On tiptoes…

“Who knows what shoes we will wear tomorrow.”


A long and challenging day awaits us tomorrow…

We decided to hike the "Eternal Route" (Via Eterna) on the Jôf Fuart in the Julian Alps.   The Ledge of the Gods (Cengia degli Dei), also known as the “Eternal Route”, is a circular route of remarkable beauty and one of a kind landscapes. Traversing the system of ledges at a height of 2200 m, the route circles around the central peak of the Jôf Fuart range in the Julian Alps. 



The night before, as always, I prepare my backpack: rope, harness, helmet, carabiners and everything needed for such a wide-ranging itinerary on adventurous terrain with progression on a short rope. I also take great care in choosing the right footwear.  I look at the shelf and, with a sure hand, I pick my Ascent GTX®, a shoe with a light and stable construction: this is just what I need for sure footing on the narrow ledges of the Eternal Route.

Following an early-morning rise, I meet up with Salvatore, we have a quick coffee and soon after reach our starting point. From the parking lot, after checking and organizing our equipment, we ascend to the Corsi Lodge in a cool and breezy setting.  We continue along the Anita Goitan bolted trail until we reach a wide grassy area where our route begins.

We climb a steep face and then abseil down the other side where the true Ledge of the Gods begins. We continue for a long time, sometimes easily climbing wide ledges and comfortable pillars, other times over very exposed and narrow passages on often unstable ground. This is not a trail! It is an alpine route that requires great attention and steady footing.We finally reach the North-East Gorge.  Today, the Ledge of the Gods ends here for us, but we do not finish here: the summit is waiting for us!  We continue ascending, easily moving past some chimneys and small faces to then proceed along feeble trails over varied terrain until we reach the 2666 m peak of the Jôf Fuart.  The view is breathtaking and the satisfaction immense.After a well-deserved break, we begin our descent along the normal route on the South face until we reach the fork that rejoins the Anita Goitan trail.  We follow it horizontally towards the east until we return to the starting point of our circular route.  We stop for a refreshing break at the Grantagâr hut to celebrate the summit we reached together in front of a beer.

We received many gratifications today but one is still missing:  at the end of a trip it is always a great pleasure to remove all our equipment and boots and change into something more comfortable. This moment always makes me even more conscious of the choices I made the night before.

My long experience as a Mountain Guide has taught me that the preparation for a climb is as important as the climb itself. And shoes, which are all too often underestimated, can make a huge difference. The styling, graphics or colours are obviously not the most important features to be considered.  Rather, it is advisable that each mountaineer, both amateur or professional, keep several pairs in his closet, suitable for different uses.  A sturdy and stiff pair for cold climates with a good fit and thermal insulation, a lightweight breathable pair offering good mobility for warmer climates, and so on.  The choice of shoes depends on the route I have planned and the weather I expect to find. 

A popular proverb, which expresses the uncertainty of the future, recites:  “who knows what shoes we will wear tomorrow.

I may find myself in a condition where I change my mind, but I always want to be able to choose what shoes to wear!