As part of our preparation for the PDG race we were keen to do some longer skinning days and get some acclimatisation so we headed round to the Mantova Refuge (3500m) in the Aosta Valley, above the ski resort of Gressonay.
Since we wanted to do 2000m of ascent the first day that meant skinning from the valley, not something that I would normally choose to do when there is a lift nearby. On Thursday we went up to Signalkuppe 4554m and on the way back to the hut we crossed over Ludwigshöhe. It was bitterly cold for most of the day and at that height it was challenging to go fast enough to be able to stay warm.
On Friday we headed back up for a 2nd lap... It was good to see acclimatisation in action as we made it to the Lisjoch 33% quicker than we had done the previous day. It was also much warmer, and less windy, than it had been the previous day. We had the summit of the Balmenhorn to ourselves, which is a beautiful little summit with fantastic views across to Liskamm and Mont Blanc (see above photo). We continued on to the Parrotspitz and again we were the only ones on the peak.
The only thing missing from this trip was some good snow for the descent, apart from the spring snow beneath the hut. But we did have to remind ourselves that finding good snow wasn't one of the objectives of the trip! There are a few photos from the trip here.