The Barbarossa summit

The Barbarossa summitFinally a clear Sunday was announced. I brushed up the text message that Danilo had sent me during the week to propose a hike in the mountains. It read: "Climb to Mount Barbarossa starting from the hamlet of Teveno, the peak is at 2,148 m with an ascent of over 1,000 m." I looked it up on the internet and realised it was an alpine skiing route. It was described as medium difficulty. Although my friends were going hiking and not skiing, surely there would still be a lot of snow. I would need snowshoes and crampons, neither of which I had. I replied to my friend that I was forced to give up.

By the evening, though, I was already regretting not going. I had no suitable equipment, true, and I would have to get up very early – the date was at 7 o'clock 15 km away from home – but spending a whole sunny Sunday at home or in town would be a lot of pain. So I prepared everything as if I was going to leave, water bottle, packed lunch, backpack and the most suitable clothes I could lay my hands on, then went to bed. The final decision would be made when the alarm rang at 6 the next day.

When the beep tore through the silence of the night I grumbled something to myself and made a quick assessment of the situation. I must have been influenced by the interruption of sleep, but the cons outweighed the pros: no mountain gear, danger, snow, sleepiness... I stretched my arm to put out the alarm, ready to enjoy more sleep. But five minutes later the alarm, which I had inadvertently only snoozed, went off again. This time it was a sign of destiny: I jumped out of bed and went to the kitchen for breakfast. The microwave oven clock showed five in the morning and in few seconds I realised that only my mobile phone had automatically switched to summer time, which I had completely forgotten about. One more hour of sleep lost!

My friends were surprised to see me turn up. They had snowshoes, but assured me they probably won't even put them on. As a matter of fact, the snow was so deep that I once sunk up to the groin and from that moment on my companions used snowshoes. I was left the only one to plod on the snow either walking in other people's footsteps or just hoping the icy crust was hard enough to support me. We made it up to a pass from where the view opened on a new valley and the vertical rock face of the Barbarossa. From the crest the layer of snow could be seen several metres deep.

View over the Val di Scalve mountainsIt was only a short stretch from there to the summit, but I felt unsafe. At this dizzying height the whole mountain side we had been ascending stretched on my right. A missed footing, without proper gear, would mean hurtling down to sure death. I let my friend continue for the little distance that separated me from the peak. They tried to cheer me ("It' only 10 metres more!"), but I knew that the summit would mean no extra satisfaction to that I was already feeling in front of the fabulous view of snowy summits glittering in the sun, the dark valley bottom, higher distant peaks. I cautiously made my way down and waited for them at the pass. By the time we had descended to the car my boots were drenched from the melting snow that had penetrated inside, but it had been an awesome day. Even without mountain gear.