Mountaineering the Aosta Valley (Valle d’Aosta) – 6 mountains in 7 days, Italy

It’s a marvellous thought – six mountain huts have joined forces to create a seven day climbing tour, beginning and ending within the village of Champoluc. Every night time is spent in a special rifugio and the package deal contains dinner, ready with native merchandise, and DOC wines from the Aosta valley.

The route roughly follows a determine of eight, exploring three valleys, with marvellous views of the Italian Alps together with the Matterhorn and the Monte Rosa vary.

Matterhorn and Chamois

Matterhorn and Chamois

Leaving Turin, after crossing the flatlands, a tortuous drive via twisting hairpins, climbs to the village of Champoluc, within the higher reaches of the Ayas Valley. In earlier instances this space was thought of uninhabitable till it was populated by the Walser individuals, escaping poverty in Switzerland. Today it’s a thriving resort with snowboarding within the winter and mountain biking and climbing in the summertime.

Earlier than I arrive, I’ve already downloaded the App from the web site, which supplies me with a GPS route, and at my lodge I get a map, a light-weight towel and sheet sleeping bag. Though there’s an choice to get your baggage transported, I’m going to be carry all the pieces on my again, so I’ve decreased my load to the naked minimal. I’ve additionally determined, maybe foolishly, to double up on a few levels, reasoning that I can simply handle seven hours of strolling in a day.

Day 1: Champoluc to Rifugio Gran Tournalin 15km

Rifugio Ferraro

Rifugio Ferraro

The climate is obvious and sunny as I set out, climbing up via the forest by a stream and waterfall. It’s pretty steep however I’m contemporary and anxious to get on. That is a type of two stage days, so I’m anxious to get on. I attain the tiny Walser village of Mascognaz, nothing quite a lot of homes and a church, and observe the facet of the Ayas valley to Rifugio Ferraro. This could be usually the top of the primary stage, so I cease for a lunch of polenta and greens, washed down with a glass of beer.

It’s then a steep descent on a pleasing path to Saint-Jacques on the head of the valley, earlier than climbing up via forest on the opposite facet. Above the treeline at round 2000m, there are rumbles of thunder and it begins to hail.

This turns to mild rain however I attain Rifugio Grand Tournalin at round 5 o’clock with out getting actually moist. As in all of the huts, sleeping preparations are in dormitories, however I’m relieved to be sharing with just one different. There’s a hearty meal of minestrone, rooster with fried courgette and lashings of native pink wine and I’m in mattress by 10pm.

Day 2: Rifugio Grand Tournalin to Rifugio Ermitage 10km

After my double exertions yesterday, I’m solely doing a single stage in the present day so can take it straightforward. Climate is sunny as I climb as much as the Col di Nana and am overtaken by a big group of Russian hikers, all carrying heavy packs. I depart mine on the Col to climb the Becca Trecaré, a pointed peak at 3000m and am joined on the summit by the Russians. They’re from the Moscow Membership Alpino and provides me some chocolate, telling me it’s a practice to share on the prime.

Walser Houses

Walser Homes

There’s an honest path all the way down to Cheneil, one other engaging Walser village, widespread for households and their canine. After lunch, one other slight uphill earlier than dropping all the way down to Chamois within the Valtournenche and the Rifugio Ermitage.

Right here I’m delighted to be given a dormitory all to myself, and Antoine, the supervisor, plies me with giant glasses of his draught beer. He’s excited that a group of ladies path runners, together with the native champion, might be additionally spending the night time and I be part of them for dinner.

Day three Rifugio Ermitage to Rifugio Vieux Crest 15.5km

Ayas Valley

Ayas Valley

Not like the path runners who depart at 4am to catch the dawn, I depart at 8am, ready for a protracted day. There’s been a thunderstorm throughout the night time but it surely appears to have cleared. I’m crossing again to the Ayas Valley, so there’s a steep climb to Col Pillonet, however I’m rewarded with superb views of the Matterhorn and the Monte Rosa vary. There’s a pleasing grassy monitor all the best way down and I can see Champoluc beneath me.

Sadly I’m going to be hitting the valley decrease down so it’s a protracted scorching descent to the Evancon River. I’m not notably happy to should climb up once more to Mascognaz, which I handed on the primary day, however the stroll follows a determine of eight and there’s no selection.

I arrive at Rifugio Vieux Crest parched, as I’ve run out of water, however there’s draft beer and a pleasing welcome from the Sara, the proprietor. Even higher I get a room with rest room and bathe and make full use of it. Meals right here can be good.

Day four: Rifugio Vieux Crest to Rifugio Arp 16km

That is one other day once I’m tackling two levels and the climate forecast shouldn’t be good. I begin as early as I can and meet many path runners as I climb as much as the Col Pinter.

At present I’m crossing to the Gressoney Valley and attain Rifugio Alpenzù, simply above, because the rain begins to begin. Lunch is sweet with native cured Bresaola with grilled greens, then pasta carbonara, however exterior it’s stormy.

I don my waterproofs and set out alongside the facet of the valley. The thunder is heavy and flashes of lightning illuminate the timber. Clouds obscure the mountains and I flip to climb steeply and am quickly within the mist. Luckily the trail is properly marked and, as I attain the Colle di Valnera, the rain stops and it begins to clear. Rifugio Arp is just under me and, since I’m fully soaked, I’m grateful for a scorching range to dry my garments.

Day 5:  Rifugio Arp to Champoluc. 9.5km

I set out in thick mist however, as I begin strolling, it begins to clear. I move a number of small lakes on my manner as much as the Colle di Palasinaz. I hear the whistles of Marmots, and startle a few Ibex.

I’m quickly again all the way down to the village of Mascognaz, for the third and final time. Again in Champoluc, regardless that I’ve been within the wilds for a number of days, it feels unusual to be again in civilisation.

I’ve been fortunate – solely a half day of rain and solar for the remainder of the time, with superb views from the tops. It’s an important hike that I can heartily suggest however simply don’t make the error of making an attempt two levels in sooner or later.

Reality File

FLY: BA flies direct from London Gatwick to Turin.

STAY: The Resort L’Aiglon is a snug base in Champoluc.

TOUR: The Tour des Six prices 379 Euros for 7 days trekking, together with six nights half board in mountain huts. They’ll additionally prepare transfers from Turin.

MORE INFO: The Valle d’Aosta  

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