How small I feel in front of the immense Lobbia Glacier!  Up here I feel that I am re-living those feeling of freedom and peace that Patagonia has repeatedly given me:  on the foot of the Adamello, the slope is gentler, it caresses the mind until it rises up to a peak or ridge; over in Argentina scaling the Cerro Torre is more vertical, harsher and more dizzying.  Making a print, then, on this blanket of candid fresh snow is like jumping into a fairytale, unexplored, enchanted.  You reach the Lobbia via the Tonale Pass with the cableway that goes over the Presena Glacier.  From the arrival station, skis on our shoulders, the Tonale Pass (2,990m) is easily reached in a few minutes where the splendid view can be admired, endless mountains keep cropping up in a playful see-saw till being lost in infinity. 

Though welcoming, it must not be forgotten that Alpine surroundings above 2,000m are harsh, unpredictable and can spring surprises.  You have to get to know them.  If the snow is thick and has neatly settled the risk of avalanches is low:  you put on your skis and you face the descent zig-zagging sprays of snow till the valley of the Mandron, under the Lago Scuro.  Those are 500 diagonal metres.  Once the hut (2,450m) has been passed on the left, the apparently flat ground is followed till the glacier is reached.  Once the seal skin is on the skis, the steep slope is faced, keeping to the right (summer path n 236).  At the Mandron Glacier the flat glacier is crossed heading to the opposite bank towards Lobbia Alta, which is climbed by rope to the peak along the coast.  Here you veer to the left and you can make out the shelter (3,040): an eagle’s nest hanging from rocks, transformed from Austrian barracks from the “white war” to a welcoming resting place for mountain-lovers, to offer a little rest and warmth to the hikers.  The soup prepared by Romano, the manager, warms the body and soul.  He is all  passion and love for such places.  You can tell from the way he welcomes hikers.  It’s the spirit of one born in the mountains and who appreciates the joy of hosting at 3000m people united by the same ideals.  A sound night’s sleep to restore strength, and a wake-up call at four.  Dawn fades out into the horizon, stretching out unconfined.  A few clouds keep the fog at bay, a danger even for the most expert.  If you are caught out when it’s thick, you lose your bearings.  All bearings.  You hobble about, lost and flustered much like on a dark night without moon, without stars, unsure on the path to take.  How often the old shelter bell, rung on purpose by Romano in such circumstances, has guided hikers in difficulty to the shelter safe and sound!

The Shelter to the “fallen of Adamello” (at the Lobbia) is left behind us as we head to Cresta Croce (3,300) to admire right at the peak the 149 calibre cannon used by those Alpines, testament to epic struggles.  It points at Carè Alto, on the Austro-Hungarian border, and it fills you with awe.  War chronicles spring to mind, Winter, 1915 with 50 metres of snow… the feats of the white war.  Not far away, on the spire dedicated to John-Paul II, a great granite cross relays the words of Pope Woityla: “This place, once a place of war, has now become one of peace”.  From here you can descent through vast spaces, through inviolate blankets of snow, with complete freedom to choose inventive paths to trace out.  We reach Topette Pass (2,910m).  From here you enter the wild Folgorida Valley.  A long descent leads to the Folgorida pasture (1,980) and then to the Cioch pasture (1,600m) and from there to the thick forest that leads to Ragada (1,250m) on the road to Val di Genova that leads to the Carisolo (Val di Rendena).





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