|Gran Paradiso 4061 m
by Francesco Tremolada
Gran Paradiso is the only mountain entirely within Italy that is over 4,000m high. This beautiful peak, located within the Gran Paradiso National Park, is an excellent destination for ski mountaineers thanks to its brilliant slopes and the possibility of splitting the ascent over two days. This can be done by spending the night either in the Rifugio Chabod or the Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele. This article describes the second of these two options.
Ciarforon from the summit of Gran Paradiso.
Orientation: south/west - north/west
Height difference: 750m + 1300m
Time required: 3 + 4 hours
This route requires nothing more than normal ski mountaineering equipment if it is good condition. Nevertheless, as this is on a glacier we recommend a rope, harness, ice axe and crampons.
From the car park at Pont cross the bridge and ascend up the left-hand side of the valley floor until a path leads off leftwards for the rifugio Vittorio Emanuele. Follow this through the woods up the numerous hairpin bends or, if there is plenty of snow, ascend up the gully immediately to the left of the path. This entire first part is characterised by relatively steep slopes which, with unsettled snow, can become avalanche prone. The angle eases off higher up and the refuge can be reached easily by following the moraine eastwards.
On the second day start by ascending in a north easterly direction. Wide open slopes lead to the base of the Gran Paradiso glacier, which is reached by passing eastwards through a small, gentle valley. Higher up the slopes become steeper; move rightwards gradually and reach, after a final steep section, an large, hilly area. Leave this by first heading leftwards (NE) to pass the "donkey's back", the crevassed ridge which separates the Gran Paradiso glacier from that of Mt. Laveciau. Continue in a wide arc leftwards (E) for Becca di Moncorvè and then sharply leftwards again (N) in the upper parts of the cirque to head for the summit. Leave the skis shortly after the final crevasse (near a straddle) and reach the peak and summit statue via the rocky crest (exposed but peg protected).
Orientation: north/west - south/west
Height difference: 2,050m
Descend via the ascent route.
Although the best time of year is between April and June, excellent conditions can often still be found in early July.
With a third day to spare it is possible to ascend La Tresenda from the Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele. This beautiful peak, wedged between Mt. Ciaforon and Gran Paradiso, has a triangular face ideal for ski mountaineering.
From its summit do not descend to the refuge but instead traverse beneath Mt. Ciaforon and Becca di Monciair to reach the Seiva valley which leads to Pont.
Gran Paradiso from the summit of Tresenda.