Ascent of the four-thousanders Gran Paradiso in the Graian Alps

Mountain range, region / State

Grajské Alpy / Italy



23. 07. - 24. 07. 2007


4 / 5


↑ 2174 m

↓ 126 m


9.8 km

2 days


max. 4061 m n.m.

min. 1954 m n.m.

Elevation profile of the route

Meters climbed: 2174 m
Dismal metres: 126 m

Useful information

High mountain hike to Gran Paradiso (4 061 m above sea level) via the Vittorio Emanuele II hut.

Starting point

The hike to the 4,000-foot summit of Gran Paradiso starts in the Italian village of Pont Valsavarenche. Pont is located in the northwestern part of Italy, close to the French border. Here you will find a very modern campsite, where it is advisable to check in before the climb and set off the next morning towards the Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele II hut.

Description of the hike

1. day

We arrived in the small village of Pont Breuil in the afternoon of 22 July. There are several small restaurants on site or you can cook from your own supplies in the tent. Pont is one of the two main starting points for the ascent of the Gran Pradiso (the other is Cogne), so it is quite busy in the summer season.

The next morning, 23 July, we set off along the marked route towards Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele II. We set off on a heavy load, taking with us food for two days, equipment for the glacier, functional clothing and sleeping bags. The path from the campsite leads along an unpaved road southwards along the Torrente Savara (photo).

After about one kilometre the road turns to the east side and here the climb begins. It is mostly a rocky path. The path is well marked and it is impossible to get lost. After about 3 hours we come to the mountain hut Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele II with its typical arched shape. As we still have the whole afternoon to spare, we walk to the glacier entrance and try out the glacier equipment.

On the way to the glacier we pass a spring from which it is possible to take water (since it is glacier water, I recommend boiling or filtering it, photo of the spring). In the evening we return to the hut, where we cook from our own supplies on stoves. We sleep in a dormitory near the hut in our own sleeping bags (about 10 euros per person).

2. day

On 24.7. we get up at 3 a.m. and set off along the unmarked path northwards from the hut. The path is well trodden and visible (we are still using headlamps at this time). After about four hundred metres we turn right, where the climb towards the glacier begins.

Here, only rocks and rocks form the base. After less than an hour, we arrive at the top of the glacier, where we slip on our crampons and bind ourselves into rope teams. The path on the glacier is not difficult at the beginning, the slope of the mountain is moderate.

It takes about 5 hours to climb the glacier to the top (depending on your physical condition). The route on the glacier is very visible in the summer season thanks to many other tourists. For the last 100 metres or so the glacier's gradient increases significantly (photo) until the summit ridge, at the highest end of which is the summit Madonna.

From the top of the Gran Paradiso there are great views of the Gray Alps and the Mont Blanc massif (photo). There is a narrow ridge leading up to the Madonna, where, especially in the summer season, it can be dangerous to avoid this spot with the crowds of other hikers. We then descended the same way as the summit to the village of Pont.


Gran Paradiso is a four-thousand-meter mountain (4,061 m) covered with glacier and therefore climbing it already requires a certain level of physical fitness and basic knowledge of glacier movement (using crampons, ice axe and rope team). Cracks in the glacier do not occur on this hike, but rope-tying is still recommended. On the summit day, you start from the Emanuele II hut (2,700 m) and go to the top - that is, an elevation gain of 1,300 m and descend to the campsite in Ponto (1,975 m), a descent of about 2,100 m, which is a good portion of elevation gain in one day. The spot just before the summit of Gran Paradiso, where the Madonna is located, is quite exposed. It is a narrow rocky outcrop, which would not be so dangerous in itself if it were not for the high altitude and especially the high number of people who meet at the summit in the high season and often pass each other inappropriately on this stretch without giving way. It is ideal to make at least one acclimatisation climb up a smaller mountain before ascending Gran Paradiso. For some, an overnight stay in the Emanuele II hut (which was our case) may be sufficient as acclimatisation.

Water availability

Water supplies can be purchased at the starting point of the village of Pont Valsavarenche or on the first day of the climb at the Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele II hut. In case of emergency, it is possible to use the springs from the glacier above the Emanuele II hut. The springs here should be clean, but the use of water purification tablets (e.g. Aquatabs) is never a bad thing.

Sleeping options

At the beginning of the trek, the starting point of the trek, is the Pont Breuil campsite behind the Italian village of Pont Valsavarenche, with the possibility of sleeping in your own tent. The first night of the trek is spent in the Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele II hut. Here there is the possibility to stay both in rooms and in a dormitory, which is cheaper. Next to the hut there is the possibility of sleeping in your own tent in case of occupancy.

Mountain peaks

From the top of the Gran Paradiso, with good visibility, there are stunning views of the Wallis Alps (Monte Rosa, Matterhorn, Castor, Breithorn and others) or the entire Mont Blanc massif, 60 km away.


Especially moving on the glacier is dangerous on this hike. It is necessary to follow the safety rules when walking on the glacier and to have the proper equipment. Although there are no crevasses on the way from the Emanuele II hut to the top of the Gran Paradiso, it is necessary to be careful especially in the morning hours when the glacier is frozen crusted.


When climbing Gran Paradiso with an overnight stay at the Vitorio Emanuele II hut you will need good quality ankle boots, an expedition pack of at least 60 litres, a sleeping bag (if sleeping in a shelter), a windproof jacket and functional clothing. Also glacier equipment: crampons, ice axe, rope, helmet and harness.


Food can be provided on this climb with your own supplies, which can be purchased at the Pont Breuil campsite. There is also a restaurant here, as well as at the Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele II hut, where you can eat well.


For this glacier hike you need glacier equipment - rope, crampons, helmet, ice axe, standard alpine equipment - sturdy ankle boots, functional clothing. For the summit day, I recommend to have a headlamp with you as well, because you go out early in the morning in the dark. Trekking poles are also suitable for the descent. The Madonna at the top of Gran Paradiso was first erected in 1954. It was to mark the confirmation of Gran Paradiso (4,061 m) as the highest four-thousand-foot mountain that lies entirely within Italy. The highest mountain in Italy is then Mont Blanc, but it is also the highest mountain in France, as it lies right on the border between France and Italy.

Posted by: 11. 03. 2017
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Huts on the hike