When a page from a historical book sets you on an adventure.
We interviewed Enrico Bonino who told us about one of his latest adventures in the Gran Paradiso. “It was like taking a trip down memory lane to when, as a boy, I was sitting on the sofa, skimming through “The 100 most beautiful climbs in the Gran Paradiso…” by Giancarlo Grassi. Reading one of those pages, I had come across the image of a small glacial lake on top of a bristling snowy wall and I started to fantasise about being there. This memory stayed with me while climbing the Roccia Viva with Daniela Formica. That little lake on page 142 had created a notch in my memory. In all these years with the regression of the glaciers and the lack of snow, the opportunity never presented itself to me to attempt the climb, but when the conditions presented themselves I didn’t forget about that page and the notch in my memory and so I got ready climb, just like in the good old times.”
Enrico told us how the climbing went:
“On the first day, we decided to go to the Carpano bivouac to acclimatize to the altitude. On the way, we didn’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a nice plate of polenta and sausage at the Pontese Refugio “by Mara” where a stop is obligatory. Refreshed we moved towards the gully that cuts through the rocky crag under the bivouac. A steep via ferrata and some moist rock lead us on to a natural balcony, and with the evening sun after the fog passed, a fascinating show of colours was formed. This time it is our turn to cook and we must be satisfied with a pack of pot noodles. Just enough time to fall asleep when to Belgium guys knock on the door in order to shelter inside the bivouac. At 2:30 am the alarm goes off, we can expect a long day: the ascent of the Col Money is long and almost as steep as due north. We arrive at the summit at first light. Here you find an indescribable view, a full 360 degrees in front of your eyes: The Matterhorn, Mont Blanc, Weisshorn, and the Gran Paradiso. Just enough time to enjoy the view and then we went straight down along the divide until under the Roccia Viva. Given the morphology of the glacier and the lack of snow, we decide to go up the steep slopes to the left of the towering seracs to escape the maze of crevasses. The decision proves to be excellent and after a short while, we are at the base of the wall. The sun touches the right side of the wall and we decide to follow the line of light. The conditions are great; I don’t think I have ever climbed a North face in such perfect conditions.”
So when you reached the top, did you find your long-awaited lake?
“To tell you the truth, when you are on the summit, the happiness is mixed with a bit of bitterness: unfortunately “my” glacial lake I had dreamed so much about was no longer there, the wall has retreated by about ten metres in thickness in the last 30 years, after all, the mountain undergoes incredible morphological changes.”
What a shame, so anyway how did the descent go?
“The descent to the Coolidge gully and the intake of the Monte Nero was fast. At the bivouac, already in the sun, we rested on the grass and enjoyed the warmth of the rays and reflected on what a great day it was that we had just had, that will certainly end in the best possible way: A good lunch cooked again by the expert hands of Mara.”
And so now what’s left to see from your book of memories?
“Who knows, there are so many images I would love to see with my own eyes, I am just spoilt for choice.”
Thanks to Enrico and Daniela.