Monday, March 29, 2010

Grand Paradiso [almost]

Greg Knott Bill Mills and I headed for the Grand Paradiso national park in Italy on Friday. The forecast was poor for the Friday but it was meant to improve. We drove through sheeting rain which turned to snow by the time we arrived at the car park in Pont. We set off towards the Vittorio Emanuelle hut with the snow dumping down. As we climbed it suddenly got very windy and then just as suddenly the clouds parted , the wind stopped and we were left enjoying a beautiful late afternoon. Unsurprisingly the Hut was not busy.
The next day we climbed La Tresenta 3680 m and then skied back to the hut for a large bowl of Pasta.
On Sunday our plan was to attempt the Grand Paradiso. What we hadn't banked on was that there was a ski mountaineering race to the summit and back. [3 1/2 hours] for the round trip was the estimated winners time].
We made it to 3500m where the wind was brutal. We turned round and the race was cancelled because the conditions were deemded too dangerous.

Mind you: our consolation prize was 1000m descent in light fluffy powder all the way back to the car.