Completely located in Aosta Valley, Gran Serra, also called Gran Sertz 3552 m., is a beautiful mountain belonging to the Gran Paradiso Massif, Gran Serra Subgroup, lying on the watersheed between Valsavarenche and Valnontey (Cogne). Gran Serra is mostly covered by glaciers, but the culminating part has a small rock castle formed from some large blocks suspended above the wide glaciers.
While not a flashy summit, it's a majestic mountain and highly coveted by the mountaineers in reason of its great position, its sweeping summit views and the profitability and pleasantness of its Normal Route from the Rifugio Vittorio Sella.
All these reasons make Gran Serra Normal route, later described, a totally advisable itinerary and often attended, but along which you will never meet the crowd of most famous mountains.
The starting resort to climb Gran Serra Normal Route is the little hamlet of Valnontey 1682 m. near the village of Cogne 1544 m., located at the end of the homonym valley.
Road access to Valnontey
From Torino or Milano take the A5 Motorway and exit Aosta Ovest, getting Aymavilles and following the road entering Val di Cogne, about 25 km. long and traveled by Grand Eyvia stream. The valley penetrates into the heart of Gran Paradiso massif, getting to Vieyes, Ponte Laval bridge, Epinel, Cretaz, La Villa 1534 m, the main town of Cogne municipality, and just beyond Valnontey.
Trail to Refuge Vittorio Sella
From Valnontey 1.666 m. cross the wooden bridge over the stream to get the "Giardino Alpino Paradisia". At first the path runs along the fence of "Paradisia", then enters the forest. The well-marked trail rises with several hairpins reaching a rock wall with a view of a waterfall and an ancient alp.
At the end of the forest it takes a long diagonal getting the last slopes defending the access to the basin where it's situated the hut. After a bridge crossing again the stream, the path rises with some hairpins, getting to the lodge of Gran Paradiso National Park and further to the double building of Rifugio Vittorio Sella m. 2588.
Gran Serra Normal route from Rifugio Vittorio Sella
Difficulty: Alpine F+
Difference in level: 975 m. from the shelter
Time required: 4 hours to the summit
A classic and easy alpine route into the heart of Grand Paradiso National Park. The setting is wonderful!
From the refuge head to South, overstep the stream and cross the pastures to the left, following the well-marked trail along the steep moraine debris leading to the Lauson Glacier. Cross the glacier left direction on moderate slopes, getting to the base of two scree-gullies, similar in length, slope and amount of unstable blocks and about 80 meters high.
Climb one of the two gullies that allows to overcome the rocky barrier separating the Lauson Glacier from the Grand Val Glacier and leading to a collar above the rocks at about 3200 m. of altitude. From the collar across some granite blocks get to the Grand Val Glacier.
Up the glacier with a wide semicircle, as far as it joins the Southern ridge of Gran Serra. Climb up, overcoming some easy rocks and blocks. The short ending chimney culminates on the tiny summit table, on which it stands a small cross.
Descent: reversing the route
Rope, ice-ax, crampons, high mountain boots and clothes
Gran Serra is situated inside P.N.G.P. Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso, one of the hystorical national parks in Italy, belonging to the provinces of Aosta and Torino. Free camping is not allowed and fires are forbidden. The whole fauna and flora are protected.
- Rifugio Vittorio Sella 2858 m
Situation: Alpe Lauson - Gran Paradiso National Park
Open: from 19/03 to 05/05 and from 28/05 to 25/09
Owner: Club Alpino Italiano Sez. Biella
Hut's phone : 0039-0165-74310 - 0039-0165-551658 - Mobile 0039-3491899168
Getting There: from Valnontey m 1666 (3 hour)
Mountaineering: from June to September
Ski-Mountaineering: from April to May
"Gran Paradiso Parco Nazionale" E. Andreis, R. Chabod, M. C. Santis, Club Alpino Italiano-Touring Club Italiano
Kompass "Gran Paradiso Valle d'Aosta Sentieri e rifugi" 1:50.000. I.G.C. Istituto Geografico Centrale "Gran Paradiso-La Grivola-Cogne" 1:25.000.