Day 15 Sand in Taufere

Christine's Guest Blog

Apart from a small sting in the tail, my best ever day's high altitude walking.

We left the wonderful Edelrautehutte at 7.45, giving ourselves just a few moments to relish it's location perched on a col - huge east/west views with a glacier hanging over us to the north.
Looking back up the valley to Edelrautehutte

Following the sign to the Chemnitzer Hutte we went straight down the valley (annoyingly loosing 800 metres height) to Neves-Stausee lake, then climbed up through trees and alpine meadows with the satisfaction of overtaking a large group of locals.

We arrived at Chemnitzer at about 10.30 am and were delighted to see a big Via Alpina map on the wall. It confirmed that we had gone the right way so far (John had been kicking himself for not taking a higher contouring route which we now discovered would have taken 4.5 hours) and showed that we had another 5 hours walking to do. I had been sceptical. More importantly the wall map highlighted a suitable lunch stop.
Leaving Chemnitzer Hutte
Looking back to Chemnitzer Hutte
We set off and for the next 40 minutes found ourselves following a high contour boulder path, although path is the wrong word as it involved a good head for heights, high risk tolerance and a degree of luck. You had to pick your way across huge angular lumps of rock while clinging to a near vertical mountain side. I think elf and safety would have banned the route in the UK and was surprised there was no reassuring rope. Even more surprised, if not abashed, when a much older granny than me (Italian) came bounding along in the other direction.

The first tricky bit of the walk

Leaving the rocks, the path continued its high traverse, along a feature known as "Mulhwalder Kamm", for about 12 miles with breathtaking views of the Dolomites and other ranges speckled with high glaciers. It was glorious. The only fly in the ointment was the non -appearance of the promised hutte for lunch, and I got progressively more bad tempered

The final stretch of the Mulhwalder Kamm
Having finished contouring south the path turned eastwards and starting to go vigorously up and down. Not good. There was no sign to show the end was in sight.

At 3.30 pm we came to junction with 1 path heading up to a Bergstation (we knew the final descent was by cable car). John seemed unsure but did say we should ignore it and stick with route 27. I decided that a Bergstation in the hand was better than a 27 in the bush and marched off towards the Bergstation. This was a big mistake. Getting to the top, hot and sweaty, the only working ski lift was far below and to get to it involved a trip around the mountain which would clearly take a least an hour.

Worst was to come: as we worked our way around we saw another lift the other side of the mountain at the end of route 27. John had been right.

Big helpings of humble pie for the rest of the day. The only consolation was that the path to the Bergstation, although painfully long, was beautifully engineered with huge slabs of rock neatly positioned, sometimes in steps and sometimes in slopes, making it easy despite the gradient. It must have cost a fortune.

P.S. from John

Christine's sceptism was fuelled by a nice if not so helpful Italian who told us the night before that our planned walk would take 12 hours!

My timing, taken from Via Alpina website, was about 7 and half hours. At least part of the discrepancy can be explained by the fact that the Kompass map (no 37) shows the Via Alpina heading north from the Edelrautehutte on a contour route. This is plainly wrong. Fortunately when we left the Hutte we were so keen to get ahead of some Germans that we missed that route and accidentally shot down another that miraculously turned out to be the right one!

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