Deep valleys – steep sides
Distance: 18,6 km
Time: 7 hours (plus 1 hour for the stops)
Vertical distance: 1190 m uphill; 2260 m downhill
Over 2000 m downhill seems to be a record so far. Not the best thing for knees but they survived! The valleys really are deep and steep here: first we had the 700 m down from Alpe Saléi to Comologno, all steep, especially at the end going past small chalets and barns. Had a coffee here, then had to drop another 230 m to get across the river. Followed by over 1000 m steeply up a ridge to near Pizzo Ruscada, then down again over 1100 m to Borgnono and Camedo in the Centovalli. Luckily we had lighter rucksacks since no rope, ice axe or crampons were needed.
I had been warned that below about 2000 m it is almost impossible to progress away from proper paths without losing a lot of time and energy because of the vegetation – mainly small junipers, bilberry bushes and Alpine rose bushes – and we experienced this ourselves yesterday when we went astray and tried to cut back to the correct path – so we chose marked paths as close to the frontier as possible.
One consequence of these deep valleys is that the frontier with Italy does not follow the watershed in the Valle di Campo and the Valle Onsernone but lies down below on the Swiss side. The frontier follows ancient agreements on grazing areas for sheep and cattle and access to these areas was easier from the Italian side coming over the passes than from the Ticino side coming up the deep valleys.
We found a nice hotel in Italy – Albergo Bellavista in Folsogno (commune of Re) – quieter and cheaper than down the Centovalli in Switzerland.
1. Peter and Nona at Comologno
2. Below Pizzo Ruscada