Hell Hath No Fury

I haven’t written anything since the bivouac. A night out on the side of a mountain has a price for people our age. I’m 54 and my partner 61, and it’s not an easy thing to do and recuperate from. We were tired. We were cranky. We needed time.

There were some other effects, too. I was cold for days. I couldn’t get warm no matter what I wore and how long I basked in the sun. We’d decided to try to do one last climb in the Dolomites. Before going back up into the mountains, we stayed at the youth hostel in Toblach, but the buidling was huge and not well heated so I was cold there, too.

Then we went up for a climb near Tres Cime. I was freezing. There were icicles in the route next to us. My hands felt nothing even with huge holds to hang on to. In addition, I was scared of everything. Think back: I had two days of food poisoning, followed by rock fall that bruised me up quite a bit, then an improvised bivouac. My brain was unhappy. My body was unhappy.

We did our climb, with my partner leading everything, and had already decided that instead of staying two nights in the hut and climbing again, we’d go down to the valley, and probably leave to go south to warmer climes. The hut, however, was something else again.

Rifugio Fonda Salvio, i.e. the worst hut in the universe. We arrive and find a man breaking up the ice in front of the entry. He never finished the job and looked extremely irritated that I wanted to enter. We go in, say who we are and the woman finds our reservation and pre-payment. We sit down to eat. We remind her (she just looked at our reservation so she saw the note) that we’d ordered vegetarian meals. We are served non veggie but it’s taken away to be replaced. So far, so good. Then a new plate arrives and we start to eat. It looks the same as what we were just served, but maybe the pasta sauce before had meat and this one only had mushrooms? Then the manager comes and yells at us. We asked for veggie, we are given non-veggie, it’s taken away, it’s given back to us and we start to eat it, but it’s the non-veggie option again. She’s angry because she now has a vegetarian plate that no one wants. As we eat, we can hear her yelling at the Polish group behind us, “This isn’t like eating in Cortina! We’re a mountain hut, you can’t have everything you want just like that. If you want that, you should go to Cortina.”

(Just to say, it is a mountain hut, but the hut’s got a pulley system to bring up fresh food a few times a day. We heard it going as we climbed. There are real mountain huts that have to arrange a big helicopter delivery at the beginning of the season, then depend on people hiking back and forth to bring up fresh goods. This hut isn’t even that high up, 2,400 meters.)

The man who was breaking up the ice earlier puts us in a separate, unheated building for the night. This makes me miserable because I’ve been so cold for so many days, and I was looking forward to a warm hut. I tell the woman that it would have been nice if they’d mentioned that we should bring a sleeping bag. Then she really goes off on me. She starts yelling that she couldn’t possible know the weather when we reserved. (We reserved two days ago, and it was pretty clear that it was going to dip into the minus °C at night.) She says she’s not responsible for telling people what they should bring or not bring. She’s been doing this for x years and she’s never heard of this and she goes on and on and on and on. I try to explain that it’s just because we’d had a bivouac, but she doesn’t listen and just continues to yell at me.

In the end, I sleep with thermal underwear under all of my layers of clothes, a huge parka, a ski cap, gloves and three blankets. I was actually warm between about midnight and three a.m. because I took off the parka, but then I went to the toilet, discovered that the hut was locked from the inside, peed outside and could never get warm enough to take the parka off again. I thought about how if there was a fire in the main hut, everyone was going to either have to jump out the windows or burn to death inside.

So that’s me, but it’s everyone. The Polish group just kept drinking and she kept yelling at them. No one asks for what they might want, or corrects her if they’d dared order something and she brings the wrong thing.

Earlier in the evening, we heard the man yelling at a couple hiking up to the hut to hurry up, “The kitchen is closed, what are you doing coming up so late?” They arrive and say that they hadn’t ordered dinner. He tells them that in that case they have no right to stay in the dining area and must go directly to the dorms.

I speak with a nice Danish couple, who were charged twice for the room because the managers “couldn’t find” their deposit.

The next morning, the woman is yelling at the couple who’d come up late because they hadn’t paid their bill the night before. They try to tell her that they’d been ordered to go to the dorms, but she just keeps yelling at them.

In the end, we were all like a bunch of traumatized children in a war zone, wondering what we’d done to deserve her wrath. We leave, and do a lovely walk. However….

The hut is on Trip Advisor. I write a long, truthful, nasty review. They are in Instagram. I respond to the last couple of posted photos that no one should stay there.

Next, I’ll write the Alpine Club who’s hired them to complain as well. Hell hath no fury like a woman who’s been yelled at and told to spend sixty bucks to sleep in an unheated room.

Foro, in warmer climes after leaving the Dolomites

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