only problem was that its beginning became invisible on the grassy terrain.
We descended between dwarf-pines (their branches and roots are very useful when the gravel is rolling under your feet), and finally reached the valley. It was five PM when we took into our car. We drove to the next valley (Val Pontebbana), had a fine bath in the river, and packed for the next part of our trip.