Rifugio Coca

Last Sunday I climbed up to Rifugio Coca. My hiking companions were busy with other things over the weekend, but I was undeterred and set out by myself. I had even thought of leaving on Saturday and sleeping at the hut at nearly 1900 m, but when I rang them up they said that, although the path from the valley is now clear, from the hut upwards there is still snow and you need rackets to move about. Not having a pair, I decided on the day trip. 

Sunday at 7 am looked like promising weather, a blue sky and crisp early morning air gave me a lift for a good hike. I drove the 60 km to Valbondione and parked the car just at the start of the path where a sign gives the number of the trail and indicates 2 and a half hours’ walking time. The path is relentless: the 879 m drop is overcome in one steady ascent.

Even walking at my brisk pace, I was nevertheless surprised to look up at some point and already see the hut perching on the ledge above. After 1 hour and a half I was already there!

Since it was a bit early to eat lunch I decided to read a while on the terrace, but it soon turned too cold. The sun was shining on and off hidden by scudding clouds and the air was stinging, so I had to wear an extra layer of clothing. Shame, because the book I was starting to read seemed an engrossing story, unlike the previous one by that I’d reluctantly resolved to put down after 100 pages. That’s very unlike me, giving a book up, but I just couldn’t just make out what it was about…

From the terrace I could see the winding path on the opposite side of the valley that climbs up to the Curò hut and the one that joins the two, cutting across the mountain side by means of a challenging traverse. I will never forget doing it years ago in a group of 8, nearly paralysed by giddiness at the sheer precipice with no protection along a stretch that lasted too long. When I reached the end I gave a shout of liberation and felt happy to live again! That was the only other time I’d been at the Coca hut.

By the time I’d finished eating my stew with green beans, I was too cold to keep still and set off again to the little lake Coca. It’s half an hour away, but the path was all covered with treaded snow, which wetted my boots. The lake was unimpressive, at least compared to the dark mountains that you can see around.

They are the highest of the Orobian Alps, Pizzo Coca being the tallest with its 3052 m.