Monte Rosa was our plan, Gran Paradiso under best conditions the experience. Once again, the weather conditions showed us how important proper tour planning and alternative destinations are and how the microclimate can vary in the mountains.
On the road
It's the 29th of April 2014, our destination is the Mantova hut located in the Monta Rosa massiv.
According to our informations, there should be about half a meter of fresh snow and lousy weather. Never mind! We want to do something and the one and other sunshine day was predicted, too. The wind would be strong enough for snow drift and temperatures with the windchill factor go down to -25°. So the conditions are not inviting for wellness-touring, nevertheless we are attracted to the mountains. Something is always possible and we'll have some fun anyway.
Due to our not really short drive of 6 hours we call the hut to get the latest information.
The friendly lady on the phone tells us about heavy snowfalls - stronger than predicted, a closed cable car and the danger of avalanches.
- 60-70 cm fresh snow and more to come the following 4 day
- 2 people evacuated by helicopter on 27.04.2014 due to avalanche danger.
- No track to the hut, 2 ski tourers tried but turned around due to bad conditions.
- A section of 10 very dangerous minutes on the hike up to the hut.
- Lift support from 01.05.2014 and guaranteed one madman who makes the first track.
- Weather forecast for the next 4 days, snowfall scattered with some windows of sun and maybe one good day.
OK, the fun at Monte Rosa is questionable and even if our touring itinerary (see below) was complete, we made the off-the-cuff decision to change our destination and do something nice under better conditions.
From Tirol over Salzburg, the Engadin, Dolomites, Bernese Oberland, Chamonix to the Aosta Valley, everywhere bad weather was predicted. And the forecast even got worse the last 24 hours.
Whew! What can we do then? Let's call some other huts and listen what the landlords are saying.
How will be the weather? We want it to be fine!
Infos of the alpine huts
Monte Rosa hut: Maybe the weather front got stuck at Dufourspitze. No, half of the reservations are already cancelled and the hut impossible to reach.
Mönchsjoch hut: "You're welcome to join us sitting at the hut." Most reservations are already cancelled.
Diavolezza hut: "Even now it's ok, from tomorrow on snowfall and we have no idea how it will go on."
Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele, Gran Paradiso: "There was some snow falling just now, but today and tomorrow the weather will hold. The day after tomorrow will be bad with 20 to 30cm fresh snow and on saturday fine again."
We see! Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele at an altitude of 2731 meter, sounds great. We crosscheck the weather on the internet and then we take the decision to go on to Gran Paradiso. Maybe the mircoclimate there is friendly to us. In good mood, because now we have again the chance for the some good touring days, we drive towards Aosta Valley and get mentally prepared for climbing the Gran Paradiso.
Touring possibilities around Gran Paradiso
We reach the Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele in light snowfall and then get a map to schedule the next days:
1. Gran Paradiso, because the weather will hold till midday with high probability.
2. Towards Tresenta making navigation excercises with map and compass, because the weather will certainly be bad.
3. Towards Tresenta and Col di Moncorve, with 20 to 30 centimeters of fresh snow, we'll check the avalanche situation first and decide then.
Gran Paradiso impressions
Further possibilities within this area are Ciaforon (steep North Face with abseiler, back to Vittorio Emanuele or steep Southeast Face and on to bivouak Giraudo and down into the Valle del Orco (both extreme descents), Col del Gran Etret and back to Pont or the descent from Gran Paradiso via Laveciau to Rifugio Chabod at 2750 meters, what turns out as very interesting for another time. You can also do the tour in the opposite direction, from Chabod to Gran Paradiso and then to Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele.
Impressions Moncorve Gletscher
The touring area in the national park is awesome, the nature very primarily and the possibilities manifold. The mountains and their steep summits invite for exploration and the friends of bivouacking will find some bivouac shelters.
Here are the rates for staying at Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele, as per 2014
|Overnight stay dormitory||10,00 €||20,00 €|
|Overnight 4-5 people/bedroom||12,00 €||24,00 €|
|Half-board dormitory||31,00 €||41,00 €|
|Half-board room 4-5 people||37,00 €||47,00 €|
Half-board Mountain guide
Hiking tea is 2,- € per liter, the water is drinkable and you can cook with your own gas stove.
Touring at Monte Rosa
And this was our discarded itinerary of touring Monte Rosa. We'll keep an eye on it and get back at better weather conditions.
We intended to go up with lift support to Punta Indren 3260m and further hike up relaxed to Manotva hut at 3500 meters. Depending on conditions and condition, it's possible to do the relatively easy Vincent Pyramid (4215m) the same or following day, and then ride down the North-West exposed normal route back to Mantova hut or with according skills and conditions, ride down extremely steep to the SouthEast and further down the Indren glacier.
On the second day we wanted to go to Zumsteinspitze (4563m) and with the possibility to climb down the ridge hike up to Dufourspitze (4634m). From there a fantastic 1700 vertical meters run down to Monte Rosa hut at 2883 meters. Then relaxing, food and drinks!
The third or fourth day we planned to go back to Mantovahut via the Col del Lys 4153m and then down into the valley back to our car.
First day as specified, second day to Zumsteinspitze 4563m and on the way back, depending on someones whim, collect the other summits Signalkuppe 4554, Parrotspitze 4432, Ludwigshöhe 4432, Corno Nero 4321 and back to Mantova hut. The third day Liskamm with 4479m and then back to the hut and down to the valley to Alagna.
If someone of you gets inspired by this route and does it before us, we would happily welcome your short report in our forum.
It was an unforgettable touring week, especially after all this back-and-forth in the beginning. The alpine hut was comfortable, the destinations awesome, we discovered interesting possible steep rides and yes, it was a beautiful area. Snow conditions were excellent with 20-30 cm untracked Champagne powder, most of the crevasses deeply filled with snow and the crowds at the summits amusing.
Beeing back to civilization, we've been rewarded with a near distance sighting of marmots and ibexes.
Grazie! Merci! Danke! Thanks!