Roc della Niera/Tête des Toilles

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Cuneo, France/Italy, Europe
Mountaineering, Trad Climbing
10423 ft / 3177 m
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Roc della Niera/Tête des Toilles
Created On: Oct 10, 2018
Last Edited On: Oct 11, 2018


Roc della Niera/Tête des Toilles

Roc della Niera
3177 m is a high and slender rock tower belonging to the Alpi Cozie, located along the main watershed line between Italy and France. To be precise, it is located between the Col Blanchatre and the Col Biancetta, in the area of the Colle dell'Agnello 2744 m, a very high alpine road col crossing the watershed between Italy and France, the third highest road crossing in Europe, preceded only by the Stelvio Pass and the Col de l'Iseran.

Roc della Niera and Rocca Bianca annotated panorama
Roc della Niera and Rocca Bianca annotated panorama

Roc della Niera is a beautiful mountain characterized by a bold profile wherever you look at it, but especially when viewed from the Southern, Northern and Eastern sides. From the geological point of view it is made up of gabbro, an intrusive macrocrystalline magmatic rock of good quality and variously colored, from yellow to pink and black. To this latter color is due the name Niera (the translation of "black" in Italian is "nero"). On the French side of the alpine chain the mountain is widely known as Tête des Toilles.

On the mountain there are several climbing routes; the standard route starts from the village of Chianale, located in the Piedmontese Valle Varaita, on the Italian side. This ascent route is easy but involves a single short step on exposed rocks that can be graded II UIAA. Another very interesting route, a little more technical and slightly more difficult than the normal route is the Via dei Diedri, reachable through the same approach as the standard route.

Getting There

Roc della Niera is usually climbed both from the Italian side and the French one.

The standard route from the italian side starts from the small and fascinating village of Chianale in the upper Valle Varaita on the road to Colle dell'Agnello, a very high road pass between Valle Varaita on the italian side and Queyras on the French side.

The traditional old village of Chianale
The traditional old village of Chianale

Road access to Chianale

From the A6 Torino-Savona motorway exit Bra-Marene and take the road to Savigliano, Saluzzo and Valle Varaita (road n. 8). Once you enter the Valle Varaita, drive to Sampeyre and Casteldelfino, overcoming different villages. At the junction in Casteldelfino ignore the left toad to S. Anna di Bellino and take the road on the right to Pontechianale and Chianale, getting to Chianale, the last inhabited village in the valley.

The normal route can also be approached from the French side, starting from the Refuge de la Blanche across the Col de la Noire. The refuge can be reached from St Veran on foot or by taking a shuttle (summer months).

Normal route from Chianale

Roc della Niera Normal Route from Chianale

Summit altitude: m 3177
Difficulty: Alpine PD-, max III grade UIAA 
Vertical gain: 1110 m from the Rio Antolina bridge
Exposure: East, then North-West

A long worthwhile route inside a spectacular setting! The few difficulties are concentrated at the start of the final NW wall, with some climbing moves grading II UIAA. At the beginning of the season when there is still snow or ice on the wall, the climb becomes more challenging (the presence of snow is possible also after some occasional summer snowfalls).

Road approach - From Chianale follow briefly the road to Colle dell'Agnello, then leave the main road and take on the left a road entering Valle Antolina. Park the car on a parking lot 1809 m before crossing a bridge. Proceed briefly across the bridge, after a few meters on the left it begins a path with signposts at the start.

Walking approach

Take this path (U21) that goes up to reach the beautiful Lago Blu at an altitude of 2522 m. Skirt the lake to the right (North) until you reach a fork. Here take the path to the Col Longet, pass near the other beautiful Laghi di Bes and finally reach the Col Longet 2655 m located along the watershed ridge between Italy and France, where it appears a small pond. 

On the col we leave the path U21, turning sharply to the right and starting to go up,  reaching soon the ruins of an old stone alm. Continue to follow the trail with some cairns, climbing the long rocky ridge along the main watershed with magnificent views of the slim rocky pyramid of Roc de la Niera, getting  the quote 2815. From here descend slightly to the Col Blanchatre 3079 m, a small saddle just at the foot of Roc della Niera. Follow the trail rising diagonally on a stones scree under the North wall until you reach the end of the track marked with red marks (commemorative plaque at the base of the route). 

Route report

Climb at first wall a little exposed wall  (II+ UIAA, some pegs) leading to a slanting right ramp, reaching a shoulder. Here turn to left and climb up a second ramp that allows you to reach the South ridge and briefly the summit cross.

Descent: reversing the route

From the cross reach the exit of the easy rocky gully (big peg with ring), downclimb the groove down to a small shoulder, from which you can do a 25 m abseil (anchor in place) or downclimb. At the next anchor with a second shorter abseil reach the base of the wall

Via dei Diedri

Roc della Niera Via dei Diedri

Summit altitude: m 3177
Difficulty: Alpine PD, max III grade UIAA 
Vertical gain: 1300 m from the Rio Antolina bridge
Exposure: North-West

It's slightly more difficult than the Normal route, but it is much more fun and advisable. Same approach as for the Normal route. The starting point is found before the previous route, about 50 meters to the right,  at the base of an open dihedral (red arrow) of about 20 meters which is climbed with some moves of III grade UIAA. After the first dihedral climb a second one on the left (a short move of III). This dihedral is slanting right and leads to a ledge. Head to left (II+), then to right, getting a saddle between the fore-summit and the summit. Turn to left and climb up the S summit ridge to the summit cross.

Descent: along the Normal route (see the description at the previous chapter)

Red Tape

No particulary restrictions in hiking and climbing. 

When to Climb

Best season goes from the end of June to middle September. 

Where to stay

The new Bivacco Enrico Olivero near Col Longet, Valle Varaita
The new Bivacco Enrico Olivero near Col Longet

Italian side

Rifugio Alevè 1600 m
Rifugio Savigliano 1743 m

Bivacco Enrico Olivero - Col Longet  2649 m

Other kinds of accomodation in upper Valle Varaita: bed and breakfast and agriturismo

French side

Refuge de la Blanche


Meteo ARPA Piemonte

Roc della Niera map

Meteo France

Guidebooks and maps

Escalade en Queyras entre France et ItalieMonte Viso Alpi Cozie MeridionaliMonviso Valle Varaita-Po-Pellice IGC  map


“Monte Viso – Alpi Cozie Meridionali” by Michelangelo Bruno – Collana CAI-TCI Guide dei Monti d’Italia

“Pays du Viso – Escalade en Queyras entre France et Italie” by Sylvain Pusnel and Guillaume Vallot


"Monviso-Valle Varaita-Valle Po-Valle Pellice" - IGC sheet 106 1:25000

Roc della Niera/Tête des Toilles

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