Sunday, 10 August 2014

Gran Paradiso - Rif. Savoia to Pont via Punta Violetta o Nivole

We left at 8.15am leaving the camping gear at the refuge as we decided to explore Costa di Menta (2819m) in the morning and hopfully get to the top of Punta Violetta o Nivole (3031m). On the ascent we were heading into low cloud and the route became indistinct over large boulder fields. As a result we ended up below the Costa di Menta on the north side which meant scrambling up a loose rock gulley to get back on track. Once we were back on the ridge the route became more obvious and we kept as close to the ridge line as possible. Again there is no real path you just have to pick and choose where you think it looks best. 
Rocky ridge up to Punta Violetta o Nivole

We reached the cross on top and stopped to enjoy the partial view that was mostly shrouded in cloud.
There is a good path that returns to the refuge along the east side of L. del Nivolet.

Ascent 569m
Descent 569m
Dist. 6 km
Summit of Punta Violetta o Nivole 3031m

We returned to the refuge to collect our abandoned gear. 

After some tea and jam tart at the refuge we headed NE down the Piano del Nivolé. A very pleasant, mostly grassy path through the valley to Croix de l’Arolley. it follows the Dora del Nivolet which has some spectacular waterfalls through rocky outcrops. At the end of the valley we arrived at a viewpoint at La Croix de l'Arolley.  From here we had a steep descent on a rough path down to Pont. We encountered an Italian cyclist  on a tour from Verona tackling this on his road bike with a full set of paniers, needless to say he had to carry it most of the way. The rock scenery on the descent is very dramatic, with overhanging cliffs and waterfalls.

Ascent 40m
Descent 580m

Dist. 6km

We pitched the tent in the busy campsite (Camping Pont Breuil) and went to the Alberge Gran Paradiso for a beer. 
The campsite has a small shop selling almost anything that you could need on a walking holiday. There is a large shower and toilet block with good warm showers. 

 In the evening we ate Pizzas and had ice cream and tart for desert washed down with red wine.
During the night I was awoken by a rustling sound outside the tent. I was reluctant to get out as it was raining. Through the thin wall of the tent I could see the outline of a fox so I quickly got out of the sleeping bag to chase it off. It had managed to steal our supply of cereal bars and toasties bread and cheese.

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