Quite a long stage, with important differences in height (two intense climbs, especially the one to Scatta Minoia) but without particular difficulties.
Absolutely panoramic, it offers wonderful views of the Alta Val Formazza and the large Vannino and Devero basins. The magical Lago Delle Streghe (Witches' lake) is the icing on the cake of this beautiful route.
In the ascent stretch towards Sagersboden, we find some fallen trees that should be circumvented with caution.
The climb to Passo Dello Scatta Minoia requires strong lungs and experience: the last part is on steep scree and, given the exposure (north-east), it is not uncommon to find some rotten snowfields.
The only water point is at Rifugio Margaroli.
Just north of the hydroelectric power plant, we take the steep uphill path towards Sagersboden (about 450 m height difference), which sometimes is interrupted by fallen trees. From Sagersboden, reached by a cable car, we take a comfortable roadway. Another small stretch of ascent to Alpe Della Balma, then the path becomes a pleasant sloping path (a mild ascent, about 200 m height difference), squeezed between imposing rocky walls. We arrive at Rifugio Margaroli, above the impressive dam of the great Vannino Lake, guarded to the north by the bulk of Punta del Glacier di Ban (2,975 m).
We walk pleasantly on a cross path, along the western shore of the lake, until we start the last climb of the day (about 400 m height difference) towards Passo di Scatta Minoia. The last stretch is challenging, both for the steep slopes and for the possibility of having to cross some snowfields. At the Passo di Scatta Minoia (2,599 m) there is the beautiful Bivacco Ettore Conti, well built (those who are tired can stop and eventually break the stage here).
A long descent awaits us (approximately 800 m drop), on a good track. From Alpe Forno Inferiore we find a comfortable roadway and, a little further, on our right, first we see Lake Pianboglio, then, in front of us, the large basin of Lake Devero, enclosed in the coniferous forests. Descending swiftly down narrow bends, we are at the north-eastern end of the lake, which we skirt entirely, remaining in the woods.
Finally, we are in Crampiolo. North-west stands the beautiful pyramid-shaped Pizzo Fizzi (2,757 m).
In the area of Alpe Devero emerges the Verampio Gneiss, the "deepest" tectonic element of the entire Alpine arc (and for this reason nicknamed Element 0), visible only in this area: it raised from the bottom of the Tethys Ocean, due to the collision between the African and European tectonic plates and subsequently brought to light by the erosive action of millenary glaciers.
The mountains of the Veglia Devero Park represent one of the most interesting mineralogical districts in the world: there are over 150 mineral species, some of which are very rare, from the gneiss of Monte Leone to the dolomites of the Valle di Finn.
Lago Delle Streghe is a small lake not far from Crampiolo.
According to an ancient legend, a girl, abandoned by her beloved boyfriend, was helped by the mountain witches to understand the difference between human love, ephemeral and superficial, and divine love, deep and eternal. The girl understood what love she needed and began to dance with the witches: suddenly, the cave they were in disappeared and the pool of water that was there filled up more and more, until it became a lake: precisely...of the Witches.
In Crampiolo there is a dairy where it is possible to taste excellent cheeses and a delicious fresh yogurt: highly recommended.
RIfugio Margaroli, near the dam of Lake Vannino. Tel. +39 0324 63155
Bivacco Ettore Conti, on the Passo dello Scatta Minoia: 12 beds, blankets. Always Open.
Rifugio La Baita, in Crampiolo. Tel. +39 0324 619190
Rifugio Enrico Castiglioni, on Alpe Devero (half an hour from Crampiolo, on the way to the next stage). Tel. +39 0324 619126
Rifugio Sesto Calende, on Alpe Devero (half an hour from Crampiolo, on the route of the next stage). Tel. +39 0331 921230
Starting point reachable by car.
Starting point reachable by bus, 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.