Stop the dams

Ungagged

Right here in the heart of the Alps is a granite lined paradise. Off the beaten track but truly accessible, it has to be one of the best (least known) destinations in the Alps, at least to us outsiders. Rising to prominence amongst climbers in the 70's it has earned the grand title of the Italian Yosemite. But it's not only climbers who have profited from it's ambience. Picnickers, excursionists and trekkers alike gather in Bar Monica before hiking up (or conveniently use the bus) and under the imposing Precipizio degli Asteroidi. You are entering Val di Mello. Some are content to lie and dream in it's meadows, some cannot resist scaling it's walls whilst others pass respectively through, on their way to the higher valleys of Ferro, Zocca, Torrone and Cameraccio.

The waters that drain into Mello and render it's floor rich and green have attracted 'unwelcome' attention from hydroelectric geeks. A new scheme proposes to exploit these water courses and to widen the track that traverses the valley floor. The proposals have been 'damned' by locals and valley advocates alike as being short sighted and of having little potential to generate any useful power. The valley, which has found a way to share it's peace and nature with tourism has a new foe.

For more information on the scheme and to support the fight against it you can sign the online petition. Be a friend to Mello and help preserve it's beauty.

A day in the valley

It was cold and we were in Mello. We had been looking for easy ice in the neighbouring Val dei Bagni but a recent snow fall had hidden all traces of our line. We were in Mello, but with little hope of finding something at our grade. We had at least full sacks and were determined to enjoy a walk in the snow, and how can you fail to enjoy such surroundings. The shear rock faces silent under a dusting of fresh snow. Smooth and bright in summer, now dark and cold. As we expected ice was not easy to find, reaching rifugio Luna Nascente we got our first glimpse; a long thin line dividing a vast granite slab. Steep and precarious was not really what we were after, so we continued forging our own tracks along the valley floor; quite fatiguing with full packs I must admit.

Reaching the head of the valley a distant ice fall penetrated it's rocky confines, but to far and too difficult for us, better left in the imagination. We instead turned towards rifugio Allievi. Even through the trees the snow was deep and collapsed under our weight as we ascended, progress constantly slow. As the ground steepened we drew our axes, entering a funnel the soft snow slipped over the older harder layer. Spin-drift blew down on us adding weight to the already deep crust. It was starting to feel more serious now but as the slope relented difficulties eased.

We had decided we were not going to reach the rifugio, we had shown willing and could retreat gracefully. A glimpse of a Ibex doing it's thing darting about the trees rewarded us for our efforts.