Valnontey - Rifugio Vittorio Sella & Col de Lauzon
Country - Italy
Region - Gran Paradiso National Park
Author - Alpine Interface
Ascent - 900 metres / 2970 feet
Descent - 900 metres / 2970 feet
Time - 5.50 hours
If coming from Chamonix, one would have to take the Mont Blanc Tunnel into Italy passing through the town of Courmayeur. From there, the very scenic drive to Cogne and then to Valnontey takes about one and a quarter hours. One can either use the motorway or the toll free road leading to Cogne.
It is best to park in the lower car park of Valnontey (1666 metres), since the upper one is reserved for the hotel. In Italy, walking paths are numbered and one would have to take the number 2 path which begins adjacent to the botanical gardens belonging to the Paradiso National Park.
The walk begins in a beautiful larch forest, where the first sightings of both ibex and chamois (mountain goats) are possible. For wildlife sightings, this may be one of the best in the entire park since the large animals roam freely, almost as if unaware of the walkers' presence. One can approach these impressive animals to within 2-3 metres without spooking them.
The trail is quite steep, but the views out towards the highest peak entirely in Italy (Gran Paradiso, 4061 metres) are stunning. The path itself is very good, some of it made of large slate slabs winding its way up the Lauson Valley towards the ruins of La Pascieu (1994 metres) and the stone buildings of Gran Lauson (2495 metres)and the sheepfold where fresh cheese can be purchased.
From there, the trail contours gently up to the Vittorio Sella Rifugio (2584 metres) where excellent meals can be taken. The hut keepers speak English and the menu offers a variety of local dishes at a very reasonable price.
One can either return via the same path or spend the night in the hut and climb early the next morning to the Col de Lauson at 3295 metres. The path is generally good and the sightings of Ibex are numerous, where up to 25 large males gather in the early morning sun.
Walking Times :
From Valnontey to Rifugio Sella 3.5 hours, 2 hours back down
To Col Lauson, add 2.5 hours up and 1 back down to Riffugio Sella
Height Gain : please note there is an additional 729 metres (2406 ft.) of vertical gain if continuing from Rifugio Stella to Col Lauzon.to Col Lauzon from Valnontey
Notes : Despite the vertical ascent, the climb is gentle and the path very good. Even in bad weather, this walk is well worth it since the animals are always present and the hut open and heated.
- Kompass Carta Turistica Gran Paradiso Valle d'Aosta 1:50,000 ISBN 3-87051094-3
French IGN mapping is available in digital format by area and 'cut your own' maps. For more information and availabilty go to the Anquet website.
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