Monday, 14 November 2011

Le Col de Bavella

I have always been a firm believer that there's no room for adventure and excitement staying inside your comfort zone. This was certainly put to the test Friday when I hiked the Col de Bavella.

Perched forebodingly in the stunning Alta Rocca mountains, the Col de Bavella crosses Bavella Needles, a backbone of granite spikes rising high above the ground.

I was a little in the dark about what the walk would entail and I didn’t want to turn up clad head to toe in lycra. As luck would have it, my ‘middle of the road’ hiking attire sufficed...just.
The walk started through a pine forest studded with chestnuts and paths lined with ocre stained leaves. With the backcloth of dramatic mountainous landscape laced in fine mist and clouds, we steadily ascended up a rocky path.

Reaching the top, the track disappeated virtually disappeared. I watched incredulously as my fellow companions climbed effortlessly, one arm and foot instinctively stretching out and gripping the next rock. As I, not so gracefully, reached the top, my stomach turned. With sheets of cloud sweeping low above us, it dawned on me the slightest wrong footing on the narrow, cragged summit would give way to sheer drops. A companion asked me “Are you scared?” and I managed to stammer a very resolute yes.

We continued to rise and fall along meandering paths, although I use path in the very loosest sense of the word. We scrabbled through the 'Trou de la Bombe' - an 8 metre hole in the rock, and abseiled down near vertical rock faces; my companions doing so with the ease of an ape and myself more like a frightened mountain sheep.

In true Corsican style, the heavens opened with little warning. Soon after eating lunch, we walked for an hour through fierce hale and rain along an open path in the midst of dramatic lightning splitting the valley.

Arriving home and peeling off wet clothes, dealing with cuts and scratches on my legs and accessing the damage done to my trousers from sliding inelegantly down many a rock, I couldn't help but look forward to the next time.