Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Col Alto June 2012

What a dilemma- you're dreaming of a climb in the mountains, but you need to take a family member to an appointment in the afternoon.  Then voilà, you remember you have a world-class climb 7 km from your house.  Col Alto/ Piancavallo gains 1200 meters in 15.5 km.  Not bad, but there's a 3.6 km stretch averaging 9.6% in the lower half, exposed to full sun surrounded by rock faces.  So try to start early morning in summer.

This morning was the first clearness we've seen after several days of rain.  At 0700 when I left there wasn't a cloud in the sky and the seeing was very crisp.  After the quick 7km roll down to Pedemonte I headed up.  It pretty quickly hits 10%, but didn't feel bad.  The "worst" stretch, on the long switchback before you turn toward Bornass, wasn't as tough as usual.  I thought I had misremembered and there must be another switchback, but no I'd already completed it.  From there on things get slightly easier.  Especially nice on the back road from Caldastia to Col Alto.   Everything bright green from the rain, the skies cobalt blue (with the beginning of some puffiness here and there).  A large flock of sheep was in the meadows and I got some fotos and video.  Then I realized they were headed for the road ahead and might block my way.   So I hurried and beat them by a nose.  On upward through the beech tree forest to Col Alto where I turned around. 

I descended and when I reached the sheep they were grazing on both sides of the road, with a few wandering on the pavement.  I asked the shepherd if it was ok to pass and he nodded yes.  Apparently he also imparted this to the on-rushing Belgian sheep dogs, who stopped just short of my leg, sniffing rather than chomping it.  These are big fluffy black dogs- our neighbor had one she called a Belgique, so I'm guessing they're called Pastore Belgique.

I continued on down the wonderful switchbacks and then cruised upward to home.  I looked back and the area where I'd ridden was now completely engulfed in cloud.

Meadow around 510 meters, looking west

Valle della Stua, from 1030 meters looking west

The dirt road from Dardago/Val Artugna winding toward Piancavallo

Valle della Stua toward Caldastia

Baracca del Sauc near Piancavallo

 Turn off for Col Alto left, Valle della Stua center
Rolling meadows to east from 1200 meters; the
helicopter is scanning the area above Giais-Malnisio firing range
to ensure no hikers, berry-pickers etc are in line of fire
Flock of sheep at 1200 meters

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