GRAN PARADISO TRAVERSE
7 days - Self-guided
The Gran Paradiso massif is located in the Italian Alps, between the regions of Valle d’Aosta and Piemonte, in the northwest of Italy. In the immediate proximity of the Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa massifs, the Gran Paradiso massif is an important mountain area. It contains medium and high altitude summits (Gran Paradiso 4061m) and a vast high valleys. The typical mountain villages and hamlets contribute to the charm of the whole territory, where the traditions and customs of the Valle d’Aosta feed a strong, rich and lively culture. Our Valdostan cousins speak French with a touch of accent that adds an incomparable charm to this program.
Classified as a Royal Hunting Reserve in 1856, the Gran Paradiso massif became the first National Park in Italy in 1920. It then became the first European park and a model of its kind. The Park now covers more than 70,000 hectares. The fauna and flora are largely represented and grow in all serenity. The Ibex was saved here from a promised extermination while it was on the verge of extinction in the rest of the Alps. The Ibex and the Paradise Lily were chosen to symbolize the “Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso“, thus affirming a strong, proud and authentic identity.
Wild and alpine, our itinerary goes through contrasting landscapes. Larch forests, flowery lawns and high mountain landscapes blend harmoniously to offer grandiose natural spectacles. The trail follows the Alta Via 2 of the Aosta Valley, from the Valgrisenche to the Val de Cogne. Seven days of hiking, a long and physically demanding format that requires a good level of practice.
Departure of the hike from the hamlet of Uselières in the Valgrisenche in the Aosta Valley.
Day 1: Hamlet of Usellières – Refuge de l’Epée The hike starts at the hamlet of Usellières in the Valgrisenche. The path climbs across a beautiful forest of arolle pines to reach the first alpine pastures. The refuge de l’Épée is located beyond the forest in the first mountain pastures.
Optional: For those who wish to walk further, it is possible to make a round trip in the Fenêtre valley.
Approximate distance: 4.6 km – Elevation gain & loss: +585m / -4m
Day 2: Refuge de l’Epée – Refuge Mario Bezzi The itinerary is that of the Alta Via 2, the path of the high glacial route. It reaches the Mario Bezzi refuge by small climbs and some rare descents. A detour to the lake of St Martin, above the Mont Vaudet is recommended before considering the descent to the Mario Bezzi refuge (2284m).
Approximate distance: 12.2 km – Elevation gain & loss: +781m / -869m
Day 3: Refuge Mario Bezzi – Val di Rhêmes The path leads to the Bassac Déré pass (3082 m) and if you feel like it, to the Bec de la Traversière (3337m), a splendid viewpoint. The Vanoise, the Mont-Blanc and the Swiss Alps including the Matterhorn offer a unique spectacle. The descent allows you to reach the Benevolo refuge located in the Rhêmes valley (2285m).
Approximate distance: 10.4 km – Elevation gain & loss: +859m / -851m
Day 4: Val di Rhêmes – Refuge Savoia To join the Rosset pass, it is necessary to go up the valley of the Gran Vaudala. The colorful alpine pastures mix with the black and grey scree that clings to the steep slopes. The passage of the pass is wonderful. We will appreciate the softness of the plateau with the altitude lakes. The Savoia refuge (2592m) which is named of the latest king of Savoy, Victor Emmanuel, is located at the Nivolet pass in the Valsavarenche.
Approximate distance: 10.2 km – Elevation gain & loss: +891m / -643m
Day 5: Refuge Savoia – Eaux Rousses
From the Savoia refuge, a long traverse in the direction of the Meyes valley and the Col della Manto (2795m) leads to the Entrelor valley and its Djouan lake. A majestic crossing, in front of the Gran Paradiso and the Grivola peak. The descent reaches the bottom of the valley and the hamlet of Eaux Rousses. Night at the hostel.
Approximate distance : 19.7 km – Elevation gain & loss: +688m / -1551m
Day 6: Eaux Rousses – Refuge Vittorio Sella An early start is recommended in order to consider the long and magnificent climb to the Lauzon pass (3296m), which is the highest non-glacial pass in the park accessible to hikers. The steep descent among the limestone and schistose rocks, then the grassy meadows is often the ideal place to meet the ibexes of the Vittorio Sella refuge (2584 m).
Approximate distance: 17.3 km – Elevation gain & loss: +1669m/ -763m
Day 7: Refuge Vittorio Sella – Cogne A formidable balcony route leads to the bottom of the cirque de l’Herbetet on the eastern side of the Grand Paradis. It is a vast glacial cirque which hosts numerous glaciers and the major summits of Valnontey. The descent reaches the eponymous village and later on the superb village of Cogne.
Approximate distance: 17.2 km – Elevation gain & loss: +185m / -1219m
Note: the route, distances and altitudes can vary a little for many reasons beyond our control, including weather and terrain conditions.
Please also be aware that self-guided trekking involves your own responsibility for the route you choose and the choices you make on the trails. We will provide you with a roadbook and GPX tracks but you will be hiking every day on your own and we cannot be responsible for the decision and events that may occur during your hike.