March 25 - Arrive in Aosta and meet for evening brief at our hotel. The hotel is located for easy walking to the historic Roman ruins and narrow, carless city streets bursting with energy. This is not a tourist town and you will love the laid back atmosphere. Great food, wine and scenery.
March 26 - Acclimatization day. Lift serviced skiing at Pila. You will love the local ambience of walking to the tram that leaves from the center of town for the huge lift (2250m!) to Pila Ski Area. This is a chance to get on your skis and shake down any equipment or gear questions you might have. Beautiful views of the mountains from Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn. A day at elevation will be a big help in getting used to the coming tour.
March 27 - Aosta to Refugio Bezzi Taxi to start of trail then uphill to hut. This historic hut is located at the end of a long narrow valley, A great way to get warmed up before tackling the high pass to Rifugio Benevolo the next day. Famous for friendliness and food, this is a great introduction to hut life.
10.5km 750m gain
March 28 - Rifugio Bezzi – Rifugio Benevolo. This hut was named after a pioneering climber killed on Mont Blanc in 1927. It was nearly destroyed by the Nazis during World War 2 but was rebuild as a shelter for skiers and climbers. From the hut we ascend the Becca della Traversière (Bassac Déré) 10km 1100 gain 1100 descent
March 29 - Rifugio Benevelo – Refugio Chivaso The route over Punta Galisia offers great views. You can brush up on your alpine geography with France and Mont Blanc behind you, Italy and the Gran Paradiso in front of you and off to the left are the highest peaks of Switzerland including the Matterhorn.
8km 1035 gain 837 descent
March 30 - Rifugio Chivaso – Pont After a long steady climb to the head of the valley it is a massive descent though glaciers and forrest to the isolated Hotel Albergo Gran Paradiso. With all trappings of civilization you can pamper yourself with a hot bath and internet connection.
12km 712 gain 1335 descent
March 31 - Pont – Rifugio Chabot From the hotel there is a trail that zig zags up through the trees until breaking out into the alpine glacier at the foot of the Gran Paradiso. The trail was build by the Italian King who made this his private park and it is not hard to see why he loved it here.
3.6 km 902m gain
April 1 - Day tour to Col du Gran Neyron or rest day. It is important to recharge your batteries and this is a chance to have a late start, read a book, sun bath and eat and drink exotic cheese and wine. For the energetic a ski up to Col du Gran Neyron is a chance to explore the high glacier and ski some great snow, but you will need to rest up for the next day and your ascent of the Gran Paradiso.
April 2 - Rifugio Chabot – Grand Paradiso - Vittorio Emanuele It takes about 3-4 hours of steep skinning to reach the ridge below the summit of Gran Paradiso, Italy's highest summit. Winding in and out of crevasses this is the most glaciated part of the trip. When you get to the ridge you have the choice of descending the the next hut or carrying on another 2 hours to the summit. Usually it comes down to the weather on the day but a pilgrimage to touch the summit virgin is the a European ritual that should not be missed. And who can't resist to bag one of Euroropes 4000m peaks when you are this close! Either way it will be a ski run to remember down to Vittorio Emanuele Hut.
Check out these numbers - 8.8km 1300m gain 1330 descent
April 3 - Rifugio Vitorio Emanuel - Rifugio Pontese This is a big day but it does not seem that way since after climbing 2 hours to a col, there is a 7km downhill! This is ski touring at it's best, remote and surrounded by mountains the route cork screws it's way through improbable terrain until reaching the incomparable Pontese Hut. Pontese is famous for two things, it's food and it's location. Both are pretty wild. Big news! Mara is the chef/hut warden and the reason Pontese is so popular. She and her partner Gianni will be coming to Wanaka this summer. Gianni will be working as a guide for Aspiring Guides for the summer while Mara relaxes after a busy season serving up outrageous food to climbers.
14.9 km 1150m gain 1786m descent
April 4 - Rifugio Pontese - Lillaz As is only fitting, the last day is a big one. One big hill and one even bigger downhill. This is huge country and with towering peaks surrounding you it is a real reward to reach the Colle dei Becchi. The ski down from the high glaciers, though the forest and into the village of Lillaz is the perfect end to the ski tour of a lifetime.
16.2 km 1415 gain 1851 descent
Sample Itinerary Only. Every endeavour will be made to keep to this itinerary, but with all high mountain activities, inclement weather or unsuitable mountain conditions may require a change of route or itinerary. All such changes will be made in consultation with participants, but no refunds will be given due to necessary itinerary changes.