Quite a long stage, on average demanding due to the positive altitude difference, but very beautiful and panoramic.
The Col de Champillon gives us a fantastic view of the southern side of the Aosta Valley and in particular of the beautiful Monte Emilius (3,557 m).
The stretch from Ponteilles Desòt to the Rifugio del Pellegrino is a variant of the Sentiero Italia (which continues on the Alta Via 1 to Saint-Rhémy-en-Bosses), preferred for the historical and landscape interest of the Gran San Bernardo: truly unmissable!
Last water point at the Rifugio Champillon: bring good supplies.
We go to Mont-Rion di Ollomont and resume the Alta Via 1, starting immediately uphill (approximately 1,300 m height difference), long but constant, on a good track. At the town of Champillon we leave the woods and continue to the Rifugio Champillon, which deserves a stop: sauna with a view, murals, yurt, reggae music, many young people ... not just any mountain lodge. One last climb and we are at the Col de Champillon: the view is immense and ranges (from west to east) from Mont Blanc (4,810 m) to Rutor (3,486 m) to Gran Paradiso (4,061 m) to Monte Emilius (3,559 m).
We start the long descent (about 900 m drop), on a good path, steeper at first, then the slope slides gently and we re-enter the bush, sighting some huts and some shepherds with their flocks in tow. Shortly after passing the Ponteilles Desòt mountain pasture (1,808 m), instead of continuing to descend on Alta Via 1, we cross the Monouve stream and briefly go up the valley on the opposite side (approx. 100 m height difference) on a comfortable roadway, up to Pian Bois, where a long traverse takes us to Plan Puitz (2,126 m), a crossroads for many paths. We face a short, decisive descent and then a new cross path, clearly not very beaten, overlooking Saint-Rhémy-en-Bosses and the covered road that leads to the Gran San Bernardo tunnel. Some sections are slightly complicated, due to a few fallen trees and the ground a little slippery.
After a final climb, we are at the Rifugio Pellegrino, along the road that climbs to the Gran San Bernardo pass, guarded by the gigantic Dente dei Folli (2,579 m).
The Gran San Bernardo Pass is a place of transit used since the Neolithic. Merchants, warriors, warlords, sovereigns, pilgrims, and bishops, scholars passed through here ...
Among the most illustrious people who crossed it stand out Charlemagne, Napoleon (who arrived on the back of a mule, after his army), the German writer Goethe, ...
At the pass, the ancient Ospizio Gran San Bernardo has been offering shelter and hospitality for over a millennium. At the time of the passage of the Napoleonic army, the structure provided the 40,000 French soldiers with something like 21,724 bottles of wine and 1,587 kg of cheese: compensation from the French government only came in 1984, thanks to President Mitterand.
Going up from Aosta towards the Gran San Bernardo, you can reach the archaeological site known by the name of Plan de Jupiter.
On this plateau there are the remains of a temple dedicated to Jupiter. Moreover, the remains of the ancient Roman road paved or carved into the rock, the Via Alpis Poenina, are clearly visible. Its frequentation is testified by the frequent finds in the excavations of coins, tablets, statues that travelers offered to the divinity, in exchange for the protection requested to face the difficult Alpine crossing.
The Enoteca Enoetica, in front of the Rifugio del Pellegrino, boasts the title of "highest wine shop in Europe".
Inside we can taste the most typical liqueur of the Aosta Valley: the genepy. Of ancient origin, the genepy is obtained from the alcohol maceration of the homonymous flower and used as a digestive. The gradation varies from 30 ° to 42 °.
This liqueur is traditionally used by the mountaineers of the alpine valleys as a medicinal plant and has been used since the Middle Ages for the treatment of colds.
Rifugio del Pellegrino - Casa Don Angelo Carioni, in Le Cantine, along the road towards the Great San Bernardo Pass. Tel. +39 335 6012847
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.