First Semester Down and Climbing a Mountain

This past Tuesday I finished up my first semester of classes. It was a bit of an adjustment having all my finals be oral and cover the whole semester. But, by the grace of God, I did quite well on all my finals. After finals a fellow seminarian and I traveled down to southern Italy to Pollino National Park (Parco Nazionale del Pollino) to climb Mt. Pollino. The mountain isn’t particularly famous, however, it is over 2,000 meters tall at 2248 m (7373 ft) tall and we would be able to climb it in the winter

On Thursday we took a 5.5 hour road trip to our AirBnB. When we arrived, we discovered that we were staying in a family’s home (not an apartment or house only used for rentals). After dropping our bags, they welcomed us to dinner and had a great evening socializing with them. Admittedly, it was all in Italian, but it was a great time.

The next day, on Friday morning,  we headed out early for our hike. We expected there to be some snow and only take four hours to get to the peak from the trail-head. The original plan had us climbing 690 meters (2,300 ft) over 5.5 km (3.4 mi). On our way to they trail-head we discovered that: a) More snow had fallen than expected and b) Our car couldn’t drive much further up the mountain. So we had to park 2.5 km away and 240 m below the trail-heard. Our total hike became 8 km (5 mi) long and 930 m (3000 ft) of climbing to do in the same four hours to summit by noon. To put this in perspective for people in NJ, the highest point of the state is High Point in High Point State Park. High Point is 549 m (1802 ft) tall from sea level.

As we walked through the woods, the snow was perfectly undisturbed. We were the first people to come through since the snow fell a week previous. It was truly beautiful to walk through fields covered in pristine snow with the mountains in the background. After 2.5 hours, we reached out half-way point at the foot of the mountain itself and began to climb. We still had 1.5 hours until our target summit time.

Morning Prayer on the Go
On account of the farther distance we had to walk, we prayed morning prayer on the go.
Snow covered trail
Snow covered trail at the start of our hike through the woods.
pristine field
One of the pristine fields that we walked through
Monte Pollino rising in the distance.
Monte Pollino rising in the distance.
Sign to Pollino at the base of the mountain with a false peak hiding the true peak.
Sign to Pollino at the base of the mountain with a false peak hiding the true peak.

Just before noon we came to a steep slope involving a bit of a technical climb. Reaching the top of the slope, and we had to walk along a ridge line for 1km (0.6 mi) and we would reach the summit. The issue was that it was already noon and we had a hard turn around time of 1pm to ensure we were off the mountain by sunset. 45 minutes later we the summit was still hidden behind a false peak, so we called it and had lunch before heading down. We ended up stopping 0.5 km short of and 124 m (407) below the summit at an altitude of 2124 m (6969 ft). The view was somewhat obscured by clouds, but what we could see was great.

Walk through the woods as we climbed from the base of the mountain.
Walk through the woods as we climbed from the base of the mountain.
View of a ridge-line about the treeline.
View of a ridge-line about the treeline.
climbing the slope
Action shot of me climbing up the slope towards the summit.
Snow Covered tree
Snow covered and wind blasted tree above the tree line.
View from the our turn-around point
Another view from the our turn-around point. The plain down below is where the picture of the sign pointing to the mountain was.
panoramo on the side of Pollino's summit
Panorama from our turn-around point on the slope leading to the summit. In the background in Monte Serra del Prete.
Group Picture on Slope
Picture of Jakob and I at the turn-around point
Selfie on our way back down

It was a little disappointing to not make it to the summit, however it was a great hike over all. Given the things that went wrong, I think we did better than expected. You can see my complete phone album here and in the next few days I am doing to hopefully make a short little video of the hike.

Update: Video below

2 Replies to “First Semester Down and Climbing a Mountain”

  1. Hey, Tim! Thanks for sharing. A part of Italy I have now seen. You must be proud of how you have done in your first semester in Roma. God bless you for proclaiming the Word!!! Your thoughts on this have made me rethink of how important the Word is the THE WORD made flesh!!!
    I am healing slowly My arm is 75% and they have me in therapy which I might be confusing with the tortures of the inquisition!!!
    God bless you and we continue to pray for you!

    1. Lynne, it is good to hear that you are making progress with the recovery of your arm. Therapy can be … a bit painful, it is somewhat counter-intuitive that something so painful really is working the good of healing and restoring the body, your arm in this case. Know of my continued prayers.

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