Hoists from afar

By foot: Hiking at Passo dello Spluga and Piani di Artavaggio

with the girl, I spent two days in the mountains, enjoying a bit thinner and certainly fresher air

Not that someone gets the idea that the girl and I are virtually spending Summer apart because I’m too much on the bike: We also had a quick trip together, just following on the weekend that she had been with her friend and I had been with my bike. In fact, she didn’t even need to travel much, as I just picked her up at Colico and switched with her to a different hotel. (Going into the same hotel would arguable have been convenient, but since she had initially thought to be camping, their hotel booking was even more last-minute than ours.)

Since we were already at the Northern end of the lake, I took the chance to propose to her an area that normally is maybe just a bit too far from Milan, i.e. the surroundings of the Passo della Spluga/Splügenpass. I knew this area from last year, when I came her in late August to go over 2,000m for the last time in that season. I had been deeply impressed with the landscape and had thought that it should be nice to also go hiking there.

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We figured an easy route starting in Stuetta at the Southern tip of the Lago di Montespluga – by the way, Montespluga, at roughly 1,900m above sea-level, is still not Italy’s most elevated village. Ascending only 250m over a trajectory of 3km, we reached the Rifugio Bertacchi at the Lago di Emet, a very small artificial lake high above Madesimo. Our original plan had been to hike down to Madesimo and cross back to our parking in Stuetta, but we started everything a bit late and therefore just hiked back the original path after enjoying a nice and rustic blueberry crostata in the Rifugio. We also hand-picked some blueberries along the way, and I discovered that even I might like mayonnaise when paired with Bresaola (local Italian cured meat from beef), bread, and hunger.

The next day we went back into the Valsassina to explore an area that is only accessible by cable car. The Valsassina in fact has four cable cars. Or, actually, three, as the fourth one is just out of the valley, but part of a commercial alliance nonetheless. The two central cable cars are those leading up to Piani di Bobbio and Piani di Artavaggio, two elevated plains with between 1700 and 1900m elevation. In Winter, slopes on both plains’ edges are used for skiing, but some years ago, the locals understood the potential of opening up their plains for Summer activities, too, and invested into those cable cars. In the core months of Summer, it runs without lunch break, but expect a break between 12:00 and 15:00 in the less popular months of the hiking season.

As we were a bit tired from the days before (for both of us, it was the fourth day of activity), we chose a super-easy hike from the summit station at Piani di Artavaggio. It’s just 3km and at most 200m of elevation to a group of two Rifugios – nonetheless, the walk offers great views on other high mountain areas in the vicinity.

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Reaching the Rifugio, we then decided to continue and climb to the summit of a nearby mountain at which we had seen other hikers before. That was only a 30min walk, but featured a steep part over the ridge of this mountain, meaning that it went down steeply left and right of us while we actually needed to get over a rocky step. It’s no Via Ferrata (in German: Klettersteig), but we needed hands to assist us. Strangely, while I started to feel a bit dizzy on the way up, I found the way down super easy, even though I had expected the opposite.

This mountain (Monte Sodadura) has the specific feature of standing rather isolated. This gives a spectacular 360-degree view. There could not be a better reward on a hike than a turning point as this. It filled us both with much anticipation of other adventures. We might soon have to go to Bozen for a few days, which seems to be our closest chance.

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