“So, what’d you do this weekend?”
Oh, not much. Just climbed a mountain.
Yes, that’s right. I climbed a mountain last weekend. And not just any mountain – Paderno’s own Mt. Grappa! The 5,823-foot-tall mountain rises up in the background of our campus (and dominates the view from my dorm room window!), and since my first day here I’ve wanted the chance to climb to the top.
Now, I’m not an experienced mountain climber by any means – in fact, I’ve never done anything of the sort. Because of this lack of experience, I really wasn’t sure what to expect from the day, but I was excited to see what the mountain had in store for me.
The weather on the day of the climb was absolutely beautiful, and after waking up at 8:00 AM and devouring a hearty breakfast (and copious amounts of coffee), a group of 10 other CIMBA students and I embarked on our journey to the base of the mountain. Once we arrived and mentally prepared ourselves for the trek ahead, we set off on trail 151. There are many trails along the mountain, some much more difficult than others, but 151 was actually recommended to us by the helpful CIMBA staff as a perfect route for first-time climbers. Though we were all feeling hot and tired as we wound our way upward along the rocky trail, walking sticks in hand, we couldn’t help but be completely awed by the views we were seeing, which only became more amazing the higher we climbed. Every glance down the mountain was like a picture on a postcard, peaceful and serene.
The sky began to darken a bit when we reached a summit halfway up the mountain, and all of a sudden, a strange thing happened: it began to snow! From that point on, the trail turned from dusty rocks to treacherous snow and ice, and we walked delicately in order to avoid a potentially disastrous fall. That point was definitely the most challenging portion of the climb, but, again, the views were so amazing that they helped to take my mind off of the somewhat frightening trek ahead of me.
After nearly four hours of hiking, we finally saw what we had been waiting for: the top of the mountain. Reaching the peak was one of the most exciting moments of my life, for multiple reasons – the relief I felt at actually making it all the way there, of course, but also the sense of accomplishment and awe I felt when I looked down at the ground from over 5,000 feet above and realized that I had actually climbed that entire distance – and lived to tell the tale.
At the top, we spent an appropriately long amount of time simply admiring the view – we could see the snowy peaks and valleys near the mountain top, along with surrounding towns for miles away. We were actually so high up that the clouds hung at eye level! Aside from the sights, there was another treat waiting for us at the top: a restaurant situated conveniently at the very peak of the mountain. A sandwich and chips were exactly what I needed after a long morning of hiking, and we sat down and relaxed before beginning the trek back down Mt. Grappa.
While climbing up the mountain was exhilarating, climbing down was just plain fun. Half-walking, half-sliding down the snowy trails, my fellow mountain climbers and I laughed the entire way – and the fact that we were no longer climbing uphill definitely made the situation that much more enjoyable. Despite our tired legs and aching feet, our spirits were high was we reached the bottom and looked up at the giant mountain we’d just conquered. The day was one of the best I’ve had in Italy, and the entire experience was honestly one of the best of my life. Now, whenever I peer up at Mt. Grappa looking over campus, I have a completely heightened appreciation for its hulking beauty.