A legendary stage: of medium length, with two long and tiring climbs, to Passo di Antigine, and Passo di Monte Moro.
It is rich with splendor: from the crossing of a 3 km tunnel dug into the living rock, to the ibex climbing on the Cingino dam. From the view of the Swiss Four-thousanders to that of the east face of Monte Rosa, the only Himalayan in the Alps: probably one of the most sensational views of the Sentiero Italia.
The stage is powerful and suitable for the most trained ones: however, it can be interrupted at the Bivacco Antigine at the end of the first ascent.
The route is not recommended if you suffer from claustrophobia and you are alone: the 3 km tunnel between Camposecco and Cingino is dark, often semi-flooded (although practicable), and low. It is necessary to have a headlight and a cape, to protect yourself from high humidity.
Short exposed sections, in the ups and downs, in the middle of the second cross path on the pipeline (between Cingino and the start of the climb to the Passo Antigine), and in the last part of the climb to the Passo Antigine.
On the scree leading to Passo Antigine it is easy to miss the path and the signposts, keep an eye on the GPS.
Water points are absent after the Cingino dam: stock up on water.
We descend steeply along the old rails to reach the concrete walkway that runs alongside the western side of the valley. At the end of the cross path, near the small concrete building, we take the Enel tunnel that hosts a water pipe. We wear a cape (the tunnel is very wet and cold) and put on the headlight. Shortly after entering, we find the light switch (timed). The stretch is long (about 40 minutes) and not recommended for those suffering from claustrophobia: the lights come and go, you often walk with your feet in pools of water and you have to be careful not to hit the low rocky ceiling.
We joyfully return to the light, near the Cingino dam. Usually, numerous ibex climb on the dam wall, licking saltpeter. We overcome the dam and the nearby bivouac, continuing on the level concrete pipeline until the road is blocked by a rocky ridge and we have to go around it, going down and up (some passages are slightly exposed, pay attention).
After a final flat stretch, we start the climb (about 550 m height difference) towards Passo Antigine. Initially gentler, the slope becomes accentuated after the plateau of Alpe Laugera and the path is now on scree. The last stretch presents slightly exposed passages on unstable rocks: be careful. Finally, we are at Passo Antigine (2,855 m) and the view it offers us is boundless: in front of us, the Swiss Four-thousanders chain. Not far from the pass, Bivacco Antigine, similar to the one in Camposecco, offers shelter to those who are tired.
We cross the pass and enter Swiss territory, descending (about 350 m drop) along the beautiful Ofental valley that ends in Lake Mattmark. However, before arriving at the lake, we turn left and walk along a scenic cross path, leading us to the Tälli valley. We start the last, demanding climb (approximately 350 m height difference): all on scree or rocks, often crowded with walkers, it is very demanding.
We arrive at Passo Moro and we are rewarded by the view of the huge Eastern Face of Monte Rosa. We distinctly see the main peaks of the second highest mountain in Europe: the Gnifetti (4,554 m, where stands the Capanna Regina Margherita), the Zumstein (4,564 m), the Dufour (4,634 m, the highest), and the Nordend ( 4609). The statue of the Madonna delle Nevi, in a spectacular position, is worth a detour. Once we cross again the Italian border, we descend briefly to the Rifugio Oberto-Maroli.
The Capanna Regina Margherita mountain lodge, nestled on Punta Gnifetti (the fourth highest peak of the Monte Rosa group, clearly visible from the Monte Moro Pass) at 4,554 m is the highest mountain lodge in Europe.
The construction started in 1889 and the building was prepared in the valley. Afterward, the blocks were transported at high altitude (with mules and then on the shoulder), to be finally assembled at the top: a true engineering prodigy, especially considering the times.
The mountain lodge was inaugurated in 1893 in the presence of Queen Margherita herself, who was mostly carried on the shoulders of a team of porters.
The colonization of the upper Antrona valley by the ibex dates back to the 1980s. At the time, the closest colonies were those of the Canton of Valais (colonies of Saas and Seeborn) and of Macugnaga.
Numerous Alpine ibex, especially females with babies, usually climb the wall of the Cingino dam, in search of precious mineral salts (saltpeter in particular) which they are fond of: from all over come enthusiasts to enjoy the show.
Since 1930, the Cingino hydroelectric dam has been part of a water collection network in the Antrona Valley. The dam was built in correspondence with a pre-existing glacial lake.
At the Rifugio Moro (at 2,796 m!) you can taste a good plate of zero-kilometer trout: fished in the nearby Emerald Lake and served fresh.
Bivacco Antigine, at the pass of the same name; new and beautiful, 13 beds, covered. Always Open
Rifugio Oberto-Maroli, just below Passo Moro. Tel.+39 0324 65544
Starting point NOT reachable by car.
The nearest location reachable by car is Alpe Russi.
Departure point NOT reachable by bus.
The nearest town reachable by bus is Antronapiana, starting from the town of Domodossola.
Here the LINK to check the timetables.
Starting point NOT reachable by train.
Va' Sentiero is a grassroot project, thanks to the spontaneous contribution oft housands of people.
Even the most complicated dream, a 7,000km uphill dream,
can be achieved... together.