Gran Paradiso National Park, Italy

Gran Paradiso Summits Trek

A superb trekking adventure in the Italian Alps. The highlight of the week is the ascent of Gran Paradiso, the highest mountain entirely within Italy. The trip is 6 days of high-level trekking and easy climbing in one of the most beautiful national parks in the alps, which is free of tourist development and home to wildlife such as ibex, chamois and marmots. Each night we stay in a different alpine mountain refuge and enjoy good food and Italian hospitality. If you are looking for an accessible alpine adventure, then this trip will definitely not disappoint!

Day Itinerary

  • Travel to Chamonix. Our guide will meet you at 7 p.m in the hotel for welcome meeting and briefing about the week ahead.
  • After a leisurely breakfast, your guide will meet you at to talk through the equipment requirements for the week. There will be an opportunity to make last minute purchases and to pick up hire equipment if needed. Then, at around 11 a.m. we will drive through the Mont Blanc Tunnel and into Valgrisenche, where we begin our approach to the Rifugio Bezzi from Usellieres (1800m). On foot, we now continue up Valgrisenche, ascending gently to the comfortable Bezzi Hut. Good facilities are found in this hut and the food is excellent. 2 hours walking in total, allowing time for some gentle acclimatisation. The Rifugio Mario Bezzi (2284m) was built in 1931 and has since been rebuilt in grand Italian style. It has 90 beds, washing facilities, showers and hydro-electricity for lighting. The refuge also has a bar and excellent restaurant.
  • From the refuge we make a gradual ascent of the west facing slopes below the Grand Traversiere (3496m), crossing many mountain streams which descend from the glaciers above. A final ascent across a moraine slope leads to the Col Bassac Dere (3082m), which we reach after approximately 3 hours. There are great views from this pass of the north-east face of the Grand Sassiere. From here, conditions permitting, we will make an ascent of Becca Traversiere (3334m) which is a return trip of 2 hours from the col. The descent from the col crosses the remains of the Glacier de Golette to reach Lake Goletta. The exit from this hanging valley winds its way steeply down many zigzags to the Refuge Benevolo. This is an older style of hut than the Bezzi and provides a traditionally warm welcome for mountaineers. An open valley lies in front of the hut and this is a favourite grazing area for groups of ibex. 5 to 7 hours walking in total. The Rifugio Gian Federico Benevolo is at an altitude of 2287m. It was built in 1930 and has 60 beds, hydro-electricity, showers and washing facilities. The water is drinkable and there is always plenty of wine available.
  • Following the left bank of the Doire de Rhemes Gorge, we leave the hut and gradually ascend to the Col Nivolettaz (3120m), which takes 3 hours. From the col, we cross the remains of the Bassey Glacier and make our descent between rock bands leading down to the Col Nivolet. This col has a small road leading to it from the south side of the Grand Paradiso National Park and thus gets busy with tourists during the day. From the col, weather permitting we will ascend our second summit Punta Basei (3338m) which presents little more than a rope assisted scramble. Tonight we will stay in either the Refuge Chivasso, or the Refuge Savoie. Both are situated close to the Col Nivolet. The Rifugio Citta di Chivasso was built in 1940, has 36 beds, solar lighting, basic washing facilities and a bar. The Rifugio Savoie (2534m) was built in 1920, has 70 beds, drinking water, washing facilities and mains electricity.
  • From the refuge we descend past the Nivolet lakes and follow the Doire de Nivolet, with its beautifully clear water, first along a flat plain, often scattered with grazing cattle and scampering marmots and then we drop steeply down to the Albergo Paradiso. (2 hours of descent). Here, we can treat ourselves to a hot Italian lunch and a shower at the local campsite. This is also the rendezvous point with our technical climbing equipment and an opportunity to re-arrange the rucksack. In the afternoon we make the steep, 2 to 3-hour ascent to the Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele (2735m). The old hut (still there) was built in 1884, whilst the new one did not appear until 1932. There are beds for 120 people and there is good drinking water, washing facilities, a lake, hydro electricity, bar and restaurant. This large, lively hut is friendly and well organised, with good food, coffee and wine!
  • A pre-dawn start from the hut to climb this isolated peak, crossing boulders and snow fields which lead us onto the Glacier du Mont Gran Paradiso and towards the Becca de Montcorve. We cross snow slopes to reach the Fenetre du Mont Roc, crossing a rimaye (a large crevasse separating the glacier from the permanent snow field above) and ascending a steep slope to give access to the final rocky summit ridge. The final 100 metres is an exciting exposed scramble though we are well protected. The summit supports a recently renovated ‘Madonna’ which is fortunately well attached to the rocks. This is a fantastic viewpoint particularly of the Mont Blanc Massif. 5 hours and 1300 metres of ascent. The return journey is made via the same route for a short distance, then down the Glacier de Laveciau. This is usually a fairly intricate maze of crevasses which we wind our way through, eventually exiting onto the moraines through which a trail leads down to the Rifugio Chabod. This is a good place to bask in the sun and admire the north face of the Gran Paradiso (a popular ice climb) and our route down through the glacier. 7 to 8 hours in total. The Rifugio Federico Chabod is at an altitude of 2750 metres. It was built in 1985, has accommodation for 100, drinking water, washing facilities/showers and hydro-electricity.
  • From the hut we ascend gently initially and then more steeply below the cliffs of the Pyramid du Grand Neyron (3255m). This is usually a great place to spot herds of chamois and ibex. A hidden rocky col is finally reached and we prepare for an exciting descent, using fixed chains and ladders to take us down to the moraines of the Timorion Valley. Finally, we reach a pleasant path leading to the old cattle byres at Levionaz Dessus, from where we descend zigzags to the Leviona valley. Finally we finish our trek with a steep zigzagging trail through pine forests and below the Leviona waterfall to the hamlet of Tignet, a beautifully restored collection of buildings. A short descent along a road leads to our pick up point in Degioz, Valsaverenche. 7 hours walking. After a late lunch (time permitting), we board our transport for the return drive to the Chamonix Valley.
  • Depart after breakfast.

The price includes all guiding fees & expenses, 2 nights B&B (twin-share) in a hotel in Chamonix on the first and last nights, 5 nights in mountain huts during the tour with breakfast and evening meals, transfer from Chamonix to the trail head in Italy and back.

The price does not include flights, airport transfers,2 evening meals lunches and drinks.

Single room occupancy in the hotel in Chamonix may incur an additional charge.

 

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This list contains our recommended clothing and equipment for our Gran Paradiso Summits trek.

In the summer months, the days generally start very cold and warm up during the morning to become hot in the afternoon. It is therefore essential that you have 2-3 thin layers that you are able to put on/take off as the conditions change. Thin layers also allow better movement as opposed to one layer of bulky clothing.

If you are uncertain or need further information, please contact us.

    • Base Layer Top and Bottoms – a few base layer tops, usually long sleeved is best, wool base layers form Smartwool or Icebreaker are good as they offer good wicking properties and dry quickly. A short sleeved top is worth brining too for hot days. For your legs a couple of pairs of long or ¾ length bottoms are best.

    • Mid-layer fleece tops – a couple of fleece type jacket or tops that can be worn between your base layer and outer layers. The “Layering” approach offers the best heat retention and flexibility in warm and cold weather.

    • Insulation Layer - a down or primalotf jacket is a good item to have ready to wear in the event of cold weather, it can live in your rucksack as a spare layer and can come in very handy for sudden changes in the weather.

    • Lightweight softshell type trousers - you want to wear a lightweight softshell or similar material on your legs, these types of trouser offer good protection from snow/ice as well as abrasion on rock and are comfortable to move in.

    • Walking shorts or pair of trousers with zip-off legs. Useful for walk-ins to huts on hot days.

    • Gore-Tex Jacket - Gore-Tex or other waterproof breathable jacket. Best to have a lightweight jacket that can be worn in the event of wet or windy weather but is packable enough to fit in your rucksack. Your insulated ski jacket will be overkill and too hot and bulky.

    • Gore-Tex Pants - Gore-Tex or other waterproof breathable trousers. Lightweight is important plus side zips for putting on over your boots and crampons. Used in cold, wet and windy weather.

    • Sun hat and warm hat – bring a wide-brimmed sun hat or baseball cap plus a warm beanie style hat.

    • Light, thin gloves – a thin pair of fleece or softshell gloves for warm weather are a must.

    • Insulated gloves - You need to have a pair of waterproof warm gloves to wear on cold days

    • Gaiters – these are useful to wear to keep snow out of your boots.

    • Socks - 3-4 pairs of medium weight socks usually mid-calf length is good.

  • The Haute Route is a glacier trek and significant time is spent walking on snow and ice. You therefore require a boot which is ‘B2’ rated. This is a semi-rigid boot available in either leather or plastic/composite options. Leather boots tend to be more comfortable and breathable whereas plastic/composite boots are warmer and more waterproof. B2 boots are compatible with C1 and C2 crampons.

    Boots can be hired in resort but to avoid discomfort we do strongly recommend that you have your own pair which need to be well worn-in prior to your trip.

    Alpine huts supply hut slippers, croc type shoes, that you can use.  We do recommend you pack a pair of flip-flops for the night you spend in Arolla on our Haute Route Trek as the hotel does not supply any shoes and its more comfortable to walk around in these than your boots or socks!

    • Rucksack - A simple and lightweight pack with a capacity of between 35-45 liters is recommended. You need to have one loop for carrying an ice axe on your rucksack.

    • Lightweight sleeping bag liner – a silk or cotton sleeping bag liner is now compulsory in all mountain huts.

    • Water bottle or Thermos – a water bottle or hydration system is needed.

    • Head torch with spare batteries

    • Penknife

    • Personal first Aid Kit - Should contain:

      • Plasters – of various sizes and possibly some adhesive wound dressings.

      • Pain Killers – aspirin or Paracetamol/Nurofen

      • Antiseptic cream or wipes

      • Blister kit – compeed and elastic tape to hold it in place (essential)!

      • (Note: Guides will have comprehensive first aid kits and are qualified in mountain first aid)

    • Whistle

    • Sun Glasses - minimum category 3.

    • Ski Goggles – these can be very useful if you encounter strong winds and poor weather.

    • Sunscreen and Lip Protection

    • Ear Plugs - For noisy huts!!

    • Camera

    • Hold-all bag - for gear not required on trek. Will be left at first hotel and collected on return.

    • Passport

    • Money - You will need some cash for food and drinks. There are some ATMs and most hotels, shops and restaurants will accept credit cards, but most huts still accept cash only. You should allow about 30-40 Swiss Francs or 25-35 Euros per day for lunch and drinks (amount approximate and depends on consumption).

    • Toiletries – Should contain:

      • Toothbrush and paste - a mini one is ideal

      • Soap

      • Anti-bacterial hand cleaner

      • Wet wipes – essential to try to maintain hygiene

      • Tissues and toilet roll

      • Small light quick dry towel e.g. a Lifeventure Soft fiber towel

      • (Any other essentials you need but remember there are no shower facilities and generally no running water in the huts and you have to carry everything with you!)

      • Alpine club card - If you're a member.

    • Book, pack of cards and or Ipod/MP3 player – It’s nice to have something to read or listen to when you are in the huts or to challenge your fellow travelers to a game of card. These items are not essential but if you have space you might appreciate them.


  • These items are essential for all our alpine trekking trips.

    All items can be hired from Mountain Tracks or from sport shops in the Alps.

    • Climbing helmet
    • Ice Axe - General mountaineering / alpine pick 55-70cms long depending on your height.
    • Boot crampons - with anti-balling plates.
    • Climbing Harness – adjustable leg loops are useful for easy of putting on over your boots.
    • Adjustable trekking pole(s)
  • It is possible to hire boots and the technical items needed for our alpine trekking trips in resort. Prices do change by resort/country, but here’s an approximate guide to hire costs (for the 8 day trip):
    Mountaineering boots €70-80 
    Ice Axe €50
    Harness €40
    Boot crampons €50-60

    Our guides are also able to hire these technical items to you for your trip (excluding boots).

    If you wish to hire from Mountain Tracks then please contact us in advance to book this up.

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Gran Paradiso National Park

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The Gran Paradiso at 4061m is the highest mountain entirely within Italy and sits in one of the most idyllic National Parks in the Alps. It is located in the Graian Alps (45°32′N, 7°16′E) in the Aosta Valley.
Despite the peak's popularity with walkers, skiers and mountaineers, it has a feeling of remoteness that belies its accessibility and at 4061m, it's the perfect peak to start your ‘4000er' career and very achievable for hill-walkers looking for a new challenge.
The most convenient airport is Turin Caselle. Geneva Airport is also a good option and the journey time from there to the edge of the park is about 90 minutes (through the Mont Blanc tunnel).


Our top reasons for visiting the Gran Paradiso National Park

  • Climbing Gran Paradiso (in summer or winter), the highest mountain entirely within Italy
  • One of the Alps most beautiful National Parks - completely devoid of any resort developments
  • Easy access from Chamonix and Geneva Airport via the Mont Blanc tunnel and the Val d'Aosta
  • Friendly and well-priced mountain huts
  • Very varied terrain that is suitable for intro to ski touring trips as well as expert level tours
  • Ice climbing in Cogne. One of the very best venues in the Alps

We often use Chamonix as the start and end point of tours and treks within the Gran Paradiso area as acessability is quick by road (less than 2hrs).  

We run our Gran Paradiso Ski Tour in the region plus in the summer the peak is used as a training peak for our Mont Blanc Climber weeks and a goal in itself on other weeks.  The region is as beautiful in the summer as it is in the winter months. 

  • It is a condition of booking that you are insured for your chosen activity and the cover must include medical expenses, personal accident, personal liability, third party risks and rescue (including helicopter rescue). You are strongly advised also to take out cover against cancellation and curtailment.

    For UK residents Ski Club Travel Insurance may be a suitable option.

    For more details and to purchase a policy online visit http://www.skiclubinsurance.co.uk/
    If you need assistance arranging your personal insurance please let us know.
     

  • You should arrange to arrive in Chamonix by late afternoon on the first day. 

    The most convenient airport is Geneva and from here the transfer time up to Chamonix by road is just 1 hr 15mins.  To travel between the airport and Chamonix we recommend you reserve a seat on one of the many commercial shuttle buses. Mountain Tracks can book this for you and the usual prices are from £40 per person one-way. Please supply your full flight details to us so we can make the reservation.

    Want to take the train to the resort?  No problem – it’s possible to get to Chamonix by train from the UK using the Eurostar from London St. Pancras to Paris, then the TGV to Bellegarde and a regional train to Chamonix.  The journey can be done in 1 day.  For more information and other useful train travel details look at www.snowcarbon.co.uk 

    At the end of the week the course finishes after breakfast on the last day and we recommend that you arrange your return/onward flight from lunchtime onwards to give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport without having to rush!

  • All our trekking trips are run by our team of IFMGA Mountain Guides. The team is led by Olly Allen, Matt Dickinson and Nick Parks.

  • We stay in a combination of comfortable alpine hotels and traditional high mountain huts.

    In the huts a typical breakfast will consist of coffee, tea, hot chocolate, orange juice, muesli, yoghurt, bread, butter, jam. During the day you carry 'hill food' e.g. snacks such as nuts & raisins, chocolate or muesli bars. Sometimes you will arrive at huts for a late lunch of omelettes, rosti (swiss fried mash) or pasta.

    The evening meals are usually a set menu of 3 courses. Typical menu will be soup to start, a main dish of meat or pasta with mash or rice and vegetables. Dessert will be fruit or mousse.

  • The Alps generally have a very pleasant climate throughout the spring, summer and autumn with warm days and cool nights, with daytime temperatures in the valley around 25 - 30°C. At high altitude the temperature often goes down below -10 and can feel even colder with wind chill.

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