La Fiaccolata

By Kenny Stocker

Tradition and adventure collide as skiers light up the slopes in a festive winter procession.

T’was the last Sunday before Christmas. The moon was full and inviting, some nocturnal activity was on the cards and there I was ready to get after it. The funicular car park was full, the moon was pulling quite a crowd and I hastily checked that none of my companions had suddenly become excessively hairy or had sprouted paws. Since arriving in Italy I had been aware of this tradition of climbing the Gamma 1 Via Ferrata by night, but this was the first time for me, in fact it was my first time on a ferrata at all.

I was in good hands, I was with the gruppo Gamma/Uoei, they had created it and I figured they should know their way up it. So there in the car park we all got rigged up in our ferrata gear and checked our headlamps (thanks to Carlo D. for lending me the ferrata kit) and we set off.

The thing I hadn’t realised was that as we climbed we would leave torchlights along the entire length of the ferrata, (actually that is why it is called the ‘Fiaccolata’. Fiaccola is torchlight in Italian). So we climbed with these long candles that resembled fireworks and positioned them along the ferrata, queuing as in most parts of Italy was obligatory but good humour prevailed and the ambience and company more than made up for it.

Of course while on the route it is impossible to see the line of burning torches, but looking across the valley we could see the ‘Fiaccolata’ on the Corno Rat ferrata above Valmedrerra.

We started around 7pm and arrived at Erna at 10:45, but the time was not important. After many auguris, bacis and other such social bonding activities that the Italians are so good at we descended back to the car park. It was only now that we could see the profile of the ferrata with the torchlights still burning. It looked simply stunning.

You can check out the ferrata here, and if you happen to be in Lecco and looking for a climbing group then get in touch with the gruppo gamma / Uoei. (Final image courtesy of Erika M.)

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