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Thursday, July 19
(...continued from previous page)
We arrived late afternoon at the Rifugio. It was a sturdy-looking 3-story structure, with whitewashed walls and pretty blue-shuttered windows. There was a very large gaggle of people - the same young students from earlier in the day - lounging about on the deck surrounding the rifugio. They were being loud and boisterous. We wondered... would they be staying at the rifugio tonight? would we get any sleep?
courtesy PChen
courtesy PChen
Almost there
Heading to the rifugio
Busy deck
The interior of the rifugio was richly panelled in wood. The first thing we encountered was a vestibule area, where there were many signs instructing us to take off our boots and use a pair of the many old slippers lying about (this is a common practice at all Italian rifugios). From there, we headed to our room, a small but very serviceable 4-bunk room on the second floor. The doors to many of the surrounding rooms were open, and we could see that the rifugio had rooms with many different configurations and numbers of bunks.
Our room
Lacy view
Main dining room
In case you are wondering, here is how Italian rifugios work: you call in advance to reserve a number of beds; when you arrive, you can opt for the 'full-board', 'half-board', or 'just-the-bed'. Full-board provides you with dinner and breakfast, and half-board just the dinner. Alternatively, you can just order the meals "on-the-menu" and pay for them with individual menu prices. They keep a tab, and when you leave the next morning, you pay up (sometimes even with a credit card, if the particular rifugio has a phone line). If you have a UIAA-affiliate alpine-club membership (or an Italian CAI membership), you get pretty steep discounts on the accommodations, and reasonable discounts on the food. Our Alpine Club of Canada membership cards worked just fine. In 2007, when we went, the prices for the bed was about 17.50 euro (8.50 with an alpine club membership), and the food ranged in price, but usually in the 10-20 Euro range for dinner and the 10 Euro range for breakfast. Pretty reasonable.
courtesy PChen
A wiess beer
Enjoying some afternoon drinks
Dining room view
Since we'd arrived at a reasonable time, we were able to relax before dinner. We headed down into the dining area - a large well-appointed area with many mountain pictures on the walls, many booth-style eating tables, and a large, brightly painted ceramic heating fireplace in the center.
Off to one side was a well-appointed bar, complete with all sorts of liqeurs, beer on draft, coffee-making machines, and snacks. We ordered a few weiss beer and settled down for a bit. This was luxurious mountain-living compared to what we were used to in 'wild' north america.
courtesy PChen
Table stuff
This is the place
Enjoying the view
After our drinks, we sat outside on the deck, enjoying the views and burning time until the 6:30pm dinner call. Way up here at 8,500 feet, it was cool, even though it was a beautiful brilliant sunny day - perhaps only 10 or 15 degrees C. A refreshing change from the oppressive heat in the lowlands only days before.
Pu enjoying life
Enjoying the view
Heading back to the dining room at 6:30pm, we were delighted to see that an out-of-the-way booth had a 'Lavigne x4' card on it. A spot waiting just for us! what service! We were then presented with a menu that had several options on it, including the 'piatto alpinistico', or 'alpine platter'. The alpine platter, we came to know, is a common dish at most of these rifugios, and usually includes some sort of pasta, a sausage or weiner of some sort, and some cooked potato slices.
Reserved for the Lavignes
A hearty dinner
It was too early after dinner to simply go to bed. This would have been near impossible, anyway, since the large contingent of schoolkids were milling about all over the rifugio, including up in the sleeping quarters, where there was continuous giggling, banging, and general running around.
Rifugio at sunset
We therefore decided to take advantage of the beautiful evening and head outside. Nearby was what appeared to be a small point, called 'La Rosetta', that stood at the western edge of the Pale group. It looked only to be about a 20 or 30 minute walk from the rifugio, and we would likely get a good view of the sunset from the top of it.
Looking up to La Rosetta
So, off we went, across the uneven white slabs of dolomite. We timed things just right, arriving at the little summit only a few minutes before sunset. The top is indeed at the edge of the altopiano, and it is a huge drop down the other side all the way into the valley where San Martino di Castrozza is located. From down there, our vantage point would appear as the summit of a huge, massive peak.
Cimon della Pala at sunset
Rifugio at sunset
Wonderful Pu silhouette
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