Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Santa up.

Plans for our much-anticipated day of uphill skiing were hatched over dinner last night when our dining room neighbours informed us that the Refugio at the chapel Santa Croce was serving impeccable food.  Those plans were sealed when all of our dining room neighbours refused to believe we would do such a thing as walk from the bottom of the hill to the top - never mind make it in time to eat our lunch there.

We took a short hike/slide down the riverside path to take the very short drag lift up to a level where we could put skins on away from the maddening crowd / onlookers.  Skinning up the slopes is forbidden, although I'm not sure where else we could go given the chronic lack of off-piste snow.

We had a little debate about where to set off from but settled on with just getting on with it.  I was still faffing with stuff and gear when TSK set off across the sparsely snow-covered hillside declaring his new skins to be witchcraft.  I think he was enjoying himself defying gravity.
Most things verbotten.

I on the other hand was struggling.  For the first time all week my skis and boots felt heavy on my legs and I doubted whether my knees would last the distance as my right one twitched with every step.  My downhill skiing has been fine because my cycling muscles are healthy but without any fell running behind me, TSK was - quite frankly wooping my ass at my own game.

No one particularly seemed to mind us trudging up the slope as we went close to the edges and generally walked the line few people would be using.  One father had to tell his boy to look out as he slid to a stop in front of us and we took the occasional wide lines around hillocks so that oncoming ski traffic could see us.

Our first mountain stop was in bright sunshine.  It was so warm, TSK was in a tee-shirt and I had to stop to do up some of the velcro on my unzipped trouser legs to make sure my knickers weren't showing any more.  I know, it's carnival in Italy today but we were, however, on hallowed turf (almost literally on the turf front) and I'm not sure you're supposed to show your knickers to celebrate lent.

We stopped to worship with coffee and slap on sunscreen.

TSK Striding out on the Pilgrim's path.
 Eventually we found the pilgrim's path to the chapel which skirted the slope 10 metres away from the side of the piste with an incredibly comfortable strip of trees between us and the tourists zooming by at 70 miles per hour on the other side.  Thankfully the pilgrim's path was covered in snow and convenient depictions of the crucifixion gave us a somewhat graphic countdown to the arrival of our lunch.  I started noticing them at VII and hoped they would only count up to XII or even better, X.

At IX I lost count.  I was so incontinently hungry I had to eat something.  An opened TORQ bar (from god knows when) was the perfect victim.  I would have eaten three mouths full of anything.  I was still starving when we topped out after 2 hours 30 minutes of hiking up hill at the top of the lift.  A large group of people were removing and racking their skis by the slope ready to take a final hike up the steep path to the restaurant.  We walked on our skis with them giving me a chance to catch up to Andrew and instruct him to proceed direct to base camp and obtain a table at the restaurant without stopping to breathe! - GO!.

I left him to rack skis and entered the restaurant with a group of 6 Americans.  I had passed most other people as they fought with ice, wind and ski boots.  The skins were holding their own today.

The Americans were told to wait 20 minutes for a table.  Keen not be considered a part of their group I cornered a waitress and begged for space for two people.  As I was shown to a shared table, my back bristled with wrath from the Americans who scurried in behind me to pile onto their table, still being vacated by its present occupants.  I was happily packed into a sweaty corner of the incredibly popular place alongside an Iti/German couple and a pair of Austrian skiers.  I vented my trousers further.  Verging on the indecent this.

We ate a very satisfying meal and passed on our knowledge of the hidden valley to the couple who were on a walking holiday whilst their son was skiing.

Unlike TSK, I had the energy left for more climbing but agreed that saving myself for the rest of the week was a good idea so, after a run back to the base of Ste. Croce, we walked the 10 minutes back to the hotel and relaxed with day dreaming, sleeping and an inappropriately long game of pool on a billiards table.

Back at the hotel we retold our tales of daring do to the other couples sitting with us at dinner.  Flavia was suitably inspired to walk down the valley the next day with Victoria and Gillia proudly announced that she was going to take a ski lesson instead of staying meek and declaring herself a lost cause.  My work there feels done.

Tomorrow is another day.

No comments: