Valle Cairasca

Valle Cairasca

Page Type Page Type: Area/Range
Location Lat/Lon: 46.25419°N / 8.16868°E
Activities Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering, Scrambling, Skiing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Elevation: 11466 ft / 3495 m
Sign the Climber's Log


Cairasca valley is located in the North West of the Lepontine Alps range and its territory is neighboring at West with the helvetian area of Simplon pass.
From the small village of Varzo, adjacent to the highway SS36 of Simplon pass, the narrow groove of the valley ascends till the village of San Domenico, where the valley opens in a first cirque of lovely meadows till the small settlement of Nembro.
Nembro is also the point where the public road that comes from Varzo stops. A private and not paved road goes on crossing the narrow canyon carved by the river and entering in the end the great cirque of Alpe Veglia.
The area around this cirque is the site of a natural park that, together with the neighboring one of Alpe Devero, is the most important protected site of this part of Piedmont after Val Grande wilderness area.
Above Alpe Veglia a range of great summits with an elevation major than 3000m closes Cairasca valley and forms the border line with Switzerland.
The most important summit is Monte Leone(3553m), which skyline is easy recognizable also from the plane of Lombardy near Milan.
From the top of Monte Leone the border ridge descends toward East forming secondary summits as Punta Valgrande and Monte Teggiolo, while at North, after Aurona pass, the most important pass to move from Veglia to Simplon, the ridge climbs to other great mountains such as Punta Terrarossa(Wasenhorn, 3246m), Punta del Rebbio(Borthelhorn, 3195m) and Helsenhorn(3272m).
At East of these last mentioned peaks, another important ridge forms Pizzo Diei(2980m), Monte Cistella and the big watershed with Antigorio Valley.
Cairasca Valley is a fancy area for trekking and easy mountaineering with notable possibilities also for ski-mountaineering.
During winter the chair lift of Alpe Ciamporino permits to ski over good slopes with some possibilities also for free-riding in security.

Valle Cairasca. google Earth sight.3D map

Getting There

The valley is easy reachable by car from the exit for Varzo of the highway SS33, that connects Milan to Brig passing by Simplon pass.
By train you can get to the station of Iselle, at the Italian entrance of the long tunnel of the international railway of Simplon, or to the station of Varzo.
Then you must use a taxi to reach San Domenico or if you are well trained nad you like pedaling you can use a bycicle, the distance to San Domenico is less than 20 Km with an elevation to gain that is almost 1100m.

Alpe Veglia summits from SEThe 3000s of Alpe Veglia

Red Tape

No red tape.


In San Domenico and in Varzo there are some hotels.
In the valley there are also two campings, one is located in the small village of Ponte, at half the way between Varzo and San Domenico, another one is instead housed inside the park of Alpe Veglia.
See the link section for more info about the accommodations.

Most important summits

Alpe VegliaThe groove of the valley from the top of Leone

The most frequently climbed summits are:

Monte Teggiolo. 2385m.
A nice summit that offers great views, to climb in all seasons by a pleasant hiking route.

Monte Leone. 3553m.
The highest summit of the area is normally climbed starting from Simplon pass on the side of Switzerland, this is in fact the easiest and quickest route. From Alpe Veglia the mostly climbed route reaches Aurona pass and then climbs the North face, it requires climbing skills and is not for hikers. Crampons and ice-axe are also required.

Punta Terrarossa, Wasenhorn. 3246m.
This peak can be climbed from its East ridge that start at Aurona pass. The shortest approach is from Simplon pass, but the longer one from Alpe Veglia is more interesting. The trail is exposed but not difficult and can be climbed also by experienced hikers.

Punta del Rebbio, Bortelhorn. 3095m.
Not often climbed, both from Italy and Switzerland. The normal route is not difficult and crosses a lovely and solitary environment from the meadows below till the iced top. the normal route requires the crossing (from the Helvetian side) of a small glacier and elementary rock climbing skill. Crampons and ice-axe are needed.
Helsenhorn. 3272m.
A savage peak located in a remote position, on the watershed between Devero and Veglia natural parks. The routes are quite long and the morphology of the mountain is complex asking for sense of orientation to the ones that venture on its slopes. Elementary rock climbing skill and some experience in confronting with the high mountain environment are required for the easiest route. Crampons may be needed.

Pizzo Diei & Monte Cistella. 2980m. These twin summits are often climbed starting from San domenico or from Alpe Ciamporino. The normal route is easy (normal hiking and scrambling difficulties) and the view from the top is fantastic.

Other summits less frequented are Punta Valgrande(2817m), Punta Mottiscia(3047m), Corno Brunni(2917m) and Cima di Valtendra(2628m).


Rifugio città di Arona.1750m. The main support point for the area of Alpe Veglia. An important hut often used in alternative to the hotels.

Bivacco Farello. 2800m. at Aurona pass, usefull to climb Terrarossa or the north face of Monte Leone.

Rifugio Crosta Pietro. 1740m. On the south flank of Pizzo Diei.

All these huts are reachable by feet from San Domenico.


The following links are usefull to find info about the accomodation, the trails and whatever is usefull to know.

Alpe Veglia official site

San Domenico and Alpe Ciamporino official site

Official site of the village of Varzo

[img:191661:aligncenter:medium:The groove of the valley from the top of Leone]



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