The longest Via Ferrata of Val d'Aosta, built in 90ies by Valgrisenche Alpin Guides
, in loving memory of their companions Piero Bethaz and Claudio Bovard.
About 1000 mt of vertical development, 1350 mt total length, 1300 mt of hard-steel-cable, 1850 iron steps (and, of course, 3700 holes to fix them in the rock!), are the impressive numbers of this unique titanic work.
Ascent time: about 4hr-00min/4hr-30min.
- La Bethaz direction, 2h-30min. Trail no. 18.
- From Morion lakes, add 0hr:45min for added ascent. Then 1hr:30min to Bonne Village (trail no. 18 and 16). 0hr:30min back to Valgrisenche.
- Rifugio degli Angeli direction, 1hr:15min for added ascent (the shelter is about at 2930 mt.) then 2hr:45 to get back at Valgrisenche. Trail n. 18 to Rifugio degli Angeli, then trail n. 16 to Bonne and Valgrisenche. Very long descent!
Three "ways out" to quit ascent with Via Ferrata.
Suggestions: it's better a safe sunny day. Avoid this journey with unstable weather. 8 AM. in the morning is the best time to start from Fontina Warehouse.
Once passed Valgrisenche village, forward to Bonne direction (to the dam) and just before the short tunnel, turn right on a narrow paved road. After a couple of hairpin bends, park the car in front of 'Le Vieux Quartier', and old fortress turned in a hotel.
Once ready, walk for a minute to a warehouse (Fontina - aostan chees -warehouse) exactly placed at the foot of a rocky step.
Immediately at left side of this building, the Via Ferrata begins ...
This very long Via Ferrata is mainly divided into four quarters.
First quarter, from 1700mt to 1930mt:
maybe the most technical and dangerous part, because rocks are often wet or covered by carpet of musk. It's immediately vertical with a lot of catwalks to cross between small slippery slabs.
A pair of athletic passages to pass aside roofs and overhanging rocks. This quarter ends with easy slabs when Via Ferrata meets trail no. 17 (at Climbing Ground).
Time: 1hr-30 min about
Way out: right (N direction, descent) to Valgrisenche or left (S direction) with a long traverse to Arp Vieille village.
Second quarter, from 1950mt to 2180mt:
Once reached trail no. 17, turn left (S dir. follow yellow panel) and in 5 minutes Via Ferrata begins again on vertical and easier short slabs. After a large grass ledge, a series of spectacular inclined slabs. Then other easy passages, mixed with longer slabs brings Via Ferrata to "Grandes Laures", a very large balcony with sightseen on Grand Combin, Matterhorn and other far mountains.
Way out: a narrow and difficult trail to get back at trail no. 17. Weak traces
The "Grandes Laures" natural balcony. Follow N-NE direction on a weak traced trail, descending for few meters. The trail passes under a huge wall, then begins to re-gain elevation. In about 15 minutes the trail stands at the feet of the Great Slab.
Third quarter, from 2180 mt to 2350 mt:
Once reached the Great Slab, take a deep breath and begin to attack this wonderful and vertical wall. No technical difficulties: maybe a sense of vertigo at the top. Use the clippers to take your deserved shot from Great Slab top.
After the "great thrill" a lot of funny and easy passages bring to the ridge ascent.
Way out: there is a possibility at quota 2350mt, heading to La Bethaz, on a very weak trace. Very difficult to find
Four quarter, from 2350 mt to 2605 mt.:
The final ridge. Maybe the most funny quarter, because there are a lot of possibilities to forward without iron steps, using bare hands to climb. Very exciting passages in full safe mode. Last 65 meters on a large ridge to get the summit.
Time: 0hr-45 min.
From Becca d'Aouill summit, turn back and follow the well-marked path which descend steep the northern flank. A fixed cable helps the very steep descent. Once arrived at the base, cross a stonyground and get at an unknown pass, where there is the trail no. 18
1) The shortest: to La Bethaz Village.
Follow trail in descent (N-NE dir.) direction. At Miollet village (1895 mt) turn right always on trail no. 18. A very steep descent ends at La Bethaz village 1hr:45min. 20 minutes to get back at Valgrisenche.
2) Once arrived at the pass, follow the large trail S-SW direction. It takes about 1hr to arrive at Morion Lakes (2804 mt. the lowest). A weak trace brings to Arp Vieille village. Do not follow this path in the fog! More than 2hr:30min.
3) The longest. Via "Rifugio degli Angeli". As for descent above described, arrived at Morion lake, head toward the visible shelter, always on trail no. 18. At about 2930 mt the descent to Arp Vieille Valley begins. Continue on trail no. 16 (the natural follow up of no. 18). No difficulties to follow the trail to Arp Vieille village, then to Bonne (paved road). From Bonne to Valgrisenche, back to the park car it takes about 30 min. About 4hr for this descent.
- Mountain gear
- A 'Via Ferrata kit' ("Y" lounge with two karabiners and a friction plate). Follow this link
for an example. Instead of Ferrata kit, two longues with friction plates, at least 9mm diameter with two karabiners.
- A pair of clippers could be useful
- Mountain boots