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  • Writer's pictureLuca

Margherita, not only pizza

Monte Rosa, Valle d'Aosta, Italy - July 2023


Wake up, breakfast, get dressed as if it were a mechanical process, ready to go: 4 a.m.

The first steps to get away from the Gnifetti Hut are slow and uncertain, the only light source to spot the trail on blue ice is the headlamp since dawn is still far away.

The feeling of loneliness fades quickly, just enough time to join the other roped parties who are venturing onto the immense Lys glacier of Monte Rosa.

"Break your breath, don't force the pace, inhale, exhale," I repeat it to myself like a mantra as I leave the Balmenhorn behind, the shy glimmers of the rising sun peeking over the balcony between Schwarzhorn and Vincent Pyramid; I continue in suspended time, the roped parties ahead diverting left for the Lyskamm or right for the Ludwigshöhe, I find myself heading toward the Col du Lys in the unusual role of trailblazer, me tackling the ascent to Capanna Margherita for the first time: the sensation puts more adrenaline into my bloodstream, just as well, the thinner air begins to make itself felt.

2 hours and 15 minutes of walking, time for a break: hot tea, bars and dried fruit, the glow of dawn, all new energy to face the second and toughest part of the ascent; not least because the dark walls of the Margherita Hut can be glimpsed, an image that slips a feeling of frenzy into your head, but there is still a long way to go.

Another 45 minutes are needed to reach Gnifetti Col, with a privileged view of the Dufourspitze on the left (the highest of Monte Rosa massif with 4634 meters), the Zumsteinspitze in the center, and there on the right, almost in the background, the Signalkuppe, on which the Regina Margherita Hut has been clinging for 130 years, here is my goal.

The last stretch is endless, the prohibitive slope forces the leg muscles to beg for respite several times, and the entry of the icy wind does not improve the situation; I hold onto mental strength, 50 steps at a time.

Because in all this, Capanna Margherita Hut is just overhead, only the last hairpin bend missing, then leveling off, for real.

With light steps I walk the last few meters as on a walkway, the door of the highest hut in Europe just a few meters away, I can already feel the heat of the inner room.

I don't remember the emotion I felt, I cried like a baby cries after giving birth, to breathe. Can the lack of oxygen make you feel more alive?

Luca



Sunset at Balmenhorn (sx) Corno nero (dietro) and Piramide Vincent (dx)

On the way

Lyskamm

Hiking

The Margherita Hut (credits @rifugiomonterosa.it)

The destination



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