was my treat day. Beryl went off on the guided walk but said that if I wanted to
go off on my own she didnít mind. What a woman she is. I jumped at this. The
immediate thought was to go back up Piz Boe but, whilst I was a lot better, the
cold hadnít cleared properly and I was still having a bit of a breathing
problem. The booklet had one walk, Forcia Neigra, that has a section rated at 3
scary faces so I plumped for that.
meant catching the bus to the Ciampec ski lift, the one weíd used to descend
into Alba on our first walk. The description said get off after the first stage
and climb out of the skiing area. However Iíd seen a way of going to the top
of the second lift and then taking a traversing path. This lift was interesting.
I spotted marmots but no sign of this traverse. What to do?
the first thing was to climb up beyond the skilift station. This was a
continuation of the Sas de Adam ridge and Iíd been disappointed that we
didnít do it on that walk so I wanted to put that right. At the top I got the
map out. I realised then that this ridge went around the opposite side of Croda
Negra to the Forcia Neigra path and would link up with it so I could do
the rest of that walk. Also looking at both the map and the path ahead it
promised to be an interesting route. The ridge was very narrow, it had plenty of
up and down and there were rocky bits. My courage wavered for a moment but there
were other people on the ridge including an elderly Italian couple. This gave me
the confidence to go on.
A word about elderly Italian couples. You see them all
over in the Dolomites. Your first reaction is that they are out for a quiet
pootle. Then you realise that there isnít a car park (or even a skilift) just
around the corner so they must have walked some way to the spot. Theyíve got
all the gear too; perhaps not the latest high-tech version and they will
undoubtedly have a proper wooden walking stick but respectable gear. I was full
of admiration for them.
The ridge was a good bold walk - it reminded a bit of the
Devilís Ridge in the Mamores Ė and it provided exhilerating walking. The
character changed as it reached the main bulk of Croda
Negra and it then clung to the side of the hill and worked its way around
it. At this stage I was following a group of four people with a mountain guide.
It seemed a good plan to stay just behind them. This was rewarded because the
guide kept spotting marmots that I would probably have missed. There were lots
of coughs round here. The path provided assistance in places in the form of
metal ropes pegged into the hillside to give you confidence in narrow places and
also to help you get over a couple of rocky spots. A lovely bit of walking
(although hardly the real Via Ferrata of the Dolomites) and, as is the way of
these things, it seemed to be over all too quickly.
The path emerged at the
head of Ciamp de Mez. This was more meadow-like in appearance but there
was still a steep drop down into the San Nicolo valley. The path was actually
marked as being to the San Nicolo Pass. It was half way across the meadow that
the Forcia Neigra path came in. Bright idea for the day: I could walk back up to
the Forcia Neigra and have a look at the three scary faces bit. These involved a
trudge up a fairly mucky path climbing three to four hundred feet. Forcia Neigra
is actually a rock pillar just off the main hill and the path goes between the two. I had a rest and a drink by the pillar and I noticed that people
coming the other way seemed to be feeling a sense of triumph as they completed
the climb into the gap so I decided to investigate. This meant climbing down the
three scary faces bit. This was too bad; there were cables all the way and a
couple of sections would have been very difficult without them. There were also
three pegs banged into the rock to form a bit of a ladder but you just climb
down those, donít you.
got to the bottom there was another climb up to the true col, which I did. This
looked down on the skilifts and the ridge Iíd done earlier.
the way Iíd come Ė much easier going up the metalwork Ė and on over
another ridge to the refuge at the head of the pass where I had a rest.
Then the long but largely pleasant descent into the Contrin Valley. There was a group of wild horses near the top and I paused to photograph them. As I set of again they came charging down the path after me and I had to move a bit sharpish to get out of the way. They donít frighten as easily as cows.
Contrin valley runs down one side of Marmolada and I had wonderful views of it.
However it is a long way back in hot sun. I was glad to find one of the many
water fountains hereabouts as I had run out of water. Just before the valley
dropped steeply into the Val di Fassa my route departed my paths that descended
soemwhat more gently to Alba from where I followed the valley bottom path that
we used the previous Sunday which went all the way to Campitello