OK in the ‘Osta — Italian Alps

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | February 29, 2012      
Starting up Arp Veille out of Valgrisenche. Italian Alps, Aosta region.

Starting up Arp Veille out of Valgrisenche. Italian Alps, Aosta region.

It seems Italians, or at least the guys I’m with, really don’t like French food all that much. So getting Paolo and the guys from LEAP to hang out in Chamonix is of limited success. Paolo suggested we head back to Italian environs and enjoy the Aosta Valley region (encompasses an area of Alps still at the feet of Mt. Blanc, but more Italiano.)

I was game, so Paolo and the Sucai Torino (who hosted my presentation) came up with accommodations at the Pensione Perret in the valley Valgrisenche, village of Bonne. They heli ski here, which has the potential of continuing the Chamonix area mob madness, but the area is used for quite a few excellent ski tours as well, and both mechanized and human powered are said to coexist however tenuously (Wasatch, anyone?). Check it out.

View from the Pensione Perret up Valgrisenche.

View from the Pensione Perret up Valgrisenche.

Up. Arp Veille is your basic 'lower Alps' moderate ski touring peak.

Up. Arp Veille is your basic 'lower Alps' moderate ski touring peak. About 1,200 meters vertical gain from parking, excellent terrain for backcountry skiing.

Paolo snapped this photo of me and three of the LEAP architects.

Paolo snapped this photo of me and three of the LEAP architects, Luca, Stefano and Massimo. Super active backcountry skiers, Luca and Stefano are instructors with the backcountry ski school section of the Italian Alpine Club.

Looking what I think is southeast, Gran Paradiso is the peak in the distance.

Looking what I think is southeast, Gran Paradiso is the peak in the distance, a 4061 meter alp well known to Italians out of Torino and elsewhere. The immediate terrain is used by the helicopters but also yields ski tours. Off to the right a couple of huts are always available if you don't want to leave.

Italian performance athletic gel.

Massimo sports a bundle of Italian performance athletic gel. It works if you've got the DNA for it.

 It was boot top, variable, then some semi-corn down in the warmlands.

Paolo cranks out one of many turns. It was boot top, variable, then some semi-corn down in the warmlands. I even hit a bit of ye olde euro muck in the bushes, wouldn't want to miss that!

Saluting the mountain.

Saluting the mountain.

Stefano skis fast, sometimes he does a double ejecto.

Stefano skis fast, sometimes he does a double ejecto and ends up as much needed plaster on the Roman stone work.

Europeans are of course way ahead of us on green energy.

Europeans are of course way ahead of us Americans on green energy, this solar powered shrine proves it. Seen on descent.

Trailhead scenes are the same everywhere. Here, we're looking up the Valgrisenche.

Trailhead scenes are the same everywhere. Here, we're looking up the Valgrisenche.

As for the Aosta region food, I still heard a lot of talk from the Italians about how “different” it was. Hard to please these guys, but that’s okay because back home they have nearly supernatural eats, which I’ve been heartily enjoying during this trip.


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10 Responses to “OK in the ‘Osta — Italian Alps”

  1. Silas Wild February 29th, 2012 1:55 pm

    Aosta food: http://www.laclusaz.it country dining for 35-50euros ($45-70US)
    reservation required, small, popular restaurant.

  2. Rob Coppolillo February 29th, 2012 7:26 pm

    Lou, hot damn, you are going big! I love the Aosta valley, so much more chill than the French side…and yes, the food is SUPERIOR. If you get up to LaThuile (towards Courmayeur until the Little St. Bernard, then 10k up the hill…good off-piste there, too!), have some Mexican at La Pepita and ask for Luca…tell him I said to get you some vino and fajitas…Keep charging!


  3. brian h March 1st, 2012 8:53 am

    Ah, Prosciutto, it aint bacon and it aint ham. It smells faintly like feet. But after you try it once, it’s like pigmeat-crack…

  4. Kidd March 3rd, 2012 7:23 am

    Problem with the Italian side this year not as much snow.

  5. Rob March 3rd, 2012 7:51 am

    Lou – as long as your mind is in the Alps….I’m heading off on the Haute Route in about 3 weeks, and looking for any advice anyone here at Wild Snow has to offer. I’m relatively new to ski touring, and this will be my first multi-day tour.

  6. F. Felix March 3rd, 2012 9:21 am

    Have fun, Rob! Doing the Verbier variation?

    Go as light as you can. Bring Vitamin C drops for the long slogs. Ear plugs for the huts. Make sure your skins are in good shape before you go (or replace them). Order the magnificent Swiss Topos as a souvenir and to learn the route. Take a Sharpie marker to all your gear to prevent mix-ups in the huts. Ski the Schwartztor in Zermatt at the end of your Haute Route. Spend as much time in the Alps as you can before and after the tour, then start planning your next Haute Route variation!

  7. Greg Louie March 3rd, 2012 10:06 am

    . . . and don’t forget your silk sleeping bag liner, pretty much required at huts as your personal “sheets”

  8. Greg Louie March 3rd, 2012 10:10 am

    Make sure your ski crampons fit and you’re familiar with their use – bonus points for being able to get them on without removing skis

  9. Rob March 3rd, 2012 2:19 pm

    Verbier variation is the plan. Fortunately, I’ve lived in Germany the past three years, so I’m no stranger to the Alps…but this will be my first chance to really experience the mountains to their fullest. Some good tips…many thanks!

  10. Lenka K. March 4th, 2012 3:51 am

    Hi Rob,

    I recommend spending an extra day at the end of your trip and taking a DAY train back to Chamonix, rather than rushing back at night. The train ride is absolutely stunning, first you have the contrast between the snow-covered upper valley around Zermatt and the blossoming tree-plantations in the Rhône valley and then an amazing ride from Martigny to Chatelard. The train winds its way up an almost vertical rock face, at times on the outside on railtracks seemingly attached to the face, at time in spiraling tunnels inside the mountain.

    It does take a while and is definitely more expensive than a shared taxi, but really worth the extra cost and effort, as it rounds up the whole Chamonix-Zermatt experience beautifully.

    Wish you good weather and lots of fun!

    Lenka K.

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