This is going to be my last entry from the hut for the season. The snow continued throughout the week, most of which will likely remain on the ridge for the winter. Day before yesterday we received about a foot of snow here at the hut and there were significant accumulations even 500m below the hut. We have had a couple of surprise un-reserved overnighters trying to climb the route unsuccessfully.
Yesterday and today have been nice. Yesterday there was still a foot of snow covering everything and I spent the day shoveling off the roof and the porch. The snow scared most day visitors away but a few arrived (and ate their own lunch on the porch). Today, Saturday, the snow below is almost entirely melted and the people are coming in droves. There are about ten at the hut and I counted at least sixteen on the part of the trail I can see. Today is the last blast of summer for most people. In Italy, most of the country takes their vacation in August. Some very strange herd instinct is ingrained in the Italian psyche and the august vacation is a perfect example of it. But, august is over next week after which everyone will go back to work. There is actually a term for it in Italian: “Il Grande Rientro”. The Big Return when everyone flocks back to the cities from the beach and the mountains. Traffic is such a huge problem on the Sunday afternoon at the end of August that a whole system of national traffic forecasting has been developed. There is actually a radio station dedicated solely to traffic reporting. I am listening to it now. We find it strangely entertaining to listen to reports of 18km of traffic getting back into Milan when the closest car is 1200m below us in the valley.
All in all the summer has been good. Despite the bad weather we still had roughly the same number of visitors as past years. Luci has been up here for the whole two months straight without going down and is eager to get out of here. We have been slowly packing up the hut; a bit everyday. We have no more reservations and are thinking about hiking down on Monday morning. We already have a flight to Amsterdam for next weekend from Geneva. We are going to go through the Mont Blanc tunnel to Chamonix, France to see Stewart (a guy we met up here this summer) and then on to Geneva to stay with Jesse’s friend Aska and her grandparents. We leave for Amsterdam on Thursday. The sister of an Antarctican friend lives there and has a houseboat that she rents out. So, we’ll be staying there for the weekend and going to visit our friend Tracy. At the beginning of next week we start our own “Grande Rientro” to Milan. We’ll let you know how the trip went in our next entry.
Archive for August, 2004
Slow, slow. Our numbers have dropped off drastically since our last airlift. This was somewhat foreseen but was helped along by bad weather. Our numbers would have been steadily good if the weather reports had been correct. We have had people reserved who canceled due to bad weather. There is an organization in the valley that calls all the huts every night to give the weather. They analyze the weather reports from France, Italy and Switzerland and give us a summary. Yesterday the weather was forecast to be clear and sunny. We awoke to snow and freezing temperatures that persisted throughout the day leaving significant accumulations on the climbing route, which makes for difficult climbing on the rock sections of the mixed route.
Last week was dark and rainy and we spent most days alone. Fortunately there are the Olympics and we have a small color TV this year. We have been conserving our energy by going without lights on these dark days so we can watch the Olympics with the precious battery power we have. Since we are watching the Olympics on Italian national TV it is decidedly italo-centered. They are doing very well with over 20 medals (5 Gold) in this first week. Today the weather is clear but cold. We have taken advantage of the clear, sunny weather to get showers and wash clothes. I just heard on the radio that it is 47°C (in the 100sF) in Athens for the Women’s Marathon. It is hard to imagine when we have just gone over 10°C (about 45°F) for the first time in three days.
The end is near though and we have started our list of closing tasks. If the weather holds out we will do some lunches for day-visitors but, with the tough climbing, our overnight reservations with continue to be meager. The good thing about the cold weather is that it looks like we might finish the season without having to lay the 150m of black tubing for the alternate water system. Which means I won’t be in as good a shape as I would like for the Ob Hill Uphill race at McMurdo this year.