It's about 41 years I hike, walk, climb, cross, explore through Val d'Aosta mountains, but I never had to suffer for my hometown birthplace, for my address on my passport. This is an incredible fact that is actually running in a small town in Val d'Aosta, called Charvensod, about 2200 people, and a blind country council.
Beck Peccoz hut (left) and Federigo Zullo on the saddle, rightmost.
Once arrived my deserved mountain holiday week, I planned to climb again the Via Ferrata del Monte Emilius, with a friend of mine. Before August 2008, the 10th, in the lost lonely land of Col Carrel, 2907 mt., the only possible way to spend the night, other then in the wild, was to reach the saddle and get into the Federigo/Zullo bivouac. The Italian Alpin Clup (C.A.I.) is the owner of this “old fashion hut”. It's a rather old structure (build in 1984). 9 narrow bed places, where is impossible to do anything else then sleep, when four humans are in it. Even to eat! You must go outside when there are more then a couple of people. One can imagine when bad weather hits that saddle, what could happen over there.
However, once the Via Ferrata at Mont Emilus was build, that old bivouac could be crowded, and is for sure inadequate.
On August 2008, the 10th, watching Val d'Aosta broadcast TV news, on 3rd national channel, there was an interesting interview with the major of Charvensod, about the inauguration of new bivouac at Col Carrel, called Chalet Beck Peccoz, very closed to the old Federigo/Zullo. He proudly talk about this new building for all people of Charvensod, who love nature, mountain hiking ... and so on ... generic politician chats.
I didn't spent great attention to this sentence, thinking of lack oxygen or low speech skill with public TV interview. Our majors, in Val d'Aosta, had to talk only to very few people, at least they are required to have great oratory art when asking money to central regional government in Aosta, for their villages of course (if someone is reading, from Charvensod, I never intend this as a kind of corruption)!. Most of them are simple people that work hard for their own family and spend their free time to administrate local municipality.
Seen on TV, that new hut, 9 places, looks very comfortable, with night zone spread from lunch space, very inviting, wide. Next step was to get information on how to access to this brand new bivouac. I don't know if in other countries, or almost other italian region like Dolomiti, Alpi Lombarde, Sud Tirolo, sometimes bivouac are key locked. In Val d'Aosta this may happen! There are very few of them (i.e. Bivacco Gontier, north side of Grivola). The keys are at public disposal in a shop, or at kept by local priest: there are structures owned by Catholic Church (the old shelter at Miserin Lake, nowadays a private open hut). Once informed where the keys are, you can have them, anyone you are.
Col Carrel (with Federigo Zullo bivouac), seen from Arbolle hut.
Thinking to loose my time, I asked through the contact page of www.comune.charvensod.ao.it
website, informations if bivouac is open, or where I can get the keys to get in it. A very kind employee soon reply me with an e-mail. While reading the answer I felt down astonished. “The keys are only for local people of Charvensod, here in City Hall, office daytime”. Not an explanation more! Only the courtesy greetings at the end of the e-mail.
I replied with a protest. “This is not a way to welcome hikers, this is an incorrect behave toward all mountain citizenships! Shame on you. This is an offence.” I didn't expect a second reply. My second email was words shouted in the wind.
Digging in the dirt.
Beck Peccoz hut, seen from Emilius summit.
There are a couple of possible answers for this unacceptable behavior. These are only my suggestions, because even if I queried other requests, I never had an answer.
The Federigo/Zullo was hardly damaged in spring 2008, by some unknown idiot hooligans, who probably left the door opened. Strong winds and plenty of snowfalls did the rest. Moreover the internal structures (beds, mattresses) have been “manually” damaged, as from a C.A.I. report. This could be a justified reason to give the new bivouac key to a person who can be identified. In my honest opinion all mountain shelters must remain open (or the winter side, like huts), for any kind of problems can occur to anyone, over there, in the wild lands. ... ok: for emergencies the old Federigo/Zullo is enough!
The second self answer is a little bit more disquieting. The recontruction of old “Casa di Caccia Beck Peccoz” (house for hunters Beck Peccoz), was made by local volunteers of Hunt Section. Pay attention: with the public money of Charvensod municipality, not with their own bucks! There is an interesting articles published by local office of Ansa, the italian press independent agency:
TURISMO: NUOVO BIVACCO AL COL CARREL-BECCA DI NONA
(ANSA) - AOSTA, 6 AGO - Un tempo casa di caccia dei signori Beck Peccoz, lo chalet che si trova a 2.900 metri sul Col Carrel, che porta alla Becca di Nona, è stato trasformato in un bivacco disponibile per chiunque ne faccia richiesta all'Amministrazione comunale di Charvensod.
La ristrutturazione, finanziata dal Comune di Charvensod, è stata eseguita dai volontari della locale sezione cacciatori e sarà inaugurata domenica prossima 10 agosto. Il nuovo bivacco dispone di una zona giorno e di una zona notte con nove posti letto. Lo chalet Beck Peccoz è a monte dell'alpeggio Ponteille, lungo il percorso che porta ai 3.142 metri della Becca di Nona.
This is the original press agency as from Ansa website. There is a little mistake: “... è stato trasformato in un bivacco disponibile per chiunque ne faccia richiesta ...” sounds like “... has been transformed in a new bivouac, available to ANYONE who will request for, to the local administration in Charvensod ... Maybe Ansa got right informations, and “rules” have been changed two minutes after the opening ceremony, deleting ANYONE with ONLY TO CHARVENSOD RESIDENTS.
What may we think, right now? They did the job: only them can use the bivouac. The less people are in the proximities, the more possibilities are to hunt undisturbed. In a community of 2200 people (placed at 580 – 750 mt.) how many hikers, climbers, are there? How many hunters? How many of them have the will to reach a bivouac at 2907 mt, with at least 3 or 4 hours of hard walk? I'm sure: very few.
And, last but not least possibility, why not to damage the old bivouac to hunt away from tactless eyes? The keys of the new chalet are in their pockets ... Could be, could be ... Me or anybody else, as a foreign potential hooligan, will be a sure witness.
Hooligans in Val d'Aosta.I really feel angry, furious, when I could be considered a potential hooligan, only because I do not live in the same village or in another region or country. This is a thesis that everybody who loves hiking have not to accept as an explanation.
Hooligans acts exist in small and great communities, as well as little mountain village, unfortunately. A short summary of recent foolish events.
In spring 2007, two huts (Rifugio Nacamuli and Rifugio Aosta, in high Valpelline) was heavily damaged by a local foolish, still unknown. In summer 2008, in the villages of Gignod, Variney, Roisan and Valpelline, lots of parked cars, private gardens and goods have been spoiled by “well known” local boy gang, bored because school is closed, sic!. Never seem then “live, while destroying” ... still free to damage everywhere they want.
A 21 years old idiot, have been recently arrested in Valpelline, by police, while punching with a drift a tire. Nothing else to do?
A platoon of silly teens hardly damaged a gymnasium in Aosta, at the begin of September, and self-filmed with their own smartphone, ready to upload their masterwork on YouTube. Arrested: from 16 y.o to 11 y.o.. They justify their actions as “... we had anything else to do ...”. I never had boring holidays in Val d'Aosta, during my childhood. Maybe my times are changed and are very very long time gone.
All these episodes are unacceptable in great and small communities. But let's think all this in tiny villages, the real reality of Val d'Aosta, where everybody know everybody. A true shock!
This brief excursus is to demonstrate to that blind major, that hooligans are everywhere. Even in quiet villages in the mountain. Not a question of citizenship, but education, of course.
At the end.
The NW ridge of Emilius, where the Via Ferrata runs.
All of us, mountain lovers, climbers, hikers, must refused to be discriminate, for their origin. It's incredible: we're in 2008! I don't want to read my passport to know where I should have to go, in a free country. We're talking of “civil” western world. I can't accept, we all can't accept this! Hoolingas, blind majors and discriminations.