The first stage of Alta Via 1 of the Aosta Valley is very tiring (because of the length and the great difference in height, it never seems to end), yet wonderful and enormously satisfying, with incredible views of almost all the giants of the Aosta Valley.
The detour to the memorable summit of Testa Grigia (3,315 m) is a temptation that is difficult not to give in to, although it should not be underestimated.
The detour to Testa Grigia is a deviation from the Sentiero Italia, entirely optional, spectacular but technical: recommended only for expert hikers.
The stage (even without the detour to Testa Grigia) is very tiring and suitable for well-trained hikers. It is good to leave before dawn, not to suffer the scorching sun during the long climb. However, the stage can be broken by stopping at the beautiful Bivacco Lateltin under the summit of Testa Grigia.
The only technical difficulties can be found in the stretch between Colle Pinter and Testa Grigia: the path is not always clearly visible and the ground is friable and unstable, often humid. There are several exposed sections (and not equipped!) and you need to have a firm and secure step. The last (short) stretch before the summit is exposed but equipped with chains.
Water points absent from the Ondermonterl Alp in Cunéaz.
We continue northward, on the road that runs along the Lys stream, then we cross the bridge towards Tschemenoal and, shortly after, we take the path on the left, the Alta Via 1: the very long climb begins (approximately 1,350 m height difference ). You go up at a steady pace, in the distance appears the southern side of Monte Rosa. We pass several pastures and, after that of Montil, we leave the woods. The path is always well-trodden. After the Pente pasture, we face a steep stretch and we are at Colle Pinter (2,777 m). The view is magnificent: to the west stands the Grand Combin (4,314 m), to the south-west the pyramid of Mount Emilius (3,559 m).
From the hill, if we are well trained, we take the opportunity to climb the top of Testa Grigia. We start the climb (about 550 m height difference) taking the rather steep path on the right: we face some passages that are a little exposed, on a gravelly ground. Once at the Bivacco Ulrich Lateltin (3,137 m), those who are tired can choose to stop for the night, perhaps enjoying the sunrise from Testa Grigia. If we want to get to Saint Jacques before the end of the day, we leave the backpacks at the bivouac to lighten our shoulders and leave for the summit, not too far away. The route is not difficult, but the last stretch is exposed and equipped with chains. The satisfaction given by the summit of Testa Grigia (3,315 m) is enormous, the panorama is magnificent: in addition to the Rosa ice desert, we are in front of the Matterhorn (4,478 m).
We leave again downhill towards Colle Pinter, from where we start the long descent towards Val d'Ayas (approximately 1.050 m drop).
The descent is very smooth and in a beautiful environment. We cross the beautiful village of Cunéaz and, once reached the ski resort of Crest Forné, we take the roadway, which veers north for a long stretch along the hillside in the woods. From Alpe Ciarcerio, we take the forest road that leads meekly to Saint Jacques.
The most widespread language of the Aosta Valley is certainly the patois.
The term patois officially refers to a non-regular language, namely an unrecognized vernacular speech, devoid of literature. It comes from the French patoier (meaning "to gesticulate") and in the past, it denoted an underdeveloped, rural, dialectal, and coarse speech.
In some north-western Alpine regions, it is used to generally indicate the local language, which is sometimes Arpitan (or Franco-Provençal) and others Occitan. In both cases, the linguistic stock is Francophone.
The sabots are traditional wooden clogs from Val d'Ayas, forerunners of boots, they were once used to protect from cold and water. Now almost unused, they are nevertheless an important element of local folklore and there are many artisans who still produce them for decorative purposes.
The Great Walser Path is a path that crosses the first three valleys of the Aosta Valley: the Lys Valley, the Ayas Valley, and the Valtournenche.
The route intends to retrace the traces of the Walser settlers, to tell what the mountain was in past centuries and what it meant to inhabit it. Taking its cue from the territories crossed by hikers and from the environmental and architectural emergencies, the path tries to highlight the signs left in the past by the man on the territory: the traces of the terraces, the architectural typologies of the houses of the mountaineers, the use of the mountain pastures ...
The tegole (in French tuiles), a light delicacy typical of the Aosta Valley, are so named for their shape similar to that of a roof tile.
They are hazelnut-flavored wafer biscuits and were created in the 1930s by the pastry chefs family, Boch, following their trip to Normandy.
Bivacco Ulrich Lateltin, just below the summit of Testa Grigia; 12 beds, blankets, stove (over 3,000 m) ... and a guitar! Always Open
Hotel Genzianella, in Saint Jacques. Tel. +39 0125 307156
Rifugio Guide di Frachey, on Alpe Resy, which can be reached from Alpe Ciarcerio by continuing on level ground (i.e. without descending to Saint Jacques) in 30 minutes. Tel. +39 329 211 3531 - +39 334 746 3640
In Saint Jacques, there are several accommodation facilities
Starting point reachable by car.
Starting point reachable by bus, starting from the city of Aosta with a change in Pont Saint Martin.
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.