I was in Guillestre, close to Briançon, when I slept under the stars for the very first time. A mattress, a sleeping bag and Bob’s your uncle. Watching the moon and the stars and falling asleep listening to grasshoppers in the distance… what’s not to like? Although most people will sneer at my enthusiasm for such a mundane past time, this first experience proved vital for me. It encouraged me, in fact, to try and do more.
I often meet top-rank mountaineer who think that sleeping in a rusty hut at 3800 metres is luxury – read Marko Prezelj’s account on this here and so my latest adventure around Monte Rosa may look insignificant to them, but let’s not forget that, in life, we progress through little steps.
I will not offer you quotes from Whitman or Thoreau about life in the woods and finding your own path. This is not about rediscovering yourself, being in touch with nature or rejecting consumerism. This is about accepting new challenges head on. Sleeping in a tent on a glacier, anyone? Sure, that’s better than sleeping on a glacier WITHOUT a tent – a common, often compulsory option for most mountaineers – but it still needs some preparation, stamina and good will.
I love Monte Rosa, that’s where I am from, where my roots lie, so clearly that felt like home – we were above the Mantova Hut, at about 3500 m, but a hard, snowy ground will put some strain on your back even if you are as happy as a clam. Who feels like going up a 4,000-metre peak the day after? Well, we did and we struggled, but we loved it. The Capanna Margherita, the highest hut in Europe at 4554 m is simply stunning.
It’s easy mountaineering, that’s for sure, but my happiness was not in the least diminished after reaching it.
The mountains are your oysters. I encourage you to try and accept new challenges, be they big or small. You will feel rewarded and will ask for more.
All pictures © Lucia Prosino