Glance towards the Mountain
By Andrea Materazzo
We have seen it many times: from our village, from the windows of our houses. It dominates, incontrovertible, in the landscapes of our imagination and in our memories, in the same way as it dominates the valley in which our little village is also to be found. The Majella is there, beneath our eyes. But how many of us know it? In this world dominated by technology, how many of us have known how to approach with curiosity the physical exertion that was the daily practice of our shepherd and mountain dwelling ancestors?
There are some, both amongst those who live in the cities and those who still live in Torricella. But I wish that there were more of us, since all of us who feel a sense of belonging to our village and its land, should know its mountains better.
On the basis of twenty years of experience, I would like to propose some ideas to you; I would also remind you that the Tibetan name for Everest, Chomo Lungma, and the word Majella, have the same meaning: "Mother Goddess of the Earth".
In the coldest months, the snow and ice encrust the crests, fill steep gorges and cover rocky walls. And in these places a type of mountaineering is carried out which crosses over into the realms of great adventure. Many of these climbs would not give a bad impression when compared with many analogous itineraries in the great Alps: but to move delicately using ice-axes and crampons on sharply pointed crests or to climb very steep slopes is an activity which demands experience and a sense of the mountain.
May I, however, advise that youngsters should perhaps first try (mountaineering) with a more expert friend or an alpine guide.
Of all the alpine specialities that I have carried out, mountaineering at a high level is the one that has left me with the most intense and deepest sensations.
In short, in getting close to the mountain, we should not forget that to enter into its heart can provide us with an unrepeatable opportunity to get to know the flora and fauna and to contribute to the preservation of the natural environment as well as the oldest traditions of our Land.
Ski trips and winter excursions.
If there isnít much snow, many summertime trips can also be undertaken in winter. On the other hand, the white blanket may be so deep that we would sink into it.
Even those who donít know how to ski at all can travel over sweetly sloping snow covered slopes in total solitude; it is sufficient to obtain basic skis with a larger more robust base than normal, or even a pair of snow-shoes.
Many summertime walks are transformed in winter, the snow builds white lace in the woods and the gentler slopes of the Majella become immense, endless fields of snow only accessible on skis.
For those who already know how to ski, why not decide to leave the pistes? Itís enough just to change the equipment (which doesnít cost any more than that for the piste) and everything becomes within reach: even the exacting winter climb up Mount Amaro, and the very steep descent along the string of the "fast through route".
Let someone whoís been there tell you, the icy summit of Mount Amaro in the depths of winter has a fascination totally different from that of the stony top that we see in the summer.
Walking along the paths, very often one comes across interesting rock walls, like those that delimit the flanks of the great valleys of the Majella or the very beautiful jagged crests of Mount S. Domenico. One can carry out on these structures a type of rock-climbing made very safe by use of modern materials, certainly less risky than riding a motorbike (consult the statistics for mountain rescue).
Very lightweight, ultra-flexible shoes, suitable clothing and a lack of the dangers associated with bad weather ensure that the best thing about a climb at low levels is that it allows pure pleasure in free movement.
In some zones of the Majella, (the summit of the Murelle, West Acquaviva) rock-climbing can also be carried out high up in the mountains, but in this case things change: the greater height and the length of the itineraries make these trips much more demanding with exposure to the dangers of a wild environment.
And why not? For what reason should we limit ourselves only to going to the very crowded ski pistes of Roccaraso and its outskirts, always disappointing; why not try something new?
This is the simplest form of mountaineering, and consists of travelling up and down the mountains on foot along pathways or across land that is not too difficult. If the trip lasts for more than a day, it is called trekking; in this case specific equipment is needed or the presence of shelters.
On the Majella there are both easy and difficult excursions and treks, from the short walk to the Pizzi to the demanding crossing of Mount Amaro.
© Amici di Torricella
Translation courtesy of Dr. Marion Apley Porreca
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