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Gran Paradiso chain view from west (photos by besucher01), starting from La Grivola, on the left, including Gran Serz, Herbetet, Becca di Montandaynè, Piccolo Paradiso, Gran Paradiso, Becca di Moncorvè, Tresenta, Ciarforon, Becca di Monciair and ending with Denti del Broglio, on the right.
Also Punta Fourà, Taou Blanc in the foreground (and Levanne in the background) are recognizable.
The Gran Paradiso group includes the only 4.000 meter summit entirely in Italian territory, that is the namesake summit that reaches 4.061 meters. According to an unlikely theory, also la Grivola (sung by the Italian poet Giosuè Carducci, winner of the 1906 Nobel prize for literature) formerly touched the height of 4.000m, before shrinking to the present 3.969 meters, due to a collapse of its summit spire.
Gran Paradiso is one of the most important groups of the Western Alps; in particular it belongs to Alpi Graie (Graian Alps). Its western and eastern boundaries are not exactly identified: the geological limits are generally placed W at Col del Nivolet (2.612m) and E at Col dell'Arietta (2.939m), whereas the debated geographical limits are placed W at Col di Rhemes or Punta Basei (3.338m), E at Rosa dei Banchi (3.164m) or Bec Pragelas (2.908m).
In the latter case, the borders coincide with the ones of Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso, the first Italian National Park instituted in the year 1922, approximately on the area that had been the Royal Hunting Preserve.
King Vittorio Emanuele II had wanted the preserve, in order to prevent the extinction of steinbock (Capra ibex) and chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra), of which he was an inveterate hunter.
Handmade map of the Gran Paradiso National Park. In red the limits of the Park, in black the border between the northern sector (Valle d'Aosta) and the southern one (Piemonte)
Both group and park extend over Valle d'Aosta and Piemonte, whose border is just the ridge, belonging to the Gran Paradiso group and running from west to east. In Valle d'Aosta, a series of ranges developing in the south-north direction separates the different valleys; from the west the three principal valleys: val di Rhemes, Valsavarenche and valle di Cogne, which in turn originates Valnontey (that is the heart of the Group), Valeille, and the secondary valleys of Bardoney and Acque Rosse.
In the Piemontese sector, starting from Valle dell'Orco, the main valley of Ceresole Reale that runs from east to west, a series of secondary valleys originates, directed approximately northwards: the "valloni" of Soana, Campiglia, Forzo, Eugio, Piantonetto, Noaschetta, Gias della Losa, Goi, Ciamousseretto, Roc, all divided by ridges less imposing than the ones in the Valle d'Aosta sector.
Valle dell'Orco played a fairly important role in the history of rock climbing in Italy in the 1970s. Besides, in the Vallone del Piantonetto one can find fantastic gneiss on the Becco di Valsoera, Becco della Tribolazione and many other local summits, drops up to 700 m and all kinds of difficulties.
Valle di Cogne
From Torino, Milano, etc: motorway A5. Exit at Aosta Ovest. Drive to the near Aymavilles. Follow the directions for Valle di Cogne.
From Switzerland: through the Grand Saint Bernard Tunnel or the namesake Pass.Drive to Aosta, then follow the direction for Courmayeur on SS.26. Just after Sarre, turn to the left, in the direction of Valle di Cogne.
From France: through Mont Blanc Tunnel or Petit St. Bernard Pass. It isn't necessary to take Motorway A5: you can drive on SS.26, in the direction of Aosta. Before arriving at the village of Sarre, turn right following the sign for Valle di Cogne.
After Aymavilles, the Regional Road n° 47 crosses the villages of Vieyes, Epinel and Cretaz and after about 25 Km arrives at Cogne (1.534m). From Cogne you can get the villages of Lillaz (1.617m) or Valnontey (1.666m).Val di Rhemes and Valsavarenche
From France, through the Mont Blanc Tunnel or the Col du Petit Saint Bernard: you can drive on SS.26, following the direction for Aosta and, before arriving in Villeneuve, turn right towards Introd. Alternatively, you can take motorway A5 (at Courmayeur or Morgex) and exit at Aosta Ovest.
From all other directions: get to the Aosta Ovest exit of motorway A5. Then drive along SS.26 Aosta, direction Courmayeur, and just after Villeneuve turn left towards Introd.
Shortly after Introd, you arrive at a junction:
you can go straight following the sign "Val di Rhêmes"and then drive through Rhêmes Saint Georges as far as Rhêmes Notre Dames; after the main village, Bruil (1.723m), the road reaches the hamlet of Pellaud, then becomes narrower and may be followed as far as the vast parking in view of Thumel (1.880m). From here the road follows but the transit is forbidden.
or you can turn left, entering in Valsavarenche, and through many villages (Degioz, Eaux Rousses, etc) you can arrive at Pont (1.978m) where the road ends.
Southern valleys of the Gran Paradiso Group
Coming from Torino: motorway A5 towards Aosta - take exit "S. Giorgio Canavese" or follow the road SS n°460 towards Ceresole Reale as far as Pont Canavese (461m)
Going North along Val Soana, after Ronco Canavese (956m) get to Valprato Soana (1.113m): at a fork, going NE takes you to Campiglia Soana (1.350m), while going NW takes you to the upper valley (Pianetto-Pamprato)
Before Pont Canavese, turn left and go into the Valle di Forzo as far as the homonymous village (1.180m )
after Pont Canavese, continue along the SS n° 460 until Locana (613m): from here you can walk, entering Valle d'Eugio.
After Locana, when you arrive at the village of Rosone (715m), 16 km after Pont Canavese, take a small road on the right, following the sign "Piantonetto Valley": the road ends near Teleccio Lake (1.870m).
Following along the Valle dell'Orco, 10 km after Rosone you get to Noasca (1.062m): from here you can reach the Noaschetta valley that, after Alpe la Bruna (2.473m), divides into Vallone di Goi and Vallone del Gias della Luna, or Vallone di Ciamousseretto, where you can arrive more laboriously from the following Vallone del Roc.
After Noasca, the road climbs along a gorge (Caporal and Sergent walls) and then arrives at the upper wide basin where, on the shore of an artificial lake, you meet Ceresole Reale (1.613m), 33 km after Pont Canavese. From Ceresole starts a controversial road that enter Gran Paradiso National Park and, after Serrù Lake and Agnel Lake, climbs up to Colle del Nivolet (2.612m). Luckily the original absurd project to continue the road on the other side, in order to connect with Pont (Valsavarenche) through the Piani del Nivolet, was stopped in time.
Southern side of Gran Paradiso Range seen from La Cialma 2.193m
1 – Ciarforon 3.642m
1 – Colle del Ciarforon 3.317m
2 – Tresenta 3.609m
2 – Colle di Moncorvè 3.294m
3 – Becca di Moncorvè 3.875m
3 – Colle del Gran Paradiso 3.345m
4 – Gran Paradiso 4.061m
4 – Colle della Becca di Moncorvè 3.851m
5 – Cresta Gastaldi 3.894m
5 – Colle dell’Ape (Col de l’Abeille) 3.873m
6 – Punta di Ceresole 3.777m
6 – Colle Chamonin 3.698m
7 – Testa della Tribolazione 3.642m
7 – Colle della Luna 3.542m
8 – Testa di Valnontey 3.562m
8 – Colle Baretti 3.432m
9 – Becca di Gay 3.621m
10 - Roccia Viva 3.650m
11 - I Gemelli 3.610/3.618m
12 - Punta Elter 3.603m
13 - Becco della Pazienza 3.606m
When to Climb
During the summer, usually; during the other seasons one must evaluate the characteristics of the destination summit.
Within the borders of the P.N.G.P. (Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso), at the moment (summer 2005), dogs generally are not allowed, except on a pair of trails, and camping is forbidden (except above 2.500m from sunset till dawn).No fees are due.
You can get meteo information at the official site of the Regione Valle d'AostaValle d'Aosta Meteo Weather forecasting concerning both Piemonte and Valle d'Aosta can be found at nimbus.it
There are plenty of camping sites along the Gran Paradiso valleys. Remember that free camping is forbidden (except for emergency reasons, over 2.500 m, from darkness until dawn).
Books and Maps
E. Andreis, R. Chabod, M.C. Santis "Guida dei Monti d'Italia - Gran Paradiso Parco Nazionale" Club Alpino Italiano / Touring Club Italiano, 1980 (in Italian)
L. Zavatta Le valli del Gran Paradiso e la Valgrisenche, guide dell'Escursionista, 2003 (in Italian)
Giulio Berruto "Il Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso (Valli Soana-Orco-Rhêmes-Valgrisenche)” N°3/volume 1°, IGC, Torino 1981, 2a edizione 2000. (in Italian)
Giulio Berruto "Il Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso (Valli di Champorcher-Clavalitè-Saint Marcel-Laures-Cogne-Valsavarenche-Conca di Pila)” N°3/volume 2°, IGC, Torino 1981, 2a edizione 2000. (in Italian)
M. Oviglia Rock Paradise Arrampicate classiche, moderne e sportive nelle valli del Gran Paradiso, Collana Luoghi Verticali, Edizioni Versante Sud, 2000 (in italian) suggested by Gasgenova
A. Gogna, G. P. Motti, "Escursioni ed arrampicate nel Canavese",Tamari Editori (in Italian) suggested by Brenta
KompassGran Paradiso Valle d'AostaSentieri e rifugi-Carta turistica 1:50000
IGC-Istituto Geografico CentraleValsavarenche Val di Rhêmes ValgrisencheCarta dei sentieri e dei rifugi 1:25000
IGC-Istituto Geografico CentraleGran Paradiso La Grivola CogneCarta 1:25000
I.G.M. -Istituto Geografico MilitareFoglio 41 1:25000I NO La Grivola - I SO Gran Paradiso - I NE Cogne - I SE Torre del Gran San Pietro - II NO Fornolosa - II NE Ceresole Reale - III NE Colle del Nivolet - IV NE Rhêmes Saint George - IV SE Rhêmes Notre Dame
Many thanks are due to all the friends who supported me in different ways. Besides Maria Grazia, Beppe, Gabriele, Paolo, Sergio, Diego, Mathias and Marco, my thanks go in particular to:
Antonio for all his "stamps" used to illustrate the tables of the watersheds
Fabio for the supervision of my otherwise shaky English language
Gangolf for his continuous and precious suggestions
If you have information about this mountain that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.