Several decades ago long before mobile telephones existed, I was staying with friends in #Friuli Venezia Giulia, the most north eastern province of Italy. They suggested that I made an excursion to a mountain in the area, The peak of Monte Santo di #Lussari is 1790 metres above sea level and about 900 metres above the village of Valbruna. My friends left meat a cable car station near Valbruna (according to Google Maps, this cable car station no longer functions).

There was a long queue of people waiting to get a ride up the mountain using the cable car. I took one look at the line of people and decided I was not going to wait. Armed with my detailed walking map, I decided to climb up to the summit under my own steam.

It soon became obvious to me that my map reading skills were non-existent. I could not match what I saw around me with what was printed on my very detailed map. So, I decided that the best thing to do was to scramble upwards as best I could manage. As I could not find a path, I just crawled up the steep slopes gripping onto roots and branches and any other anchored vegetation that I could find. It was hard work!

After a while, I left the vegetation and entered a sparsely vegetated area of gravelly slopes. I looked up and discovered that high above me the carriages of the cable car were gliding along their cables. Anyone looking down might have spotted me, but from that height I would have seemed as small as an ant. The cable cars traversed the open slopes up which I was crawling on all fours. The cable car station high above me was one of a group of picturesque buildings at the summit of the mountain. If a casual observer had looked down from the terrace at the upper cable car station, he or she might have wondered if I had jumped from or fallen out of one of the aerial conveyances.

Finally, after at least two hours struggle, I reached the small village at the summit of the mountain. My hosts had recommended that I sample the special mountain tea at one of the inns on the summit. This proved to be a good suggestion. The hot herbal concoction tasted good and left me feeling light-headed. Most likely, it contained alcohol.

I set off to walk along the ridge towards another cable car station that would have brought me down to Camporosso, a village just north of Valbruna. The terrain was more or less level and pleasantly wooded. The mountain tea put me in a good mood. I felt as if I was a sylvan character in some idyllic film set in the mountains like “Heidi” or “The sound of Music”

I reached the distant cable car station, where I was hoping to make my descent more easily and comfortably than my arduous ascent. To my great disappointment and annoyance, the cable car was out of service. It was used only in busy periods, but I had arrived at a very slack time. What was I to do? It was getting late and it was a long way back to the other cable car station, which might well have been closed for the day. I looked down the steep slope and saw Camporosso laid out like far below, looking from my elevated position like a map rather than a village.

There was nothing else I could do but attempt to lower myself down the mountain slope where there were no footpaths to be seen. My mountaineering skills were non-existent. I descended by sitting down and sliding down hill towards the nearest tree below me. After this arrested my descent, I repeated the operation and slid to the next tree below me. By this means, I reached the bottom of the mountain slope and the road that ran from Camporosso to Valbruna. I am amazed that the series of slides did not cause any holes to form in my trousers.

When I reached my friend’s home, they were very worried about my prolonged absence, and were about to alert the local mountain rescue service. I hate to admit it but my impatience seeing the queue at the first (and functioning) cable car station might have led to a less satisfactory conclusion to my day out at Monte Santo di Lussari.

[Picture source: Wikimedia Commons]

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