BARBA FERRERO REFUGE AND ALPE TESTANERA
At the foot of Monte Rosa south face in Valsesia, Piedmont
Monte Rosa, after Mont Blanc, is the second highest peak in the Alps. To tell the truth, Punta Doufur which is the highest in the Rosa massif would be the third highest peak because, just lower than the top of Mont Blanc, it would be the Mont Blanc of Courmayeur. If we talk about the entire massifs, which are, a group of peaks, then Monte Rosa is the second highest massif in the Alps.
The Monte Rosa massif is located on the border line between Italy and Switzerland. In this wild and hostile nature the boundary is defined by the rocky ridge line while, where rocks are covered by glaciers, the boundary line is established by the direction in which “the water” flows or we should better say the glacier flows. This is complicated, right?
Our today’s hike does not touch any "mobile" border and we can safely walk without declaring anything to customs! Who knows what customs there will be on a glacier!
Today, in Alta Valesia, I have a group of Milanese and Piedmontese hikers who want to discover this wonderful alpine area among mountain pastures and splendid views at the south face of Monte Rosa.
We start from just above the beautiful village of Alagna Valsesia, an ancient Walser settlement. The original name of this small mountain town is “Im land”. Do you know Walser people? No? You should come to Piedmont and discover their incredible story!
We walk along a beautiful trail that soon leads us to the "Caldaie del Sesia" in this place we can admire the erosion of the subglacial streams that have carved out the rocks, creating glacial gorges of particular shapes that are called caldaie “boilers” if we translate the word in English, but as you can imagine it is not a boiler for heating!.
We continue walking and we reach the Pastore Refuge, an excellent place to stop and stay for beautiful hiking trails in the area. We continue with our excursion and after another climb, we begin to see Monte Rosa in all its beauty.
Throughout the day we will have in front of our eyes the south face of Monte Rosa with its small glaciers. The peaks of this side are all exposed to the sun for most of the day light and with global warming most of the glaciers have shrunk considerably. We continue our hike, we reach a suggestive rocky trail where there are easy rocky steps to climb.
With a second and long climb we reach the upper part of the path while Monte Rosa is even closer and more impressive.
After about 2 hours of walking, we finally arrive at the Barba Ferrero Refuge where you cannot miss a good and tasty “Polenta Concia”, a typical dish of Piedmont valleys made with corn flour and lots of mountain cheese and butter. It is a very good thing for your non-diet!
After lunch we continue our walk, we have to digest the polenta! We walk in front of the glaciers of Monte Rosa.
With a long traverse remaining in altitude we reach the panoramic Alpe Testanera, where we can have a second break to admire the view even if some clouds generated by the heat cover us the mountains view. During our break we take advantage of a group pic. Today there are many people hiking with me, but Trekupitaly has a strict rule of not making groups larger than 15 people. Indeed, the ideal number is 10 people to be able to enjoy a day in pleasant company where sociability and happiness come first.
Now is the time to go down the valley and say goodbye to these beautiful Piedmontese mountains on the border with Switzerland and the Aosta Valley, where the highest peaks of the Alps are located and where nature blends with cultural identities. On this hike we had breathtaking views, spotted several marmots and listened to the sound of glaciers that inexorably merge each summer, generating impetuous streams.
It is a “tradition” of Trekupitaly to finish the day around a table drinking a good beer and eating the famous Miacce della Valsesia. Miacce are a kind of Piadina with cheese and ham or other cured meats inside. Try to taste it and you will fall in love!