Day 1: Balme – Rifugio Città di Ciriè:
Climbing elevation gain: 870 m
Trekking time: 5 ½ hours
Day 2: Rifugio Città di Ciriè – Balme
„E“ Itinerary: Climbing elevation gain: 380 m
Trekking time: 4 ½ hours
„EE“ Itinerary: Climbing elevation gain: 720 m
Trekking time: 5 ½ hours
From Balme square, go up about a hundred meters until you will find, on your left, guideboards and a small trail entering among the houses. A few steps later, you will be on the Gorgia Bridge above the breath-taking waterfall of the Stura creek. On reaching a wider mule-track, follow it on your left and shortly afterwards, you will find, to the right, a trail entering a beautiful conifers wood. Later on disregard the Pian Sarasin deviation and follow the trail until reaching Alpe Arbosetta (1539 m) from where you will have a nice view of Balme village. Turn to the right taking up the mule-track marked by stone walls on both sides, which follows the gully bed. Having overtaken a water tap, you will have a first glance on the Comba mountain huts (1741 m) that you will reach by crossing several wide pastures. Just behind the huts, take the trail on the left which, going through an alders wood, reaches, after many curves, the wide hollow of Pian Gioè (1955 m). Keep to the right side of the plateau and then go up the wide meadows leading to the little pass on the right of the Gran Roccia. From here, follow the track that, by a gentle slope, reaches Alpe Fontana (2091 m). Without loosing altitude, cross an uninhabited gully toward Colle del Tovo (2214 m).
Once you have reached the pass, descend to the most beautiful Pian Saulera. According to the season, this plateau is renowned for the variety of flowers and colors it offers to the careful observer. In autumn it is at its the best, a great show of nature! Keep slightly to your left so as to reach the Pian Saulera mountain huts (2095 m) and once you have overtaken them, take the trail which goes up to Colle Sud Tovetto (2167 m). After a short descent, you will reach Pian Turale and cross it completely, westwards, until arriving at a small pass just in front of the impressive Arnas couloir. You will walk almost to the beginning of the couloir and then turn clearly to the right (North). Cross to the next valley toward Pian della Mussa, reaching at first Alpe Venoni and later on, by bending to the left, head to Rocca Venoni. Cross the bridge over the Stura creek and climb towardsRifugio Città di Ciriè (1850 m).
Immediately climb upwards from Rifugio Città di Ciriè, along the trail passing over the rock wall delimiting the area in front of it. After a few minutes walking, gradually bending to the right, enter a small gully. Through some quite steep stretches, the trail goes up the left orographic side of the creek. When the slope becomes gentler, you will reach Pian Ciamarella. The trail shortly runs along the creek on flatland. Having overtaken some grassy mounds, you will be in sight of Alpe del Pian Ciamarella (2114 m) and it will not take long to reach it. You will now turn markedly to the right, moving eastwards to what appears as a wide pass.
From here, and always eastwards, follow the tracks which, through a diagonally ascent, will take you to Alpe della Rossa (2229 m).
From Alpe della Rossa turn right, South direction. After an almost flat trail you will start the descent, at first by crossing to the right and then directly Southwards, reaching the mountain huts of Alpe Rulè (2000 m). Keep on descending by zigzagging in the small larch wood, until you exit on the pastures at the back of Grange della Mussa (1761 m). On reaching the paved road near Ristorante Bricco, walk eastwards through it, for at least 1 km until you cross a small bridge at the beginning of the plateau. After a few meters, just before the second bridge, climb on your right a short steep slope which will take you to a small characteristic votive chapel. From this point accurately follow the mule track which, after skirting the little hamlet of Bogone, will take you in a short time to Balme.
Starting from Alpe della Rossa, follow the track bending toward North-East. After crossing some pastures, the trail goes through a rocky area in order to cross a small gully and climb its opposite side. By crossing wide rubble areas, you will arrive at Lago del Ru (2570 m). Move now, for a short track, to the West until reaching the pass from which you will enjoy the spectacular view over Lago Mercurin 2491 m). Turn now clearly to the right, southwards, so as to enter the hollow that will take you to the wide couloir along which the long and steep descent route winds. Overtaking in the steeper stretches some grassy areas and rocky sites, pay particular attention to unstable rocks and some prominences which may be damp and slippery. On reaching 2003 m altitude, cross Rio del Ru in order to resume the trail on the right. A little farther on you will come upon a particularly shaped rock, already visible from the higher part of the couloir, named dog’s head. In this area there are a lot of very interesting rock engravings to be observed. Keep descending through the barren and steep basin until you reach the big relay station. Cross again the creek and walk by the Ginevrè climbing wall. The steep trail crosses a beautiful beech wood and at the end of it you arrive at the whereabouts of Antico Albergo Camussotin Balme.
Nota: The descent from Lago del Ru to Balme may be very dangerous under foggy conditions. In such event, we strongly suggest that you go back to Alpe della Rossa and then descend to Pian della Mussa first, and finally to Balme.
Should it happen that you are caught by scarce visibility, move on, paying great attention, from one red indication to the next on the trail only. Do not venture in areas, which may seem to be easy but almost always end on high overhangs impossible to overtake without climbing equipment.