Journey through the Alps



Simplon Pass (2005m) to Rifugio Arona CAI (1771m)S11

01 Mar 2016

Stage: S11

Map: Swiss TOPO 1:50,000 274S Visp

Time: 10.01hrs (dept 07.52  / arrive 17.55)

Distance: 18.7km (ascent 990m / descent 1170m)

Weather: clear early becoming overcast with heavy snow later

Notes: From the pass climb eastwards to the Chaltroasserpass 2770m. The ascent from the west is easy but the descent on the east side is down a steep gully for a short distance. There are fixed chains but these are often buried in winter. Once the initial hundred meters has been negotiated the rest of the valley descent is straightforward.

Accommodation: The winter room at the Refugio Arona is basic with no wood stove or lighting.

Alternative accommodation options: The Monte Leone Hut SAC 2848m is located close to the Chaltroasserpass.

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Rifugio Arona CAI (1771m) to Cappana Castiglione CAI (1657m) S12

02 Mar 2016

Stage: S12

Map: Swiss TOPO 1:50,000 275 Valle Antigorio

Time: 11.42hrs (dept 06.51  / arrive 18.32)

Distance: 20.2km (ascent 998m / descent 1111m)

Weather: cloudy and overcast

Notes: Leave the hut heading east. Pass the chalets at La Balma 1769m and climb to Passo de Valtendra 2431m. Follow the route of the summer footpath   traversing below a line of cliffs before breaking through them (close to pt 2368m) then continue on a shelf to Scatta d’Orogna 2461m. This gives access to the wide Buscagna valley. This can be followed without difficulty to chalets at 1941m. After this there is a difficult descent on steep ground through trees to Alpe Devero. The summer footpath through the trees is impossible to locate in deep snow.

Accommodation: The Castiglione hut claims to be open all year round but may close from time to time. There is no winter room or access when it is closed.

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Cappana Castiglione CAI (1657m) to Cappana Castiglione CAI

03 Mar 2016

Maps: Swiss TOPO 1:50,000 275 Valle Antigorio & 265S Nufenenpass

Time: 11.51hrs (dept 06.22  / arrive 18.13)

Distance: 23.2km (ascent 976m / descent 1052m)

Weather: cloudy and overcast turning to snow and high winds

Notes: A day to forget. Possibly one of the hardest and most frustrating days of the trip. In deteriorating weather we failed to get to the Scatta Minoia 2599m. We diverted west and tried to find the Albrun Pass 2409m but failed. We returned to the Castiglione hut in a snowstorm: cold, tired and wet.

Cappana Castiglione CAI (1657m) to Rif Margaroli CAI (2194m)S13

04 Mar 2016

Stage: S13

Maps: Swiss TOPO 1:50,000 275 Valle Antigorio & 265S Nufenenpass

Time: 7.28hrs (dept 06.15  / arrive 13.43)

Distance: 16.2km (ascent 1062m / descent 507m)

Weather: Clear and sunny

Notes: Leave the hut heading for Lago di Devero. There may be Nordic tracks or skidoo tracks in the area and this can make progress easier. The road to the dam at the SW corner of the lake may be cleared of snow for access. It is possible to travel on the lake if it is well frozen and this will invariably be quicker than trying to follow the shoreline where the summer path will be invisible. Continue northwards to Pianboglio 1994m then turn east climbing past Alpe Forno Inf 2220m on the way to Scatta Minoia 2599m. The pass itself is easy on both sides. Note that the Biv Conti CAI on top of the pass has broken windows and was full of snow. A good descent leads to Lago Vannino 2177m which can be crossed with caution on the way to the Rif Margaroli which is part of the hydro complex at the northern end of the lake.

Accommodation: The hut warden was present at the hut but there were no other guests when we stayed.

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Rif Margaroli CAI (2194m) to Riale (1730m)S14

05 Mar 2016

Stage: S14

Map: Swiss TOPO 1:50,000 265S Nufenenpass

Time: 5.13hrs (dept 07.13  / arrive 12.26)

Distance: 14.3km (ascent 474m / descent 1023m)

Weather: heavy snowfall

Notes: In good conditions there are 2 possible direct routes from the hut to Riale, via the Passo del Nefelgiu 2583 or the Btta del Gallo 2498m. However in poor weather the best option is to descend east to join the Formazza valley at Valdo. The road north to Riale was closed due to snow and we followed this narrowly avoiding several small avalanches falling onto the road.

Accommodation: There are two hotels in Riale. We stayed at the Aalts Dorf.

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Rest day in Riale

06 Mar 2016

Waiting for the high avalanche risk to reduce

Riale (1730m) to Cappana Basodino CAS (1856m)S15

07 Mar 2016

Stage: S15

Map: Swiss TOPO 1:50,000 265S Nufenenpass

Time: 7.47hrs (dept 06.12  / arrive 13.58)

Distance: 15.3km (ascent 964m / descent 873m)

Weather: cold and clear with strong winds

Notes: Climb the hillside NE of Riale toward the Maria Luisa Hut 2160m. Before reaching the hut turn east towards Btta di V Maggia 2635m. The pass is straightforward on both sides. Descend the valley to a large hydro complex and then travel a short distance south to the hut.

Accommodation: The hut is comfortable and is connected to a mains electricity supply.

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Cappana Basodino CAS (1856m) to Airolo (1150m)S16

08 Mar 2016

Stage: S16

Map: Swiss TOPO 1:50,000 265S Nufenenpass

Time: 10.16hrs (dept 05.10  / arrive 15.24)

Distance: 25.2km (ascent 954m / descent 1672m)

Weather: cold and clear with some strong wind

Notes: This area is heavily developed for hydro power with numerous lakes, dams, access roads and cable cars. Several facilities are staffed year round. After travelling north for a few km we chose to take a high traverse line west of Lago Sfundau 2392m towards the Cristallina Pass. It may have been easier to stay lower and approach the pass directly from below. The new Cristallina hut is located close to the top of the pass at 2568m. We chose to descend form the hut directly to the valley at Ossasco and were then faced with a long walk along the road to Airolo. With fresh legs there may be a better route heading east from the site of the old hut and crossing the Passo del Naret 2438m, passing Garxonera 2191m and climbing the Passo dei Sassi 2554m. This would give access to the ski area to the south of Airolo making it possible to ski down into town.

Accommodation: There are several hotels in Airolo. We stayed at the Hotel des Alpes.

Supply options: Airolo has a few small shops.

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David Hamilton
High Adventure
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