A magnificent, tough walk is combined with the ascent of Gran Paradiso. This is the easiest 4000m in the Alps (excluding the Breithorn which uses cable cars most of the way) and is accessible to strong mountain walkers with ski poles (or ice axe) and crampons. Suitable for those of you who enjoy less busy areas or with an interest in the local flora and fauna which the southern regions of the park are famous for.
Our route passes through areas free of ski systems and major tourist developments and associated environmental damage. The Gran Paradiso is in fact one of the most strictly controlled and carefully preserved National Parks in the Alps. The route includes a variety of terrain with some high passes (up to 3000m), forested valleys and alpine pastures with plentiful and varied wildlife. The area is particularly renowned for the King Ibex that has
proliferated and survived here since King Vittorio Emanuele created a hunting reserve. At the same time he also established many excellent paths to allow access to the area and to some of his hunting lodges (Casa di Caccia).
A system of mountain lodges 'rifugios', manned by welcoming local people offer accommodation in either small rooms or occasionally in mixed dormitory; only a sleeping sheets are needed, blankets are provided. The lodges are all clean and have indoor toilets and wash rooms. Most provide hot showers.
Gradual acclimatisation and fitness is built up in the first few days of the trip in preparation for the ascent of Gran Paradiso. Most of the walking is on good mountain paths. Being in a sheltered area of the main mass of Alps the weather is good and generally snow is only encountered on the ascent of Gran Paradiso. Although ski poles or an icer axe are required it is also recommended that crampons are taken in case of icy conditions on Gran Paradiso itself.
Most of the 'rifugios' are not accessible by vehicle so overnight gear including a towel, a change of clothes, sheet sleeping bag, an optional sleeping mat, crampons, waterproofs and snacks have to be carried. This weight should not exceed 10kg and will be best carried in a comfortable rucksack. All meals are provided except those mentioned in the itinerary.
We reserve the right to alter the itinerary and the huts depending on any change in the local conditions.
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Day 1: Turin to San Lorenzo
Arrive at Turin airport and transfer by private bus to our guest house in the small, unspoilt village of San Lorenzo. Afternoon stroll in the valley and a tasty dinner (unless a late flight is used). No meals on the journey to San Lorenzo are included.
Day 2: San Lorenzo to Rifugio Pontese
We walk up a road to the Lago di Teleccio then up a rough steep path to the beautifully located Rifugio Pontese (2217m, 2-3 hours walk). This is one of the most welcoming refugios in the whole of the Alps. After a sumptuous lunch, time can be spent visiting the ancient deserted mountain village of Muanda di Teleccio and wandering up this grand valley.
Day 3: Rifugio Pontese to Casa di Caccia
This walk requires an early start. We ascend through alpine pastures, often passing herds of ibex and chamois, to reach the Colle dei Becchi (2990m) beneath the elegant granite spires of Becchi della Tribulazione. A long descent initially, over big boulders, leads to the upper Noaschetta Valley (locally known as ‘little Tibet‘). Easy downhill walking to 2400m, then a final uphill climb leads to the Bocchetta del Ges pass (2692m) before descending to the Casa di Caccia, one of the former king's hunting lodges, now taken over and refurbished by the National Park (2222m, 6-7 hours total walking). Much of this days walking is on excellent paths made for Vittorio Emanuele, the scenery is magnificent and the area rich in wildlife. Note: This day may be altered slightly - details will be sent out with the trip information sheet.
Day 4: Casa di Caccia to Chalet del Lago
The day starts with a high level traverse with fine views up to the snowy high peaks of the massif and down into the dramatic Vallone del Roc. Then a gradual descent takes us down to pine forests beside the Lago di Ceresole Reale. This village used to be the king's base for his hunting trips. Our hotel, the ** Chalet del Lago, is located a short walk from the lake which it overlooks. It is a friendly small hotel renowned locally for its excellent food, 1583m, 5-6 hours walking, dinner not included.
Day 5: Chalet del Lago to Citta di Chivasso
A steep zig-zag path leads out of the forests back to the high level trails. A steady climb to Lago Lillet (2765m) then Colle della Terra (2911m) which offers
views south to the fine peaks of the Tre Levanna on the French frontier. The trail descends gently then traverses to the last hairpins of the road leading
to Col del Nivole and the refugio at 2684m (5 hours). The refuge has an outstanding library of mountain literature and maps.
Day 6: Citta di Chivasso to Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele
We follow the Nivolet valley northwards to the little village of Pont with superb views of Gran Paradiso. Now a trail leads north then steeply up east to the Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele, (2732m, 5 hours). This is a famous old hut and the most popular base for the
ascent of the Gran Paradiso.
Day 7: Ascent of Gran Paradiso and traverse to Rifugio Federico Chabod
An early start rewards us with morning views or even sunrise seen from the summit - a magnificent panorama. The ascent itself is by an easy, slightly crevassed glacier with a
short section of airy and exposed rock scrambling to the summit. The upper sections of the ascent involving being roped together. Crampons
and ski poles or an ice axe are required. Those who do not wish to make the ascent can enjoy exploring the area around the hut (4-5 hours in ascent, 2-3
hours in descent). After a rest we traverse round to the Rifugio Federico Chabod.
Day 8: Rifugio Federico Chabod to Degioz, Aosta and Turin
We follow the Camino Real to Colle del Gran Neyron (3227m). A steep descent protected by cables is followed by a long descent to beautiful meadows and excellent views of Mont Blanc. Many ibex are seen here. Continue descending to Degioz from where we take a public bus back to Aosta. After a late lunch there is time to wander around Aosta before taking a public bus back to Turin. Private transport may be used depending on flight times.
If the weather is bad the Colle del Gran Neyron can be omitted. Meals at the airport are not included.
In the event of bad weather on day 7 and under very favourable circumstances it may be possible to attempt Gran Paradiso on day 8. In this case there will be a surcharge to cover extra guide and transport costs.
Included in costs: All transportation, all accommodation, all food (other than that mentioned in
the itinerary), guides.
Not included: Drink, dinner on day 4, personal insurance.
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