Grande Jorasses

Grandes Jorasses

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Grandes Jorasses 45.868800, 6.988000

The Grandes Jorasses are located in the Mont Blanc massif between the Haute Savoie in France and the Aosta Valley in Italy. The mountain group is only slightly lower than its well-known neighbor, the Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps.

About the Grandes Jorasses

The Grandes Jorasses is a mountain group in the Mont Blanc massif of which the highest peak has an elevation of 4208 meters. The group is a collection of six summits linked by a 1 kilometer long ridge. The six summits are: Pointe Young (3996m), Punta Margherita (4066m), Punta Elena (4045m), Pointe Croz (4110m), Pointe Whymper (4184m) and Pointe Walker (4208m), the highest peak.

The first ascent of the Pointe Walker, the highest summit, took place in 1868 by Horace Walkerguided by Melchior Anderegg, Johann Jaun and Julien Grange. The group is best seen from the Italian side.

Accommodations in the Grandes Jorasses Region

The Grandes Jorasses is part of the Mont Blanc massif located on the France/Italy border. Both Chamonix and Courmayeur are great places to stay to explore the region around the Grandes Jorasses, with the Aosta Valley being the best, if you are looking for a fine hotel, these are worth checking out:

Hotel Le Morgane, a 4-star hotel with the sporty atmosphere of Chamonix. The style and concept of the Morgane stand out from the traditional Alpine hotels.

Hotel Gustavia, located In the heart of Chamonix and very close to the train station you’ll find the Langley Hotel, a charming, comfortable, fifty-room hotel with great atmosphere and a marvelous view of Aiguille du Midi and Mont Blanc.

Hotel Mont-Blanc is the door way to  Chamonix Valley. Every morning, the hotel offers the happiness of waking up to the most beautiful summit, Mont Blanc.


Chamonix Valley
Chamonix, Photo by Matthew Roberts

This valley in the Haute Savoie is one of the top destinations in the French Alps for hiking, paragliding, biking and as a starting base for the ascent of Mont Blanc. The reputation of this large village mainly comes from the first ascent of Mont Blanc in 1786. This was the birth of mountaineering as we know it today. The main street is full of bars, restaurants and outdoor shops offering the best gear for your hiking or climbing adventure. Accommodations in Chamonix are – as you can expect – pricey. The many campsites offer a budget alternative; but for thoselooking for a cheaper place to stay, the neighboring villages of Argentière and Les Houches are your best choices.


Courmayeur, Photo by Franco_F_a

Courmayeur is to Italy what Chamonix is to France. It is the base for Mont Blanc ascents on the Italian side of the massif. The village is situated at the end of the Aosta Valley, near the entrance of the Mont Blanc tunnel. Views of Mont Blanc are more impressive from Courmayer due to the steeper Italian face. Accommodationsare similar to those in Chamonix.

Camper van rest areas in the Aosta Valley

Camper van rest areas offer places where you can load water and unload your dirty water. On some occasions,electricity is available, along with bathrooms with showers. Sometimes there are facilities such as a hotel, bar, restaurant or a minimarket nearby. In the Grandes Jorasses area, these type of rest areas can be found in the Cogne Valley, Rhemes and Savarenche valleys, the Orco valley and the Soana Valley.

Argentière Hut

Mountain Hut - Argentière HutThe Argentière Refuge is located at an impressive altitude of 2771 meters. It offers views of the full Mont Blanc range, including its highest peak. It accommodates 91 people, and rooms cost 30 euros per night or 65 euros (half board). The refuge is often used for long distance hiking and the skitouring trails between Argentière and Zermatt, also known as the Haute Route. The refuge is open in the summer and from February to May, the latter period offering beds toskitouring visitors.

Albert Premier Refuge

Albert Premier RefugeThe slightly larger Albert Premier Refuge (140 beds) is situated besides the Le Tour glacier. It is a great goal for a short day hike, a nice stopover to the glacier, or the neighboring peaks of Aiguille du Tour, Aiguille d’Argentière, Les Drus and the Aiguilles Rouges. The refuge is only manned in the summer season but is open year-round. It is owned by the CAF, the Club Alpin France. Getting to the hut is easy by taking the Charamillon gondola from Le Tour and the Col de Balme chairlift. This helps you gain a lot of altitude in a short amount of time and reduces the hiking time to 1hour 30minutes. Those who want to go on a longer hike can follow the trails to Col de Balme underneath the cable car  (strenuous, add 3 hours).

Refuge des Cosmiques

Refuge des CosmiquesThe Refuge des Cosmiques is located on the shoulder between Col du Midi and the southwest ridge of Aiguille du Midi. This makes it the closest mountain hut to the peak and the second highest in the French Alps. Located at an altitude of 3593 meters, it is often used as a starting base for Mont Blanc ascents (Three Monts route) . The hut has about 140 beds at 42 euros (breakfast included) to 66 euro (half pension).

Refuge du Plan d’Aiguille

The Refuge du Plan d’Aiguille is easily reachable by getting off at the first stop of the Aiguille du Midi cable car (Plan d’Aiguille). Not only is this a great place to start your hike, but the overlook views over the Chamonix Valley also make it a great place for lunch. There is one room with ten beds available, even in the winter season. Owners, Claude and Marie-Noelle, accommodate visitors at 2207 meters of altitude. Spending the night here costs 24 euro per person or 54 euros with meals included. Wifi is available and pets are allowed as well.

Hiking in the Grandes Jorasses Region

Tour de Mont Blanc

Mont Blanc
Mont Blanc, Photo by Ange Traverso

The Tour de Mont Blanc is a 10-day trek around the Mont Blanc massif crossing three countries: France, Switzerland and Italy. Since it’s regarded as the most beautiful trek in Europe, the number of hikers can get high during the peak season. While most people start their hike in neighboring Chamonix, the village of Argentière is an often-used stop.

Aiguilles des Posettes

This short 5.8-kilometer hike has great rewards. From the Tre le Champs carpark, you can follow your way up to “Aiguilette via la crète”. It is rough and strenuous trail gaining 750m of ascent, but there is a real summit as a goal. Besides having reached an alpine summit, the views over the Chamonix valley are breathtaking. On clear days it is possible to get a panoramic view all the way to the Jungfrau region. You have the option to hike the same way down or use the Vallorcine gondola; however, this option will require a car shuttle.

Grand Balcon Sud

This 13.6-kilometer trail leads you through the Reserve Naturelle des Aiguille Rouges. Despite the strenuous start, the hike is relatively easy and flat. You will get views over the entire valley and have plenty of opportunities to spot an ibex. To enlarge your chances, head off early in the morning! Descending back to the valley floor can be done by taking the Flegere lift down.

Col de la Croix

This 3-hour hike leads to the Col de la Croix, located at an elevation of 2380m. It enters the valley of Arpy before climbing the col. Descending is possible via the Plan Praz (2057m) and the village of Theraz.

Things to do in the Grandes Jorasses Region

The cable car leading to the summit of the Aiguille du Midi is without doubt the top tourist attraction in Chamonix. Return tickets cost about 58 euros. From this point, you can take an elevator through the rocks of the peak to a viewing platform, some 42 meter higher. Here, you get to see Mont Blanc up close. On clear days, views of the Grand Combin and the Monte Rosa are admirable. The restaurant is a great place to have lunch before taking the Panoramic Mont Blanc tramway to Hellbronner on the Italian side of the massif; you can descend all the way to Courmayeur. This makes it possible to start this journey in Courmayeur as well.

Another main tourist attraction on the French side of the massif is the Mer the Glace train to Montenvers. It departs from the Chamonix train station and leads to the famous Mer de Glace, a glacier between Aiguille du Midi and Les Drus that used to reach all the way to the valley base.

The Chamonix valley is a hotspot for thrillseeking adventurers. Challenging peaks are the playground for experienced mountaineers while the air streams offer great conditions for paragliders.

Hiking with kids

Hiking with children around the Mont Blanc massif may seem difficult due to the altitude difference; however, there quite a few trails suitable for families. Fortunately, cable cars will help you gain most of the elevation without much effort. For this reason, the Lac Bleu hike is well worth mentioning, since it only requires 15 minutes to reach from the cable car station. Whether you want to add more kilometers / hiking hours is up to you. Lac Blanc is a 2-hour easy hike from the Flegere lift station. The nearby Lac Blanc hut offers facilities and refreshments well earned.

Gran Paradiso hikes – Highest mountain of Italy, that is completely in Italy

Most mountaineers get to know Gran Paradiso hikes as an acclimatization climb for the nearby Mont Blanc. However, this 4061-meter high-rising peak located between the Aosta Valley and the Piedmont regions deserves more than that. The Gran Paradiso National Park, named after the peak, is a great environment for hiking, whether you are looking for a short day trip or a multi-day trek from hut to hut.

About the Gran Paradiso

Mountain Peak Gran Paradiso

The Mont Blanc massif and the Monte Rosa massif both lie on the border between France and Italy. The Gran Paradiso, on the other hand, is the only peak whose summit reaches over 4000 meters and is entirely within Italian territory. This makes it the highest peak in Italy, with an altitude of 4061m. The summit of the mountain was first ascended on September 4, 1860 by Cowell, Dundas, Payot and Tairraz. Up to this day, by high alpine mountaineering standards, the Gran Paradiso is regarded as an easy 4000’er, even though climbers must ascend 1300 meter of altitude. Most of the climb requires basic alpine skills as it goes over glaciated snow slopes. Only the final section covers rocky terrain that is a bit more technical. With the huge crowds of mountaineers climbing this peak in high season, this section may become a bottleneck. On the summit, there is a Madonna statue. Most climbs start at the Refuge Chabod or the Refuge Victor Emmanuel II.

gran paradiso hikes

Within the boundaries of the park there are about 5,000 ibexes in total (Capra Ibex). Chamois also occur in large numbers. In addition, many mountain marmots, vultures and water starlings.

Best time to visit Gran Paradiso National Park

Mid-June to mid-September, with the greatest crowds from mid-July to the end of August. The most beautiful period is autumn, just before the first winter snow will fall.

Here are different ways to get to the park.

Accommodations around the Gran Paradiso

Due to its location in a national park, Gran Paradiso is only surrounded by small villages that are self-sufficient. Offcourse there is Courmayeur to the north, but it serves more as a base for those who wish to explore the Mont Blanc massif from the Italian side. In the Gran Paradiso area, you can find any type of accommodations: from bivouacs to mountain huts and camping. Even hotels, bed & breakfasts and rest areas for camper vans are available, If you are looking for a fine hotel, these are worth checking out:

Petit Hotel,  The Petit Hotel has been in Cogne since 1968. It was founded by our grandparents Lucia and Innocenzo who still very actively help in looking after the garden and flowers. It is a charming place where children and  their parents feel at home.

Mountain Hotel Gran Paradiso, 2000 meters of emotions. It is one of the few hotels that is located directly inside the delicate natural ecosystem of the Park National of the Gran Paradis

Hostellerie du Paradis The tranquility reigns. Nicely located guarding the quite for the peace-loving guest. The characteristics and tranquility of the surroundings give the hotel a friendly atmosphere.

Camper van rest areas

Camper van rest areas offer places where you can load fresh water and unload your dirty water. On some occassions, there is electricity as well and bathrooms with showers. Sometimes there are facilities such as a hotel, bar, restaurant or a minimarket nearby. In the Gran Paradiso area, these types of rest areas can be found in the Cogne Valley, the Rhemes and Savarenche valleys, the Orco valley and the Soana Valley.


Pitching your tent is possible at designated campsites in the area. These offer all the facilities you need such as toilets, showers, restaurants, etc. Some of the best campsites include Campeggio Piccolo Paradiso, Campeggio Casa Bianca and Camping Gran Paradiso in Valsavarenche.

Gran Paradiso hikes

The Gran Paradiso national park offers splendid scenic beauty for active travelers. Not only do you get views of the Gran Paradiso, the highest mountain of Italy, but the panoramas over the surrounding valleys are well worth the effort.

Traverse Chabod Hut to Refuge Vittorio Emanuele II

Two of the main mountain huts on the Gran Paradiso are linked by a scenic traverse. During this journey, it is possible to admire the whole of Valsavarenche in this section. Views on the northwestern wall of the Gran Paradiso are also seen along the way. This traverse can be done in one full day although some people tend to do it in three, with the ascent up the Gran Paradiso on day two.

Montesuc Ring-route

This hike starts at the Montesuc cable car station at 2100m and takes about an hour to walk. There are about 15 stops and observation points while descending through the woods in this ring-route. Along the way, you will enjoy splendid views over the Valnontey and the glaciers of the Gran Paradiso massif.

Dres Lake

Dres Lake is situated at an altitude of 2087m and takes about 2 hours 30 minutes to reach. The trail starts at Villa Poma in the Orco Valley and is well-marked.

Colle Bora

The hike to Colle Bora is a little more strenuous as it gains 1027m of altitude. The trail starts at Piamprato Soana, a little town at the end of the Soana valley that leads through a grassy basin surrounded by woods—a charming setting for a good hike. The duration of the hike is about three hours, allowing plenty of time to rest.

Vaudaletta – Col Leynir

Gran Paradiso T-shirt
Gran Paradiso T-shirt Check out my Gran Paradiso T-shirt!

This trail is for experienced hikers as it takes about 7 hours to reach Col Leynir. With an altitude difference of 1205m, you will be ascending most of the way.  The trail departs from the small town of Thumel in the Rhemes Valley before crossing a small wood and leads to the recovered huts of Vaudaletta, where you can spend the night before returning or continuing your journey.

Sylvenoire – Gontier

Located in the Cogne Valley, this hike starts in the charming village Sylvenoire, following a dirt trail to Plan Pessey. A mule track continues your hike and afterabout 4 hours, you will reach Gontier. Gaining about 985m, it’s a hike for those withdecent stamina.

If you are planning a long hike, be sure to bring some giuraje, which are sugared almonds, or hazelnuts, for energy. They are made by several bakeries in the park. Mecoulin, a typical regional raisin bread is another option. Pont ham and potato salami are other local delicacies to be enjoyed during or after your walk.

Refuge Chabod

The Chabod Hut is one of the two most-used mountain huts for climbing the Gran Paradiso. It is located at the footof the northwestface of the mountain in the heart of the national park. Situated at an elevation of 2750 meters, a hike of several hours (2.5h) is needed to reach it. The footpath leading up to itdates from the hunting days of king Vittorio Emanuele II and winds through the woods. The refuge offers services with 85 beds during the summer season and in springtime (for skiing). In the summer, it is a meeting point for hikers and climbers who wish to explore the area.

Refuge Victor Emmanuel II
Mountain hut

This mountain hut is the second refuge often used for Gran Paradiso climbs. It is named after king Vittorio Emanuele II who hunted in the area in the past and gave the national park its status. It takes about two hours to reach from the village of Valsavarenche. With an altitude of 2735m, it is similar in height to the Chabod Hut. It is capable of hosting 120 people, but is only open during the summer season. Prices to stay range from  €3 (sleeping bag) – €65 (all-inclusive).

Tetras Lyre mountain hut

This cabin is located about fifteen minutes from the Vasavarenche bridge on the path to Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele II. It is possible to spend the night here, but you can enjoy some great dishes as well. So, it makes a good stop during your hike.

Rifugio Bezzi

Further from Gran Paradiso, this refuge in Valgrisenche makes a good hike. It is best reached from Surier. The walk takes about 2 hours during which you climb 500 altitude meters.

Bivouac Huts

Unlike mountain huts, these are shelters where no caretaker is present. You can spend the night when out trekking. Most of them are open for use, but in some cases you may need to obtain the key beforehand.

Three Best Ways to Climb the Gran Paradiso

Gran Paradiso is located between the Piedmont and Aosta Valley regions, in the Graian Alps, Italy. It is positioned south of the Mont Blanc massif.

With an elevation 4,061m and a prominence of 1,879m, it is ranked the 7th highest peak in the Graian Alps.

Its first ascent was in September, 1860.

Best Time to Climb Gran Paradiso

The months of June through to September are considered ideal for summiting. One can attempt ski-alpinism during spring season and get to just a few meters below the peak.

Climbing Routes

The Gran Paradiso is a relatively straightforward peak to summit, however, unlike other 4000m peaks in the Alps, there are no mechanical lifts to assist you summit the mountain partly.

It has two main climbing routes; the Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele and the Rifugio Chabod. Both routes end with a 20-minute technical climb.

The Rifugio Chabod

This route is slightly longer than the Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele, but it offers a scenic and wonderful hike approach.

From the Chabod Hut, climb up the glaciers that are on the north-western side of the peak. Cross the mound while heading right to an altitude of 3,300m. Here, you will reach the north-west ridge. Proceed to the glacier valley till its end. Then climb upwards till you get to the “schiena d’asino”. The trail here intersects with the Vittorio Emanuele refuge at 3,700m.

Head left towards the Montcorve pass. After a steep climb and crossing the final crevasse, you will get to the “Madonnina” summit of Gran Paradiso.

The North East Ridge

On the north-west face before reaching the base, head left to start climbing the glacier through a rocky area while aiming for the Piccolo Paradiso pass. Press on towards the ridge using the easiest path along this steep slope.

Once you reach 3,975m, head downwards towards the Cogne valley and follow the rocky passages. Climb up the ridge on the north western face until you find another ridge that will lead you straight to the summit.

You can either use the Figurio Chabod or the Vittorio Emannuel for descent.

The Rifugio Vitttorio Emmanuel

Head north-east from the refuge along the well-marked path to a couloir on the Laveciau glacier. Climb up the glacier till you reach schiena d’asino which will roughly take 2 hours. Make a left turn to traverse along a glacier that will bring you to a terminal crevasse. You will be a few meters shy of the summit.

Descent can be along the same route.

A few Tips for you

Acclimatize beforehand. You need to be in top physical condition to manage the large elevation gains and high altitude.

You will also need to be competent at alpine scrambling and glacial travel.

The absence of cable cars may have put your knees under so much pressure during ascent, and you may find it a tad bit difficult while descending. It is therefore recommended that you cover the 2,000m descent to the valley floor in two phases. You can opt to space it out by covering about 800m then camp overnight. Proceed the next morning after your muscles and joints have recovered.

Gran Paradiso hikes

Things to do in the Gran Paradiso region

Gran Paradiso National Park is a destinition well worth putting on your list of desireable adventures. Winter tends to be the time for skiing and snowboarding, but summer has plenty of activities to choose from as well. A typical activity in summer for visitors is to go on a hike to the many alpine lakes, mountainhuts or viewpoints to soak in the views of the surrounding nature. If you are looking for something more challenging, alpine guides can take you to one of the peaks, with the Gran Paradiso being the most popular, as it is the highest in Italy and reaches above 4000 meters. However, the normal route isn’t too demanding and is within the capabilities of anyone used to a long day of hiking.

Other sports such as mountainbiking, rock climbing, rafting, canyoning and via ferrata are possible here as well. During your stay, you have the chance to see an ibex, chamois, deer, marmot or wild boar.

Hiking with kids near Gran Paradiso

Waterfalls Gran Paradiso hikes
Lillaz Waterfalls photo: Antonio Monaco

Despite plenty of options for people with mountaineering ambitions, there is something for families traveling with children as well. The Valley of Cogne has two great walks aiming at youngsters. From Capoluogo, you can hike to the Lillaz Waterfalls, a 4km hike taking about 1h20min. This path leads to the village of Lillaz where you can continue the trail that runs alongside the stream until you reach the falls.

A different option is the easy hike from Capoluogo that leads to Valnontey. This takes about an hour.

Gran Paradiso Map

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Gran Paradiso Map 45.518400, 7.266600

Aiguille de Triolet

Aiguille de Triolet

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Aiguille de Triolet 45.916900, 7.024600

Facts About Aiguille de Triolet.

Aiguille de Triolet stands at 3870m above sea level at the Mont Blanc massif. This stood between the boundary of Aosta Valley in Italy and Haute Savoie in France. A rather complex peak to climb. It split the basins of Argentiere in the north and the Talefre in the west through its big glaciers at the French side of the mountain. The peak started a massif that included Aiguille Verte, Les Droits and Les Courtes.

How to reach the peak of Aiguille de Triolet?

Drive from Train du Montenvers-Mer de Glace in Chamonix. Follow the path from Place de la Mer towards Avenue Cachat le Geant, about 120m. Turn right to the D1506 part of Avenue Cachat le Geant. Continue driving by 29m. Drive straight ahead by 6.2 km. You will reach Refuge du Couvercle shortly. This is your last stop over before traversing the path towards the peak.

If you would rather start from Refuge d’Argentière, simply follow the same directions as the ones written in the Aiguille d’Argentière article. There is also a summit station. Hop into a cable car on the summit station at Aiguille des Grands Montets. You will reach Col des Grandes Montets. Walk by a bergschrund. Make sure to hand on to the rope by the Glacier Rognons. You reach P.300 to P.2754m then by the Glacier d’Argentière just above the ice break. Walk 2 more hours to reach the Refuge.

What to expect at Aiguille de Triolet?

Apart from the previously mentioned huts, you can choose other stop overs. When taking the Italian side, Bivouac Fiorio and Refugio Dalmazzi are the stop overs. Specific directions based on chosen hut are found here.

Aiguilles de Trélatéte

Aiguilles de Trélatéte

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Aiguilles de Trélatéte 45.794700, 6.815000

Facts About Aiguilles de Trélatéte.

Aiguilles de Trélatéte is a mountain right between the boundary of the Italian Alps and the French Alps. Standing at 3920m above sea level. Its Italian address is at Valle d’Aosta (Aosta Valley), Italy. And its French address is at Haute Savoie, France. It is more often climbed from the Italian side despite being on the west side of the Mont Blanc massif.

How to get to the peak of Aiguilles de Trélatéte?

Before reaching the peak, you must reach one of the huts to stop over first. Recommended hut is the Rifugio Elisabetta Soldini. Start by driving from the La Visaille. Cross the bridge to the closed car road. That route takes about 3 km. You will reach the Combal plain from here. (You can stop at a bar restaurant here before moving on with the drive.) From here you see and get to the glacial Lac Miage.

Cross the bridge on the left side where you may park the car. Cross the dirt road on the plain. The road is almost horizontal. Once you reach the end of the plain, follow the trail towards a couple of steep turns. You then reach the hut just below the Pyramides spur. This is your stopover before the peak itself.

What to expect at Aiguilles de Trélatéte?

Regardless of the route taken to the top, you need to be in complete mountain gear. Rifugio Elisabetta Soldini is one of the stopovers. Other notable stopovers are the Giovane Montagna and Hotellerie de Trélatête. Only the latter is found on the French side of the mountain though.

La Grivola

La Grivola

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La Grivola 45.596700, 7.264400

Facts About La Grivola.

La Grivola is the “almost perfect” white pyramid at the Italian Alps. Standing at 3969m above sea level. This peak is found at Valle d’Aosta (Aosta Valley), Italy. This is one of the most prominent views seen from the peak of Gran Paradiso. It stood out in the middle of two valleys, Vallon di Cogne and Val Savarenche. It got its name from its impeccable beauty. La Grivola is literally translated as “young lady” in the local dialect.

How to get to the peak of La Grivola?

If driving from the Milan Airport, enter SP14 via Piotello. Enter A4/E64 in Valle d’Aosta. Exit at Aosta Ovest (West Aosta) via E25. Drive towards Cogne via SR47. You will reach the Vittorio Sella Refuge as stopover before the trek.

With Cogne as starting point, climb to Val Lauson. Get to the junction upon reaching 2844m above sea level. Turn right to reach Col de la Rousse. Keep climbing westward to find the Col de la Noire. Walk further from Col de la Noire.

Walk past the Trajoz glacier just by the bottom of the southeast flank. Tread in the middle of this wall. Halfway through this wall, turn right upwards. Turn right again to set foot on the northeast ridge. Finally, set foot on the white pyramid’s peak.

What to expect at La Grivola?

Vittorio Sella Refuge is one of the few stopovers before the path towards the peak. The rest of the stopovers are bivouacs. Not recommended to climb in bad weather. The southwest wall has a fragile rock, making it unsafe at certain times. For any reservations, contact them at their landline number +39 0165 74310 or their Skype username: rifugiosella.