Tappa GTA Balme-Usseglio
Grande Traversata delle Alpi
Grande Traversata delle Alpi
Maximum altitude reached:
Colle di Costa Fiorita, 2445 m
Ascent elevation gain:
Descent elevation gain:
Approximate Trekking time:
Balme Posto Tappa:
Frazione Cornetti 73
10070 Balme (TO)
Tel +39 0123 233073
GPS reference point:
UTM 32T 360478 5017961 1410 m
Usseglio Posto Tappa:
Via XXIV Maggio 16
10070 Usseglio (TO)
Tel +39 0123.83788
A very interesting landscape route through uninhabited environment mainly dominated by the very steep Torre d’Ovarda faces. The Balme part is chiefly a rocky route, with abundant waters, waterfalls, gullies and morainic lakes among which the Laghi Verdi. The Valle di Viù route mainly winds among steep fields and gullies.
The whole area is wilderness reservation and very often it is possible to meet chamois, marmots and other wild animals. In many places you may find and observe crystals, among which the famous pyrope garnet of the Lanzo Valleys. Specimens of this crystal are on exhibit in the main world natural history museums.
In the Col Paschiet area many shepherd’s engravings are visible, some of which go back to real ancient times. In case of bad weather refuge is available at the Gandolfo bivvi, just a little above the higher Lago Verde.
Leaving the Balme Posto Tappa turn to your right and, following the paved road, reach at first the parking area at the beginning of Rio Paschièt gully then go on to Li Fré little village.
The words Li Fré mean “the blacksmiths”. As a matter of fact, this little village has been inhabited for centuries by artisan melters. They exploited iron pyrite bodies almost 3000 m high in the Servin gully. The mineral was mined, charged on sleds and taken down to the small plateau just below the village where it was melted in a forge, some traces of which are still visible. The refined iron was then brought down the valley where it was used to manufacture locks (Ceres) and nails (Mezzenile, Pessinetto and Traves). In the Middle Ages, this industry caused a substantial immigration, from Valsesia and Bergamo valleys, both here and in other places of the LanzoValleys. In the XVIIth century, the temperatures dropped so much that a small glacier covered up the bodies and mines were little by little abandoned. Furthermore, due to charcoal shortage needed for iron manufacturing, the population had to change to livestock and very poor high mountain agriculture. During the next century, the little village stopped to be permanently inhabited and it was used in the good season only, on the occasion of the yearly moving of livestock to high mountain pastures. The houses of the Li Fré village were built with a perfect technique of dry masonry and covered by a roof of huge slates that bear witness to the miners’ skill in stonecutting as well. They also bear a date engraved in the stone (1486 GAC) which is one of the most ancient found in the valley.
You cross the creek by a recently constructed bridge and go up a good trail through a thin larch wood until you reach the Pian Salé alp (1580 m).
During wintertime, in the whereabouts, Rio Pontàt forms three beautiful iced waterfalls, recurring attractions for ice-climbers and, therefore, easily reachable through a very well blazed trail.
The route becomes steeper, the woods thicker and a lot of curves overlook the creek gullies. On reaching the Garavéla huts (1744 m.) you will disregard the deviation on your right for Lago Paschièt and will arrive, after a steeper part of the route, to Pian Buèt (2006 m).
In the Balme dialect, the word “garivéla” means “very poor and rocky grazing ground”. Shepherds who built several huts used the whole area. These were the centuries in which Balme knew a great demographic pressure. While nowadays Balme Village has a population of less than one hundred inhabitants, at the beginning of the XIX century was counting more than five hundreds residents. The Garavéla huts were abandoned very soon and at present they are only exploited for young cattle breeding in the wild.
Walk on for few hundreds meters in the direction of Colle del Vallonetto, then deviate to the right following the trail among rhododendrons and alders. Overtaking the vegetation zone, you will soon reach the Lower Lago Verde (2148 m) and later on the Higher one.
In the whereabouts of the first lake, near a short descent, the remains of the mountain hut built in 1911 by students alpine association SARI are still visible. The hut was destroyed during World War II and it was never rebuilt. In 1985 it was replaced by Gino Gandolfo bivvi (2300 m) with accommodation for eight people and always opened. The building is located in a grassy hollow, at the base of the Torre d’Ovarda north wall, subject to great snowdrifts: for most part of the year it is, therefore, hidden.
From the Superior Lago Verde, a steep climb will take you to a morainic expanse very often covered by snow banks which will take you, through a short climbing gully, to Colle Paschièt (2431 m). The GTA route bends to the right and, crossing a wide stony ground, reaches Colle di Costa Fiorita (2445 m).
This section of the itinerary is dominated by the majestic Torre d’Ovarda south wall (3075 m). The summit has been one of the firsts to be climbed in the Lanzo Valleys for scientific interest due to the particular kind of rock named ovardite.
From Colle di Costa Fiorita the route descent through the wild and very steep Venaus gully and, recently, a new route has been charted and marked. Disregard, then, the old route on the right and follow the directions on the left quickly descending in the gully along which you will be flanking some flood control works. The final part of the itinerary runs in a wood to end on the country road. Walk up for about two kilometers; overtake the hamlet Capoluogo, until you reach the little Villaretto village. The Posto Tappa is at Albergo Furnasa.