Monday, August 2, 2010

Just Sign at the Top

Well, I have moved to mountains for 3 weeks in August to escape the heat, enjoy some fresh air and get my heart rate up while hiking and climbing. This is the famous Ferragosto in Italy--lots and lots of vacation time.

Shifting to mountain topics, today I'll talk about a dear tradition surrounding the libro di vetta (Book of the Peak). Many mountains feature a book where you can sign and comment on your feelings and experience. It is especially satisfying to fill in when your hike was long and challenging. A record remains for posterity that you were there. You typically include a comment, the date, your name and can mention where you are from. By reading others' entries, you can see just how far some people came to climb that mountain and make that comment.

Here is a picture from Monte Fertazza, which is not a difficult walk but you get the idea. The peaks in the Dolomites always have a metal cross to indicate the tallest point. It is a wonderful sight to see, especially after 6-9 hours of a steep climb. You know you are almost there!

This cross has a compartment that houses the libro.
Once you write your entry, you can tuck it back into its nook on the cross, which usually also includes a pen.

These are the entries from July 31. Italians can be so poetic and emotional about nature.

Trascribed entries:

1. Oggi una bella giornata di sole che brilla come le stelle. Qui il nome Fertazza molto bello da visione comunque bello.

2. Ho veramente toccato il cielo con le dita.

3. Questo posto è un paradiso terrestre, gli angeli dominano tutto, è una bella giornata


1. Today is a beautiful day where the sun shines like the stars. Here the very nice name Fertazza gives way to a lovely sight.

2. I really touched the sky with my fingers.

3. This place is heaven on earth, the angels preside over everything, it's a wonderful day

There can also be a very pratical aspect to this tradition. A record remains of your presence. In fact, this was important in reconstructing the series of events involved in the death of a noted priest in the area this past winter, Claudio Sacco. This man of God was also an avid alpine skier and had opened some new routes in the Dolomites over the years. He was killed during an avalanche on Monte Pore in December during a solo night ascent. The rescuers were able to establish that he was killed on the way down, and not while going up, because he had signed the libro di vetta at 11: 30 p.m.

Don Sacco, may you rest in peace.

For article from the Corriere del Veneto in italiano, click here.

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