Start height (mt): 1.100
Top height (mt): 1.986
Total heightfrop (mt): 886
Access: From Turin: take the autroute North and follow for Frejus. Take the exit Avigliana est and go on towards Giaveno, then Coazze and then Forno di Coazze. Park near the notice board of the National park, just before entering Borgata Molè or in the square in front of the chuch Madonna di Lourdes.
Another hard weekend is starting for us, again with our friend Trekking-Alps and with lots of new friends from all over the worls.
For this trek, we decide not to explore new places, but to go again at the Balma Refuge, our 5 star bivouc. The final purpouse is to reach Mount Robinet, but we still have to evaluate if the weather condition and our fellows physical conditions will let us do that.
We have so many new friends on this weekend: four guys who come from New York and are temporary studying in Italy, a german girl, Roberto and his friend Elisabetta, another naturalistic guide, and obviously the two of us.
A little problem gives us un unexpected opportunity: the refuge does only have eight places and we are nine. Sure, we can just stay a little bit closer and fit all in, that would not be a big problem, rather a good occasion to be warmer. However, why not to take advantage and have an amazing camping night on the snow? It is such an occasion that we cannot say no. There is no need to talk about it, it’s thought and done, our backpacks full, we are ready for this new challenge.
We have all of our gear: tent, sleeping bag, torchs, snowshoes, warm clothes, food and all of the rest, we begin to walk the path that we already know by heart at this point. The landscape is always the same, but at the same time so different. It is drier than usual and less green, compared to what we are used to, today it is a sunny day, so different compared to our last time here when we met the fog at the Balma refuge, the time when we met Trekking-Alps the first time.
Our american friends are not so well organized: four young guys discovering the Alps, questionable shoes more suitable to a walk in the city, but some indelible smiles print on their faces, so eager about new discoveries and adventures. Oh, we do know that feeling!It is the real spirit of each adventure, to live it at the fullest. Some little detail makes us doubt about reaching our goal, to reach the top f mount Robinet, but our hopes are still not lost.
Our german friend, so differently from the american guys, is really well organized and doesn’l let some recent injuries undermine her will, instead, she put on the objective all her will and tries so hard to stay just one step behind our four impatients friends.
We have a lot of time to reach the refuge, a lot more than necessary and we stop often and for long time, both not to get tired, to have our leg fresh for tomorrow, and also because we really want to enjoy time perfect sunny day, taking our time to shoot lots of good picture and to chat.
One of our longest stop is just before half the road, when we come the new little bridge – I still remember our first trek with the guys of Accademia Torino, when we had to move some trunks that were the bridge, to let the kids cross the river without getting wet after a judo high altitude training.
After having our relax along the river, with the noise of the water flowing among rocks, we start again to go on, walking our path, The same path that gets steeper and with more snow the more we go up, not really demanding but not simple either.
In the meanwhile, the sun get warmer, and warmer, too warm to say the truth – Attilio seems he bathe in the river we just passed – and it soaked the snow.
We overtake some not so big snow patches, with not that much of a problem, but the more we go on, the more the snow is thicker and softer, we sink to the knees at each step and since our friends’ shoes are totally not waterproof, we decide it is arrived the dreaded moment: it’s snowshoes time!
Snowshoes these unknown! Of all of the people who got along with us in the mountains, almost noone have always tried those before – it was the first time for me too, right here in the Balma valley, at the begin of the season! – and it is always funny to watch people using this device which slows down people and make them clumsy.
While the clouds temporary shield us from the hot sun, we help our friends to wear the snowshoes. It is not really hard, usually, but since they are not wearing boots it is not an easy task to make them fit well. Boots are bigger and offer support to the hooks, while their shoes are soft and flexible and their feet slide in the laces. The laces actually, are not tight enough to stop the feet to move and they slide out at every step.
But our friend amaze us another time and don’t give up, indeed, so eager to begin this new challenge, they begin walking quite fast on the track lead from Roberto.
Then, suddenly, in a rocky stretch of the path, Steven fall in a hole in the snow and a snowshoe get stuck in the rocks hidden from the snow. And he is in there up to his hips.
Among the general laughters and some picture to freeze the moment in time, we begin to dig to free him. It is not a big deal actually, nothing dangerous and really hilarious, but his jeans – yes, they all wear jeans, against all advices! – are soaking fastly. In some minutes he is free, but only after mentioning the fact that he could have ended up as the man of the movie (and book) 172 Hours, the one stuck on a rock in a canyon who had to sew his own arm to get away.
Don’t worry, there was not an instant of danger, it was only to create some suspence!
We are walking again and just a little time separate us from the refuge. Sun is still high in the sky, now that days are longer it is really a pleasure to reach the goal and still have some hours of light to enjoy.
We overcome the last ridge and the refuge profile appears up there, back lit by the sun. As always the sight of the goal gives you a burst of new energy and we almost run the last hill, oblivious of our snowshoes clumsiness.
The last steps and here we are, again up here!
One by one, we all come to the refuge and after the usual celebrations, we enter and everybody take its place. We undress of all the sweated clothes and wet jeans and realx a little bit.
Tea is done straight afterwards while our friends discover the shelter life and got their place in the bunkbeds.
Everybody is quite hungry and the time doesn’t really matters. It is more a late afternoon than dinner time, but the water is already boiling for our tortellini. With Roberto, we astonish all of our friends since we made up a really good and tasty dinner, for vegetarian too, with the lowest effort: some tortellini – light to transport – water and a pre-cooked sauce, and the dinner is ready!
With a good glass of wine, the night starts at its best, with laughters and happiness, and a nice taste of genepy to end it.
But we still have an imporant task before sunset: we have to pitch our tent. It gets harder than it seems and in the end we are really happy for the decision to try it here at first, just steps from the refuge. The shovel helped us to flat the snow and build the little wall to shield us from the wind and preserve the warmth, theoretically at least; two blankets borrowed from the refuge will help to insulate and warm us and the heater inside will dry our wet boots.
So, a camping with a help, but not bad as a first time camping on the snow with a summer tent!
We get asleep instantly, after lots of laughs with our new and old friends, watching the lights of the city down there, and we enjoy a long night of rest, well deserved rest, in our favourite place, our loyal tent!
Tomorrow a long day is waiting for us and, hopefully, we will reach some peak, if not Mount Robinet, something easier. But tomorrow is another day.
This article is available : Italian