the Gran Paradiso

 

First Italian peak trek, the Gran Paradiso – September 2015

Oct 3, 2015 | Travel

After a beautiful trip to the higher grounds of Europe, just out of reach for the dark clouds we returned home safely with a lot of nice pictures and memories to never forget.

We topped the Gran Paradiso in Italy with an open sky and temperatures high above zero, that’s how it felt to me at least.

Gran Paradiso

Elevation: 4.061 m, 13.323 ft
Parent range, location: Graian Alps, Aosta Valley, Italy
First Ascent: September 4, 1860

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 The Team 

Our passionate hiker and personal mountain guide Roger takes us this time to the mountains of Italy, to be precise the Gran Paradiso. His trips are worth it, beautiful and magical but sometimes a bit underrated. Of course, you never know what lies ahead of you and the mountains are neither for wussies. Things can really go from perfect to pretty bad in no time, like weather changes from sunny to snowy in just half an hour time. Always check with the hutmaster before you depart!

His fellow companion Marc frequently joins Roger on his travels and he is a wonderful indoor and outdoor climber as well.

Rather a bit new to this kind of sport is our enthousiastic young man Ben. He fell in love with the mountains straight away.

At last but not least there is me, Alan, who likes to enjoy the beauty of the mountains. I love doing sports like hiking, mountaineering, climbing and cycling. Sounds like it’s a lot but in fact cycling is more my kind of thing.

 Cogne 

September 4, 2015

The village where it all began. A trip to the 7th highest peak of Italy, the Gran Paradiso, could finally begin. Me, Marc, Roger and Ben woke up on a normal hour at the Hotel de la Tor in the small village Cogne. I am not going to brag about the owner of this hotel, just saying that the chef in question could be a little bit nicer to his guests. Maybe it’s much better now.

The hotel de la Tor was quite nice and the location perfect for tourists of all kind. Decent rooms and comfy beds, typical dining room of a mountaineering hut. Just like it should be while being surrounded by mountains. In general a great hotel, I give it a well deserved 3 stars. And oh, there is also a parking space under the hotel.

Right then, up to the mountains and off we go.

At the first refuge on our list we met these fellas, three in a row.

I had such a fun with photographing them and one of the goats had almost my hair for lunch, haha. We all were very fascinated to top two peaks for the next two days in this green valley with a lot of animals like goats, Alpine ibex and chamois, including many different species of birds.

 Rifugio Vittorio Sella – 2.584 m

September 5, 2015

Early in the morning we left the refuge behind us, with our loaded backpacks facing the rising sun we start the first day of a beautiful adventure.

Rifugio Vittorio Sella is a nice accommodation for hikers who like to explore nearby mountain peaks or trek to the other refuge to top the Gran Paradiso. Although the trail to go from here to Rifugio Chabod is quite hard. A good preparation is advisable and don’t forget to bring your trekking sticks. I recommend the ones from Black Diamond. Check item on Amazon UK.

 Peak Gran Serra – 3.552 m

September 6, 2015

First day was a fail but not too worry, the weather was still beyond beautiful.

At the glacier we already saw a lot of difficulties coming up, after the glacier there was a huge massive rock going straight up and it was unbolted yet dangerous to climb. So, we walked on the slowly melting ice of the glacier with the crampons beneath our shoes, steadily moving up towards the rock.

But all for nothing, we had to go back because we couldn’t find a safe passage to go up to the top.
Not a problem, then it will be just a group picture in front of the peak.

 Peak Punta Rossa della Grivola – 3.630 m

September 7, 2015

Second day, our first top.

In fact it was a very good one, with many sightseeing things too. At the other side of the valley came the Mont Blonc in sight, then at the top of the peak we saw the Gran Paradiso again.
And when you look at the left side of the Gran Paradiso, the peak of the Matterhorn can be seen. Unfortunately it cannot be seen on any of these pictures.

 The tough crossing 

September 8, 2015

The big day, crossing two little mountain passes to reach the next refuge.

It was a long day, accompanied by a huge amount of vertical kilometres to be done. No snow nor ice axe needed, but strong feet and some walking sticks are advisable for this trip! First ascent to the Col du Loson went great, a burning sun and no wind. Coming down from the first pass the backpack was becoming heavier and a cold wind was setting in. This could happen at almost every mountain pass, because it is actually a line of mountains that connects two peaks. Without walking sticks it wasn’t a good idea to continue, but I did and wasn’t thinking about asking my colleagues to give me one of theirs.

We reached an impressive scree, a collapsed part of a cliff without a proper hiking path, and after that came the via ferrata, Italian for iron road. The scree was one big mess and the marked path that was being made at that moment was out of our sight, so we went straight up and it took us a long time to get over it. Once this was done the via ferrata was in sight and we went up with a hurry.

 Rifugio Chabod – 2.750 m

Long before sunrise we had breakfast, prepared our backpacks, enjoyed the cold fog and took my camera to shoot some amazing shots.

A very long day ahead of us, an exciting day, simply an exhausting day. With the story of my knees it is hard to imagine how I survived the whole day, but I survived it pretty well. Even upon return at our hotel in Cogne I was still able to walk, but a little slower pace.

Refuge Chabod is a nice and cozy hut and there is lots of delicious food to get, even at this height! Only 2 nights here and we went back to Refuge Sella. But first the top of Gran Paradiso, of course.

 ← The Grand Glacier of the Gran Paradiso →

September 9, 2015

Following the footsteps of the previous group is easy as long as you find their tracks in the ice of the glacier. Then a cordée or a grouped party of climbers has to cross some crevasses and move on very slowly and carefully.

 ← The Gran Paradiso – 4.061 m →

At last but not least we had to scent a ladder to cross a huge gap in the ice.
But it was worth it in the end, a white Maria stands with pride on top of the Gran Paradiso, the spot was rather small for such an big amount of people. In the end was the view at the other side of the peak a little bit more spectacular, what you can clearly see in the last picture.

A thick layer of clouds covering the lower parts of the mountain and the surrounding valley, a relief that we don’t have to be in the middle of those clouds while we’re standing at the top. That would be such a shame and luckily the sky turned clear around midday. It seems like it was the best week ever to scent the Gran Paradiso.

 ← The pain →

September 10, 2015

My feet were blessed with the cold water coming from the mountains. I didn’t care how cold it was because it felt so good and I was pretty sure that my feet could need such a pampering. I wasn’t far from refuge Vitorrio Sella and I arrived about three hours before the rest. They let me go first on my own slow pace, but it seemed like they were also very slow and I walked a full day alone. All thanks to my knees, injured from the past three days while walking downwards without walking sticks and passing the scree to reach refuge Chabod. It was not very smart to hike without those sticks from the beginning, no one should ever underestimate his or her strength. We humans are not that strong after all.

After some months my knees hurt like crazy and I had to consult a doctor. Some tests followed and a scan was being made with bad results. Left knee was screwed and it needed surgery. Surgery took place on November 10, 2015. And as of Junuary 2017 most of the pain is completely gone, although my right knee is sometimes a bit painful.

 ← The Ending →

This trip was both beautiful and heavy, with some tough parts in between.
And there is only one more thing to say about this marvellous adventure and Rammstein says it very well.

 ← Time to escape the fog →

September 11, 2015

Let’s go back home before we freeze over here. The fog sets in and we are getting tired from this spectacular trek in the Italian mountains. It was so much worth it.

The church at Cogne – Chiesa parrocchiale di Sant’Orso

Monte Bianco or Mont Blanc as seen from the French side | September 12. 2015

Which mountain was your best trek or do you have future trek in mind? Share!

» Written by Alan who goes under the name of twin-rhino | Published on October 3, 2015

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