Be careful what you wish for…!

Well, we wanted a change in the weather and some snow.  Be careful what you wish for….!

A big cold change came through overnight but it was accompanied with strong NW winds! Seriously? Did someone send us Wanaka weather?! The winds were so strong this morning that all the cable-cars from Arabba were closed leaving only a handful of chairlifts open. The temperature was -8C and with the winds meant that the windchill was about -15C.

The light dusting of snow that we received early last evening has all been blown away and there was no further snowfall, just huge gusts of wind whipping down our valley.

Needless to say, no skiing for us today. We’ll gird our loins tomorrow when the sun will be shining again even though the temperatures are predicted to be extremely cold.

Today we took ourselves back to the ice-canyons of Sottoguda and walked through the bottom of the canyon to watch all the ice-climbers doing their stuff.   How wonderful it must be to just casually stroll down a made pathway to select a frozen waterfall that takes your fancy.   I’m not sure our Italian ice-climbers would like to ice climb in NZ where it’s a day’s hard hiking into Black Peak or Wye Creek or a hefty helicopter bill.

In a normal snow year, you can ski down from the cable-car to the Marmolada right through the canyon to Sottoguda.   With no snow, we just joined the other walkers. There will be an ice-climbing competition here at the end of January and it looked like there were a few competitors already out on the ice honing their skills.  We saw, what we thought was a couple simul-climbing a big ice-route.  I always thought climbers only did this type of climbing on fairly non-technical ground – not vertical ice?     The guy below clearing off the protection was getting fairly thumped by the ice chips raining down on him from the above climber, but they were certainly hurtling up the frozen waterfall at a miraculous pace!

Popping out at the lower end of the canyon we took the time to stroll around the very historic village of Sottaguda.  Most of the buildings were still traditional mountain houses where the animals were housed in the lower levels, hay stored in the loft above and finally the living quarters under the roof.

The temperature continued to plummet today.  I had on 2 puffer jackets, my pretty but somewhat ineffective Dynafit purple number and my serious Artic Michelin Man [& extremely unflattering] down jacket, long underwear and snow boots rated to -20C and I was only just warm enough.  I only thawed out on the walk back up the hill to the car after lunch.

Another thing that I’ve been intrigued about is seeing cars driving around with blue ribbons on them. There has been a number of cars parked up the road from our apartment and again today on a delivery van in Sottoguda.   Our guesses have been that the ribbons either signify being “just married” or the birth of a baby boy?

The Italians do have quite a few superstitions as I am learning.   Here’s just a few:-

  • Not only is the numbers 13 considered unlucky – so too is 17!
  • Never put your hat on a bed.
  • Don’t spill any olive oil or salt.
  • And it’s bad form or downright unlucky to make a toast with water.  Well, from my observations, that wouldn’t worry an Italian, I’ve never seen them drink the stuff – it’s wine at 10am, beer at lunch and grappa any time of the day.

Our mysteries are piling up – blue ribbons on cars, ice-skating on a half frozen lake and course…what does everyone do between noon and 4pm!!  We seriously need to find some locals to solve our increasing list of questions.



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