Sunday, 17 August 2014

Gran Paradiso - Rif. Mario Bezzi to Rhemes Notre Dame via Col Fenetre

Looking west towards the French border above Rif. Mario Bezzi
We left Rifugio Mario Bezzi at 8.00am and climbed immediately on route 11 part of the Haute Route Glaciaire towards Rif Chalet d l'Epee. The path crossed a series of spurs and hanging valleys that remained high above Valgrisenche. We stopped at the refuge for some cake and fruit juice and sat on the patio as there was no room inside.

Ascent 770m
Descent 680m
Dist. 7km

Becca Refreita on the route 11

Having rested and refuelled with the cake, we left the Rif Chalet d l'Epee at 12.40 heading towards Col Fenetre (2849m) stopping for lunch at the last grassy point before the rock and scree to the col. The ascent was fairly gentle with numerous zig zags before reaching the narrow col that befits its name.
 Looking east to Gr de Rousse
On the east side the ground dropped alarmingly with very steep switch backs that tested the grip of our boots. The path dropped 1100m in 4km. Our knees were a little tender by the time we reached the valley. The route over Col Fenetre is on the AV2 and is described as suitable for most and on good paths! We passed a large herd of Ibex high up on the scree, a nun and someone running down!
Rhemes Notre Dame did not have the campsite that is described in the cicerone guide. It was washed away by the river and has not been replaced. All the hotels seemed to be full but we managed to get a B&B in a ski type apartment. After a good meal in one of the local hotels we slept well in our comfortable apartment with a bathroom; luxury. Rhemes Notre Dame is a pretty village geared towards winter sports rather than walkers. We could not seem to find a shop to stock up on provisions. The little alleyways beween the houses are worth exploring and there is a village square.

Ascent 500m
Descent 1100m
Dist. 7.5km

Valley to west of  Usellieres

Col de Fenetre

Steep descent on the east side of col de Fenetre

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