The Gran Paradiso massif is located in the Italian Alps in the Valley of Aosta, an autonomous Italian region.
It is a mountainous area which is very wild, a large part of the massif is a protected area, the Gran Paradiso Massif extends:
- to the north: the main mountains above Aosta are Mont Emilius at 3559 meters and Punta Tersiva at 3513 meters between Champorcher and Cogne;
- the central part is protected by the first park in Europe, we find inside the summit of Gran Paradiso at 4061 meters, the valley of Valnontey above Cogne is one of the most beautiful glacial cirque in the Alps;
- the south-western part is the Valsavarenche valley where the normal access routes to Gran Paradiso are;
- the south-eastern part is above the Italian Piedmont, in the Cerasole Reale Valley: it is a very wild region with many lakes at the foot of Torre del Gran San Pietro at 3692 meters.
The Aosta Valley
The Gran Paradiso massif is located in the Aosta Valley, it is an autonomous region in Italy. The local people speak both French and Italian and especially the local Patois.
The highest mountains of the Aosta Valley
- Mont Blanc above Courmayeur at 4809 meters, which is the highest summit in Europe;
- Gran Paradiso at 4061 meters;
- Matterhorn at 4478 meters;
- the Monte Rosa massif with Punta Gnifetti or Signalkuppe at 4554 meters and Europe highest mountain hut: the Capanna Margherita, where you can eat the highest pizza in Europe!
Aosta, a charming Roman city
Aosta is a beautiful city in the middle of the mountains, the culture is very rich with a Roman city that has existed for 2000 years.
The Foire de Saint Ours festival, at the end of January, is one of the highlights for local tourism: it is a craft festival that gathers local artists who come from the whole region to sell their sculptures and wooden objects. The Fair brings together the inhabitants of the valley and the inhabitants of neighbouring countries, for a long weekend.
The town of Aosta is one hour drive from Chamonix, France, via the Mont Blanc tunnel and one hour drive from Martigny in Switzerland, via the Grand Saint Bernard tunnel.
In summer, it is possible access to the Haute Tarentaise via the Col du Petit Saint Bernard, in one hour drive.
The summit of Gran Paradiso is considered one of the easiest 4000 meters in the Alps: two normal routes are frequently climbed by Mountain Guides with their clients or by amateur mountaineers from all over the world.
The normal route of Gran Paradiso by the Vittorio Emanuele II Hut
The start is at an altitude of 2720 meters, from Refuge Vittorio Emanuele II: the path climbs towards the glacier moraine which is to the northeast of the refuge.
You have to follow the path at the bottom of the thalweg, to access the glacier at an altitude of 3200 meters in summer, the trail then rises to the level of a glacial shoulder, the climb is easy on this slope with very few crevasses. Around 3700 m the path of Vittorio Emanuele and the Chabod refuge meet, to climb towards the summit. On the final part, the climb straightens up and you have to pass a crevasse, which is often equipped with a ladder to facilitate the passage!
Recently, towards the top, a sort of Via Ferrata goes around the top ridge on the left side to reach the Madonna. Then it goes down on the right of the ridge, which avoids crossing at the top! It is a good step forward to have more fun at the top, people who have done the roped crossings at the top will understand it well! At the top, the view on Mont Blanc and the Italian Piedmont is great ! It is better not to be dizzy to access the Madonna, but in case you do not feel like it, you can stay a little below and enjoy a very beautiful view too!
The descent is done by the same path, which allows you to return the equipment to the refuge which rents crampons, harnesses and ice axes to lighten your bags!
Normal route of Gran Paradiso via the Chabod Refuge
The route via the Chabod refuge is more aesthetic: we start at 2700 meters from the refuge, the path climbs towards the North Face of Gran Paradiso, the glacier is much larger than on the Vittorio Emanuele side. The crevasses are quite numerous and the walls overlooking the route are much more impressive: the Guide will show you the trail on the Laveciau glacier. The climb remains easy and accessible to beginners who are in good physical shape. Once you arrive to the shoulder of the glacier, you will find the path coming from the Vittorio Emanuele refuge.
Variant by the Via Ferrata side Chabod Refuge
Another route can also be done by the pillar which borders the glacier of Laveciau, a via ferrata goes up all along the ridge to reach the shoulder of the glacier. The view is awesome all the way up, you must love the thrills!
At the shoulder of the glacier, you will take the normal route again, which leads to the summit ...
The Gran Paradiso National Park
It is the first Park in Europe, which was created in 1856 first by King Vittorio Emanuele II, with a royal hunting reserve, then in 1922 the Italian state created the National Park.
This park inspired the French state which created in 1963 the first French National Park with the Vanoise Park. These two parks currently create the largest protected area in Europe!
The Valsavarenche Valley
It is the valley that leads to the Gran Paradiso summit (4061 m) and to La Grivola (3969 m): it is a very wild valley where the Savara torrent flows between the town of Villeneuve and the Nivolet pass, which is only accessible by feet from Valsavarenche or by car from the Céréasole valley on the Piedmont side.
The surroundings of the valley of Cogne
Cogne is one of the most beautiful villages in the Alps! The inhabitants of Cogne have been working with tourism since a long time, there are many comfortable hotels. It is a valley at the feet of beautiful peaks, the ambiance here is quite unique. In winter, cross-country skiing is practiced at the bottom of the valley and the alpine ski resort is well developed. In summer, hikers walk near the Grand Emilius or the Miserin Lake. The Valnontey valley is located at the feet of the Gran Paradiso north-west face.
Gran Paradiso Mountain Huts
The Chabod Refuge
It is a beautiful refuge which has been recently renovated and which is very well maintained in winter to access Gran Paradiso by ski or in summer by mountaineering.
It was inaugurated on July 28, 1985, then a new refuge was built in 2005.
The dormitories are spacious and it is possible to have rooms for 2, 4 or 6 people for more comfort!
It is a very pleasant and comfortable refuge!
You can rent mountaineering equipment at the refuge, to lighten your bags during a Trekking & Mountaineering trip!
The Refuge Vittorio Emanuele II
It is the historic refuge to access Gran Paradiso. It is a very large refuge with a fairly modern architecture (an aluminum barrel) which is quite characteristic! The refuge is large with a great view, it is ideally placed on the easiest route to reach different peaks.
You can rent mountaineering equipment to lighten the bag!
It is the refuge that allows hiking access to the top of Monte Emilius overlooking the Aosta Valley, it is a classic itinerary along the Gran Paradiso trekking! The refuge is located on the edge of a lake, at the feet of Monte Emiluis trail and its via ferrata, you can have a look at the map at the refuge.
The refuge can accommodate 66 people in beautiful dormitories and four-person rooms!