Then the big adventure starts! – Gran Paradiso

Then the big adventure starts! – Gran Paradiso

Australia, a flat and warm continent in the south of the world. Nathalie and Mark, two nice guys

living in Tamborine mountain, not far from the Gold Coast. They start for a ten weeks holyday in Europe. What can they

experience strange in the old continent? Mark was climbing in Chamonix years ago so he decided to bring his wife to the summit of a big and cold mountain: the super nice Gran Paradiso, in Aosta

Valley. Meeting at 2pm at the car park and check for the equipment: rope, harness and crampons are necessary for climbing the big glacier of this mountain.

Then the big adventure starts!

We have to walk three hours to get up to Chabod hut at 2710m, where we will spend the night. It is a nice day of autumn so the colours of the forests are turning to red, orange and gold and the wild animals are enjoying the warm sun before the long winter season.

We can say ‘ciao’ to some funny and curious marmots and we can admire the ‘gracchi’, friendly mountain birds, playing in the blue sky.

With pleasant nature distracting us from the effort of the walk, we arrive at the hut in a while. Here we get another big gift from the mountain: the view of the summit and of its big glaciers. Nice and impressive at same time: tomorrow we have to climb up right there! Don’t worry, a fresh beer and a good dinner can relax our mind and prepare us for the night.

Sleeping at that altitude is not easy if you live at the seaside, so the clock alarm at 4:30 is almost a blessing. Breakfast at the hut is also strange, surrounded by a lot of mountaineers trying to wake up with a too early coffe and forcing themselves to eat something when the stomach is still asleep. But when at we exit for starting the climb at 5:30 we have a big surprise, which pays already this hard morning.

The valley low down is sunk in the fog and a huge full moon is reflecting its light on this kind of sea! A very good morning for this climb. After one hour walking we reach the glacier. It is time for roping together and wear the crampons. For Natalie a very new experience starts and for Mark it is a pleasant coming back.

The beginning of the glacier is very iced and it is a hard work walking with those strange spikes under the boots. But we are soon distracted from these troubles. After half an hour we find ourselves surrounded by blue seracs and deep crevasses, scaring and fascinating us at the same time. In the while the daylight has arrived and the summit of Mont Blanc, the highest peak of the

Alps, is getting red. The camera is already working hard!

The climb proceeds in the cold breeze of the glacier until we get at the col, around 3700m, where the sun welcomes us to a big bright day.

The last 350 meters of climb are difficult, with the low oxygen in the air making every step a struggle. But we can see the Madonna at the summit closer and closer so we don’t give up! And finally we reach the rocks which are the last challange for the victory. These 30 meters are an easy climb but the big exposition on the est side make it impossible for who is afraid from altitude.

This is not the case of Nathalie and Mark, so after less than five hours of climbing we can celebrate side by side with the white Madonna of Gran Paradiso, at 4061m! The strong emotion of the success is maybe not bigger than the astonishing view we have from here, making this moment extremely intense. We enjoy these big feelings for a long while and then we have to go back. Now the hut is far away and our legs are tired. Three hours of hard walk lead us back to Chabod.

Happiness and fatigue now fill our soul and body but a big fresh beer and a special pasta make us forget the fatigue, leaving only a big ecstatic smile on our faces. One hour of relax and then it is time to say thank you and goodby to this big mountain. A final walk down the forest and meadows keep us back to the car, which we will load with our boots, backpacks and huge souvenirs from this unforgettable trip!

Alberto Silvestri

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