July 24th 2007
Start time: 9:40
Arrival time: 15:00
Climb: 150 m
Descent: 620 m
|After the long previous day, we slept until after 7. To our pleasant surprise, the sun had come out and there were only some clouds left around the higher peaks. We were a bit sore and took our time getting ready. Breakfast was basically the same as the previous day but it included honey. We finally got going close to 10:00 and reached Alagna around 11:30.|
|The first thing on our todo-list was to hire a guide for the detour up to the Signalkuppe, or Punta Gnifetti as it is called in Italy. Unfortunately the tourist office had its day off so we asked in a sports store which pointed us to Lyskamm Viaggi, a privately run guide office. We found an English speaking lady who informed us about prices and schedules. The normal approach to the Signalkuppe is to take the cable-way to Passo Salati at 2980 meters and hike up to Rifugio Gnifetti (3647m) on the first day. On the second day, getting up early, one ascends to the Signalkuppe via the Colle de Lys and returns all the way back to the Passo Salati. There used to be a cable-way up to Punto Indren (3260m) but it has been closed due to its age and its future is uncertain. They offered us a guide for one and a half days, a booking in the Gnifetti hut and rental equipment (crampons, harnesses and gaiters) for 536 Euros for just the two of us. That seemed like a reasonable deal so we arranged it for the following day after checking the weather forecast which predicted stable high pressure to move in.|
|Having successfully arranged a guide, we proceeded to shop for some food and sat down in the Caffe delle Guide next to the church for a pizza lunch with salad. Both were magnificent and we truly felt in Italy.|
|In order to acclimatize well, we then decided to sleep in the Rifugio Guglielmina, a hotel with a colorful history located close to the Col d'Olen at 2880 meters. It was built in 1878 and was the highest hotel in Europe for a long time. It closed in 1989 but reopened in 1993 and is currently being renovated. Since we wanted to rest before going higher the next day, we took the cable-way from Alagna to Passo Salati. It closes for lunch-break, so we had to wait until about 14:15.|
|Passo Salati itself is a mixed blessing with two major cable-ways arriving and a third under construction. Nevertheless the views are quite spectacular and there is even a bronze ibex statue. From the pass its an easy 15 minute walk down to the Rifugio Guglielmina. The roof is being redone with copper and the walls are already freshly painted in a bright, warm orange. We made our way inside to the reception where we got the keys to our room. It was nicely furnished and looked southeast over the valley of Alagna offering magnificent views of the surrounding mountains.|
From outside the Rifugio, one had a nice view of the Pyramide Vincent,
a 4215 meter high mountain which blocks the view on some of the other
Monte Rosa peaks.
After a nap, we washed our clothes and hung them up to dry in the generator room (which worked very well).
Dinner was truly awesome, they had a big selection of dishes and excellent cake for desert. The hotel tradition definitely showed. Before we went to bed we enjoyed the view of the Po valley with its lights from our room. It almost reminded me of a night in a tall Las Vegas hotel a bit outside of town.
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