Hot! When it Rains

Things started early for a Saturday morning. Bago called at 7 am with a weather report: rain at Monte Cucco, and lots of it. My views one valley over and beachside were foggy but dry. Pier was next on the phone, shifting our start time back two hours. By 10:30 it was drizzly in Finale and still pouring on the mountain. Word from Pier: climbing would become hiking. But by the time we all coverged in Borgo, the weather – in a word – was brutto. Even walking around the piazza sounded like a bad idea. What was wrong with sitting in a café all day, Bago and I wondered, as we drank our second macchiato in less than an hour.

But the hike was on. As we drove up and into more rain, I asked Pier if this was a normal thing to do in this weather. “Yes…. And no,” he answered. When you work all week, Saturdays and Sundays are your only time to be outdoors, regardless of the conditions.

He took us to the Orco side of Valley Cornei and we hiked beyond the Italsider wall. It wasn’t so bad under the trees and eventually, the rain stopped. We passed small caves with Flagstaff-like problems and an open meadow of rock called carved with petroglyphs,. From an area on the path Pier pointed to a high cave on the other side of the valley. This was Bocca di Bacco and we could see several people climbing. This is one of the few places to climb when it rains, he explained, and we would walk over there for a look.

It looked far – like hiking down into the valley and back up the other side far. But Cornei is known for its winding trails and optical illusions. In less than 15 minutes we left the trail, scrambled up the incline and had front row seats to the weekend party. People hung on ropes above the valley, belayers urged them on, jackets hung from the rocks and packs were everywhere.

The routes went from strong to hard, and all looked fun. We took another chance to get the lay of the valley and Pier pointed out other climbing sectors. His walking tour was a fantastic way to get perspective on this part of Finale. For years, I had only followed others to routes they suggested. For Bago it was his first chance to compare guidebook maps to real paths.

The next day, we returned to the Bocca di Bacco under clearing skies. The wind swirled the trees around us as we hiked. The weather was changing and so was the landscape. The path was marked, but already the scene was different. The cave that had been so busy less than a day before was empty. We climbed our routes alone and, as the church bells rang noon, left the Cornei Valley to enjoy another thing that weather does not stop in Italy: Sunday with friends and food.

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  1. it was a lovely Saturday, with a new friend and food last night! 🙂