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Life in the mountains at Refuge Telegrafo G.Barana on Mount Baldo

About Nature, respect and awareness

  • Brenzone sul Garda
  • 10.04.2021
  • Environment
Angela Trawoeger
Text

Angela Trawoeger

Creator, photographer and content manager

Mountains have always needed mankind, and mankind needs mountains now more than ever. The Mountain is capable of giving us so much and in return it only wants respect. Respecting the Mountain means knowing it and visiting it consciously. It means being prepared and getting informed. It means leaving home with open hearts, willing to listen to.

Going to the mountains is also a matter of culture. Each one of us needs to take braver decisions for environmental protection and sustainability. When we will again listen to Nature, Nature will be one of us again and we will truly be capable of respecting it. We’re given a second chance to grow and it would be a shame not to take it.

What does Mountain mean and what’s life there nowadays? What does it mean running a refuge and what are the difficulties in our modern times?

I talk about this to Alessandro Tenca, graduate in Natural Sciences, Naturalistic Hiking Guide of equipENatura, volunteer of the National Alpine and Speleological Rescue Corps and manager of the Refuge Telegrafo G. Barana on Mount Baldo.

Hi Alessandro, tell us about yourself. Who are you and what do you do?

Hi! Let me go straight to the point, as you would expect from a person that operates at high altitude. 38 years old, manager of an “alpine hut”, and, above all, Naturalist Hiking Guide; father of two “guys” of 7 and 4 years of age.

For over 10 years I’m constantly committed to promoting a naturalistic tourism, as sustainable as possible, in the region of Mount Baldo and Lake Garda. We still have a long road ahead. And it’s steep!!!

Tell us about Refuge Telegrafo. Since when do you manage it, who with and how is it going?

The Telegrafo is a Refuge with a capital R, the highest of Mount Baldo. I have managed it since 2013 together with a team of reliable fellows and some Naturalist Guides of euipENatura.

Eight seasons have already gone and in a blink of an eye. And they flew so fast also thanks to the constant challenges that we need to face every year and that make our job so unpredictable. We’ve had “natural” inconveniences, from the 3 times that we’ve been struck by a lightning over 8 years, to the damages caused by the storm Vaia, till the hard coexistence with the restrictions of this outbreak. And on top of that we also have to handle with some “administrative” hitches; in fact, since 2013, the whole Southern area of Mount Baldo is waiting for a tailored promotion based on a naturalistic-environmental sustainability.

Despite all difficulties, this is an amazing place, right in the heart of an Alpine dimension, surrounded by glacial cirques and rock walls, that can offer you some breathtaking views and some sunsets on Lake Garda that fill with meaning every day spent up there.

Sunset at Refuge Telegrafo in Monte Baldo
© Refuge Telegrafo

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How’s the life of a person who run a refuge on Mount Baldo?

To run a refuge is not an easy job. But we face every sacrifice and every harship – also towards the family – with the innate power of passion of those people who decide to pursue this career.

However, doing this on Mount Baldo – now more than ever – put me in front of a lot of massive difficulties. If you’re not aware of the richness of the Landscape, the handling of the Territory becomes clumsy and inadeguate, especially from a touristic point of view.
And the whole Baldo-Garda system suffers from it; a mountain refuge more than everyone else!

Tell us about logistics and about a typical day at the refuge.

The supplies of the Refuge Telegrafo arrive with a cableway and even the owners only have walking access to the refuge.

During the week the influx of people is reduced and the day starts at variable times depending of if we have to prepare breakfast for our guests or if we just have to start with the daily routine.

There are so many things to do: sort the supplies, make dumplings or bake a cake, clean the rooms or the common areas, fix a stretch of a path, take care of the bookings and of all the other communication channels, that are essential today.

During weekends everything gets more complicated: let’s say that we don’t have much time to enjoy the views! This is the first aberration that is preventing us from having a sustainable development of tourism in the Mountains.

Alessandro owner Refuge Telegrafo
© Refuge Telegrafo

What is a mountain refuge?

A mountain refuge is the place of the essence. A refuge is the oppurtunity to experience the renounce of what is superfluous and to resize oneself. With a hot, simple, good plate in front of us, we gather with strangers that could become faces to remember for a lifetime!

What do you give and what do you ask to your guests?

We’re mountain people that live at high altitude every day. We offer our guests all our experience and the energy that pervades us in the that moment.

I like the idea of being the representative of a place where one can change; not of a place where to do the usual things or where to be the same person stuck in the routine of a modern life at low altitude.

What does mountain teach us?

The Mountain, but in general the whole Nature, at any latitude or altitude, teaches us the essence of living. In the course of history and the evolution of our species many people understood it. But nowadays, considering the times and the level of development we’re living now, the essence of living is a blurry concept for most of us: this is the real paradox!

Does Mountain belong to everyone?

I’m a Naturalist and I’m all for biodiversity: everyone has the right to enjoy this amazing environment. Conceptually the Mountain and the whole Planet belong to everyone and they’re at everyone’s disposal!

The Mountain can give you a thousand emotions, a thousand places, a thousand “where” and a thousand “how.” It’s almost impossible not to find a spot, a place in the mountain where to listen to yourself carefully.

Mount Telegrafo summit
Summit cross on top of Mount Telegrafo – © Angela Trawoeger

But it is important to be aware that the mountain is a completely different environment to the one we usually live in and that it requires an appropriate code of conduct.

It is an environment as much beautiful as severe: this is why we must respect and protect it. Nothing comes for free.

Unfortunately, during his touristic joyrides, the modern man is not capable of comprehending the environment that surrounds him and he is not able to adapt to it. On the contrary, he wants to adapt the environment to his needs and habits, without grasping what a new place can give him, on a more intimate and essential level.

Therefore, having that said, it is my opinion that the Mountain is neither suitable for everyone nor belongs to everyone. A growth path is needed in order to be entitled to benefit from it.

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On social media you can read any sort of thing and the Mountain seems just sport and tourism accessible to everyone without distinction. How has its fruition changed lately and what would you suggest to a neophyte so that he can approach to the mountain with respect and without putting himself in danger?

You can easily fall in love with the Mountain, and often at the very first sight. The technological progress and the increase of services also at high altitude allow more and more people to sporadically reach this kind of environment. This is the main reason of the success of the Mountain in the last ten years.

But just few of them are real lovers of the Mountain, willing to approach to its personality and its character in a proper way, to grasp its subtleties and to dedicate it the right time, to pay it the right attention and to be respectful.

monte baldo trail 654 dawn
Path 654 – © Angela Trawoeger

We must spend our energies in Culture. That’s why every neophyte should be, above all, willing to grow interiorly before reaching “the top”.

I believe, sadly, that many people should be accompanied, both for the protection of the environment and for their own safety and furthermore, they should be guided in taking the opportunity to improve themselves.

We have a huge opportunity: to learn to live with the essential in one of the last environments not devastated by our presence yet.

There are some non-written conduct rules: what are the most important ones?

Attention and respect for the places where we are, for ourself, for those around us.

The Mountain needs men but we must protect and respect it. It seems a more difficult balance to maintain nowadays, is it true?

Men can do so many things in the mountains. Surely they have the skills to manage it with intelligence; to bring benefits where they operate. But in fact, the examples where this happens are few, too few!

We must recalibrate both models and goals of our presence in the Mountain, spread more Culture and demand, loudly, a composed attitude with special attention and respect to this Environment.

What is the future of the Mountain?

A change of course is needed. Firm, important, brave! More essence, more sustainability. If we carry on like this we’re going to crash!

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