Friday, May 8, 2009


Monviso seen from mount Bracco.
Last week we enjoyed a much deserved vacation. We went to an area that we never visited before: the Monviso (or mount Viso) area.
Unfortunately during the first three days the weather was ugly, very ugly. We had a lot of rain and down to the bottom of the valley they had also some flooding problems. Fortunately the next days were much better, even if we couldn't completely enjoy the excursions we had planned, both because the hiking paths were full of mud, and because the ugly weather caused little landslides that made it dangerous if not impossible to pass by on the paths. Moreover we were a little ingenuously unprepared to all of that snow (it can be for the microclimate of the lake if in our area, at the same altitude, snow is pretty much all melted).
Anyway we were able to do at least some hikes.

The first one is named "Tumpi la pisso", which in the local dialect i think it means something like "little waterfall in the pond". The path starts at the village Rore, in Varaita valley. Parking the car we missed the first deviation, although it was well indicated by a wooden sign, and we followed the white and red marks, on a skinny road, till we understood we were on the wrong one. Backtracking on our own steps we finally entered the right path, on the side of the brook, but here we couldn't go very far because one of the fords on the stream was impassable at all for the heavy rain of the past days.
Attention! This path is populated by "savarnots", troublemaking elfs of the Occitan mythology. Unfortunately we didn't have the chance to meet a real one: Maddie and Mr. Bentley had to be content to bark only towards one of the puppets that can be met along the path, settled by the local cultural association.
GPS track of the excursion "Tumpi la pisso":
in red the first part on the asphalted road, in green the right (correct) path, unfortunately cut short. A: parking lot.
Round trip on the first part:
  • Time: 1:13
  • Distance: 4.92km [3.06mi]
  • Difference of level: 195m [640'] (max amplitude 266m [873'])
  • Altitude: 896m [2940'] to 1103m [3679']

  • Round trip on the second part:
  • Time: 0:40
  • Distance: 2.87km [1.78mi]
  • Difference of level: 98m [322'] (max amplitude 255m [837'])
  • Altitude: 896m [2940'] to 994m [3261']

  • Another nice excursion was the one on mount Bracco. Parked the car on the road next to a convent and an inn, we started to walk entering the woods. Often the water flowed on the path itself making it difficult to walk because of the mud. Every now and then there were some buildings made out of stones that had been used for agricultural purposes. Fortunately we were next to one of them when all of the sudden we were surprised by a hailstorm, and we could use it as a shelter. Nothing terrible, but concerned that the situation could become worse we preferred to go back. Needless to say that the dogs were excited for the unusual weather conditions.
    The entire tour of mount Bracco doesn't look very difficult, if the weather is reasonable. It is anyway kind of long: it asks several hours hiking.
    GPS track of the first part of the mount Bracco tour: A: inn and convent; B: ruin of the building where we repaired from the hail.
  • Time: 1:15
  • Distance: 4.37km [2.72mi]
  • Difference of level: 67m [220'] (245m [804'] uphill and 168m [551'] downhill)
  • Altitude: 871m [2858'] to 1005m [3297']

  • Backward (on the same path):
  • Time: 0:59

  • The last excursion of this holiday was the one at Torrette towards Tenou. We parked the car on the side of a secondary road, right where there is the start point of the path.

    Roe deers grazing
    The beginning is an enough wide white road. The path then goes into the forest, always uphill, goes next to some agricultural house and a little waterfall of a torrent affluent to Varaita river. It opens then in a meadow at the end of which it is impossible to keep walking because of a snow avalanche.
    To tell the truth we had been warned, in the beginning of the hike, by a really gentle old man who we asked for directions. After warning us to use caution, he signaled us a detour from the main path, right next to a votive small chapel in the beginning of the meadow, that would have allowed us to pass the interruption.
    Anyway the sight of some roe deer grazing was enough reward for the effort of the climb, and so, after a stop to eat a slice of pizza and a sip of water, we decided to go back to the bottom of the valley, giving back the "landlords" their peace. Unfortunately, infact, we were not able to pass by unseen, despite our attempts not to make too much noise and to convince the dogs that we were already settled for dinner, and so there was no need to exercise their hunting instinct.
    GPS track of the excursion from Torrette: A: start point of the path; B: path blocked by the avalanche; C: votive chapel; D: lunch break point
    Outward (including the roe deers meadow tour):
  • Time: 1:57
  • Distance: 5.16km [3.21mi]
  • Difference of level: 351m [1152'] (515m [1690'] uphill and 219m [719'] downhill)
  • Altitude: 1116m [3661'] to 1495m [4905']
  • Backward:
  • Time: 1:17
  • Distance: 4.96km [3.08mi]
  • Difference of level: -296m [-971'] (164m [538'] uphill and 460m [1509'] downhill)
  • Altitude: 1495m [4905'] to 1116m [3661']
  • For sure we will go back in this area to try some other itineraries. We couldn't infact be able to try the one for which we were more stimulated, around the sources of the Po river, between Pian della Regina and Pian del Re.

    We lodged at Bed and Breakfast Il Bosco delle Terrecotte, at Barge, a restructured farmhouse in the peace atmosphere of the vineyards.

    Statistics of all the excursions during year 2009:
  • Total time: 11 hours and 44 minutes
  • Distance: 34.73km [21.58mi]
  • Difference of level: 2286m [7500']
  • Minimum altitude: 715m [2346']
  • Maximum altitude: 1550m [5085']

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