I usually don’t go alone, or at least I haven’t until this point, but none of my friends wanted to come so I said why not. I had to go out in the mountains and the thought of climbing alone didn’t seem that scary anymore. I booked a flight to Milan for 4th of July and a room at Refuge Arbolle having in mind to summit Monte Emilius. I hoped the snow will already have started to melt by now and at first Via Ferrata seemed a viable choice.

The plane left early in the morning and everything was planned. It seems like bad luck had joined me from the very beginning. I landed 40 minutes later than was I suppose to missing my connection to the city and further ahead the bus to Aosta. There are only 2 a day and the next one was only at 5pm. When I got there the cable cabin was closed and my only chance to get to the refuge that day was to hitchhike, unless I was willing to pay 60 euros for a taxi. After trying for almost two hours to get a ride I decided is time to search for a hotel and I called the refuge to let them know. If you go to Aosta stay at HB Hotel – expensive but worth it. In the end everything sorted out and I realised was better to spend the night in the city in the first place. The centre is nice and quiet with a few restaurants and pubs. I got the chance to see Germany humiliating Brazil by 7 goals. What a night.

The next morning at 9 when the cable car opens I was the first to wait for it. The ride to Pila takes about 30 mins and from there you have two options. Walk through the forest or take the ski tow up to Chamole. I choose the second option as it was already late thought I would have preferred the hike.

Once got there the patch is clearly visible and market. Take the 19A or 14 route and in about 20mins you should be at Chamole Lake. Circle it to the left until you get to a small bridge and there is a small pole with directions and times.

Chamole Lake

The path starts to serpentine on a grassy slope until you reach the Chamole Pass. There I was at 2641m and everything turned white. I could spot the refuge down in the valley but it was way too much snow and the clouds predicted even more. I knew straight away via ferrata is out of the question. At this point I was hoping is not that deep so I’ll be able to summit.

Col di Chamole

I continued my journey and even though it looks close, the steep muddy way down is even harder than the way up and it took me about 30mins. At last at the refuge. A big surprise was waiting for me. The weather forecast seemed to be incorrect and apparently it was snowing for a few days already. I was the first and only climber in that season.

Refugio Arbolle

I quickly checked in and grabbed a bite. I looked at my watch and there was enough time. If only the weather will hold. The plan was to take the classic route via Tre Capuccini. I estimated it should take me  around 4 hours to reach the top depending on how deep the snow is. The path 14 passes Arbolle Lake and follows the stream until the junction with path 18 leaving it behind. After a while a look back shows the valley lost in an ocean of white. I could already see the clouds closing in. For now the snow is only about 5cm and the hike is fairly easy with ups and downs.

1 hour from the refuge

I should have been at Gelato Lake by now but I don’t see it anywhere. It must be frozen and covered in snow as my altimeter shows 3000m. I’m actually getting closer to Tre Capuccini Pass. But the weather breaks. The visibility drops as it started to snow and I’m trying not to lose the trail. Signs are no visible any more and the snow is deeper and deeper. I can still see the pass and it looks loaded with snow. I stopped wondering what to do. Immediately my answer came. A bang broke the silence and said to myself: “that must be an avalanche”. I knew what I have to do and I turned around. The mountain is not going anywhere and for sure I will return. However the frustration kicked in and he way back seemed to never end. Even if you know it was the right decision is still hard to accept.It was already late when I got back and at this point even Becca di Nona was not viable anymore. At least I got a great view from my window.

Window view

The next day was warm and sunny, if only I could predict the weather. I climbed back to Chamole Pass and from there to Tete Noire at 2819m. It’s a quick rock scramble not very exposed but dangerous when covered with ice.. I guess that was my consolation prize. Superb view over Aosta Valley and Mont Emilius range.

Pointe Valletta (3090m) in the background

From left to right: Becca di Nona (3142m) - Colle Carrel (2852m) - Monte Emilius (3559m) - Colle Arbole (3154m) - Punta Rossa (3401m)

Later on I was ready to go. When I got Chamole the ski tow was closed. It seems like the lack of tourists forced them to close much earlier than it was suppose to. The way down to Pila is longer than I expected and the cable car staff decided to take a break in he middle of the day. “CLOSED” said the sign and the last bus to Milan was leaving in 3 hours. When it finally opened I had 40mins to get to the bus station and a 30mins ride to Aosta. I sure run fast. When I got in the bus the doors closed and left. What a trip.

 

 

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