Key information: Punta Basei
- The Punta Basei trek is the toughest of those on our Gran Paradiso pages to date; 12 miles of relentless ascent, descent, traverse, col and saddle, in succession.
- A fantastic stand-alone day walk from Val di Rhmes to Nivolets lakeland altopiano, or combine with the 6.5 mile Gran Collet to Piano del Nivolet trip to make a two day trek.
- Some of the most breathtaking panoramas in the entirety of Gran Paradiso, Italys oldest national park; from two lookouts above 3,100m.
- New vistas of the three Levanne peaks and Frances Vanoise National Park, unseen from the majority of the park, as well as the serrated horizon of Gran Paradiso peak itself.
- You will be walking in high mountains with unpredictable weather. Come prepared.
- Walkopedia rating88
- Natural interest17
- Human interest4
- Negative points0
- Total rating88
- Length: 12 miles
- 7 hours
- Maximum Altitude: 3,176m
- Level of Difficulty: Difficult
The Punta Basei trek is the toughest short walk on our Gran Paradiso pages to date; 12 miles of relentless ascent, descent, traverse, col and saddle, all in train. It is also the most technical, with a gut-wrenching traverse between two high cols treacherous and sheer. For experienced walkers, and those with good luck regarding the weather, only.
The trail itself follows the Dora di Rhemes into its beautiful upper reaches, from Bruil, Rhemes-Notre-Dame (this walk could be an addition to our Alta Via 2) to the Piano del Nivolet. Parallel to the river, a steady climb for around 6km takes you past quiet agricultural villages and then into the highlands of the valley head. Refugio Benevolo sits here, administering filling, pleasingly old-fashioned Germanic portions.
Here, a choice: the road (often mistakenly taken) or, branching off slightly SSE signposted Col Nivoletta, the walkers-only path. The path contours above the watercourse and past old agricultural buildings inset into the valley sides. The climb begins in earnest at 2,400m, under Punte Paletta. From now on a new mountain, range or valley appears with improbable regularity; vast views under huge skies back down the Val di Rhemes, and to Granta Parei, to Punta Tsanteleynaz, Roc du Fond and Roc Basagne. Shimmering glaciers pinprick their bright reflections across the gulfs you are putting between them.
Keep going it can be a trial. The path only gets steeper, and the altitude higher, eventually reaching the cairn at Col della Nivoletta (3,130m). This Col is the start of a sharp ridge you are to traverse: sheer, and loose, and certainly not for bad weather. The altopiano below inevitably draws your eye first, but then draws it along and up Gran Collet; and behind, to the national parks tallest mountain, and Italys only one above 4,000m, Gran Paradiso. This is spectacular scenery, and the ridge you are on offers a true, massive panorama. Roundabout, see Ciarforon, the Levanne mountains, and myriad small lakes scattered in Col del Nivolets flanks immediately below.
Follow it, steadily, to reach Col Basei opposite (3,176m), the head of Ghiacciaio Basei glacier just below. This really can be treacherous, so care is needed. From Col Basei, the same views; but the chance of a one-hour side trip up Punta Basei (climbers only; requiring ice pick and crampons), and the exhilaration of having completing the serrated ridge safely. This is dizzyingly gorgeous (and just plain dizzying).
The way down: cut diagonally down taking a relatively shallow gradient and heading north. This follows the Ghiacciaio Basei for a long time, but once off the snowfields (pretty persistent throughout the year) and among the loose glacial detritus you need to look for stone cairns for waymarking. Around a truncated granite shoulder, the path now properly marked with red, the ground drops precipitously, with giddy views to Piano Rosset below. Steep switchbacks now, through thick edelweiss down to Lago Leytaz (2,701m). Round and past various hillocks, drumlins and further lakes.
Follow yellow arrows, now, past a river in casual tumult, and then branch either left for Rifugio Savoia or right for the road and the end of this trek. From Rif. Savoia cut back to the yellow-signposted path for Col del Nivolet (2,612m)*.
Cicerone - Walk 16
See our Gran Paradiso page for practical information and other walks in the park.
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Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.
Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.
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