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.
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.
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