Every four or five years members of our 1959 expedition that took Jumbo over the Alps have a celebratory climb up to the Col de Clapier. We think that this was the pass Hannibal took with his army and thirty-seven war elephants when he attacked Rome over two thousand years ago. Jumbo, our beloved elephant, was our pacemaker and travel companion.
I am only a few days away from this year’s climb on July 31 and am beginning to get excited. It looks as if we will be about forty strong and, as before, we will meet at the Youth Hostel at Lanslebourg, the nearest town to the pass, on the French side, for the send-off. There will be lots of family and friends, from England, The Netherlands, The USA, Switzerland, France and Italy. What a great family reunion!
As an organizer of the climb, I have prepared this e-mail to bring everyone on the climb up to date so here it is:
Each of our separate climbing groups is responsible for all its reservations, equipment and safety. The climb to the Col de Clapier is considered safe, weather being the only variable. The downhill trail from the pass to Giaglione, the first village in Italy, can be dangerous, with possible landslides making the trail disappear. I do not advise taking it unless you are fit and willing to take the risks. Allow 6-7 hours and have a plan to be picked up.
POSSIBLE PLAN FOR THE DAY OF THE ASCENT:
We would go over this the evening before, (July 30) so that everyone can pre-decide which route to take, as we are going to split up into two separate groups.
Group 1 will take the 40 minute drive from Lanslebourg to Le Planey, the last village up the valley from Bramans. This was, we believe, Hannibal's route. The hike from there to the pass will take 4-5 hours. (See map attached).
Group 2 will take the easier route. We go by bus or car from Lanslebourg to the Col de Petit Mont Cenis. The drive will take about an hour and twenty minutes. From there it is a fairly level 2.5 to 3 hour hike to the pass. (See map attached).
Our aim for both groups is to be at the pass by 12:30-1:00 pm for a brief ceremony, toasts for Hannibal, for elephants, especially for Jumbo, and the reading of Hannibal's famous speech to his exhausted army. In the afternoon the fittest will take the downhill climb into Italy while the rest of us can saunter back to our bus or cars at the Col de Petit Mont Cenis.
There will be time for a shower before we meet for our special banquet at the Hotel La Vieille Poste, Lanslebourg, at about 7:00 pm. We will have songs, magic tricks and other surprises and awards as has been the custom over the last few years.
If time permits, I plan to send blogs of our climb and hope you will follow along. To put you into the picture, here is a map showing where we will climb.