Mountaineering - Mariano Galvan: "When you decide to climb, shut your Ego..."

Pic by  Mariano Galvan
After a long silence and a good rest, the Manaslu experience a little bit sunk, Mariano Galvan wrote a few inspiring beautiful words on his Face Book page. Waiting for more, enjoy!

Mariano Galvan:
"What drives me to go back to the mountains again and again?
I want to think that what moves me is love for the simple great beauties of the nature we are deprived of as small children, among tall buildings.
But then I remember that also the ego moves me, for good or for bad.
Therefore, the most important thing in climbing is to cross the boundaries of the mountains making no noise. Because they are sleeping giants who don't understand words no reasons. The best thing you can do is to give them as a gift your silence.
Therefore, when you decide to climb, shut your Ego, as it's noisier than the crampons that scratch the bare rock, and louder than the clinking metals that hang from your harness.

["Que me lleva una y otra vez a moverme entre montañas?
Quiero pensar que me mueve el amor a las simples grandes bellezas que posee la naturaleza
y de la cual se nos priva desde pequeños, tras grandes edificios.
Pero luego recuerdo que el ego también me mueve, para bien o para mal. 
Así que, lo mas importante en la escalada, es entrar en los confines de las montañas sin hacer ruido. Pues ellos son gigantes dormidos que no entienden de palabras y de razones. Por lo que mejor puedes hacer es regalarle el silencio.
Así que cuando te decidas a escalar, acalla tu Ego, ya que éste es mas ruidoso que los crampones que rascan la desnuda roca, y más ruidoso que las tintineantes metales que cuelgan de tu arnés. 

["Cosa mi spinge ancora e ancora ad andare in montagna? Voglio pensare che mi muove l'amore per le semplici grandi bellezze della natura di cui siamo privati da piccoli, fra alti palazzi.
Ma mi devo ricordare che mi spienge anche l'ego, nel bene e nel male.
Così la cosa più importante nella scalata è varcare i confini delle montagne senza fare rumore. Perchè esse sono giganti addormentati che non intendono parole nè ragioni. Perciò il meglio che puoi fare è regalare loro il tuo silenzio.
Così quando ti decidi a scalare zittisci il tuo Ego, poiché è più rumoroso dei ramponi che grattano la roccia nuda, e più rumoroso dei metalli tintinnanti attaccati alla tua imbragatura.


Mountain: On Boukreev's Track 6: What 'Summit' Means?

Anatoli Boukreev
"I arrived on the top at three-fifteen. [...] I straddled the summit crest, riding it like a horse, and took pictures. [...] From my friends I knew that the southern point was 8.013 m, by some calculation only five m higher than where I sat. I considered the traverse, looking at the huge snowdrifts that had built up over the technically easy relief. They were weighted and ready to carry a person down despite every precaution. Experience told me that I had about a 10 percent chance of reaching the south peak alive. How the snow had felt coming up the ridge was fresh in my mind. I knew the conditions were not right for more gambling with my life. Inside me, as it would be with any mountaineer, ambition was raging, but continuing would go agaist all logic. I had put my life on the line many times in 1996, but for important reasons. I don't know how other mountaineers will judge my actions, but I left the ridge with the feeling that I had climbed Shisha Pangma." (Anatoli Boukreev, "Above the clouds" p.195-196)
When I first read this I thought that Anatoli Boukreev wasn't just a great mountaineering but moreover a great man, a man able to use his brain over 8.000 m as well as his heart, ready to risk his life to save other lives, but cleaver enough to prevent his ambition to kill him. 
The summit certificate
"As far as me I had climbed Shisha Pangma" I quoted by heart commentating an interesting news on 4sport.ua: About 200 mountaineers climbed the Manaslu but only three obtained a certificate of the ascent, by the Nepali authorities.
The point is: what 'summit' means? and what 'climbing atop a mountain' means? such a mountain then, a 8.000 m giant covered in snow, with a serious risk of avalanches and a very narrow ridge. Manaslu is 8156 m, the eighth highest mountain in the world. Commercial expeditions have turned it in a crowded popular aim but it doesn't make it easier. 
Risultati immagini per manaslu summit
The narrow summit of  Manaslu
The Nepali authorities want a picture from the summit, that's the highest point on the mountain. But Mingma Sherpa, Managing Director of Seven Summit Treks, doesn't agree. According to him several climbers have successfully climbed to the summit of Manaslu, but failed to take a picture from there. The  peak of the mountain is indead too narrow to allow more than one person per time to stand on it, so many take photo and video just below. And this is due to the large number of mountaineers climbing to the top and to the unstable weather conditions: few people want to take the risk of waiting for their turn! Even Reinhold Messner said that the Department of Tourism of Nepal is more interested in tourism than in mountaineering.
Yannick Seigneur
As far as me, I think this story shows how far the commercialisation has gone even in the Himanayas. I remember Yannick Seigneur wrote: "This wild mountains aren't a circus like our Alps." ("Makalu pilastro ovest attacco finale" in the anthology "Racconti di pareti e scalatori" by Marco Albino Ferrari, in Italian). That's no more true. Himalayas is now a bigger circus, and more lucrative.
Commercial expeditions shouldn't exist. People shouldn't be allowed to climb a 8.000 just because they can pay for it. The Nepali authorities are discussing a law aiming to make a selection based on experience, not on money. I think it's a good law, because in my opinion you can't stop a mountaineer who's ready to dare the mountain by fair means and you must stop an amateur who's ready to spend a lot to have it easier. Mountains, also the Alps, should be again a place instilling respect, honesty and a bit of fear.
Climbing a mountain by fair means require courage and realism. It isn't just the summit, it's the whole human experience that gives it its value. It isn't the picture, for sure. It isn't the certificate. The perfect ascent could remain a secret and keep all its meaning. It's a matter of awareness. That's why it's done. Otherwise it's a kind of exhibitionism, miserable and sterile. 
Sharing such an experience is dangerous. Tempting, almost unavoidable. It makes it more real but probably poorer. Alienation and objectivation are two sides of the same thing. Writing is a fair compromise, a personal objectivation that is possible to share... However this is another story.

Cyclocross: Flandriencross in Hamme... and a special kind of urban trek!

This is Belgium
First of all: Thomas Pidcock is something. I'm sorry I have never seen him racing. I'm sure it's worth to. Yesterday in the Flanderiencross he won again in front of a peloton of Belgians. Outstanding.
This is Belgium
Sanne Cant is a prodigious leader. More than just a good rider or even a gifted rider. She's got character, class, determination. She deserves to be apreciated way more by the Belgian public. She's a true champion and often I feel a sufference in her words, a disappointent for the way her stunning victories are commentated. I'd like to see her satisfied and sure to be loved. As far as me, I BELOVE Sanne Cant.
In the Elite Men race we had again a victory by Mathieu van der Poel on Wout van Aert and a splendid Laurens Sweeck. 
This is Rome
In the U23 Men race Quinten Hermans won on Eli Iserbyt, both strong talented riders. 3rd was Adam Toupalik.
While they were busy battling in Belgium I was in Rome attending a march in support of the vote against the costitutional reform in a referendum that has quickly got a political meaning because the Italian Prime Minister said he's going home in case the No wins. That reform I don't like at all, moreover I'd be glad if he goes home. The march has been a kind of urban trekking really because for the first time in ages the access to the center of Rome has been forbiden and we got to Piazza del Popolo by a long periferical route. That's a new high of shame in the Italian politics.
I hope that long urban trekking was a good training for my Nepali goal!

Sanne Cant:
"It's my tenth victory, and that's a great number. I'm happy it worked out today. I didn't expect it because it remained together for so long, It was difficult to create gaps today. It was a technical course but not very difficult. In the final lap, there was a section where I created a gap. It was hard work to hold on to the lead." 

Maud Kaptheijns:
"This weekend pleased me a lot. My sixth place yesterday was good. This was a tactical race with high speeds. I like that, but tactically I often struggle. Now I manage to get a second place. The difference? I rested very well. I tend to train too much." 

Thalita De Jong:
"I suffered a lot. The speed was always high and due to the multiple training session I lacked speed in the legs. My heart rate was always high and didn't recover fast. [...] I tried to make as few mistakes as possible. I'm very happy with that. I made a big step." 

Mathieu van der Poel:
"Today I suffered a lot. I figured to keep the gap at 10 seconds but behind me they kept going flat out. Luckily I can handle the pressure of dealing with a lead but I was glad to cross the finish line."

Laurens Sweeck:
"I wanted to open fast but Mathieu quickly came over me. We kept riding at ten seconds. While working together we gained some seconds but not enough. Mathieu was in control."

Wout Van Aert:
"When Mathieu accelerated I wasn't in the right position to react. I was struggling at that moment. It was good that for once we weren't racing against each other but exchanging the work. That's how we both got on the podium." 

Elite Women
1 Sanne Cant (Bel) IKO Enertherm-Beobank 45:33:00
2 Maud Kaptheijns (Ned) Team Steylaerts 0:00:02
3 Thalita De Jong (Ned) Rabobank-Liv 0:00:03
4 Ellen Van Loy (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions 0:00:06
5 Pavla Havlikova (Cze) MRM Avalon Pro Cycling 0:00:07
6 Laura Verdonschot (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games 0:00:12
7 Sophie De Boer (Ned) Kalas-NNOF 0:00:23
8 Alicia Franck (Bel) 0:00:36
9 Loes Sels (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions 0:00:49
10 Karen Verhestraeten (Bel) Lares-WoawDeals 0:00:54
11 Jolien Verschueren (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions 0:01:04
12 Evie Richards (GBr) 0:01:13
13 Elle Anderson (USA) 0:01:22
14 Lindy Van Anrooij (Ned) 0:02:00
15 Ellen Noble (USA) Ridebiker Alliance 0:02:18
16 Githa Michiels (Bel) 0:02:33
17 Amanda Nauman (USA) 0:02:38
18 Kim Van De Steene (Bel) 0:02:39
19 Monique Van De Ree (Ned) 0:03:16
20 Joyce Vanderbeken (Bel) AA Drink-Kalas 0:03:56
21 Aurélie Vermeir (Bel) 0:04:07
22 Eva Maria Palm (Bel) AA Drink-Kalas 0:04:08
23 Axelle Bellaert (Bel) AA Drink-Kalas 0:04:11
24 Julia Boschker (Ned) 0:04:13
25 Laure Michels (Bel) 0:05:19
26 Laure Michels (Bel) 0:06:06
27 Jara Noël (Bel) AA Drink-Kalas 0:06:25
28 Meg De Bruyne (Bel) 0:07:07
Elite Men
1 Mathieu Van der Poel (Ned) Beobank-Corendon 0:57:50
2 Wout Van Aert (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice 0:00:06
3 Laurens Sweeck (Bel) ERA-Circus 0:00:07
4 Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games 0:00:20
5 Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions 0:00:28
6 Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games 0:00:29
7 Tim Merlier (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice 0:01:16
8 Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Team Steylaerts 0:01:18
9 Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions 0:01:29
10 Jim Aernouts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions 0:01:53
11 Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games 0:01:55
12 David Van der Poel (Ned) Beobank-Corendon 0:02:07
13 Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions 0:02:11
14 Stephen Hyde (USA) Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com 0:02:30
15 Rob Peeters (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice 0:02:52
16 Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games 0:03:01
17 Jens Vandekinderen (Bel) Kalas-NNOF 0:03:04
18 Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) ERA-Circus 0:03:11
19 Diether Sweeck (Bel) ERA-Circus 0:04:15
20 Joeri Adams (Bel) Kalas-NNOF 0:04:38
21 Dario Tielen (Bel) 0:05:25
22 Kevin Suarez Fernandez (Spa) 0:05:45
23 Jeremy Powers (USA) Aspire Racing 0:05:51
24 Michael Boros (Cze) ERA-Circus 0:05:58
25 Matthias Van De Velde (Bel)
26 Eric Thompson (USA) Hed p/b Molten Speed Wax
27 Sebastien Carabin (Bel)
DSQ Jens Adams (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice
DSQ Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Beobank-Corendon
DNF Braam Merlier (Bel)
DNF Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Beobank-Corendon
U23 Men
1 Quinten Hermans (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions 0:47:26
2 Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games 0:00:11
3 Adam Toupalik (Cze) Beobank-Corendon 0:00:18
4 Nicolas Cleppe (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions 0:00:29
5 Yannick Peeters (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice 0:00:52
6 Jelle Schuermans (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice 0:01:09
7 Kelvin Bakx (Ned) 0:01:11
8 Jonas Degroote (Bel) 0:01:19
9 Lander Loockx (Bel) 0:01:21
10 Thomas Van De Velde (Bel) 0:01:23
11 Niels Derveaux (Bel) 0:01:29
12 Stijn Caluwe (Bel) Beobank-Corendon 0:01:33
13 Pieter Van Roosbroeck (Bel) 0:01:34
14 Gert Smets (Bel)
15 Tijl Pauwels (Bel) Lares-Doltcini 0:01:42
16 Seppe Rombouts (Bel) 0:01:45
17 Gianni Siebens (Bel) Lares-Doltcini 0:01:50
18 Reno Bauters (Bel) 0:02:00
19 Eric Brunner (USA) 0:02:03
20 Viktor Vandebosch (Bel) 0:02:09
21 Jarno Liessens (Bel) IKO Enertherm-Beobank 0:02:12
22 Spencer Petrov USA 0:02:13
23 Loïc Hennaux (Bel) 0:02:20
24 Jenko Bonne (Bel) 0:02:45
25 Jarne Driesens (Bel) 0:02:51
26 Gosse Van Der Meer (Ned) 0:03:00
27 Wesley Floren (Ned) 0:03:04
28 Sybren Jacobs (Bel) 0:03:16
29 Julien Kaise (Bel) 0:03:39
30 Robin Alderweireld (Bel) 0:03:46
31 Jappe Jaspers (Bel) Beobank-Corendon 0:03:49
32 Nick Van de Kerkhove (Bel) 0:04:38
33 Lawrence Tibackx (Bel) 0:05:01
34 Mathias Declerck (Bel) 0:05:50
35 Yari Crollet (Bel) 0:06:05
36 Jente Tielemans (Bel) 0:06:18
U19 Men
1 Thomas Pidcock (GBr) 0:41:34
2 Ben Turner (GBr) 0:00:03
3 Niels Vandeputte (Bel) IKO Enertherm-Beobank 0:00:18
4 Louis Rouiller (Swi) IKO Enertherm-Beobank 0:00:22
5 Pieter-Jan Vliegen (Bel) 0:00:27
6 Florian Vermeersch (Bel) Lares-Doltcini 0:00:52
7 Arno Van Den Broeck (Bel) 0:00:53
8 Arno Debeir (Bel) Lares-Doltcini
9 Len Dejonghe (Bel)
10 Anton Ferdinande (Bel) Lares-Doltcini 0:01:16
11 Andres Verdonck (Bel)
12 Thomas Mein (GBr) 0:01:30
13 Arne Vrachten (Bel) 0:01:33
14 Jens Clynhens (Bel)
15 Wannes Vanden Bussche (Bel) 0:01:35
16 Joren Thys (Bel) 0:01:37
17 Sander De Vet (Bel) 0:01:46
18 Julian Siemons (Bel) 0:01:52
19 Jarne De Meyer (Bel) 0:01:54
20 Ryan Kamp (Ned) 0:01:57
21 Denzel Stephenson (USA) 0:02:20
22 Brent Braes (Bel) 0:02:33
23 Loeka Verdonck (Bel) 0:02:38
24 Lloyd Sprangers (Bel) 0:02:42
25 Vince Van Den Eynde (Bel) 0:02:44
26 Sam Noel (USA) 0:02:47
27 Jason Van Compernolle (Bel) 0:02:48
28 Kwinten Stuer (Bel) 0:03:00
29 Lander Tibackx (Bel) 0:03:07
30 Maarten Clauwaert (Bel) 0:03:15
31 Maxim Dewulf (Bel) 0:03:26
32 Arne Santy (Bel) 0:03:29
33 Kevin Goguen (USA)
34 Thijs Christiaens (Bel) 0:03:59
35 François Hyon (Fra) 0:04:09
36 Jasper Van Den Plas (Bel) 0:04:29
37 Seppe Bekaert (Bel) 0:05:06
38 Grégory Careme (Bel) 0:05:39
39 Nolan Brunner (USA)
40 Aaron Logie (Bel)
41 Marvin De Bondt (Bel)


Cyclocross: Zeven

Elite Women race
Jelle Camps, Joris Nieuwenhui, Sanne Cant and Mathieu van der Poel are the winners of the day.
The Junior Men race has been affected by a mechanical that stopped Tom Pidcock on his solitary way.
Nobody could stop Mathieu van der Poel. His solitary ride started 4 laps to go and finished on the line.
Earlier in the race Tom Meeusen had attacked and Laurens Sweeck had looked very close to the podium. But Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel have left nothing to anybody. This time the Dutch won the duel. 
Kevin Pauwels quiety conquered a good 3rd place.

Mathieu van der Poel:
"I knew I had to close the gap as soon as possible because Wout was quite far. Once I bridged up I knew I was stronger because it's boosting the moral to have closed down such a gap. I quickly counter-attacked and straight away I had a big gap. It was fun. I didn't start well because I was surprised the lights turned green so fast. Then there was a bit of pushing and at the sand section I lost some spokes. I lost a lot of time to get a new bike. The last few weeks I felt I was hitting top form. I hope to keep up this form until the next training camp and then add a few percentages with the eye on the World championships".

Wout Van Aert:
"I managed to put him in trouble for half a race. Once he moved into the lead I realized after three corners what would happen. It was as if he rode on other tires. I was unable to follow him. He was the strongest."

Kevin Pauwels:
"I didn't have a good start and was unable to move up. Once there was space I got going. I rode good through the sand. Van der Poel passed me in the sand. He was going much faster and it was impossible to follow him. Even though I enjoyed a good day van der Poel was still much stronger."

Sanne Cant:
"In Belgium I often hear after a win that this or that rider is missing. Now they're all here. I'm first on the UCI ranking and today I've proven to be worthy of that. It was a treacherous course, with slippery corners. The sand section was cleaned which made it harder to ride through. In the final lap I didn't ride it too well but I had a gap and tried to keep it until the finish".

Sophie de Boer:
"I made a mistake and then they rode away while I was stuck in the wiring. Sanne played it well. I wasn't good enough today, especially technically. It was more slippery than I expected. The corners had to be taken at high speed and that wasn't in my favour".

Katherine Compton:
"I'm happy with the result. I definitely didn't have an awesome race as I made a bunch of mistakes. I had a bad start. I just felt like I was out of the rhythm. I was a step behind the pace I had to be at. I kept pushing, chasing hard. I got to the front and figured to play it steady. Sanne was able to ride the sand pit in the last lap and I messed it up. She had a gap and I couldn't recover it in time. She had a great race. She rode it until the end there. Was it a mistake to lead for one lap and a half with Cant on my wheel? Possibly. Right now I felt like it was too long. I felt like we needed to keep the gap on three to five girls behind us and they weren't too far back. I just wanted to keep the gap and at least guarantee the podium instead of fighting for a fifth place spot. I'll go home in December and have some good training and come back in January. I'm looking forward to good training and I feel good."

Elite Women
1 Sanne Cant (Bel) 0:44:43
2 Katherine Compton (USA) 0:00:06
3 Alica Maria Arzuffi (Ita) 0:00:22
4 Sophie de Boer (Ned) 0:00:23
5 Thalita de Jong (Ned) 0:00:28
6 Maud Kaptheijns (Ned) 0:00:33
7 Ellen Van Loy (Bel) 0:00:40
8 Laura Verdonschot (Bel) 0:00:41
9 Pavla Havlikova (Cze) 0:00:49
10 Ellen Nobel (USA) 0:01:00
U23 Men
1. Joris Nieuwenhui, 
2. Iserbyt Eli, 
3. Quinten Hermans. 
Juniors Men 
1. Jelle  Camps, 
2. Toon Vandebosch
3. Tom Pidcock
Elite Men
1 Matthieu van der Poel (Ned) 1:03:21
2 Wout van Aert (Bel) 0:00:21
3 Kevin Pauwels (Bel) 0:00:31
4 Tom Meeusen (Bel) 0:00:53
5 Clement Venturini (Fra) 0:01:08
6 Laurens Sweek (Bel) 0:01:24
7 Corne van Kessel (Ned) 0:01:32
8 Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) 0:01:38
9 Matthieu Vanthourenhout (Bel) 0:01:53
10 Marcel Meisen (Ger) 0:01:59


Himalayan Dreams... in the making (and my opinion about vaccinations)

My passport is on its way but I'm still deeply breathing, I'm supposed to leave on the 24th of December and my document is expected to be ready on the 7th. 
I've begun the iron treatment in order to bring my blood value up, but a bit of anxiety remains: not about my health, about my performance in a group I don't know
I've started buying what I need to integrate my equipment, and my first purchase has been a knee band. The cartilage in my left knee is too worn for my age because I have been walking all my life in a slightly wrong way. I had had no problem yet, but some years ago a long descent in the Alps left me in pain and I had to go for an X-ray. Since then - and never before! - I use some trekking poles and try not to overload my left knee. I also try to walk correctly, but that's quite hard.
The trek leader sent me a list with all the items we must bring. It includes: a lighter, towels, trek poles, thermal underwear, a water bottle, a bag to be left by the hotel in Kathmandutights, socks (long and short), trousers (long and short), a shirt, a cap, toilet paper, flip-flop for the shower, a swiss knife, waterproof over pants, a rope for the laundry, a bathing suit, a wool bonnet, a pair of gaiters, a Goretex windbreaker parka, a down jacket, gloves (woolen mitts are perfect), a kit for personal hygiene, a first aid kit, a headlamp with extra batteries, padlocks (to lock the bag and the doors of the lodges room), thermal long sleeve technical shirts, clothes pegs, sunglasses,a balaclava, a pile jacket (windstopper or very warmy), a sleeping bag (temperature: Comfort -5 ° C - Extrem -15 ° C), lots of plastic canvas to cover the bags, wet wipes, soap for washing clothes, sneakers, boots or hiking shoes, scarf or neck guard, a thermos, short / long sleeves cotton T-shirt , 35 / 40lt backpack  and its backpack cover. 
I don't have to buy everything of course! but I'll take the opportunity to renew my equipment a little after many years. 
This morning I paid a visit to my favourite shop: Obiettivo Montagna. In the Florence's outskirts there are many big stores selling almost everything about all kinds of sport at a lower price, but as far as I can I prefer to support the small shops still open in the city, where you can get suggestions by a committed owner, not by a random saleperson. Experience is important when you have to buy mountaineering gear, it can make the difference between life or death. 
Ok, I don't mean to sound ridicolous. I just need to buy a good parka - mine is good but 20 years old - and a new backpack - mine is good but too small and relatively too heavy. The rest is more or less in order, I'll probably add some extra trousers...
No vaccination is required for European travelers in Nepal but vaccination against typhoid is recommended in the Annapurna range and easy to take so  I just odered it. 
Risultati immagini per annapurnaIn general I think vaccinations are good - and necessary - where a dangerous illness is endemic and when there is an epidemic, but they shouldn't be mandatory where and when such illness is rare or almost disapeared. In my opinion pharmaceutical companies are successfully lobbying to keep or impose mandatory vaccinations. Also the way those vaccinations are given to babies and children should be matter of discussion: in my opinion and as far as I understand it, a single vaccination a time is better than polivalent vaccinations. I agree that citizens need the advice of experts but they can't be blind about the economic boundaries between experts and companies. The final decision must remain a political decision.
One month left! I'm getting excited! my room is progressively filling with trek gear piled on every available surface and my husband Tiziano gave his contribution to the travel lending me Chris Bonington's book about the Annapurna South Wall ascent. It's a lovely thought... but hey, my aim is the Annapurna base camp, at 4.130 m! And that's already a serious goal for me.
I'm determined but realistic. "Go! Ride the wave of passions..." a good friend told me "the positive ones' at least, like travels and mountaineering!!!" Ispiring words. He's a guide in the Alps and a serious mountaineer. Moreover... he's been my guide in a few excursions. He knows me, and I trust on him. Let's push that fucking limit a bit!


Himalayan Dreams

In December I'll spend two weeks in the Himalayan range, inashallah. I'm supposed to take part in a trek to the Annapurna Sanctuary and it's going to be special because it's exactly 20 years since Anatoli Boukreev died in his winter attempt to open a new route to the 8.000 m summit of the Annapurna. 
I'm training hard since a few months but I didn't think my goal could be so close. My plann was to spend the winter in the Alps and the next Summer in the Altai, waiting to be in a better shape to try the most demanding mountains of Nepal. I had started reading up on it though and I had already made my mind up about the fact I wanted to travel with Avventure nel Mondo
It isn't a travel agency but an association of travelers, or better a free union of adventurers who share their experience and contacts. It puts together people interested in the same destination offering a basic organisation (general information and flight booking). It also selects some senior travelers to act as 'coordinators'. In the wild good old times groups used to elect - and often to revocate! - their chiefs, but since a few years they are appointed by the association. In any case it isn't a organised travel and travelers are always free to leave the group. There is an itinerary based on previous travels but it isn't compulsory to respect it. The group is free to go where the majority want and accomodations are normally to find on the spot, in hostels, tents or private homes. 
I traveled twice with Avventure nel Mondo, the first time in 1996: I spent 25 days backpacking in Central America. We visited Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Belize, mostly by public transport. It was a great adventure! in 2004 I went trekking to the isle of Madeira with my 2 yo son. I used to have him walking until he fell asleep, then I used to put him in my baby backpack and when he woke up he walked again, and so on. The other travelers were also single parents with their children so we went along very well. 
Since that I have always traveled on my own, but you can't go to the Annapurna Sancturay on your own. At least, I can't. Avventure nel Mondo is a good compromise. And that's how I got to know the coordinator of my next trek: I liked him immediately and decided I had to go now to travel with him. In such a travel it's important to have a complete trust in your leader, even if this is a democratic, informal leadership. Lets hope my intuition is right.
Although I'm training and feeling good I suffered for a severe anemia some years ago so I decided to undergo a blood test. The result was a cold shower: many values were wrong, the iron level especially was extremely low again. 'Trek over!' I thought. Then I reflected on the fact I was feeling good, not exhausted all the time, able to afford long excursions or demanding gym session. I talked with the trek's coordinator and he said I was right to have a good talk with my doctor of course but also that probably my body was got used to work with a low level of iron and that a generous iron intake in the next weeks and during the travel is enough. My  haemoglobin's value wasn't that bad and that's what matter at a high altutude. 
My doctor confirmed it. I could book the travel! I went to look for my passport... and I found out it's expired. Ok! stay cool! I have the time! I ran to the post office to pay the passport tax, to the have my photos taken, I printed the format, I phoned my husband: "Hello, I need a photocopy of your ID document please and you should pass here to sign the format for my new passport demand so I can go tomorrow morning to the police office....", "Uhm... yes... well... I don't know where it is my ID document... I haven't seen it since August..." Silence. More silence. He always lets me down. Always. Always. I have always to pay for his messy life. We share a son so for the Italian law I have to get his authorisation to go abroad, and that's true for everybody, no matter if they are married or not, living together or not, if they are in touch or not. It only matter if the son or daughter is under 18 and recognised by both. 
No panic. I DO have time. He said he was going to look for his document, I said that NO, he must go and get a new one. He did. So on Monday morning - inshallah - I'm going to go to the police office and apply for a new passport. It can take two weeks. I can't book the travel without having a valid passport. Deeply breathing. More breathing. I DO have time. 
The trek's coordinator sent me a list with the equipment I need and I'll focus on this. 

Cyclocross: No WC in Koksijde due to the wind

"ALL race categories are now cancelled in #TelenetUCICXWC Koksijde. The storm makes racing too dangerous. "  That's what you can read on the CX UCI twitter account.
Windy indead, especially this morning. Then the weather improved and some riders expressed their disagreement, others said it was the right decision because safety must come first.
In any case it's the first time ever that this happens: a cyclocross race cancealed due to the weather. Cyclocross races has been held in the rain storm, in snow and mist, but such a strong wind is evidently a too dangerous threat.

Gianni Vermeersch:
"Als je dit ziet is afgelasting de enige juiste keuze. Jammere zaak, maar veiligheid gaat voor! #TelenetUCICXWC #Koksijde
If you can see this cancellation is the only right choice. Sad case but safety first! #Koksijde #TelenetUCICXWC"

Sanne Cant:
Jammer genoeg geen cross vandaag...  Maar ik ben blij dat ik er gisteren bij was in Hasselt!! #8  📷@chrjobb1990
Unfortunately no cross today ...  But I'm glad I was there yesterday in Hasselt!! # 8 @chrjobb1990  📷"

Klaas Vantornout:
"14u: Waar is die wind???"

Mathieu Van der Poel:
"Still 4u30 till the race starts, decision was made way too fast in my opinion. They predict less wind this afternoon. #cxweahter"


Cyclocross: Soudal Classic Hasselt... and more

Sanne Cant

...and here you understand why Sven Nys was special. He used to be at the start of all crosses, especially the little ones, and he used to ride to win all series. Today in Hasselt Laurens Sweeck won against a second row peloton. 
Laurens Sweeck 
Not so Sanne Cant in the elite women race: she won agaist an all stars peloton, on Ellen Van Loy  and Elle Anderson. The Luxembourger Christine Majerus was a classy 4th, stopped by a mechanical on her way to the podium.
My son and me :)
In the junior men race the Brit Thomas Pidcock put in a line eight Belgians and one Dutch: chapeau!
As far as me I was in a forced shopping tour with my son, who is growing fast and in need of clothes but unable to go and buy them on his own...

Elite Women

1 Sanne Cant (Bel) IKO Enertherm-Beobank 0:41:55
2 Ellen Van Loy (Bel) Young Telenet Fidea 0:00:22
3 Elle Anderson (USA) Elle Anderson Racing 0:00:56
4 Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels Dolmans CT 0:01:39
5 Joyce Vanderbeken (Bel) Decock-Van Eyck-Devos-Cap... 0:01:59
6 Githa Michiels (Bel) Selectie - Individuelen 0:02:03
7 Monique Van De Ree (Ned) Lares-Waowdeals Women CT 0:03:31
8 Veerle Goossens (Ned) Selectie - Nederland 0:03:34
9 Linda Ter Beek (Ned) Selectie - Nederland 0:03:38
10 Jolien Verschueren (Bel) Young Telenet Fidea
Elite Men
1 Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Era-Circus 1:00:26
2 Clement Venturini (Fra) Cofidis 0:00:12
3 Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Telent Fidea Lions 0:00:21
4 Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Beobank-Corendon 0:00:34
5 Wietse Bosmans (Bel) Beobank-Corendon 0:00:36
6 Tim Merlier (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice 0:00:48
7 Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Beobank-Corendon 0:00:54
8 Quinten Hermans (Bel) Telent Fidea Lions 0:01:03
9 Marcel Meisen (Ger) Steylaerts-Verona 0:01:11
10 Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Steylaerts-Verona 0:01:25
Junior Men
1 Thomas Pidcock (GBr) Select - Great Britain 0:45:06
2 Arne Vrachten (Bel) Young Telenet Fidea 0:00:10
3 Sander Lemmens (Bel) Hageland Cycling Team 0:00:34
4 Sander De Vet (Bel) Hoboken WAC 0:00:53
5 Julian Siemons (Bel) Kalas Cycling Team 99
6 Len Dejonghe (Bel) IKO Enertherm-Beobank
7 Niels Vandermeulen (Bel) Gaverzicht-Glascentra CT 0:01:10
8 Brent Braes (Bel) Kids Sport Promotion Belg... 0:01:28
9 Andres Verdonck (Bel) WC De Molenspurters Meule... 0:01:43
10 Luca Vreeswijk (Ned) RTC Buitenlust 0:01:51


Mountain - Hiking Itineraries: Croce del Pratomagno from Rocca Ricciarda

Rocca Ricciarda
It  was late. Too much honestly. And really cold. At 4 pm the sun was supposed to set and the ridge was still relatively far. It was about 3 pm and we weren't sure about our progresses. The beautiful round summit of Pratomagno, covered in snow, had been visible until the last bend of the path that now looked suspicious. Its direction was fine but it wasn't rising as expected... 
The summit!
My son and I examinated the map and concluded that we were too low, somewhere in the forest a 100 m under the dirty road leading to the pass. We decided to gain some elevation to see if we could reach it but the slopes were steep and slippery. I slipped indead on the wet foliage and could just direct my fall to the base of a beech, avoiding to plummet all the way down to the path.
The dirty road was somwhere up there but we couldn't reach it that way. We decided to walk in parallel with the previous path and I think we saved a little time because finally we came across the pass. It was defintely late. We still had to lunch but I didn't want to eat my sandwich before we get to the top. 
The light was already fading when we step on the ridge: we could see the summit in the distance, marked by the characteristic red iron cross. A uniform layer of snow was covering the northern side of the ridge, while several icy patches were left on the southern side. Nobody in sight. A complete silence. Unreal!
We didn't talk. We hurried up. We reached the summit, took some pictures, ate our lunch - so cold it had no taste - and we started descending the vertical way down, made dangerous by the snow. No time to enjoy the view, but I felt happy because I had done it. 
Working on Saturday, it's hard to wake up early on Sunday. We had left Florence at after 10 am. One hour driving toward Arezzo, then to the village of Rocca Ricciarda, that deserves itself a visit, also because of the small food shop. Unfortunately we had no time to eat there, we just bought two sandwiches and attacked the climb. It was a cold cloudy day. 
On the ridge
From Rocca Ricciarda we took the CAI path n. 21, very steep and crossing a beautiful chestnut forest. Eventually it reached a dirty roead and we had two options: to go right on the road for one airpin and then again on the CAI path n.21, basicly a direct way up to the summit, or to go left and to follow the road until the end, where it turns in a path, gets into the beech forest, crosses some streams and reaches the ridge by a  longer but less steep way. We went left but we weren't so sure about our decision. Anyway we couldn't go back, moreover we didn't want, because we knew the summit wasn't so far. Neither so close...
Croce del Pratomagno
When we got into the chestnut forest, again it was dark. We were still able to detect our feet and I left my lamp into my backpack. We arrived to the village at 5.30 pm, the food shop was closed and we had to give up on their delicious chestnuts' pancakes. Next time! We found the car and took off our boots: god! I was freezing! Time to drive home. Time to think to the solitary summit in the silent night, in the big moon light... Time to feel I was still there, somehow, and to shiver in dread and desire.

Time: 5 hours
Elevation: 651 m
Where: Pratomagno, Tuscany, Italy
Start and finish: Rocca Ricciarda (940 m)
Summit: Croce del Pratomagno (1591 m)
Signals: CAI 21 (red and white) to the dirty road (red signal), here on the left untill the tarmac road, then CAI 00 to the summit. Direct way down: CAI 21 (red and white).
Things to see: the forest of chestnuts and beeches, Croce del Pratomagno (1591 m), the view, including Monte Amiata!
Monte Amiata in the distance