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Manager’s (my) thoughts

Me and Olga, the owner of all these photographs

 The manager thinks the reader might be interested to learn about conditions at the Federici-Marchesini Trekking Lodge as they change from month to month, specifically, about matters pertaining to climate, climbing equipment recommended, flora and fauna one may encounter, foods one may enjoy.

We have three aims:

1.       Through initiatives by the manager and the advice and appropriate conduct of guests to operate the lodge in the most eco-sustainable way (Sustainability: “practices which meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”, Brundtland Report, 1987), with special attention to environmental education (botanical garden,…);

2.       to offer natural foods and home cooking for all food served;

3.       on request to satisfy the needs of those with special dietary needs such as for people who suffer from allergies (such as allergy to gluten) or only vegetarians.

June:

From about the middle of the month on, after the helicopter final delivery of foodstuff, the lodge remains open without interruption, while the manager gathers firewood (from trees felled by avalanche only). The lodge’s phone number is 0171 97 83 98.

The climb to the lodge is enhanced by the beauty of the rhododendrons in bloom, with thick groups of steinbocks (mountain goats) grazing among them and moving upslope with the withdrawal of the snow.

When only a little of snow remains along the final approach to the lodge, boots with thick tread are all the equipment that is needed under good and not freezing weather, but crampons and ice-axe are necessary for any further hiking in the area.

July:

From the first part of the month on, the trail from San Giacomo is completely free of snow.

The climb to Monte Clapier is snow-free only from the second week of the month on. On the other hand, the climb through Canalino della Maledia (with ice-axe and crampons, of course) is unadviseable after 8 a.m., since the steep walls may release rubble and snow may clog your crampons. The very long days make July the ideal time to climb along the ridges.

During the first ten days of July the lodge is surrounded by male steinbocks, that linger for a few days before seeking cooler habitats.

Slowly the first trekkers begin to appear, usually for one-day trips, while after the 15th of the month, most stay overnight.

August:

During this month the dining room and coffee bar see their heaviest use. Consequently, it’s imperative to pay a lot of attention to protecting the environment. The Alpine Club has installed a solar-electric system for lighting and septic system for recycling water. The manager uses only the most organic ecologically-safe cleansing agents on the market, and place them at the disposition of guests. Recyclable waste materials fall into eleven categories: glass, aluminium cans, tin cans, plastic bottles, plastic material other than bottles, nylon, batteries, expired medicines, paper, cumbersome items difficult to categorize, and compostable garbage. The latter ends up as food for the animals that browse daily at the site.

To raise the consciousness-level of hikers to environmental concerns, the manager has founded a botanical garden in cooperation with the Park Boureau, an experimental project for growing conifer trees, and provides the lodge with binoculars for observing animals.

The main activities of the manager are the daily cleaning of the lodge and keeping it in order, and food preparation.

September/October:

People begin telephoning to ask when the lodge will close.

The first light snows usually fall in the middle of September and melt quickly. However, on northen exposures they remain, and in some years merely climbing from the lodge to Passo di Pagarì may require crampons. Unless a cold wave intervenes, the lodge continues to see heavy use throughout the first half of September. Then the season begins to wind down, with use limited to weekends and eventually it shrinks to nothing, coinciding with the drop in temperatures that fall now and then to freezing.

To avoid the water shortage typical of this period, the manager has installed a solar-driven pump at the stream below the lodge, a unit that is noise-free to man and animals and produces no air pollution.

This is the period when the manager maintains the trails leading to the lodge, looks after the sign posts and trail markers, and returns to gathering firewood (again only from trees felled by avalanche). Or he may make the last possible hike or just relax with a book in this marvelous setting.

Closing time depends on when the snow and the autumnal rains (responsible for flood damage below 1500 meters, or 4900 feet) combine to whiten the mountain tops (usually above 2000 meters, or 6550 feet) and give the area around the lodge its winter look. The snows may begin, and usually don’t melt until spring. Mountain boots were sufficient up to this time, and crampons may have been useful as well; once the October snows start, crampons become a necessity.

From November to April:

These months are by turn wintry and spring-like. Due to severe cold, the danger of the Passo Sottano del Muraion (at 2030 meters, or 6660 feet), and the increased distances to traverse - in March you usually leave from the dam of Piastra di Entracque -, few trekkers venture into the area.

In November the snow is usually hard and icy throughtout and you can walk only with crampons. The sun remains hidden behind the ridges and temperatures settle down to their winter norms, averaging minus twelve centigrade around the lodge and even dropping as low as minus 25 centigrade, conducive to forming glaciers.

In the first half of November, in the happening by turns of days of good weather and little sprinkles of snow, it arrives the “first meter”, the big snow-fall that goes down until 1400 meters (4600 feet) of Prà del Rasour and even lower. On the N side (i.e. on the Italian side), sheltered from the sun, this snow remains powdery all the winter through, constantly shifted by strong winds. On the S side (namely on the French side), exposed to cool sunlight, there is a little melting on the warmest days, and the cold nights produce a crust on the snow.

Sometime you meet, on the snow, lonely dancing chamoises, ermine with white fur, while Alpine grackles and various birds fly over the lodge.

A lot of snow usually falls in March, less (with certain exceptions) at lower elevations, and the snow level rising on the south side to 1500 meters (4900 feet) and on the north side to 1300 m (4250 ft).

In April the snow “gets changed” and becomes the so-called “spring snow”, that is to say firm every morning, lightly soft on the surface in the afternoon. Snow storms are frequent.

From November to April, if the manager is at the lodge, he doesn’t provide services, due to the lack of running water (only melting snow) and the precariousness of the situation (severe cold, northern exposure of the lodge, sanitary facilities in the open,…). The phone number revert to  380 710 8075.

Anyway there is a winter room (the entrance is on the N side), always open, with eight mattresses, some blankets and an emergency phone (118).

May:

Usually the first mountaneers don’t arrive until the end of the month. Even then (though it depends on the year) there is often still a great deal of snow on the Italian side (N) above the 2000 m (6550 ft) height of Passo Sottano del Muraion. The situation is happier on the French side (valley of Belvédère), southerly exposed and snow-clad above 2300 m (7550 ft), but Refuge de Nice fully absorbs excursionists multitude.

You can ski easily and safely only until midday: the snow is generally icy until 9 A.M. (ideal for gorges), then it becomes typically spring snow (that is to say, compact at first, then slightly soft on the surface), then mushy after 12 P.M. (and so skiable with difficulty).

Skis and sealskins usually keep you from sinking deep into the snow, while rackets are less reliable due to the steepness of the slope. Alpinists aim are cross-country ski crossings or the climb with ice axe and crampons of many snow-clad gorges. Sunglasses and a good supply of water are a must.

Animals that visit the lodge in May are few: chamois (mountain goats), marmots fresh from hibernation, and of course birds of wide variety of species.

The manager is still down to the valley, where he begins to organize the summer work. First of all there are purchases to make, for delivery to the lodge by elicopter in June. As the manager is committed to healthy foods and to home-cooking, about 80% of the foodstuffs he uses are natural and organic. For the other 20% he chooses products not just by price and quality, but by how they were produced and by whether the suppliers he buys from observe ethical business practices. For example, he doesn’t patronize suppliers who exploit people of developing countries.

During this period the manager may be reached at 380 71 08 075 (cell phone). 

Dear reader, we’ve reached the end. All that’s left is to get the equipment ready and to meet at Federici-Marchesini Trekking Lodge. Have a nice hike!

 

 

Appendix

 

Pagarì alpine hut price list year 2018 (prices in euro)

E-Class Alpine Hut - CAI Sez. Ligure

with the

Alpine Club card

without the Alpine Club card

CATERING SERVICE

 

 

Full meal (bread, hors d’oeuvre, soup, main and side dish, dessert, exclusive of drinks)...............................................................

23.00

25.30

First course: ..................................................................................................................................………….......................

 8.00

 9.00

Main course: main and side dish………………………………………………………………………………...........................

   15.00

16.50

polenta with cheese (only at lunch)……………….……………………………………….................................

10.00

11.00

polenta with butter, or with milk (100 ml), or with home made tomato souce.......................................................

  8.00

8.80

sandwich ....................................................................... ..................................................................................................................

   4.00

4.40 

COLD DRINKS

 

 

Soft drinks:

   

                    soft beverage in small bottle ...........................................................................….........................................................

   2.50

2.75

juice (750 ml) .............................................................................................................................................................

5.00

5.50

 

OVERNIGHT STAY AND CATERING SERVICE FOR THE ONE WHO SPENDS THE NIGHT

 

 

Overnight stay: sleeping place with mattress and blankets (°) .......................................................................................................

 16.00

   32.00

Half Pension

40.00

           46.00

Breakfast: buffet set out on the table from which people help themselves (for the ones who spend the night) and a cup of hot drink (the second cup at list price) …………....................................................

    10.00

11.00

The use of cotton sleeping-bag ................................................................................…...................................................................

   4.00

4.40

Hot shower, a head (in so far as running water allows) ..............…………………………………...............................................

   5.00

5.50

 

(°)  top allowable price for E-Class, fixed by the “Alpine Huts and Works Central Committee” of Italian Alpine Club and assumed as reference price (October, 2017) .

 

 

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