Volcanic Seven Summits, Bottom Up!

It’s time to grow and think big.

We are proud to announce the first long term Bottom Up Climb project:

The Volcanic Seven Summits.

The idea is to climb the highest volcanic summit of each continent from the lowest point of the country  where the summit is found.

Some are relatively easy, some look kind of hard. Anyway, we are not in a hurry, the real goal is the journey.

Below you find our list, and, for some of them, a tentative date of ascent.

Africa

Kilimanjaro, 5895 m, Summer 2015

Australia (or Oceania)

Mount Giluwe, 4367 m.

Europe

Elbrus, 5642 m

Asia

Damavand, 5671 m, Summer 2014

South America

Ojos del Salado, 6893 m

North America

Pico de Orizaba, 5636 m

Antarctica

Mount Sidley, 4285 m

The map of the Volcanic Seven Summits is provided by Freeworldmaps.net.

Bottom Up Iran

Mount Davamand, 5671 m, is the highest Volcano in Asia and the highest summit in Iran and the first of our Volcanic Seven Summits.

Done! We reached the summit on July 16! Read a brief report

Look for pictures on Facebook and follow us Twitter!

It has been an amazing adventure, full of emotions.

Read our open letter to our new friends, and to everyone else and live our emotions with us: watch the Bottom Up Iran official video!

And check again our technical partner, V-Attitude, an Italian company which produces  high quality technical wear.

V-Attitude

 

Check out also the website of the Damavand Club in Iran, the most ancient alpine club in the country and our great supporter in July 2014.

As in the already classic Bottom Up Climbs style, we cycled from the lowest point of the country, the shore of the Caspian Sea in Mahmud Abad, 28 m below the sea level, to the Damavand base camp in Goosfandsara at around 3000 m.

From there, in two days, we reached the summit along the normal route on the South face of the mountain.

We have received an incredible support from local people, some of them will joined us cycling and some joined us climbing Davamand.

Below the route of the cycling leg.

Bottom Up Europe [UPDATE!]

After the successful Bottom Up Switzerland, for the summer 2014 we wanted to aim higher…

Bottom Up Europe, from the shores of the Caspian Sea (30 m below the sea level), to the top of Mount Elbrus (5,642 m), cycling, hiking and skiing (if the snow won’t have all melted already), all in Russian territory.

Unfortunately the political instabilities in the area suggested us to postpone the project.

In summer 2014, we have decided to start a new project, and also to plan longer and aim even higher

 

Photo and map from Elbrus World Race and Go Elbrus.

 

route REDUCED

Sardinia

One of the most beautiful islands of the Mediterranean Sea, 3000 years of history, home to one of the most ancient civilisations of the whole Mediterranean area, sandy beaches and rocky shores, canyons and mountains where only a few know that you can even ski in winter!

On August 23, Alessio, Paolo and Adrian cycled and hiked from the sea, near Orosei, to the highest peak of the island, Punta La Marmora, 1,834 m above sea level, in the Gennargentu range, and back to Orosei.

The climb wasn’t as smooth as expected.

They left early in the morning at 5.15. Adrian had a few mechanical problems which slowed down the group significantly. They were able to find a bike mechanics in Nuoro but that costed them about two hours all together.

The delay forced the group to cycle during the hottest hours, something they had tried to avoid with the early start, and after having successfully reached the summit,  they got surprised by a violent thunderstorm.

They made their way back home safe only at twilight.

Abruzzo: bike touring and hiking. Photo gallery.

Here you can find an extended photo gallery of the Bottom Up Abruzzo. Click here for more details and here for a written report.

Abruzzo: bike touring and hiking. Report.

In this post, a short report and a few pictures on the Bottom Up Climb Abruzzo. To know more about the climb and this wonderful region, follow this link.

Our Bottom Up Abruzzo is actually part of a larger tour we made, leaving from Fonte Cerreto for one week of bike touring which would lead us back to Fonte Cerreto for the final hike to the top of the Gran Sasso Massif.

Click here to jump to the photo gallery.

Day 1: Pescara – Montorio al Vomano, 74 km, 1000 vertical meters ascent

Abruzzo Bottom Up: Pescara-Montorio at EveryTrail

On Thursday, August 1, we are in Termoli and our day begins with a good hour of travel by train to reach Pescara.

Sunrise from the train window

We unload our bikes and head to the beautiful Lungomare, a large sidewalk along the sandy beaches, full of runners and bikers. A little detour across the beach to touch the sea and we can officially start our bike tour. After a few km on the relatively busy coastal road across Pescara and Montesilvano, we finally head west along very quiet hill roads which lead to Atri, a wonderful small historic town which is surrounded by the natural reserve I Calanchi di Atri. The “Calanchi” are typical geological formations which arise in dry terrain where softer sedimentary rocks and clay-rich soils have been extensively eroded by wind and water. They are similar to the “Badlands” which can be found in the US.

The only problem we have in Atri is dealing with the traffic: imagine an ancient Italian town with narrow and steep roads, where apparently everyone is directed to the main square, by car. No country for quiet bikers. Massimo jokes about suggesting a new model of a city car to be produced by FIAT, the FIAT Atri, small, electric, sliding doors. I bet someone will steal his idea sooner or later.

Calanchi

We leave Atri and head to Cellino to continue along the Vomano Valley and after a few almost flat km, we reach Montorio al Vomano, for a good rest in a cosy hotel and a lovely dinner.

Day 2: Montorio al Vomano – Fonte Cerreto, 57 km, 1300 vertical meters ascent

Abruzzo Bottom Up: Montorio-Fonte Cerreto at EveryTrail

We leave early to avoid the heat of the Italian summer. At 6:05 we are already on our bikes. The climb to the Passo delle Capannelle is long but never steep, 35 km for 1050 vertical meters. We meet just a small village and a few forks which lead to ancient towns on the side of the valley. We carefully avoid them. The tour proceeds quiet, with the almost total absence of traffic we’ve got used to in the last week. Abruzzo is the perfect region for bike touring: very little traffic and never too hard climbs. Sometimes you just have to share the road with cows or sheep.

Piana delle Pietre Bianche

After we reach the Passo delle Capannelle we are surprised by the fact that the road to Assergi and Fonte Cerreto is not downhill but uphill… an extra 130 vertical meters to climb which we didn’t expect. After we finally reach the very top of our bike tour, we can have a couple of sandwiches and finally enjoy the amazingly beautiful descent on a road which has just the right slope not to require you to pull the brake lever and to let you enjoy the scenery while gently cruising downhill. The perfect reward after a week long effort.

Day 3: Fonte Cerreto – Corno Grande – Campo Imperatore, 15 km, 1900 vertical meters ascent, 900 vertical meters descent

Abruzzo Bottom Up: Fonte Cerreto – Corno Grande at EveryTrail

Last week I spent 6 days in this same hotel and I climbed the 1000 vertical meters which lead to Campo Imperatore twice, in just a little more than 1 hour. Today I have a further 900 vertical meters and more than 10 km to go, so I take it a little easier and in about 1 hour and 30 minutes I am at the top of the path where I meet Massimo who decided to take the cable car (thus giving up his Bottom Up Climb). Campo Imperatore is a mountain grassland or alpine meadow formed by a high basin shaped plateau. It’s a breathtaking view and it’s even more fascinating if you think that in the High Middle Ages it was covered by an impenetrable forest and 400 hundred years ago it was populated by approximately 50 million sheep! No wonder why the most typical dish in Abruzzo is arrosticini: small pieces of sheep meat on a short skewer cooked on a barbecue.

The climb begins with a long traverse, a short downhill and a second traverse which becomes steeper only towards the end. There are several people on the trail, hikers, from 4 to 80 years old, and climbers, directed to one of the many beautiful multi-pitch routes which lead to the top of the Corno Grande or Corno Piccolo.

After the second traverse the trail becomes covered in gravel and for the final part it gets steep and rocky. Sometimes it requires a little scrambling. We take also a short involuntary detour around a secondary peak and a wide ridge, which has the advantage of presenting us a perfect view of the Calderone glacier, the southmost glacier in Europe. It’s surprising how you can have the glacier and the not too far sea on the same view, even though, honestly, the Calderone doesn’t have that much the appearance of a glacier any longer, global warming is in action also here.

In about two hours from the top of the cable car we are on the summit, where climbers, solitary hikers and families enjoy the view and the satisfaction while having some well deserved snacks. Among them an eight years old girl with her parents. Quite an achievement for her!

Looking down from the summit

On the way back I am pleasantly surprised by how easy those 1900 m have been, after 5 days, 400 km and 5500 vertical meters of ascent on a heavy touring bike. Probably, the training for the first Bottom Up Climb of this summer is still paying off.

Our trip ends with the unavoidable arrosticini at the restaurant in Campo Imperatore, right in front of the Gran Sasso highest peak we have finished descending.

Go to the picture gallery and live the magic atmosphere of Abruzzo.

Abruzzo: bike touring and hiking

One of the most beautiful yet unknown regions of Italy, Abruzzo offers a variety of views, cultures and environments which seem impossible to be found in such a small area.

Our Bottom Up Climb starts from the beach in Pescara and in two days of easy and scenographic bike touring on quiet hill and mountain roads leads to Fonte Cerreto, at the base of the cable car which serves the small ski resort in Campo Imperatore. Of course, no use of such a cable car is allowed for a Bottom Up Climber. On the third and last day, a long hike (10 km and 1900 vertical meters, without counting the descent) leads to the west peak of the Corno Grande, 2912 m asl, the highest peak in the Gran Sasso massif, in the whole Appennine Mountains and, of course, in Abruzzo.

Read the report and look at the pictures of this new Bottom Up Climb which was completed from August 1st to August 3rd 2013 by Giuseppe and Massimo.

 

This way of completing the climb is relatively easy and relaxed and is accessible to everyone with an average physical condition. The last hike can be split into two parts, sleeping at the hotel right at the top of the cable car. It is not the most direct way from the sea to the top of Abruzzo: a realtively trained amateur athlete can complete the climb cycling and hiking in one day, along the Vomano Valley and accessing the Gran Sasso from Prati di Tivo. Or one can hike or run all the way from the sea to the peak. You choose the way you prefer, in the spirit of Bottom Up Climbs!

Abruzzo is located in central Italy and stretches from the heart of the Apennines to the Adriatic Sea, on a mostly mountainous and wild terrain.
In the mountains, tourist resorts and well-equipped facilities for skiing and winter sports rise among unpolluted peaks and rocky walls, e.g. Pescasseroli, Rivisondoli and Roccaraso.
The natural landscape of the high and steep peaks of the Gran SassoLaga Mountains, and Mount Majella slopes down to a wide range of hills, until it finally reaches the Adriatic coast.
The route that spans from the Gran Sasso down to the sea crosses territories that are rich in history, traditions and art that never cease to surprise visitors.
Narrow valleys and impressive, natural paths thrust their way into the mountains and hills, as does the amazing and fascinating Aterno Valley, crawling with ancient villages.
Natural reserves, like the National Park of Abruzzo, the Park of Gran Sasso and the Laga Mountains, or that of Mount Majella, protect the typical vegetable and animal species of the area, including the golden eagle, the wolf and the Marsican brown bear.
The Adriatic coast is characterized by long and sandy beaches to the north and pebbly beaches to the south. Also, the small villages of the hinterland, as well as the monasteries and castles of the region, are very charming and  part of many touristic routes in this the “greenest region” in Italy (source www.italia.it)

 

Anne-Marie’s full report

Our best writer Justin has completed the English translation of Anne-Marie’s report on her climb from the lowest to the highest point of Switzerland.

Sit down and read it, it’ll be breathtaking, and if you want, you can dress it with some pictures.

Ascona – Dufourspitze in 5 stages

220 Kilometer und 9400 vertical meters of ascent. 36 hours running and speed hiking. 23 liter Water. 12000 kcal.

Day 1: 52km, 1873 vertical meters of ascent, 360 vertical meters of descent, ca. 8 hours.

I start in shorts and a T-shirt early in the morning on Lago Maggiore in Ascona at the lowest point in Switzerland. At this time, 220 kilometers of road and trail, and 9500 vertical meters of ascent lay ahead of me. The hot summer temperatures do not make my task any easier. I have to stop at every village fountain I pass to fill up my water bottle. I feel each drop of sweat on my skin. I can hardly wait to finally immerse myself in the glacier world of the Monte Rosa area near Zermatt.
My route takes me through Losone to Binasca and into the Valle Maggia. The lush green landscape reminds me of a jungle, a perception which the high level of humidity supports. I am in constant search of the paths which lead through shade or beneath the canopy of forest in order to find protection from the sun. My only navigational tool is a stack of hiking maps, and when I fail to read these precisely, I go astray, with the consequence that I end up making a few more kilometers and vertical meters of ascent more than necessary. But I take this with a grain of salt. The villages roll past and soon I have reached the fork in the valley which leads to San Carlo. On a paved road, I reel in the kilometers and vertical meters of climbing. Much to my joy, I soon reach the hiking path which will lead to the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) hut, Basòdino. But my joy is short-lived, as I immediately have to take on a steep climb of 800 meters and begin to feel a bit of exhaustion in my legs. Through my strong sweating I have been losing more electrolytes than I can replace, and as a result I begin to feel a light cramping in my quadriceps. I continue to eat and drink regularly and turn on my mental training with thoughts like: ‘with each step, I come nearer to my goal’, or, ‘each step brings me further from the start’. These help me precisely at the right point. Incredulous, I look at my watch as I finally take on the last meters to the hut: the last 950 vertical meters only took me 60 minutes to ascend. Now I am eager to enjoy a hearty dinner. The hut warden, Ueli, grills a delicious dish of meat and I take a moment’s respite. The hut’s easy-going atmosphere is satisfying. Ueli is able to give me some valuable tips for the coming day and lends me an ice axe so I’ll be able to cross the remaining 45 degree snowfields which lay in the steep shady mountain ravines without incident.

Day 2: Basòdino Hut to Fiesch: 65km, 2400 vertical meters of ascent, 2900 vertical meters of descent, ca. 8 hours.

After a hearty breakfast, I am back on my feet and running towards the Cristallina pass before the first rays of sun hit the mountaintops. I feel confident with my ice axe in my pack – you never know what could happen. The view over the high mountain lakes of the pass is breathtaking. Ultimately I manage to cross the snow-filled ravines without aid of the axe but rather with good concentration and quick steps. Nevertheless, I require about 2 hours’ time for these first 12 kilometers of trail. In addition, I often go astray on the numerous mountain trails. This ultimately costs me about 2 kilometers of climbing on an ascending trail before I retrace my steps back to the previous fork. I am annoyed by this and this annoyance carries over into my feet, which get caught on the edge of a stone. I trip and fall. There she is again, the Flammersfeld roll. Fortunately, nothing happened. I laugh to myself and continue on toward Nufenen pass. There is still a lot of snow on the trail which makes progress tedious. Towards midday I finally reach Ulrichen on the other side of the pass, and know that I only have 20 kilometers left until today’s goal, along the ‘Rotten’ river to Fiesch. The sun is bearing down on me with all of its scalding 38 degrees, I fill up with as much water as I can at each fountain I pass and even run through passing sprinklers, which farmers have set up to keep their fields from drying out. The final kilometers before Fiesch feel endless and I occasionally have my doubts about whether the village actually even exists. After about 8 hours of running, I finally reach the Youth Hostel. My feet burn, my body temperature is surely feverish. All I want is to jump into a giant tub filled with ice cubes…

Day 3: Fiesch – Zermatt: 68km, 1300 vertical meters of ascent, 760 vertical meters of descent, 7 hours 52 minutes

I have awaited this day with much positive anticipation. I am very pleased that I now have the opportunity to run to Zermatt, and cast my gaze on the Matterhorn, but first I will need to overcome the 68 kilometers between here and there. The run to Visp goes well. I am in the flow and the kilometers simply seem to roll by. However, before Visp a fork appears and I suddenly need to decide between two trails: right or left along the river. Unfortunately, I decide promptly for the wrong one. The trail quickly begins to narrow as the underbrush grows taller. I ask myself when was the last time anyone took this trail, as I continually strike thorny branches from my path. To my shock, I eventually emerge on a large factory areal with smokestacks and blaring machines. I have to climb over fences and creep under bridges in order to reach a path which leads to a road. This little detour costs me nerves and kilometers, and as I arrive in the loud and overfilled city of Visp any joy or fun I might have been experiencing before has vanished. I shut my eyes and carry on, running past shopping centers and stinking cars. When I finally feel the trail again beneath my feet, I can breath easy again. Once again the way leads through numerous villages, forests and hamlets until I finally reach Täsch. From there I need 40 minutes to get to Zermatt. In Zermatt I am greeted by a horde of tourists from the whole world, and weave my way through them to my lodging, the Hotel Backstage Vernissage. With my last strength I lower myself into the bathtub which stands in the middle of my room, and take in the view of the Matterhorn. It doesn’t get any better than this.
Yet, this moment of respite only last a moment and soon I am jolted upright by the arrival of an SMS from the mountain guide. The weather prognosis for the 5th day of my tour is more than bad and will under no circumstances allow an attempt on the summit of the Dufourspitze! Suddenly, I am filled with panic and negative feelings. I begin to doubt whether the project will be able to be completed. Am I to give up here, so close to my goal? After a brief phone call and check-up on the weather forecast the following is clear: storm warning and wind gusts of up to 130 km/h will certainly not allow a summit attempt. But then comes some good news: weather improvement and 10 hours of sunshine for the 6th day! I arrange to stay another day at the Monte Rosa hut and plan to make my summit attack one day later.

Day 4: Zermatt – Monte Rosa Hütte: 15 km,. 1900 vertical meters of ascent, 711 vertical meters of descent, ca. 4 hours 30 minutes

I wake in my most comfortable bed at the Hotel Backstage filled with positive feelings. However, the bad weather front is approaching and it is just 6 o’clock in the morning. The wind rattles at the window shutters making me nervous. Is it really advisable to ascend to the Monte Rosa hut when a storm warning has been posted, and there is a real risk of thunder showers? Unfortunately, I have no other alternative. With a heavy mountain backpack, I head out onto the trail in the direction of Riffelberg. Gusts of wind bat around my ears and I am battling with my fears – one is powerless against the forces of nature. I can only hope that I will arrive soundly. The wind gets increasingly stronger and I am forced to seek protection by simply throwing myself down on the ground. Despite the heavy pack on my back, I feel too light for this heavy storm. It begins to rain and I retreat as well as I can into the shell of my rain jacket. The hut is still very far away and I am nowhere near even the glacier which one must cross in order to reach the hut. Every few minutes I look up to the black gathering clouds which hang ominously over the daunting mountains. I reach the glacier at length and strap my crampons on. The combination of rain on ice is simply too slippery and I don’t want to risk a fall. I jump over the crevasses I can and make big arcs around the ones I can’t. All this costs time, which is running against me to the weather’s advantage. Once I have reached the far side of the glacier, I’ve only to scratch my way up the steep glacier polished granit and tallus of the other side to the safety of the hut. Hardly have I arrived than the weather deteriorates as curtains of rain pour down. I am happy to finally have a sturdy roof over my head. The amiable hut crew takes good care of those mountaineers present, and soon enough I can close my eyes and fall asleep.

Day 5: Monte Rosa Hut

The storm’s gusts have been shaking the hut since 2 AM, which I find very unnerving. By the time the sky begins to lighten, the situation hasn’t improved. My thoughts are with my mountain guide, Cristian Balducci, who still has the passage to the hut before him. As he is arriving from Italy and all the lifts are closed due to the storm, he has to make a detour through Zermatt in order to reach the hut. Toward the evening, he finally arrives at the hut and brings the sun with him. With him is Basti Haag, who has come all the way from Munich to accompany me on the last stage. Also in accompaniment are my ‘Beachboys’, or camera team, who have been filming me since the beginning of this adventure. I’ve named them thus as both come from the beaches of South Africa and hence have limited experience of mountains and snow. To mention how they feel during the whole trip will take too much time now… maybe I will write a “B-side” of our experiences in my book about my adventure which is released one day…
I am now happy and look forward to tomorrow’s summit attempt with pleasant anticipation.

Day 6: Dufourspitze (4634 meters of elevation)

It is 2 AM and I am wide awake, and the long day begins. It’s a good thing that I packed my gear the evening before so all I have to do to get ready is eat breakfast. There is muesli and bread with jam with a coffee. By the light of headlamps we head out at 2:45 and search for the way – which is not an easy task. The new snow of the past days makes it very difficult to find the correct path and avoid falling in the numerous glacier crevasses. As soon as the sun comes up, our progress improves, as the white of the glacier shimmers with the most beautiful orange and violet hues.
With us there are perhaps another 20 mountaineers who are moving towards the series of peaks. Each of us feels the strain that results from hiking at 4000 meters of elevation. However, the last stretch of the route before the peak becomes an exercise in patience. The fixed ropes are coated in ice and it is very difficult to get a good grip on them. Another group which entered the route just before us is also releasing a fair bit of ice and snow which hails down upon us. I have to be careful not to be hit by it. After this icy couloir, the route leads for a few minutes over a very exposed and narrow ridge. Here I must be extremely careful to step carefully, but Cristian has me tied into his rope, just to be sure.
And then, suddenly, I have arrived: I am standing on the highest point in Switzerland. The sun is shining down on my face, the view is fantastic … but I am simply freezing. After a whole 5 minutes of the summit experience, I am already eager to begin the descent as my whole body is already trembling from cold and exhaustion.
When we arrive once again at the Monte Rosa hut, another 2 hours have passed. Cristian simply looks at me in disbelief: 1734 vertical meters of descent with Abseils and glacier crossings. Well, when the motor is running…
It takes another 3.5 hours to return to Zermatt, and even here I can still feel the adrenalin pumping hard in my veins, and I am so wound up, that I have no idea what I should do. I feel no muscle pain, my feet are free of blisters (what a wonder). I drink a liter of water in a single swig and then another half-liter of cola; annihilate a giant Country burger in the Snowboat restaurant and treat myself to a beer. I feel euphoric.

This project would not have been possible without the generous support of a number of sponsors and supporters.
I thank you all whole-heartedly:
Xaver Walser and Andrew King (film team and Beachboys)
Petra Hammelmann and Bertold Zink
Bettina Plattner-Gerber
Evelyne and Heinz Julen (Hotel Backstage Zermatt)
Curdin Conrad (Skiservice Corvatsch) and Driver Gregorio
Familie Ris (Romantic Hotel Castello Seeschloss Ascona)
Jürg Degiacomi
Cristian Balducci (Mountain Guide)
Ueli Nyffenegger (CAS Basòdino)
Matthias Wolk (Real TV)
Jens Lange (PR)
Family and friends
And: Giuseppe Milanesi for the idea of Bottom Up Climbs!
Xaver Walser will now create a sensational film of my great adventure. I will gladly receive any inquiries regarding support and/or sponsorship.

Some pictures

While we wait for the translation of Anne’s report in English, here you can find some pictures of her journey. Consider them an appetiser.