Valle Maira und Stura Comprehensive!

22 Feb 2017
by Andreas Neuschmid

The motto of the week was declared on the parking area of Chialvetta: The participants of the ski-touring week in the Valli Maria and Stura in February 2017 wanted to have a "Comprehensive Tour". Thus, we first passed through the lonely village Chialvetta, which is situated high up in the Vallone Unerzio. At the door of the church of Santa Anna, we fixed our skis on our backs and then we make our way up to the completely abandoned hamlet Pratorotondo. Shortly before the church Madonna Neve, we cross a small stream and fight our way through the steep larch forest, La Bandia Longa, up to the summit of the Bric Boscasso (2,589 m). The downhill run was blessed with perfect powder snow, in the steep forest artistic capabilities were required. Afterwards, we once again put our skis on our backs and made our ways towards the very sympathetic and renovated Rifugio Viviere, where we enjoyed beer in front of the fireplace.

On the second day, a team-building exercise in the Valle del Preit was on the program. We had to put on snow chains, since the night had brought fresh snow. The skiing tour up to the Monte La Bianca (2,744 m) ended 200 metres below the summit with a whiteout. However, it was not all bad, when we came back to the camp we were cheered up by Stefan's story of his ascension of the Mt. Everest in May 2016. The Himalaya-veteran, with his 70 years, ranks 10th place on the list of the oldest mountaineers to successfully reach the summit of the Mt. Everest.

On the third day the sun shone in the cloudless sky and we were unstoppable. From Soretto on we enjoyed the ascent through the Vallonasso die Sautron Meridionale to the Colle del Sautron. There we searched for the Lapide degli Emigranti that is supposed to be a reminder of the emigration from the Valle Maira. However, because of the snow, we didn't find the Lapide degli Emigranti. Therefore, we had an absolutely astounding view from the summit of the Monte Viraysse (2,838 m) on the mountain panorama of the Valle Maira and Stura. To the north we saw the Monte Viso and not far from it were the mountains of the Queyras, where the group got to know each other the previous winter. During the long downhill run towards Saretto we could enjoy powder snow of the highest quality. In the afternoon we said goodbye to Alessandro of the formidable Hotel Londra and under the light of the late afternoon sun, we made our way to Elva, which was about 17 km away. We didn't want to miss the frescoes in the church of Elva from the 15th Century. The frescoes were drawn by Hans Clemer, the "Master of Elva", who was a painter from Aix en Provence. Deeply impressed by the works of the painter and the extremely steep turns in the road down to the valley, we made our way into the neighbouring valley, the Valle Stura. There we were warmly greeted by Raffaele in the Hotel Pace, despite the late hour.

On Thursday we started our hike from Primavera. We firstly hiked into the Vallone Forneris in order to pass through a steep forest passage. Afterwards, we ascended the ideally inclined slopes towards Rocca Reis (2,704 m). On the extremely varied downhill run it became interesting. We will never forget the forest which lead us down to the, during the winter, completely abandoned Ferrere! Even Franziska was suddenly extremely enthusiastic about this adventure between the larches! Before the aperitif we relaxed body and spirit in the sauna and for supper we were surprised by Marzio with fantastic Barolo.

On Friday our journey took us to the lonesome Vallone del Piz. After the tedious of the 1,500 metres long ascent to the Testa della Costabella del Piz (2,760 m) we enjoyed the grandeur of the view on the mountain world of the Valle Stura. Then came the wonderful downhill run through the "Champagner Powder" down to Pietraporzio. For the aperitif our mountain guide, with the help of pictures of the K&P Makalu-Expedition 2016, took us on a journey to the mountain world of the Himalaya.

The farewell from the Valle Stura was quite difficult for us. Which is why, on the last day, we undertook a last skiing tour starting from Colla della Maddalena to the Monte Ventasuso l'Enclause (2,712 m). The steep and untouched slopes down to the mountain pass road were a worthy finale to an unforgettable ski touring week. On the way home plans for 2018 were developed. Apparently, this time our journey will take us to the Sextener Dolomiten!

The participants in Valle Maria/Stura 2017 were: Franziska, Barbara, Susanne, Res, Marzio, Stefan und Andreas.

Text/Photos: Andreas Neuschmid (BF)