Great panorama and surprising nature around the “Re di Pietra”, symbol of Piedmont
Monviso is famous all over the world for its pyramid shape like Cervino or Matterhorn in german. During the clear sky days, usually in wintertime, it is visible from a large part of the Po Valley and the Ligurian and Piedmontese Apennines. This peak has always attracted climbers and hikers from all over the world.
The tour around Monviso is a medium difficulty trekking that develops in an environment of great charm between great views and luxuriant nature. The Monviso area is also famous for its mists and clouds that often cover its mountains in the afternoons. With a nice group of hikers I organized this trek in September which is usually more stable in terms of climate. Unfortunately, that weekend the forecasts were not optimal, but as we say in Italian "Chi la dura la vince" which translated into English can be said: "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again".
As soon as we arrived at the location of the trek, the sky was cloudy but there were still some rays of sun.
We are lucky and we can start our trek without getting rain. We are at Pian del Re 2000 m asl close to Crissolo, Cuneo. This place is called in this way because this area was an ancient camp of the French army where tales says that the King of France stopped during the attempted invasion in the kingdom of the Savoy. Nowadays this is an important naturalistic site rich in wetlands from where the italian longest river originates: the Po river.
During the first trekking day we passed by splendid alpine lakes where the Monviso, if not covered by clouds, would be mirrored! We climbed along the comfortable paths that were once mule tracks used by shepherds to transport the herds.
As we walk the sky darkens more and I predicted that within a few hours it will start to rain. I accelerated my pace so that we can reach the Quintino Sella Refuge more quickly, avoiding the rain. The group has a good training and manages to keep the pace of the walk. We get to the refuge when it starts to rain. Very lucky!
In the refuge it is always nice to chat with a good beer and a piece of cake!
The next day the weather is good, the cold air cleans very well the sky, we have excellent visibility and we can finally admire the scenic panorama and see the top of Monviso that will dominate our path.
We walk along the big plain and we climb to the Gallarino Pass
The mists returns, As i said before we are in the Po Valley that’s normal! Once we enter Val Varaita the music changes! So every promise must be kept and in fact leaving the foggy Po Valley here we are in Val Varaita where the clouds do not arrive. The complex orography of the Alps is able to create particular microclimates.
Now it is necessary to make a long descent in the beautiful wood of Pino Cembro, a rarity in these parts, especially for a pure wood. The forecasts announced clouds in the late afternoon and as predicted they arrived as we get to the refuge. Evening arrives but this time the mists remain, no night photos! but tomorrow is still predicted good weather in the morning and risk of showers in the afternoon, what will the morning be like?
Here it is!
Blue sky but how cold it is! Luckily we are at the beginning of September, summer is not over yet but today it seems to be at the beginning of winter. We start to climb towards the first step of the day, someone is not in good shape between digestion, cold and fatigue of the previous days.
I give her some advice on how to walk to reduce the effort and we reach the pass that give us access in the land of France.
With a direct descent we reach the beautiful alpine meadows where the Refuge du Viso is located.
We stop for a break to eat something light before tackling the climb to Buco di Viso.
We begin the climb and about halfway through we find a nice herd of ibex that we can photograph.
This rock hole is the first "tunnel" in the Alps and was dug to give traders an easy passage between the French and Italian valleys. It is also said that Hannibal passed through these parts with the elephants, but that is a legend. The sun is shining and even if the air is cold we can stop here to eat.
After lunch we set off again and pass the tunnel. The Italian side is in the Po Valley where the mists coming from the Po valley return and so the descent to Pian del Re is in the clouds as usual in the afternoon around this valley.
It was a wonderful three days, where the weather was good and allowed us to enjoy splendid views. I had a good group who were satisfied and enthusiastic about the trekking and the days spent with Trekupitaly guide.