Rocciamelone is the first mountain of the world for whom we have a certain first ascent date, and a name for the summiter - on Sept. 1, 1358 the local nobleman Bonifacio Rotario D'Asti ascended to the summit bringing a small metal image of the Holy Virgin, as a sign of gratitude for having survived slavery with the Turks.
This was the first ascent, but actually this mountain had seen several attempt made by knights or monks, usually as a form of pilgrimage. Bonifacio Rotario was, however, the first.
The mountain was considered the highest of the Alps for centuries, probably because of its visibility from the Pianura Padana, and the enormous height gain above the ancient roman city of Susa.
The mount Rocciamelone is situated in Piemonte region (Italy) near the border with the France. There aren't higher mountain near its peak, so during the clear days is possible to admire a nice view!
By car from Torino to Susa (North-West Italy - Piemonte) and from Susa by military road to "La Riposa" (2205 m.), where is situated a parking area. You follow the path to the refuge "Ca d'Asti" (2854 m.) where it's possible to sleep (1 hour and half from "La Riposa"). The people who administer this refuge are very kind and hospitable.
In the morning you can climb the mountain in about three hours from the refuge on a easy route with the help of some ropes in the last part of the path. On the peak there is a bivouac in wich is possible to sleep but be carefull because the temperature is very cold and you sould need the necessary equipment for low temperature
Look the map at alpioccidentali.it"
So, the normal routes are two, one from the italian side (a path leads to the summit shelter/chapel along the southern side), being a long walk up (look the description on this section), the other from the french side, a F grade outing first following the right bank of Rocciamelone glacier, then up the north ridge on easy rock/scree. Best is to make a N/S traverse, starting from Bessans in the french Maurienne valley, but you'll have to bivouac somewhere around l'Arcelle chalets : the wonderful Ribon valley is worth a visit. *
No permit is required. You can leave the car in a free parking area in "La Riposa", near the start of the path to the peak. But be carefull to the military way to arrive to the parking, very bad and with a lot of holes!
The best season to climb Rocciamelone is during the summer period, specially July and August. In the other periods is possible to find ice on the path so can be quite dangerous (but the ropes can help you!).
Mountain Conditions, books and maps
Check the wheather forecast and any mountain condition at meteo
Books : Best up to date is "ALPI GRAIE MERIDIONALI", published by Club Alpino Italiano (1980) in the "Guida dei Monti d'Italia" series with full descriptions, photos, etc.
Maps : 1/25000 "TOP 25" series (french)
There is a camping in Susa, the village in wich you have to take the military road to reach "La Riposa" where starts the path to the refuge and to the peak.
There is also a recovery on the peak (ask at Ref. Ca d'Asti).
Refuge "Ca D'Asti"
(2854 m.): +39-0122-33192
The Mother of the Lord in the SummitMESSAGE OF JOHN PAUL II
ON THE FIRST CENTENARY OF THE ERECTION OF THE STATUE OF THE MOTHER OF THE LORD ON THE SUMMIT OF MOUNT ROCCIAMELONE
1. I was pleased to learn that this year the Church in Valsusa is celebrating the first centenary of the statue of the Mother of the Lord erected on Mount Rocciamelone. Remembering with gratitude the festive welcome I was given on 14 July 1991 during my Pastoral Visit to Susa, and the profound moment of prayer in the Cathedral of St Justus in front of the triptych that Bonifacio Rotario, a citizen of Asti, carried to that peak on 1 September 1358, I would like to join spiritually in the celebrations by which the entire diocesan community intends to mark this significant anniversary.
A hundred years ago, in spiritual continuity with the ancient act of faith that gave birth to Marian devotion on Rocciamelone, Canon Antonio Tonda, provost of the cathedral, and Prof. Giovanni Battista Ghirardi, encouraged by Bl. Bishop Edoardo Giuseppe Rosaz, thought of erecting a statue of the Blessed Virgin on the highest peak of the western Alps, which was later done with the generous contribution of 130,000 "children of Italy". With this project, imitating the disciple whom Jesus loved (cf. Jn 19:27), the Church in Valsusa showed her desire to welcome Mary "into her home", so that she would repeat to the sons and daughters of this land what she once said at Cana in Galilee: "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2:5).
Mary's presence has thus made Rocciamelone a centre of evangelization where the faithful, receiving the message of salvation as if from their Mother's lips, can rediscover and experience with new freshness their joy and dignity as adopted children of God. How many things could the image of the Virgin recount! Victories over selfishness and sin, forgiveness given and received acts of reconciliation and altruism which have made the history of Rocciamelone a unique "history of souls" whose chapters are jealously guarded in their Mother's heart.
2. At the foot of the Cross, Jesus spoke those words which amount to a testament: "Woman, behold, your son!" (Jn 19:26). "The Mother of Christ, who stands at the very centre of this [paschal] mystery - a mystery which embraces each individual and all humanity - is given as mother to every single individual and all mankind. The man at the foot of the Cross is John, "the disciple whom he loved". But it is not he alone. Following tradition, the Council does not hesitate to call Mary "the mother of Christ and Mother of mankind"" (Redemptoris Mater, n. 23).
From that moment, no one on earth would any longer be "an orphan". Well aware of this, the Church has never stopped drawing beneficial consequences from Mary's "motherhood". In particular, she recognized at the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council that the Virgin of Nazareth's participation in the work of redemption made her for the Christian people "mother, model ... a pre-eminent and unique member of the Church" (cf. Lumen gentium, n. 53), attributing to her intercession a universal dimension in space and time: She is Mother to all and Mother for ever. The goal of her mission is to reproduce in believers the features of her first-born Son (cf. Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Marialis cultus, n. 57), bringing them at the same time to recover ever more clearly that image and likeness of God in which they were created (cf. Gn 1:26).
The faithful know they can count on the heavenly Mother's concern: Mary will never abandon them. By taking her into their own home as a supreme gift from the heart of the crucified Christ, they are assured a uniquely effective presence in the task of showing the world in every circumstance the fruitfulness of love and the authentic meaning of life.
3. May the centenary therefore become a privileged opportunity for this diocesan community to adore "the wise plan of God, who has placed within his family (the Church), as in every home, the figure of a woman, who in a hidden manner and in a spirit of service watches over that family 'and carefully looks after it until the glorious day of the Lord'" (Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Marialis cultus, Introduction).
An important initiative, in the context of the celebrations, will be the peregrinatio of the venerated image to all the parishes of the Diocese. I warmly hope, as was formerly the case in 1948 at the end of the Second World War, that thanks to the practical cooperation of priests, religious and the whole ecclesiastic community, this event will be a privileged moment of evangelization, formation and Christian commitment. May the journey of Our Lady's statue through the various Vicariates be a favourable time to celebrate the mystery of Christ in union with his Mother and help to increase faith, hope and charity in the peoples of Valsusa!
Recalling the marvels wrought by the Lord in the People of God, may the Virgin inspire in the faithful a deep desire for contemplation and praise, which will increase their zeal and open the heart of each one to the material and spiritual needs of his brethren.
May the Blessed Virgin's example foster a deep love for Sacred Scripture and prompt a readiness to do the Lord's will. May the peregrinatio be a time of grace and of fervent celebration of the sacraments of Christian life. Reconciled with the heavenly Father and nourished with the Body and Blood of the Lord, may Christians gathered round their Mother receive an abundant shower of gifts from the Spirit, which will make them apostles of the third millennium and authentic witnesses of the risen Christ in the family, the workplace, school and every other context in which people are striving to build the civilization of love together.
4. I would like to entrust you, venerable Brother, the priests, religious, families, youth, the sick and all the faithful to Our Lady of Rocciamelone, who for centuries has accompanied the Church in Valsusa with her constant protection, so that the whole diocesan community, supported by the heavenly Mother's love, can follow Christ with renewed dynamism and witness to him with a zealous life and works on the threshold of the new millennium.
As pledge of these hopes, I affectionately impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you all.
From the Vatican, 8 March 1999.
JOHN PAUL II