Climbing Creta Grauzaria And Monte Sernio
Cima della Sfinge On the way to Portonat
It's always a nice feeling to come in mountains with a sleeping bag and a small tent on a rucksack, ready to spend somewhere high more than just one day. And especially, if the mountain area is attractive and new to you. As other foreigners, also Slovenians don't go often on the mountains of Carnia. We have our wonderful Julian Alps, when going abroad we choose famous Dolomites or Hohe Tauern, but when you start discovering them, you find Carnic Alps like beautiful pearls. There's still loneliness, there you might still find normal ascents on important mountains, which are unspoiled with steel pegs, cables and excessive colour marks, there's places, offering great scenery and panoramas.
On the parking place above Val Aupa the sign says we have 1:15h up to Rif. Grauzaria. Is it real for 500 meters? It's a pleasant surprise, showing that people here really do mountaineering and that trails here are not only for Sunday hikers. With big rucksacks we need exactly that time for a comfortable, lively walk-up. Also the scenery surprises us pleasantly. The 600m high northern walls of Cima della Sfinge look completely vertical, when crossing slopes below it.
Monte Sernio from Creta Grauzaria On Creta Grauzaria
In the hut's winter room we leave one rucksack and soon start the ascent through a characteristic gorge, leading up to the Portonat notch, the key for Creta Grauzaria summit. The path goes in many turns, getting steeper and steeper, in the higher sections we have to scramble already. On many places the terrain is crunchy, but we're used to that. Must be true that this gorge is much more comfortably ascended in early summer, when still filled with snow. On the notch we hear first human voices today. It's so unusual. On such a nice autumn day in Julian Alps the normal ascent to a mountain like Creta Grauzaria would be packed with people.
The top 200 meters of the rocky west face is awaiting us. Not being climbers ourselves, we feel a bit restless, asking ourselves how hard the climb will be. The first step, bringing you up to a narrow ledge, is already harder than UIAA II. But as it is not exposed yet, we are quickly over it and continue by the ledge. The exposition quickly rises, we don't feel comfortable any more and I propose Jasmina to rope-up. She agrees, but when we continue by the easier terrain and when we meet a young couple, descending unroped, Jasmina starts grumbling, feeling ashamed. The continuation is really easy enough, the route goes by nice passages, always towards the left and then by a ridge, exposed again, to the summit.
On all sides the panorama is great, but the most beautiful is the view on the neighbouring Monte Sernio and on the other side, on the boiling sea of sharp summits of Julian Alps. We carefully descend by the same route to the notch and by the gorge down to the hut. Now our idea is, not to stay there in the shadow of the north walls, but to go some 300 meters up on the saddle of Foran de la Gjaline. And indeed, when the last lights of the day are dying on the neighbouring mountains, we find above the saddle a perfect place to set up a tent. As nights are already long, we light a small fire and spend several hours outside, enjoying a charmful evening.
Creta Grauzaria from Foran de la Gjaline
Monte Sernio On the way to Sernio
The next morning surpasses all our expectations. Imagine a golden autumn, finding yourself on the altitude of last larches, the whole surroundings being coloured by a bright morning sun! I'm jumping around photographing and only when the big show is over, we eat breakfast, clear up the fireplace and prepare for the Monte Sernio ascent. Again the second rucksack goes into dwarf-pines and only I am the porter again.
Through a nice larch and pine forrest we ascend the Forca Nuviernulis. The youth from the hut across the valley is already in front of us, but part of them goes directly on the East ridge of Sernio and the other part stops on the saddle. So we again continue by the East slope alone. When the trail hits the rocks we again find an amusing and easy climbing. It keeps close to the edge of NE wall, passages just keep you concentrated all the time and panorama again gets wider and wider. From a narrow ravine the route exits again by a tiny ledge, but also this crux passage doesn't require any additional precautions. The final part of the ascent goes by the E ridge and soon we hit the fore-summit, where a bigger cross stands and as the first climbers today the highest summit, with a smaller cross.
Sernio summit panorama On Monte Sernio
Again the panorama is immense. And we have time, a lot of time to enjoy it. People begin arriving, many from our side, many also over the western face, which looks harder. We could do the round tour as well, but even if we shall return by the same route, we feel fine. After more than one hour, spent on top, we start descending. It's a hot day and we hurry no more. All the route down we do with poles in hands. On the Foran de la Gjaline pass we take the second rucksack and start overtaking Sunday hikers who are also returning from the saddle. A wonderful two-day tour is getting to an end, but on the return home we do also some cultural sightseeing of Moggio Udinese and the Reklanica/Raccolana valley. You don't throw away such a nice day just like that!
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