Sunday, September 1, 2013

Monte Vualt

I've ridden up Val Aupa from Moggio over Sella di Cereschiatis a couple of times enroute to Passo del Cason di Lanza, but never heard of Val Alba or Monte Vualt.  Then I saw a mountain bike site mention it, and noticed it was mostly paved.  Why not try it with a road bike?

I left home in the car worried about the overcast and chance of rain in the forecast, then a couple of km down the road it started drizzling.  It was quite dark and stormy looking to the northeast, but I pressed on.  By the time I reached Gemona it was pouring and I was pondering whether to ride further south where the skies looked better.  Then the rain let up and it looked better to the north again.  When I arrived in Moggio it was merely dripping.

I parked and an older Italian guy in a bike jersey drove up and was calling people on his cell about a group ride.  I told him where I was going and he looked at my road bike and said I'd need a triple crank because Vualt is too steep.  He also was worried about my skinny tires on the unpaved sections.  He showed me a map on the entrance of the restaurant I'd parked in front of (which I think must be the Moggio bike club's hangout)  and gave me some hints about the ride.   Very nice man.  

The road from Moggio up Val Aupa is a very gradual climb- good for warming up before the steepness.  Unfortunately it was only 2 or 3 km before the turnoff for Pradis, and my legs were pretty creaky from lounging around the beach in Tuscany last week.  So I tried to take it easy as possible, but 10 km averaging 10% is tough to slack on.  There are some very steep bits over 20% with several long 15-17% pitches to keep you humble.  I was amazed to make it up to the dirt road (1098m) with only a stop for pictures and wind jacket stowage.  The dirt surface was pretty good for the most part and I made it up the hill and then the couple-hundred meter long downhill section before pavement briefly resumed near the Rifugio Vualt junction.  The rifugio is a stone cabin for hikers at 1136 meters.  I decided to try to make it up the next paved section to the World War I military hospital at 1300 meters.  I made it but I was toast.  I took pictures awhile, resolving to return on mountain bike to finish the road another day.  But when I got back on the bike something made me want to keep climbing.  This lasted a couple of hundred meters until I conveniently arrived at a construction zone.  So here I started pushing the bike up the hill past the road work and continued further till I reached a level spot, then rode steeply up to end of pavement at 1368 meters.

Very slow ride down- there were now hikers with dogs and even an SUV.  The previous downhill dirt section was now uphill, and I was surviving pretty well till I crossed a drainage channel, spun the rear wheel, the bike teetered briefly without forward motion and I luckily got a foot unclipped, avoiding a sideways face plant.  After a couple hundred meters the dirt uphill levels out and I remounted.

This is great riding and scenery, with a number of variations to try with MTB when I return.  Here's Riserva Naturale Val Alba's website    

A couple km from Moggio turn right for Pradis

A ways past Pradis avoid this left turn- keep going straight

Shortly afterward, take a right toward Val Alba

Much later, Rifugio Vualt (1136m)

Ruins of WW I hospital  (1300 m), with Monte Vualt in background

From hospital, towers of Cima della Vacca and Cima della Pecora

Cuel da le Fratte, left; Monte Vualt, right 

Monte Forchiadice above Rio Alba headwaters

Monte Forchiadice, left; Cima Valeri, right 

Rio Alba descending with left to right Monte Forchiadice, Cima Valeri,
and Monte Chiavals

Monte Masereit cliffs over east bank of Val Aupa

Creta Grauzaria (2065m) west of Val Aupa

The view looking back up Val Aupa from northern confine of Moggio

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