Italy – near the Ortler Range

So what do you do when the weather looks this bad? What about driving 1600 km searching for sunshine in the new car? Well, to be fair, that wasn’t really the plan from the start. It was a long weekend and I couldn’t find anyone who had time or wanted to travel during the long weekend. I tried a last minute message on the climbers forum online but it might have been too last minute. I thought about just driving to Switzerland and made it as far as a gas station at the Austrian border buying a highway pass when plans changed. Bernhard suggested a tour which sounded good, even better considering he lived in Bregrenz about 15 minutes from the station I was at. Fortunately, my car is basically a permanent gear closet with wheels. Rock climbing, camping, snowboarding, mountaineering or ice climbing? We can leave right now, I have everything I need in the back. Rather put up a slackline, hammock, go swimming or play soccer? They’re right behind my wetsuit in the trunk. We drove to Engadin taking the Auto-Train through the mountains which was very cool. We arrived before dark and parked at a small lot up a mountainside close to a few boulder routes.and hiking trails. The view offered spectacular rock walls and steep faces making my pulse speed up. How exciting! We watched “Touching the Void” on the laptop after dark and went to bed. The morning started with the piter-pater of rain. We were totally encompassed by dark, plentiful rain clouds. We drove east hoping for better weather. A few mountain passes later we caught a great view of the Ortler. We found a small road leading up to a hut where we hoped to find a little tour, after making some noodles. That was a mistake, the food weighed heavily in my belly during the hike. We started off through the forest and bushes which opened up to a large bowl shaped field. At the foot of the face were 2 huts whose workers were out gathering hay in the field. We chose the highest peak to hike which passed through some very tasty, wild blueberry fields. The higher you hiked, the sweeter the blueberries! Seriously! As we hiked up a small rocky gully our view started reaching over the mountains behind us and on to as far as you could see. The Ortler range was stunning. We had a small climbing passage in loose rock to reach the summit where the wind was strong. It was cramped at the summit, maybe 5m² in total on uneven blocks of rock. We had a snack at the summit and started to descend before the wind got us chilled. Dark clouds had entirely engulfed the Ortler and we aimed to get down dry. We followed the ridge to a lower summit on the next hill to cross over the field to the forest where the cars were. We spent the night in the same valley hoping another tour was possible Sunday. Raindrops woke us the following morning as well. Our odyssey continued on to Meran, where the forecast sounded more optimistic. There were some options to climb via ferrata routes that sounded good. As we approached Meran, black stormy clouds were lingering and it looked like it was a downpour in progress. We pulled over to talk about what to do next. Bernhard had to work on Monday and time was becoming an issue. He chose to drive home and I continued on to the Brenner highway and decided to visit my boyfriend in Oberbayern. He had work on Monday so I checked the weather report again and aimed south on a quest. I made it to Wörtersee before finding the sun. I checked out the town at the lake edge quickly before deciding to go to the Millstättersee near Spittal an der Drau hoping it would be more peaceful. I ended up a spending a few relaxing hours reading in the sunshine before driving back to Augsburg. I think it would have been easy to just keep going… following the sun a few days… weeks…. months….

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