DescriptionIMPORTANT NOTICE: THE HUTS IS CLOSED AND NOT USABLE!!! Starting from Monday 6th August 2006 and until further notice the hut is closed for major strenghtening work to its foundation, a preliminary to the complete rebuilding of the hut, due for the end of the year. This DOES include the winter hut too!
It should be reminded that ACCESS TO THE HUT PLATFORM IS FORBIDDEN, at least until works will finish.
The "Francesco Gonella" hut was the third opened on this side of MB (in 1891), and after the progressive decrease of traffic in the classic Tournette spur (first line on the Miage wall), it has become THE headquarter for those interested in climbing Mt. Blanc from the Italian side.
The hut is composed by two relatively spacious buildings, with 44 beds plus 22 in the winter hut. It's property of the UGET section of the Italian Alpine Club (CAI). Always open, with a warden (restaurant service) from mid-June to September (call +39 165 88101 or see www.rifugiogonella.com).
However, it can be opened on request in May and early June, weekends only. The winter hut is equipped with blankets and cooking tools, including a stove. The accomodations are more spartan than on the Gouter or the Grand Mulets huts, but comfortable, clean and far less crowded
The Gonella is located at 3072m above the Italian Miage glacier and on the left side of the Dome glacier. From the hut there's a magnificent view over the Miage Face of Mt. Blanc, and on the opposite side over the Trelatete NE wall.
AccessDiff. F, 1400m, 5-5.30h:
From La Visaille/Plan Lognan, 1670 m. (in Val Veny, car park and a couple of small restaurants - reachable by car or using the bus service in 30 minutes from Courmayeur), walk 1 hour on the car road that goes up gently for almost 3 km. until the panoramic Plan Combal, 1990m (tiny bar/restaurant here - a little deviations brings you in 5 minutes to the glacial Lac Miage). Until 1992 it was possible to drive up here, but massive rockfall from the adjacent Mt. Fortin has made local authorities put a barrier at Plan Lognan. There are plans to have the road reverted back to a forest trail.
From Plan Combal, follow the indications to "Rif. Gonella" (trail number "S15" marked in yellow). The trail pass briefly a gorgeous grassy area, the goes up steeply to reach the glacier moraine, first on a grassy/stony narrow ridge (awkward in rainy condition, pay attention here) then towards the centre covered with boulders and rocks (yellow painted sign points). In 2 or 3 hours, after passing the confluence of the Mont Blanc and Dome glacier to the right and the Trelatete couloir on the left, you reach the base of Aiguille Grises ridge (the Gonella Hut is very visible above you). Leave the glacier at 2650m (again, follow the indications) taking a small path through a zone of rock/grass terraces called locally "Chaux De Pesse" (the name means "the pasture of the fir") or "Tsa Seche" ("the dry pasture"). After a last section partially equipped with fixed ropes (some scrambling here), in 1 hour, you're Gonella Hut.
If you want to avoid the 3 km of road at the beginning, there's a variation starting right from the car park near the picnic area (500m before Plan Lognan): take the trail marked "Casolari Freney". After crossing the Dora river on two bridges, on the left, take the path marked "Lago Delle Marmotte" (trail number S18). The path (with many ups and downs) cross all the tree covered lower part of the moraine, into a small plain where used to be the nice "Marmot Lake", unfortunately destroyed by a huge flood in 2000. From here, there's an evident path going up the moraine again, where it meets the previous itinerary.