Veni, Vidi, Vici: How to survive Monte Grappa.

Written by Megan February 2, 2015

The gravely path

Charlie and Me about 1/4 of the way to the top!

Minestrone soup!

THE view. Absolutely breath taking.

Our furry friend :)

Some of these crazy Italians bike up the mountain.

Speedo Man

Veni, Vidi, Vici: How to survive Monte Grappa.

For you non-Italian speakers, Veni, Vidi, Vici translates to: I came, I saw, I conquered. Conquered Mount Grappa that is. After an extensive week of acclimating to the time change and RA training here in Paderno, myself and the other three resident assistants finally had a minute to spare for some much anticipated exploring. And that we did. We spent Friday night and Saturday afternoon wandering the streets of Venice and Bassano (a nearby town) and returned to campus Saturday evening. This left just one more day until the other students would be arriving in Paderno. So, what was I to do? Some more exploring of course.

One of the more adventurous things to do in the Veneto region is to hike Mount Grappa. Trust me when I use the word adventurous. Even prior to arriving here on campus, making the climb to the peak of Mount Grappa was high on my semester bucket list. So, the opportunity knocked and I simply decided, why not? (This seems to be a question I have been asking myself often since my departure from Michigan) On Sunday morning one of the professors, Bruce Kline, scooped up Charlie (another RA) and me from campus and we headed for the base of Mount Grappa where we would begin the 13.5 mile, and 4,000 foot trek to the peak. One thing to note about this program as well is the fact that due to the smaller number of students, we have that opportunity to get to know our instructors on a more personal level; just adding to the uniqueness of the overall CIMBA experience.

Now that I have endured the climb, I thought it might be beneficial to leave you with some tips on how to survive the journey to the summit of this beast of a mountain:

  1. Reconsider your definition of the word “hike.” For those of reading from home, this is no Kellogg Forrest or Fort Custer type of hike, certainly no sort of leisurely stroll. But yes, it is a hike none the less! When you ponder what it might be like to journey up this mountain, think of a constant 10% incline for the duration of the way to the top with a few rocky and icy obstacles along the way. There are of course more challenging routes up Mount Grappa, but we opted for this particular route seeing that it was mine and Charlie’s inaugural trip. So yes, just to warn, this mountain is unlike any kind of “hike” I have ever done before.Here is an example of the typical terrain you might encounter.
  2. Round up some good company. This tip is applicable to many different situations, but a trip up Mount Grappa is a perfect example. You will be spending the majority of your day with these folks, so experiencing it with people you enjoy will make the challenge much more enjoyable. I was excited to be going with Bruce given that he is a Mount Grappa veteran, and he was eager to explain the history behind it as well keep us rookies in check along the way. So yes, bring good company! Be it your dog, best friend, or just the guy down the hall, it makes for a much more enjoyable trip.
  3. Dress in layers. When we hiked the mountain, I would say we experienced approximately 3 different seasons through the change in elevation. It was crazy. I feel as though I made more costume changes than Carrie Underwood at the CMAs. But really. You will get hot, then cold, then begin sweating again just to soon be freezing 100 yards later. So yes layers are definitely a must. Don’t forget hats and mittens too!
  4. Snacks are always a good idea. This is a HIKE. You will burn some major calories and you WILL get hungry. This is another area where Bruce hooked us up. About a quarter of the way up the mountain our trio stopped for some homemade panini sandwiches, compliments of Professor Kline. It was the perfect snack to fuel our trek to the peak. Oh, and water. Lots and lots of water, because again it is 13.5 miles and you are likely to get thirsty. Speaking of food, there is a refigio at the top which, to paint you a picture, is comparable to a ski lodge. So there is the opportunity to stop at the top for not only a rest, but also a scrumptious lunch.
  5. Keep an open mind and a sense of adventure. It is a long way to the top, so it is important to not get discouraged. There are some points along the way where you might have to improvise your route, especially when the terrain begins to get icy. This is where your sense of adventure comes in. You may or may not have to scale the side of the mountain around obstacles or a rough path trust me, just keep an open mind and go for it. This could turn out to be the best part of the climb. Not to mention, the view at the top is phenomenal. Absolutely breathtaking. So, just know that it will be worth it once you have the opportunity to overlook the thousands of mile below you.
  6. Take Pictures. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Photos might pale in comparison to the real deal, but you will regret not having that memory later. Whether its just snapshots of the landscape or you and your comrades posing like the titanic at the top, you and your mom will both appreciate the pictures.
  7. Stretch, stretch, stretch. Oh heavens. I cannot stress this enough. I am currently two days post hike and I am still feeling some of the effects. As we marched down the mountain Sunday afternoon, we stopped several times just to stretch and thank goodness we did. I am sure I would be in much worse shape if we skipped this crucial step. I’m not talking a full out yoga session, but just a little something to loosen up.
  8. Take it in. Everything. Just take the time to stop and smell the roses as they say. (And no, there are not any roses on Monte Grappa) This is an amazing trip, and worth it in every sense so be sure to take time, especially at the top to just observe the view. Don’t talk, just stand there and soak it in. It’s amazing.

So, just keep these few suggestions in mind and you will be hiking Monte Grappa like the locals in no time! Granted I have only been here in Paderno del Grappa for 6 days, but this has by far been my favorite experience thus far. A few other things to note:

  • At the top, people tie up their dogs outside the restaurant like they did with horses back in the day. Loved it! Here is one of my favorite furry friends outside Casa Armata del Grappa e Rifugio Bassano. We can call him Charley.
  • Some of these crazy Italians bike up the mountain. I have not a clue how they do it. I’m convinced they have legs of steal. Or something.
  • People are so friendly! Every person and pup that we encountered greeted our group and some even asked for directions, only to quickly realize…non parla italiano. Looks like we have some studying to do!
  • Also, going along with keeping an open mind, some people like to make the journey in a speedo. Kinda like this fella.

All in all, the first week here in Paderno has certainly been expectation shattering for sure. (In a good way, of course.) I am eager to welcome all of the other students tomorrow and am even more pumped to see what the rest of the semester has in store. Thanks for tuning in to this what seems like a novel of a blog post!