Day 3 – Alta Via 1

The notes had us a bit worried. They described a section of the walk today as being particularly dangerous and the hardest part of the whole Alta Via Walk. We thought we were up for it however until we spoke to an American woman who asked if we had harnesses and tethers! The notes also said to take the alternative route if there was recent heavy rain – and guess what, it rained last night! We were starting to get a bit windy about the idea. Luckily just at the point where we had to choose one route or the other we came across a group with an English speaking guide. We asked if last night’s rain was considered “heavy” and he said no, and also that harnesses were not required. Phew!

So up we went. Or more importantly, down the other side we went! The track down was over a massive unstable landslide and very steep. The views were some of the best so far across to a distant glacier. None of my pictures do the view any credit.
We continued walking on to our rifugio for the night. As we gained height again we entered a vast area that featured in the high alpine battles in World War 1 between the Italians and the Austrian/Hungarian forces – the Lagazuoi mountain and surrounds. In 1917 the Austro-Hungarian forces held the high ridge and had tunneled their way into the rock to develop fortifications, machine gun posts,, and to shelter from the -25 degree winter weather. The Italians held the lower ledge – Martini Ledge, and tunneled their way up through the rock (1100 m) to surprise the Austrians at the top. Altogether the Italians dug out a total of 10,426 tonnes of rock in only four and a half months averaging a net advance of 5.58m every 24 hours. They eventually overcame the Austrians who were weakened by lack of food and the cold. We were able to freely crawl around the Austrian caves and tunnels at the top as we passed up to the rifugio.
We experienced the first rain just as we reached the rifugio for the night. Rod had his first experience of sleeping in a dorm with 20 other walkers – not something he took to well.