Friday, July 27
Soon after breakfast, as we were checking out of our room and getting
ready to go, I noticed the sound of a passing helicopter. Not uncommon in
this area, I didn't give it a second thought. It didn't pass, though.
The sound got louder and louder, and glancing out the front door, I
noticed the tail rotor of a white, red and blue helicopter not 10 feet
above me on the roof of the rifugio! What was going on? The helicopter
soon lept away and dived back down into the valley, and was gone in a
Daryl soon came down and reported that a guy in a helicopter flight suit
had just climbed down from the roof and was standing on the deck. Aha - a
visitor had been dropped off! But for what purpose?
Listening more attentively with my limited Italian skills, I divined that
the rifugio was expecting the delivery of a new generator today. Putting
two and two together, I realized that we were probably in for another
helicopter visit, and soon. It was time to head outside for some
I went outside, got my camera gear ready, and positioned myself at the corner of the main
deck. Sure enough, not a few minutes later, we heard the faint lawnmower
-like sound of the helicopter. I quickly spotted it, climbing up from
the valley to the south, and it was indeed carryling a large, white
object, suspended from an eight-metre cable.
Racing towards us, then past, the pilot executed a pretty sharp turn,
especially considering the 1000kg dead-weight suspended like a pendulum
underneath him. The white generator swung way out to the side as he did
this. It was a spectacular sight.
By this point, everyone at the rifugio had come out to witness the delivery. This was either going to be a delicate and well-executed operation, or something was going to go wrong and an expensive bit of kit was going to be damaged or lost!
Hovering above the deck, the pilot, in conjunction with his spotter on
the deck, maneuvered the slowly spinning generator onto the deck, plopping
it down just at the right moment, and missing the railing of the deck by
mere centimetres. The lift cable was detached, the pilot quickly swung 'round and put his skids against the rifugio roof, and
the spotter quickly climbed back onto the roof of the rifugio, into the
helicopter, and they were gone.
Just like that.
The whole operation, from initial drop-off of the spotter, return to the
valley to pick up the generator, flying back up and delivering the
generator, picking up the spotter, and departure, took nine minutes.
Nine minutes! I don't think I've ever seen a more efficient operation! (If you want to see for yourself, just look at the timestamps of the pictures)
Meanwhile, the crowd on deck were milling about the shiny new Zordan
generator. The question we had in our minds was how they were going to
move this big chunk of equipment. It was sitting in the middle of the
deck, and it was obvious it needed to be moved a fair ways to some sort of
We didn't have time to watch them solve their heavy-lifting issues. We
had to get going - we had a fairly full day ahead of us: a short final
ferrata in the Cortina area, then a long drive to the Brenta, and
hopefully a hike up to a rifugio in the Brenta, positioning us for a big
Brenta ferrata outing the next day.
We caught the very first creaky pod down when the Rio Gere lift system
started at 8:30am.
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| Where did we drive?