The Sweet Life

Karen Eller and Massimo Ferro drop into the abyss on one of the many exploratory excursions that Fredriksson has partaken in through the years. From Pointe Chaligne, which sits at 8,553 vertical feet, the trail descends all the way into Aosta, making for one long, exhilarating and beautiful ride.

The Sweet Life Savoring Friendship and Fun in Italy’s Aosta Valley

It had been hours since we’d seen or heard another person.

The solitude felt strange, given that we were less than 20 miles from the busy streets of the northwest Italian town of Aosta. I was slowly pedaling up a gravel road that was getting narrower and steeper as we approached the alpine, and the only sounds I heard were the labored breaths of my companions, Aosta local Massimo Ferro and my German friend, Holger Meyer. We’d been on this road for hours, and I was starting to question whether we were going the right way.

Massimo kept reassuring us that we were on track, but it wasn’t until we reached a small farm nestled in an alpinem meadow that I truly believed him. The backdrop to the farm was spectacular, with the soaring peaks of the Alps rising above this grassy bowl. Dozens of cows were grazing, and a menacing-looking bull was chained to a fence. A young boy and his fluffy golden retriever ran up to greet us, visibly stoked to see visitors to the lonely homestead. He pointed to our route into the mountains and helped us fill our water bottles before continuing toward our destination—the Bivacco Rosaire Clermont, a sturdy stone cabin that would be our home for the night.

It was too steep to ride from here, so we shouldered our bikes and began the steep hike-a-bike to the cabin, a rustic, 40-square-foot refuge with bunk beds that was tucked beneath the towering Col de Vessonaz. Our plan was to overnight in the cabin, at an elevation of 8,832 feet, then soak up a glorious sunset and sunrise before savoring a hard-earned descent to the medieval old town center of Aosta.

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