The first of Alta Via 2 is a very long stage with very important differences in height (both uphill and downhill), therefore suitable for hikers in excellent shape.
The panoramic beauty is (almost) incomparable, as the stage develops in front of the southern slope of Mont Blanc: we spot the Aiguille Noire de Peuterey (3,773 m), the pointed spires of the Dames Anglaises, the Dente del Gigante (4,013 m), the Pyramides Calcaires... Pure enjoyment!
The route from Dolonne to Col des Chavannes is a variation of the Sentiero Italia (which runs along the valley floor of Val Veny), preferred for panoramic reasons: the aerial cross path and the top of Mont Fortin offer a unique spectacle throughout the Alps.
The stage is really tough in its length: it is a must to start at the first light of the day. Those wishing to break the stage can comfortably descend from the Arp Vieille Damon to Val Veny, along the Alta Via 2, reaching the Rifugio Elisabetta.
MTB: section accessible with push sections. The climb to Mont Fortin is strongly discouraged (it is better to go down to Val Veny along the AV2), unless you do it all carrying the bike on your shoulders.
Water points absent after the Randonneur du Mont Blanc and Maison Veille mountain lodges at the beginning of the stage.
We cross the Doire de Courmayeur stream and slightly go up towards Dolonne. We start the Alta Via 2, which climbs steeply on an excellent track (approx. 700 m height difference) up to RIfugio Maison Veille (1.957 m). There it begins a very long cross path that overlooks the Val Veny, mostly flat, above the woods: a balcony on the enormous Mont Blanc massif, an exciting stretch.
We pass the Lac des Vesses and, in the following valley, we leave the AV2 and begin the steep ascent (approx. 450 m height difference) to Mont Fortin, the most demanding part of the day (those who feel tired can comfortably descend into Val Veny along Alta Via 2, reaching the Rifugio Elisabetta, where it is possible to break the stage). The climb is first regular, on a comfortable and solid path, then the slope and the difficulty of the (gravelly) terrain increase. In the final section, some parts are a little exposed. Finally, we are on Mont Fortin (2,755 m), which repays us with a splendid panorama that opens to the south-east and also embraces the Gran Paradiso (4,061 m) and the Rutor (3,486 m).
We resume on an easy path on a slight slope, changing side, and we reach Lac du Mont Perce. From there, the Col de Chavannes (where we find the AV2) is worth a detour, with an excellent view of the Miage Glacier and its moraine, usually full of ibex. We retrace our steps towards Lac du Mont Perce, to then take the roadway that descends into the Vallone des Chavannes along the stream bearing the same name - it seems endless, but flows easily, with a beautiful view of the impressive north wall of the Pointe du Fornet ( 3,070 m).
At the end of the valley, the view reopens and we earn the road, to descend gently to La Thuile.
In Roman times, a very important road of the Empire passed through La Thuile: the Via delle Gallie, whose path is testified by the presence of numerous archaeological sites.
La Thuile was also known for the presence of the marrons, young valley dwellers who guided travelers in crossing the Alpine passes.
We have reports of these marrons, forerunners of today's alpine guides, as early as the 11th century: in an old chronicle dating back to 1129, it is told of a group of merchants blocked at the Gran San Bernardo pass, impracticable due to too much snow. Some local young people, dressed in leather, guided them along the path, beating the track on the fresh snow.
In 1643, the marrons were exempted from military service by King Amedeo I, as it was essential to keep the Gran San Bernardo Pass clear of snow.
Given the significant presence of coal and silver, at the beginning of the 20th century, La Thuile became a mining town.
Thus, in the 1930s, many workers came from all over Italy (mainly from Lombardy and Veneto) to work in the mines in the area.
They were housed in specially built lodgings. A real village was thus created, with three buildings used as dormitories and a fourth that housed the services: laundry, ironing room, showers, kitchen with canteens (that of the workers and that of the employees), ballroom, and bar.
Later they also established a bakery and a shop, as well as an infirmary with twenty beds and an operating room (guaranteeing cutting-edge health care). In 1966, when the mines closed, the village depopulated completely.
The ownership of the village passed to the Region which decided to transform it into a school and accommodation facility, but the project was not carried out. In 2005 the complex was sold to private individuals, with a hotel-accommodation use.
The bleu d'Aoste is a blue cheese, one of the food and wine pearls of the Aosta Valley.
The skillful use of aging manages to bring out the magical nuances of the best mountain milk.
Camping Rutor, in La Thuile, Sapinera locality. Tel. +39 333 13 72 961
In La Thuile there are numerous accommodation facilities
Starting point reachable by car.
Starting point reachable by bus from the city of Aosta.
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.