June 17- June 28, 2017

Status  FULL
Cost  $1650
Travel Dates  June 17- June 28, 2017
Description The Maritime Alps rise in a spectacular mountain group only 30 miles from the Mediterranean. Starting in Italy and ending in France, we will traverse them, going over several high mountain cols, past numerous lakes and cirques and climbing at least two major mountains. This Very Strenuous trip is for expert hikers who have tolerance for exposure, rough terrain and are accustomed to using crampons and ice axes on moderately steep snow slopes. Our packs will be light, no more than fifteen pounds as we will be staying in mountain refuges. Much of the trip will be in high alpine terrain with glaciated rocks, talus, scree and snow but we will also travel though the mountain intermediate zone of meadows and forests. The weather is Mediterranean, somewhat milder and more stable than the Alps to the North. Everyone on the trip must be capable of doing the minimum distance from refuge to refuge each day, but it will be possible to do additional side trips and ascents almost every day. The Maritime Alps are famed for their abundance of king ibex and chamois which wander freely through the park with little fear of humans. We will frequently see them on the trail and near the refuges. They are also known for the great diversity and number of their mountain flowers which we will see at their high point in the Spring. On two previous trips, we had the refuges and hotels to ourselves during the week and at times we seemed to be the only hikers in the entire mountain range. Our trip is in the Italian Piedmont and French Nice provinces which have a well-deserved reputation around the world for their foods and wines. The friendly rifugios, albergos and hotels where we will stay will introduce us to this local cuisine. This trip also offers the chance to visit two of Europe’s most interesting cities, Turin and Nice.

Here is a short description of the Italian Maritime Alps from the book: Wild Italy: A Traveler’s Guide by Tim Jepson. (1995)

“They are some of the wildest and least-known mountains in the Alps with peaks of over 3000 meters (10,000 feet), the Alp’s most southerly glaciers, high meadows, crystal- clear streams and dense forests…Their proximity to the Mediterranean lends a distinctly southern flavor… The higher slopes are more verdant than in the central Alps, the scenery more enclosed, the rocks more chaotic, the valleys narrower, the peaks more heavily glaciated. Forests are thicker, trees more numerous, and everywhere there is more variety, less habitation and- above all-more solitude.”

Equipment: Trekking poles are essential. Because we will encounter many moderate and some steep snow slopes, we will carry crampons and ice axes. You should have boots that can hold an edge in snow or steep terrain. Since we do not have to carry camping gear or food, you only need a day pack which should not weigh more than twelve pounds exclusive of food and water. (I will send you a detailed gear and clothing list upon registration.)

Level of Fitness: The days are planned for fit hikers just arrived from sea level. If you are an Adirondack a Plus winter hiker who can handle moderately steep snow, you should do well on this trip. Many of the trails are well graded, thanks to the kings of Italy. Because we are going in early season, we are likely to find some snow on the passes and will carry crampons and ice axes as a safety precaution. Several of the ascents and descents are substantial. If you do not like steep drops, snow, rocky and uneven, shifting and exposed terrain, this is not the trip for you. You must be willing to manage your pack weight and you should be in condition as you arrive for this challenging trip.

Included Lodging and meals from the beginning of the trip on the evening of June 17 to breakfast on the morning of June 28, ten nights, ten dinners, ten breakfasts, nine lunches
Not Included
  • Transport from Casterino to Nice will cost fewer than 20 euros.
  • Extra snacks
  • Beverages
  • showers in refuges
  • Lunch is not provided on Day Two, June 18
  • Bus fare or price of a taxi from Casterino to St Dalmas di Tende at the end of the trip
  • Train fare to Nice will be about 15 euros
Payment Policy A deposit of $600 is due at the time of registration; the remaining balance of $1050 is due no later than March 1, 2017.
Cancellation Policy If you need to cancel the trip at any time, a $100 ADK registration fee is nonrefundable. The balance of the deposit is fully refundable up to March 1, 2017. After March 1, 2017, no refunds are possible unless your space can be filled from a waiting list. If the ADK cancels the trip or if in the opinion of the leader this trip is not for you, the full amount will be refunded.
Accommodations and Meals The rifugios have bunk rooms and may appeal for their very simplicity. They are traditional mountain refuges, rather than hotels. The Balma-Meris in Sant’Anna, the Hotel Royal in Terme di Valdieri and the Chamois d’Or in Casterino are first class hotels. The trip assumes two to a room in a hotel. If you require a single room there is a surcharge.
Trip Insurance
Daily Itinerary

Day One, Saturday, June 17, 2017

We meet in the village Sant’Anna di Valdieri about an hour from Cuneo at the Locanda Balma- Meris. You should plan to arrive sometime that afternoon in time for our first evening meal. Sant’ Anna is a historic village in the deep Gesso valley. Once a summer residence of the kings of Italy, the village has a grocery store and a small museum.

Day Two: Sunday, June 18, 2017

We climb 899 meters to the Rifugio Livio Bianco situated on a large alpine lake surrounded by high mountains. Half the ascent is through forests following the cascades of the Meris valley, and then we emerge into high alpine pasture-lands to the Lago Sottano della Sella. This is an easy day following the guide’s rule that the first day of a mountain trek should be a half day. (Lunch not included on this day.
Time: 3 hours. Distance 7.5km, Ascent: 899m
Extra: Climb to the Lago Soprano della Sella and then go up the great glaciated spine of rock leading to the Colle de Valmiana. This rock saddle overlooking the lake would be more than enough for most but some may wish to go to the col. This would make for a six thousand foot day up and three thousand feet down.

Day Three: Monday, June 19, 2017

On one of the best days of our traverse, we hike up to the Colle Della Valetta(2488m) past the Lago Soprano then along a rocky ridge with views in all directions to Colletto Est dell’ Paur (2890m). We will probably use crampons. On the narrow alpine col, it will seem as if we are on top of the world with views of the Monte Viso, the Matterhorn and Monte Rosa. We cautiously descend 300 meters of talus slopes past a series of lakes and start a long traverse into the Valasco Valley. This has been rough terrain but now we will be on the graded hunting paths and roads made for the fat Italian kings. The lakes become more and more spectacular as we go past the beautiful Valscura and Claus lakes and end this remarkable day in the small refuge, Rifugio Questa, perched in a high mountain cirque above a frozen lake.
Time: 7:30 hours, Distance: 15km, Ascent: 1144m, Descent: 666m

Day Four: Tuesday, June 20, 2017

From the Questa hut we traverse over to the Colletto del Valasco (2429m) from there we go down to the Fremamorta lakes and have lunch at the Guglia bivouac hut facing the great north wall of the Argentera. From there we descend down into the valley to the Piano della Casa del Re and then up again 400 meters on a well graded steep trail to the Rifugio Remondino at 2430 meters. This brings us to the base of the summit of the Argentera. We end the day with a search for the Sassifraga Florulenta, the almost mythical mountain flower found only on several mountains in the Maritimes, and only above 2000 meters on the north overhanging sides of cliffs which grows for 29 years and then sends out a great spike of yellow flowers and then dies. Botanists from all over the world come to the Maritimes in search of the Sassifraga Florulenta
Time: 6:30 h, Distance 12.3km, Ascent: 952, Descent 910

Day Five: Wednesday, June 21, 2017

1. Climb on steep snow to the Passo dei Detriti above the Remondino hut and ascend the remarkable several hundred foot rock ledge to the summit of Argentera. This is the normal route and is commonly done without rope but is very exposed.
2. Climb directly above the hut on the paint marked Colle de Brocan trail and ascend over the shoulder of the steep ridge on snow to a turn to the Lago Di Nasta. This takes you high on Mount Argentera under two peaks, Il Bastone and Il Baus. (4h)
3. Climb on the trail all the way to Colle de Brocan and return. This takes you into some of the best alpine terrain on our hike. The initial ascent out of the Remondino is on steep snow but it then turns into a gradually ascending easy traverse to the col. It is easy terrain but in spectacular country. (4h)
Second night in Remondino Hut

Day Six: Thursday, June 22, 2017

You can descend straight to the Hotel Royal, a three star hotel at the road-head in Terme di Valdieri or you can traverse the Argentera on a difficult rocky and sometimes exposed trail to the Bozano hut and down to the Hotel Royal or you can do any of the three alternatives listed above for Day Six and end the day by descending to Terme and the hotel.
Terme di Valdieri at the road-head has a small park exhibit and a fine alpine flower garden. Our luxury hotel has a night club and hot thermal swimming pools and is famous for its mud algae facial treatments. This is our brush with La Dolce Vita.
Bring a swimsuit.
Time: 2:30 h, Distance; 6.5km, Descent 1062m

Day Seven: Friday, June 23, 2017

From the Terme di Valdieri, we climb up though larch woods, then though alpine meadows and alpine glaciated terrain past the Rifugio Morelli –Buzzi (2531m) high up under the east face of Argentera, then we climb over the Colle del Chapious at 2526 meters and descend to the turn off for the Passaggio del Porco (2620), a steep traverse on the side of Mt Argentera to the Baus bivouac hut. (2668). We pass through a vast alpine terrain of snow and rock. After lunch at the hut, we descend to the Genova refuge (2010) situated between two lakes down in the valley.
Time: 6hours, Distance: 8km, Ascent 1100, Descent 600m

Day Eight, Saturday, June 24, 2017

From the Genova hut, we traverse around the lake and then ascend to the impressive Colle di Fenestrelle (2463m). As we ascend, we gradually get a view of the south side of the Argentera. It is a wild landscape all around as we cross the great mountain ridge with wild views of the Mount Gelas and then start the descent into another fork of the Gesso valley. The descent is substantial but relatively easy because it is well graded. This is another day where we are likely to meet many ibex and chamois. Finally we reach the floor of the valley at 1800 meters and go down a stony track to San Giacamo (1213m). That night, we mark a gastronomic high point of our trip as we dine with an Italian family.
Time: 5 hours. Distance: 16.2 km. Ascent 493m, Descent 1250m

Day Nine: Sunday, June 25, 2017

From San Giacamo, we go up a dirt road past yet another royal hunting lodge and enter the Vallone de Moncolomb, traverse the memorable Pra de Rasur, a great meadow at the head of the valley and then start the long and beautiful ascent to the Rifugio Pagari, the highest and most remote refuge in the Maritimes. We reach several high frozen lakes and have lunch at the Moncaleri bivouac hut. The Pagari hut guardian provides some of the best food on our trek and also makes an excellent homemade beer which some of us will wish to try after the long ascent. (He has a license and advertises as the highest brewery in Europe).
Time: 6hours. Distance 11.3 km, Ascent 1437m

Day Ten: Monday, June 26, 2017

This is our day to climb mountains. From the hut, we do the easy walk up peak, Cima di Pagari at 2905 meters. This will take us about one hour there and back. Then we will descend a steep trail from the Passo di Pagari at 2819m to a trail which we will follow to the summit of Monte Clapier at 3045 meters. From the summit, we return to the trail and descend steeply past alpine lakes to the Refuge Nice at 2232 meters. We are now in France.
Time: 6hours. Distance 6km, Ascent 600m, Descent 950m

Day Eleven: Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Leaving the Nice refuge, we climb past lakes and waterfalls to the Baisse du Basto(2693m),traverse a mountain shelf down to the Basto lake and then up to another col and over a long alpine upland to descend into the Fontalba lakes. We do a short excursion from the main trail to visit prehistoric rock carvings and then descend to our final night’s lodging in the hamlet of Casterino and the three star Chamois D’Oro hotel.
Time: 6hours .Distance: 13km, Ascent 1000m, Descent 1247m

Day Twelve: Wednesday, June 28, 2017

After breakfast, a bus takes us to the train station at St Dalmas di Tende in the Roya Valley. Nice is an hour and a half away. The train will take you to the Nice central station. This is the end of our trek.

Notes Very Strenuous

No ATMS are available during the trip. All meals and lodging with the exception of one lunch are included so you need cash for drinks for a snack and for an occasional shower.

All huts and hotels have internet sites as do the two national parks, Parco Naturale delle Alpi Marittime and Mercantour.

Registration Procedure To register and for more information, an application and to sign up, contact the leader, Roman Laba
Trip Leader Roman Laba
22 Front Street,, Schenectady, NY 12305