Wednesday, August 09, 2017

ABC Wednesday..."E" as in Mt. Etna

Welcome once again to ABC Wednesday and the letter "E" as in Mt. Etna.

Getting to the top of Mt. Etna was one of the things on the Bucket List that I did for the letter B.  Let me explain.

From December 1968 until May 1971 we lived in Sicily.  My husband was in the US Navy at the time.  One weekend a day trip was planned to the top of Mt. Etna.  Mt. Etna is Europe's largest active volcano.  A bunch of us from the base took a bus to the ski lodge on Mt. Etna.  It was June and we all wore light weight clothes.  We had been told to wear long pants and to bring a jacket in case we needed it.  I remember one lady had even worn sandals.  That was a big mistake!  When we got off the bus at the ski lodge it wasn't summer was cold.  Fortunately, we were able to rent winter coats at the lodge.  Here we are before we got our rental coats.
 We were loaded onto smaller vehicles (probably 4 wheel drive) for the next part of the trip up the mountain.  All of a sudden they stopped and we were told we'd have to climb the rest of the way.  It was freezing cold and there was an ice storm.  I've never been so cold in my life.

This wasn't really mountain climbing like you see them do on Mt. Everest.  No ropes or anything.  It was more like climbing up a steep hill.  Some months before man had walked on the moon for the very first time and up there Mt. Etna kind of reminded me of the moon.  No vegetation and black lava dust on the ground.

Our group was really not prepared.  Although Mt. Etna's elevation is only 10,991 feet a couple of people had to stop to catch their breath.  (These are old slides that were scanned.)
Here is our group of friends...
At the time I was about 6 months pregnant.  I kept slipping and falling on the icy ground (everyone was falling) and the weather was worse the higher we went.  I knew if something happened I'd have to get off the mountain, back to the base, and on a plane to Naples where the Naval Hospital was located.  I decided it wasn't worth the risk.  Reluctantly, I had a guide help me back down to the vehicle where I waited for everyone else.  I knew at the time I would regret not making it to the very top, but also knew in my heart I was doing the right thing.

My husband later told me that if I had just climbed for five more minutes I would have been at the top.  He told me that they held their hands over the top and could feel the warmth.  Here's a slide that he took at the top of Mt. Etna.
They didn't stay up there very long.  Soon they joined me in the vehicle and we rode back down to the ski lodge for lunch.  That's me on the right with the bottle of brandy.  Believe me...we all needed it!  (Back then no one said anything about not drinking during pregnancy.)
I had a healthy baby boy that October, but I've always regretted not making it to the very top.  I always thought that someday we might go back to Sicily, but my husband died and I've gotten older so making that trip is kind of doubtful now.  It's on my Bucket List, but really more of a dream.

As long as we lived there I would watch Mt. Etna smoking.  Here's the view from our apartment in Catania...
and when we moved onto the base the view from our street...
You can't really see the smoke in these old slides, but it always seemed to be smoking.  There were small eruptions while we lived in Sicily.

Last March a group of tourists were up on top of Mt. Etna when it suddenly erupted throwing hot lava into the air.  People had to run for their lives and some were injured.
Now I'm wondering if they even allow people to go to the very top any more.

Thanks for visiting.  For more ABC Wednesday posts click here.


  1. I say cross Mt. Etna off your bucket list, Betty, because you climbed it, even if you didn't get to the tippy top. Hurrah for you! That was a wise, and difficult, decision to make, to turn back. I would've done the same thing. 6 months is too far along to risk a tumble. Yup, you, Missy, climbed Mt. Etna!

  2. Wonderful post Betty ~ bet it was a great adventure and lovely photos ~ ^_^

  3. Wonderful trip to Mt. Etna.

  4. That is the only picture I have ever seen of you - you were blonde? What a neat story. I think you made the right decision because you would not have forgiven yourself if something had happened. I watched the video - that guy got burned pretty bad on the forehead, This was amazing. sandie

  5. What an adventure.. wonderful that you could undertake it. You can go on to the next point on your 'agenda' ;-0

    Have a ♥-warming AbC-day / -week
    ♫ M e l ☺ d y ♫ (ABC-team)

  6. Yeah, you were STILL wise to go back before.


  7. We can only make decisions based on what feels right. You made the best decision for you. But, at least you had some of the journey up Etna. What lovely memories and photos.

  8. I have been on the Etna in 1964 !! At that time you could go up til the top and look down in the hole of cooking lava. I remember that the soil was so hot that you could hardly walk. Today you are not allowed anymore to go up so far.

  9. Great adventure. It was wise what you did. Cool story and pictures. I'd love to see Mt Etna someday.


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