Where is the winter? It’s December 20th today, we are in Piedmont, Northwestern Italy – almost France – right in the Alps…and it is summer hot!
We just have the whole day this weekend, a short winter day, so we decide to go, along with our friend Gabriele a.k.a. Duma c’Anduma, at Mount Palon, in the low Susa Valley, really close to the king of this corner of the Alps, the majestic Rocciamelone.
The snowshoes have remained home this time. The snow has barely touched the peaks and even a quick glimpse from Turin is enough to get it: everything is brown and yellow, even the higher peaks, the one which overcome 3.000 meters are just lightly dusted in white.
Mount Palon is among these latest ones: it almost arrives at 3.000 mt with its 2.965 and is nice and brown. We begin to walk towards the Alpe Arcella after driving the unpaved road which goes to the La Riposa Refuge. It would have been a problem in a rainy day with its big potholes and unstable cliffs. Arrived here, we are plunged into a lunar land.
We arrive up to the Rocce dei Tre Cresti, with its iron cross and we overcome it slightly upward. Up to here, it really is just a nice walk on an easy trail in the fields, a very panoramic one over the lower Susa Valley and its pollution and humidity cap.
Once we are done with the fields, we go on on the trail, which finally begins to be a little bit steeper. The we finally get to the Capanna Sociale Ravetto, a refuge, where we have to decide: either the long way, uphill on the grassy fields and the on the rocks, or the faster one, which is the harder too. Following the opposite ridge, the Northbound one.
We don’t give the long and boring fields even a thought and begin immediately to walk on the straight, harder path.
From behind the Capanna Sociale refuge, we start walking uphill following the ridge, on a proper path at the beginning, then just heading straight to the peak. The steepness get increased more and more, but then we spot two big ibex which observe us from above and we are infused with new energies to get there.
We get past the only really dangerous part of the hike, behind the ridge on the North wall which is iced in spots, and the only the effort remains, but the difficulties are done.
Once we are back on the sunny wall, we can finally see the ibex are no only the two we have spotted before, but the whole family. The two big males with the majestic horns watch us carefully while the rest of the group search for a hidden place over the ridge, in the shadown, clearly bothered by the presence of three strangers.
Greeted the group, it’s time to leave them alone, just the last slope is in front of us. We already see the peak and the steeper and harder part is already done. We stay on the edge of the ridge and little by little we get to the top on Mount Palon, 2.965 meters high towered by the majestic Rocciamelone, in a totally unusual brown vest.
We are alone up here, in the deep silence that can you can only find in the altitude. If we really force our ears, we can hear a light rumble of the bigger cars and motorcycle which spin on the highway across the valley, but it’s just a faint noise. A nice good sandwich full of ham and cheese is our reward for arriving up here, along with the unequaled view over both the Susa and the Viù valley, and over all the peaks surrounding us.
Later after, another couple we have already met down along the trail, arrive. They have taken the long way passing on the fields, training for their next adventure in the Canary Island, the conquer of Teide mountain. They almost immediately begin their way down, just a couple minutes to take their breath. We are going to follow them shortly after.
In some minutes, we too begin our way down, the short winter day unfortunately don’t give us enough time for long pauses and the way down is not fast. We actually decide to take the long path, mostly because the passage over the ridge, with the ice, would be too dangerous getting down.
We decide to take a shortcut for the long bend around the mountain and find ourselves going down on steep grassy fields, with the dry long grass pretty slippery which make us slip us more than once. Then we get again on the long easy path we walk on the way in and into the little woods before the last hill.
After the long way back, here we are back at our cars. Another adventure is ended but it leaves us with a great memory of brown peaks in full winter and lots of ibex.