Ascent of Testa Grigia on 2015-08-18

Climber: Marcus Lostracco

Date:Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Testa Grigia
    Elevation:11414 ft / 3478 m

Ascent Trip Report

Day 4 - Schwarzsee to Cervinia

Another sleepless night at elevation - I felt rested, but did not sleep for more than 30 minutes at Schwarzsee. Looking out my window in the morning, it was another day in the clouds. There was a big herd of sheep hanging out right outside. I had breakfast at 8am and was ready to get started for my journey to Cervinia by 8:45. My route required passing by Trockener-Steg lift station then up to Theodulpass before descending into Cervinia. I followed the sign for Trockener-Steg from Schwarzsee, estimating 2.5 hours. Visibility was ok, but being in the clouds meant no views again. My route was questioned by several hikers that I spoke with, eventually meeting a mountain guide who reassured me what I was doing was indeed correct.
I took the Matterhorn glacier trail at the split from the Hunlihutt/Matterhorn approach trail. This glacier trail takes you right into a glacial recession and weaves around a few small glacier lakes. There were signs with information about the ecology/geology/biology of the landscape. All very interesting and informative - I made a point to stop and read each one, and by the end of it I felt like I knew all about glaciers! There was one sign with a quote from Mark Twain that struck me:
"a man who keeps company with glaciers comes to feel tolerably insignificant by and by"

I arrived at Trockener-Steg lift station at 3200m at about 11am to a helicopter landing at the building. Super impressive. I took a quick break then started my way up the glacier to Theodulpass. The signs on the glacier trail also educated me about the history of Theodulpass. I had not been able to find any information online about it, which I had doubted if it was even doable up until this point. This passage is a historic link between Italy and Switzerland, and local merchants used to walk from Cervinia into Zermatt to sell their produce, and then return home in the same day. Knowing that this passage was basically a commute from a certain lifestyle lived by the working class another generation ago, I felt confident I would achieve my goal. It was actually a very easy route… super gradual and it follows a ski piste, which is well-maintained by ractram vehicles that matte down the snow for the piste. I was able to make the 300m ascent over 2km in about 1 hour. I had actually passed Theodulpass because it was shrouded in a cloud, and had pressed on upwards to some Italian ski lift station that had a very interesting mountaineering museum inside. I didn't stay long here, asking a guy if it was possible to get down to Cervinia from here, he said it was not safe and there were many crevasses and I was better off going down to Theodulpass. I spoke with this man in French - he was Italian, but most locals here either know French, German, or Italian. Zermatt is somewhat of an exception where you hear English quite a bit, due to its tourism.

I descended down to Theodulpass and stopped for some food at the little restaurant at the hut. There was only a young girl and another man working there, and probably about 3 or 4 cats. I had spaghetti Arribierta…. So delicious. A great welcome into Italy! The pasta was perfect "al-dente" and totally what I needed. I descended down to Cervinia via the TMR (Tour Monte Rosa) route. This side of the mountain was significantly less pretty than the Swiss side. A lot of construction vehicles doing work on the many old lifts. On my way down I got off-trail a little bit, but it didn't really matter since there were several wide tracks within sight and here all trails lead to Cervinia…. On my descent I finally caught a glimpse of the Matterhorn, as it presented itself beautifully through the clouds! After 4 days this was my first view. Beautiful sight and highly gratifying. After snapping a few pics, I then descended rapidly into Cervinia. This part of the trail was amazing, I loved it, and ran the whole way down. Felt good to stride it out after taking a very easy pace all day. I found the Sertorelli Sporthotel where I would be staying the next two nights, and checked in around 4pm. It was a super cool hotel - a shrine to alpine sport life. Another great day to be in the mountains. Looking forward to tomorrow's rest day and the race starting Thursday!

Rest is amazingly gratifying when it is well-earned.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Snow Climb, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
Ascent Statistics
    Route:Schwarzsee > Trockner Steg > Theodulpass > Cervini
Descent Statistics
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Marcus Lostracco
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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