Medium-length stage, characterized by the long climb to the Colle del Chiapous.
We are in the heart of the Maritime Alps and the stage is fantastic. From Lake Brocan (near Rifugio Genova) we fantasize about the conquest of the queen of the Maritime Alps: the Argentera (3,290 m).
The only water point is at Rifugio Morelli Buzzi: make sure you have a good supply.
After the first stretch on a cross path, we start the long climb (approximately 1,150 m height difference) on the GTA path, which goes up the Vallone di Lourousa, on comfortable hairpin bends in the woods. The track is excellent and allows us a regular pace of march. Once out of the woods, we see the steep Canale di Lourousa, where the daring mountaineering route passes to the northern shoulder of the Argentera. We continue to climb at a steady pace in a harsh landscape, arriving at the beautiful Rifugio Morelli Buzzi, managed by the friendly brothers, Paolo and Marco (the latter is a sculptor and builds fantastic wooden accordions, it is a pleasure to listen to him play). In front of the mountain lodge, stands the rocky tooth of the Corno Stella (3,050 m).
We continue the climb on the excellent stone path (it seems almost paved) and we arrive at Colle del Chiapous (2,536 m). After a break, we descend just enough for the view to open onto the Chiotas basin (at the height of the detour to Passo del Porco). The descent (approx. 500 m drop) is long but very comfortable.
Arriving at the lake, we cross the impressive Chiotas Dam (an authentic engineering prodigy) and skirt the entire shore. We pass through a short tunnel, after which we continue towards the eastern end of the lake, from where we admire the Argentera peak (3,290 m), the highest in the Maritime Alps, in all its majesty.
Finally, we arrive at Rifugio Genova. Not far away, Lake Brocan invites us to a (more than) refreshing bath in a lunar landscape.
The Natural Park of the Maritime Alps was established in 1980 with the name of Argentera Natural Park.
Like the Gran Paradiso National Park, this area was also a Savoy hunting reserve. The park is characterized by marvelous mountains of crystalline rock (granite or gneiss), by narrow valleys shaped by the glaciers (the southernmost of the Alps), by countless lakes, and by abundant alpine fauna of which the chamois is the symbol.
The Chiotas dam is truly impressive: it boasts the highest wall in Europe, truly dizzying.
Its construction took over thirteen years, due to the heavy snow that prevented the work from being carried out for almost half the year: a gigantic job.
The basin is connected to the one below (of the PIastra) by pipes that run underground for several kilometers, up to the turbines of the Entracque power station, entirely dug into the rock.
In Valle Gesso cheeses are excellent.
In particular, we distinguish the ariund of the Alps, with long aging, and a full and intense flavor, and nostrale (fresh or seasoned), the cheese par excellence of the Cuneo mountains. It is produced raw exclusively in the mountain pastures at a minimum height of 1500 meters, with a typical moderately spicy flavor.
Rifugio Morelli Buzzi, in the Lourousa Valley. Tel. +39 340 461 4189
Rifugio Genova, at the south-east end of the Chiotas Basin. Tel. +39 0171 97394
Starting point reachable by car.
Starting point reachable by bus 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.