The last stage of the Aosta Valley presents a good length and a difference in height that should not be underestimated: it is devoid of particular difficulties.
We are in the Gran Paradiso National Park and the landscape from Pian del Nivolet is beautiful: the peaks of Grivola (3,969 m), Gran Paradiso (4,061 m) and the shark fin of Becca di Monciair (3,544 m) enchant the our eyes.
SPECIAL NOTES, LEVEL OF CRITICALITY
Very steep uphill sections in the last sections of the climbs to Col Entrelor and Colle Manteau.
MTB: the two passes can only be done by carrying the bike on the shoulders for large stretches.
Water points are absent up to the Rifugio Savoia: bring a great supply.
On Alta Via 2, we immediately begin the first, important climb (approximately 850 m height difference) towards Col Entrelor. The slope, although constant, is decisive and it is good not to hurry, given the large difference in height. The last section is steep and, in case of snow, requires the overcoming of a section equipped with ladders and fixed cables. From Col Entrelor (3,008 m) we enjoy a beautiful view of the western face of the Grivola (3,968 m).
The descent (approx. 500 m drop) is gentler and we proceed easily towards Vallon de Nampio, passing through Lac Noir and then through Lac de Djouan. Having bypassed the lake, we leave Alta Via 2 and start the climb (approximately 250 m height difference) to Colle Manteau. We proceed wearily on stony ground, but it doesn't last too long: at Colle Manteau (2,790 m) in front of us stands the Gran Paradiso (4,061 m).
We resume the march, quickly losing altitude (approximately 150 m drop). After passing the Vallon de le Meye, we start the very long cross path (known as the Lombard Coast) that runs along the suggestive Pian du Nivolet from above, crossed by the homonymous stream. Shortly before the Nivolet Lakes, we move on to an asphalted road and reach the Rifugio Savoia. Shortly after, in a fast climb, we are in the city of Chivasso. In this way, we conclude our wonderful adventure in the Aosta Valley.
Gran Paradiso (4,061 m) is the only massif above 4,000 meters completely in Italian territory. Its suggestive name actually derives from the Granta Parei of the Aosta Valley, which means “great wall”.
In 1931 the Aosta Valley priest Joseph-Marie Henry, with the aim of "certifying" the ease of climbing the Gran Paradiso (4.061 m) and thus attracting tourists to poor Valsavarenche, had a sensational idea: to bring to the top ... the donkey Cagliostro.
For this reason, he put traction cleats on the donkey and together they accomplished the feat. From the pages of the priest's diary, we read that, on the summit, Cagliostro "... full of joy and legitimate pride launched a formidable yodel that made the rocks of the summit tremble from the foundations".
Legend has it that before descending, Cagliostro deposited a fragrant souvenir on the summit, with an everlasting memory: rock'n'roll.
The sensational venture gave a great boost to tourism in the area.
Nex is a typical Valle d'Aosta village dating back to the 15th century, with rural buildings built with interlocked wooden beams: this technique allows to maintain the optimal thermal condition in the interior, with the necessary ventilation to prevent the stored cereals from drying out.
Today it is a residential and tourist area, as well as an excellent example of mountain architecture restoration, carried out by the architect Franco Binel in the seventies, maintaining the original peculiarities of the ancient buildings.
In the Aosta Valley it is a must to try the typical Aosta valley coffee, an alcoholic drink based on coffee infused with grappa, with the addition of sugar and orange and lemon peels.
The drink is not just a way to warm up on colder days: it also represents a social ritual in the Aosta Valley folklore. In fact, coffee should be drunk together, from a single container, the friendship cup, made of carved wood (walnut or maple) and characterized by different spouts: after setting the fire to the infused coffee and grappa, it is drunk one at a time and counterclockwise (à la ronde).
Rifugio Savoia, near the Nivolet Lakes. Tel. +39 0165 94141
Rifugio Città di Chivasso, just before Colle del Nivolet. Tel. +39 0124 953150
Starting point NOT reachable by car.
The nearest location reachable by car is Chaudanne.
Departure point NOT reachable by bus.
The nearest locality reachable by bus is Rhemes Notre Dame, starting from the city of Aosta with a change in Villeneuve.
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.