Gran Paradiso Haute Route

Gran Paradiso National Park was the first national park to be established in Italy 1922 in order to protect the animal Stambecco (Capra Ibex) from hunters, nowadays it has become the famous symbol of the park. For those backcountry skiers who enjoy untouched snow conditions, majestic views, Italian food and a great atmosphere this is a place not to be missed. The journey will take place over five intense days including a marvel ascent of the Gran Paradiso peak at 4061 m, in other words a paradise for all those backcountry skiers out there.

The nights we spend in some of the Alps most excellent and cozy huts, offering hearty and simple meals that satisfy most visitors, having the opportunity to ski tour with only a small pack, containing only clothing and personal effects. The result is evident, we can therefore enjoy all the grandeur of the National Park without the effort and discomfort of becoming a human pack mule.

We will use an alpine ski touring setup, skins and binding that allow you to hike with a free-heel upwards. A normal day on the tour is intense, you start quite early and continue by hiking up and skiing down for 6-10 hours, so you should have a good level of fitness. However, there will be plenty of time every afternoon to enjoy the mountain scenery, dry the wet clothes and to take care of yourself by having a rest.

Prerequisite skills
You need to have a good level of cardiovascular fitness since it is an intense week with many meters up and down to cover every day. It is suitable for skiers who have previous experience of backcountry and multi-day ski touring skiing, in order to be able to cope with variable off-piste snow conditions. Of course if you feel you lack some of those experiences or uncertain of your own level, please feel free to contact us. We will do our best to give you the best experience possible.

Season
This ski tour is suitable for the later part of the season. The mountain huts open mid March and the best season is during April. This is a wonderful time in the Alps with lots of snow in the high mountains, cold temperatures at 3000 m, while at the same time warm and pleasant down in the valleys. It is not uncommon that we often enjoy powder skiing or spring firn up in the mountains before we descend to the valley and sit outside in the Sun with a beer in our hand.

Program for the week
The following program is a typical week. There might be changes due to weather or snow conditions with alternative routes and huts to be used.

Day 1 Sunday : Arrival day in Courmayeur – Meeting
Arrival day in Courmayeur. The hotel will be available for check in the afternoon and in the evening we have a gathering to discuss the plan for the week. If you want to spend additional days before or after the tour please let us know.

Day 2 Monday : Courmayeur – Valnontey – Rifugio Vittorio Sella
We set off in the morning by taxi or bus towards Valnontey (1 h) to start the tours first ski ascent, usually it takes 3-4 h. The goal for the day is Rifugio Vittorio Sella (2584 m), originally it was used as a hunting cabin for the king Vittorio Emanuele II, where we will spend the first night. It gives us the opportunity to repeat the usage of the climbing skins, “kick-turns”, avalanche transceiver and we try to do some practical exercises in the afternoon.

Day 3 Tuesday : Rifugio Vittorio Sella – Rifugio Federico Chabod
Today we have a long day ahead where we climb and ski for 7-8 h. We start early in the morning together with the morning glow of the Sun heading towards the Gran Serra (3552 m). The peak offers a fantastic view over the national park. To the north we have Grivola (3969 m) and the goal for tomorrow to the south, Gran Paradiso (4061 m). The slopes on the Timoron glacier offers a fantastic run before we again put the skins on and head up towards the Col du Grand Neyron (3401 m). We finish the day with a run down to the cosy Rifugio Federico Chabod (2750 m) and its warden.

Day 4 Wednesday : Rifugio Federico Chabod – Rifugio Vittorio Emanuelle by Gran Paradiso
The third day offers one of the weeks highlight, a ski ascent of Gran Paradiso (4061 m), as well a dream for many Italians. An early start puts us below and pass the north face using the Laveciau glacier towards Becca di Moncorve (3869 m), where we will join the Suns first morning rays in a stunning high mountain environment. We head towards the top, where the last fifty meters requires the use of crampons and ice-axe, and after 5 h of hard work we can finally take the last step on the top of Gran Paradiso. After having enjoyed the stunning views we head down again and a nice ski run takes us down to Rifugio Vittorio Emanuelle II (2730 m) to share the days adventure among us.

Day 5 Thursday : Rifugio Vittorio Emanuelle – Rifugio Pontese
The goal for the day is Rifugio Pontese (2200 m), which offers an excellent kitchen, however we first skin up to Colle del Gran Paradiso (3335 m). A ski run down the Noaschetta glacier takes us to one of the areas hidden places, hopefully we are all alone, and then further up to Colle del Becchi (2989 m) to the next valley. The last thing on the schedule for the day is skiing down to the hut, where something delicious is waiting for us in the doorsteps.

Day 6 Friday : Rifugio Pontese – Lillaz
With our last reserves we start the last day of the week heading towards Colle del Teleccio (3304 m), where a fantastic panoramic ski run through Valeille down to Lillaz (1617 m) is awaiting us. After five days of hard physical work with stunning views, new experiences and excellent skiing we return to Courmayeur in the evening.

Day 7 Saturday : Departure day
Day of departure back home.

Small groups
We recommend to be at most 4 skiers/guide during these weeks. Some weeks there are two guides with independent groups working together. However, we travel independently so that the groups can ski different lines.

Personal equipment
The following is an equipment list. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us. Equipment marked with * can be provided by your guide when needed.

• Skis with AT bindings (Dynafit or Diamir type) that should be light but stable for the downhill skiing.
• Climbing skins adapted to your skis.
• Poles, adjustable with big baskets that can be mounted on a backpack.
• Ski crampons
• Ski touring boots
• Backpack, 35-45 liters, with straps for skis and poles.
• Ice axe, straight classic model 40-50 cm.*
• Crampons, light but durable. We do not recommend aluminum crampons.*
• Avalanche transceiver*
• Shovel*
• Probe*
• Harness, light with adjustable leg loops.*
• Ski goggles, “orange/yellow” lenses to be used at bad weather.
• Sunglasses, category 3-4.
• Gortex jacket or similar.
• Gortex pants or similar with ventilation possibilities.
• Down jacket lightweight.
• 2 pairs of base layer, synthetic or wool.
• 2 pairs of ski socks.
• Mid layer
• Thin gloves
• Insulated gloves
• Hat and balaclava to protect your face in bad weather.
• Sun hat to protect you against the Sun.
• Head torch with spare batteries.
• Sun block
• Water bottle (1-2 liters), since we do not recommend Camelback systems.
• Travel sheets to sleep in at the huts.
• Small repair kit.
• Small medical kit.

Included
• Professional Mountain Guide authorized by UIAGM/IFMGA.
• All transport during the week including return to Courmayeur.
• Ski passes
• Hotel accommodation in twin double rooms including breakfast before and after the week (a single room can, where possible be arranged at additional cost).
• Nights at mountain huts including breakfast and dinner.
• Fantastic views and excellent skiing in the national park of Gran Paradiso.

Not included
• Lunch and drinks up in the mountain huts.
• Personal ski touring equipment (see list above).
• Travel to/from Courmayeur.
• Mandatory insurance to cover mountain rescue costs.

Number of days: 5 days ski tour, 6 nights accommodation.
Price: Please contact us.


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