Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pala Barzana 2011

Last February I tried climbing Pala Barzana and only made it to 650 meters before the snow was too deep.  But this year the snow of December seems to have melted everywhere I've ridden.  Yet I saw a "road closed" sign on the road by Andreis the other day- would I be able to cross the pass?

I climbed from Maniago and turned into Bus di Colvera gorge to avoid the tunnel.  A few hundred meters into the gorge I glanced at the river and saw a beautiful dark gray heron searching for food.  I slowed to stare and the heron must have caught a glimpse of me and took off, gently flapping his wings and slowly gliding up the canyon.  I continued to ride, constantly looking over the edge into the river.  Finally I saw the heron again, but he took off and continued up the canyon.  That was the last I saw of him, such a beautiful animal seemed out of place in an icy mountain stream, far from the warm summer lagoons of the Adriatic.   

At Poffabro I headed steeply upward to the edge of town, then down to Pian delle Merie.  Here you cross a mountain stream and head upward again.  At 650m where the snow started last February the road was closed again.  This time it was road work- they had bulldozed the broken pavement off of about 100 meters of roadway.  I walked because I wasn't sure how long the section lasted, but it looked rideable.  Afterward I remounted and continued on up to 842 meters at the Pala.  

The descent was a bit frosty so I rode slowly, and froze solid.  I stopped a few times to photograph the spectacular panorama.  At Andreis I pedaled fast as possible down to SP251, then turned left and cruised through the 4 km tunnel in record time.  Still didn't get warmed up till I got home and took a hot bath.   

Later in the afternoon I took the dogs for a walk down by the old aquadotto.  As we crossed over the bridge an eagle took off from under the bridge and landed in the tree tops.  Moments later its companion also took off and joined it in the trees.  Today was full of unexpected birds in unusual places! 

Monte Raut from the road above Bosplans 

Monte Corta left, Monte Castello right

Mountains above west escarpment Valcellina

Andreis surrounded by mountains

Monte Sestier 2080m, Monte Imuri 2049m, Monte Messer 2230m
Map of the switchbacks

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