We enter the Maritime Alps with a not very long stage, characterized by the difficult climb to Colle Aiver, where we enjoy the beautiful view of the homonymous lakes and the Argentera.
In the first half, we move along the border with France, up to the Colle della Lombarda, the historic border pass. At the end of the stage, we are rewarded by the impressive north face of Testa Malinvern (2,939 m).
The stretch from Colle della Lombarda to Rifugio Città di Ceva, passing through Colle dell'Aiver, is a variation of the Sentiero Italia (which cuts through Colle d'Orgials, along the GTA). It was preferred because of the beautiful Lakes d'Aver.
The final stretch of the climb to Colle dell'Aiver presents some critical issues and you need to be experienced: it is not always easy to identify the correct track (few cairns and trail signs). Some sections are stony and sometimes slightly exposed, you need to use your hands a couple of times, for safety. The less experienced can avoid the stretch by passing through the Colle d'Orgials.
Water points are absent up to the Rifugio Città di Ceva: you need to bring a good supply.
We take the GTA path, in regular ascent (approximately 350 m height difference). We skirt the small Colle di Sant'Anna Lake and soon we are on the wide Crete de la Lausetta, a panoramic ridge parallel to the Vallone d'Orgiais. We arrive easily at Colle della Lombarda (2,351 m), a historic Italian-French border pass.
From here, we take the road halfway up the slope, on the northern side of the Vallone d'Orgiais, that is slowly losing altitude. Instead of resuming the GTA path, which climbs to Colle d'Orgais and then descends directly to Rifugio Malinvern, we continue on the road and, shortly after passing Lake Orgiais Inferiore, we take the path that goes up (approximately 350 m height difference). We reach Colletto Costa di S. Giovanni (2,480 m). After a short flat cross path, the slope increases sharply and the path becomes a little difficult - you need to look carefully (or use GPS) in order not to lose track. With caution, we reach Colle dell' Aiver (2,585 m), where we see the Argentera peak (3290 m) emerge.
The descent (approximately 950 m drop) is easy and pleasant: first, we skirt the beautiful Lake Aver Soprano and then the Lake Aver Sottano. Finally, we descend the Vallone d'Aver on an easy path, along a stream, to reach the Vallone di Rio Freddo. We take the roadway to the right, to climb (approximately 200 m height difference ), and after a couple of kilometers, we are at Rifugio Malinvern, dominated by the north face of Malinvern (2,939 m), beautiful and threatening.
The Colle della Lombarda is one of the passes that link Italy to France.
In ancient times it was well-known thanks to the Salt Road, as people went down to Marseille to buy the precious ingredient.
Leaving the Sanctuary of Sant'Anna di Vinadio, a few hundred meters away we find the Rock of the Apparition, where tradition has it that Sant'Anna appeared to the shepherdess and told her to build a church.
Rifugio Città di Ceva al Malinvern, at the bottom of the Rio Freddo valley. Tel. +39 0171 193 6018
Starting point reachable by car.
Departure point NOT reachable by bus.
The nearest location reachable by bus is Vinadio, starting from the city of Cuneo.
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.