M4810 #3: Fallère Hut

Wooden animals and foot blisters
Methodos - M4810 - Rifugio Fallère

For once the team meeting isn’t at sunrise. It’s a warm Sunday afternoon in July, many are coming back from the seaside or from a small town, and stepping back onto the burning streets of Milan isn’t pleasant for anyone. Luckily, we’re not here long: we’re going straight up, to the Aosta valley.

It’s an important phase for a few reasons. First of all because it’s the first of two days, and there is almost school-like excitement in the air as names are called to board the bus in field trip style.

Then because it’s the first 3000 that the group will touch, the first peak, the first via ferrata, the first real high alpine hike for many. They’re all beautiful, in their branded Salewa jackets, blue for the ladies and yellow for the men, dressed like real mountaineers.

M4810 - Terza uscita

There are some new faces in the public, young and smiling more than ever: the interns. Initially they weren’t involved in the project because of some regulations, but excluding a member of the organisation for any reason seemed against the principles of inclusion and collaboration at the foundation of this adventure. And so here they are, probably the most excited of all. How many companies would do this? It’s probably an absurd question in general, considering the particularity of the whole project!

Some other new faces were those of significant others, who today join us for the first time. This is another beautiful element, of respect of singles, of relationships, that this project seems to have. And so, more numerous than ever, we head for the Aosta valley!

Tomorrow big things await, as was said, but for now our destination is less challenging: we start climbing from Vetan towards the Fallère hut, 2385 metres above sea level, 600 metres of elevation gain. The mountain guide that is accompanying us urges us on: an easy walk, almost flat with a few uphills. Ok, seems promising.

M4810 - Rifugio Fallère

The view is more beautiful than ever, it looks like a Milka commercial when we cross the green pastures, springs, and paths. The owners of these areas don’t seem to have us on their land, thought: the cows look at us cautiously while we pass through them, they don’t move an inch and shake their horns – not even the vegetarians feel safe. But, maybe convinced by our Salewa gear, they let us pass unharmed. We also immediately test for how waterproof their products are, as a sudden rain welcomes us on our departure. Test passed successfully, if I may add.

After a few kilometres, the sightings begin: “look, look! A badger! A groundhog! A deer!” One after the next, the beautiful animals, that were carved in wood with such precision that they seemed real, appear to us. The most beautiful thing is how they’re positioned: their creator, Siro, the brilliant Geppetto of the mountains and owner of the hut that we’re sleeping in, has an incredible imagination in positioning them in places that are slightly hidden, but visible, exactly where they would be if they were real.

M4810 - Rifugio Fallère

And so, between sighting, we don’t even realise that the path is starting to go uphill. When it gets to be almost vertical, not even the animals can distract us! “Mostly flat with some uphills”, eh?

Luckily, the 360° panorama of the valley and the mountains is our reward when we look up. The guide points out the pointiest peak, the highest in the area: “tomorrow we’ll go there, on the top of the Mont Fallère!” he announces. We can feel a bit of panic in the group – it looks very far and incredibly steep, but we’re too committed to continue our hike to give that any importance. For now, thoughts of the dinner waiting for us in the hut is what is pulling us along!

M4810 - Rifugio Fallère

“We’re almost there! Just 20 minutes,” the guide tries to reassure us during one of our pauses on this unforgiving hike. “20 minutes? Dear, we have to agree on what ‘almost there’ means,” someone answers sarcastically, and laughs can be heard throughout the group.

But it’s true: there’s quite a bit of effort left to be made, alleviated but the increasing number of wood figures that accompany us, including a fake wallet, fallen in the middle of a ford, and a little lady that lifts her skirt to pee (with a trickle of water from the stream that makes it even more realistic).

It’s easy to imagine the beauty of the hut when the path to arrive there is so well kept! We find ourselves in a beautiful hotel in the middle of the mountains, offering every comfort, where we’re served a great dinner served with wine and the local bitter, Genepy.

Happy and relaxed, a bit worries about the roommates that snore or talk in their sleep, we go to bed: it’s time to experience the thrill of sleeping at over 2000 metres! Tomorrow we go back to our old habits: waking at dawn and walking - the Mont Fallère awaits!

The journey

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Mont Fallère

Methodos - M4810 - Mont Fallère

It is the first peak over 3.000m of our project

Mont Fallère is found in the Grand Combin Alps in the Aosta Valley.

Found between the Gran San Bernardo Valley and the Valdigne, it’s a great introduction to the magical world of the 3000s. Mont Fallère, situated in the heart of the Aosta valley, proposes a 360° panorama of all the Aosta valley peaks. Its layout is not the be underestimated, but overall it doesn’t present great difficulties, even if we need to be really careful in the final part of the ridge.

We go up in two stages: the first day up to the Fallère Hut; the second day we arrive at the summit and then we go down to the valley.

Read the story :)

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Pointe Lechaud

Our first alpinistic climb to a summit

Pointe Léchaud (3.128m) is located along the borderline between Italy (Valle d'Aosta) and France (Savoy).

It is located south of the Col de la Seigne (2.512m) between the Veny Valley and the Savoy Valley of the Glaciers.

We climb in two stages: on the first day we walk from La Visaille to the Elisabetta Soldini Hut (2.195m); on the second day up to the top and back to La Visaille.

From the hut we go up to the Col Chavannes (2.603m); from the hill we have to leave the marked path that begins to descend into the Chavannes valley, following a path on the right that crosses the very steep eastern slope of Mount Lechaud. The trail continues on the right, again not far from the crest of Mount Lechaud and crosses a small valley of stones or snow, reaching the wide basin where the Chavannes Glacier is located. Once we have put on crampons, we set foot on the glacier going diagonally to the left. From this point we gradually turn to the right pointing directly to the top, which can be reached by overcoming some easy rocky steps. What we see is a vast and spectacular panorama on the Italian side of Mont Blanc.

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Vallée Blanche

Methodos - M4810 - Vallée Blanche

Crossing the Gigante glacier towards the Aiguille du Midi

Although it may seems like a "scenic walk", the Vallée Blanche should not be underestimated, as it is an itinerary that involves crossing the Gigante glacier. It is always necessary to be accompanied by an Alpine Guide who knows the itinerary very well and knows how to avoid the dangers.

We go up by cable car to Punta Helbronner (3.462m), we wear harnesses and crampons and we tie ourselves together.

The first section makes us lose altitude and then we start to climb towards the Aiguille du Midi. The last section includes the ascent of the snow-covered ridge of the Aiguille du Midi, reaching 3.842m.

The return is with the panoramic cable car which takes us back to Punta Helbronner.

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Gran Paradiso

Methodos - M4810 - Gran Paradiso

The Gran Paradiso is the only mountain over 4000m that is fully on Italian territory

The Gran Paradiso is the only mountain over 4000m that is fully on Italian territory. A classic and fascinating climb: after a first part on ice, to be able to reach the peak marked by a statue of the Virgin Mary, you must pass some simple rocky crossings.

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Monte Rosa

Methodos - M4810 - Monte Rosa

2 full-immersion days of technical alpine skill training on Monte Rosa

The Monte Rosa is a mountain range that is found in the Pennine Alps, along the watershed line between Italy (on the border of the Aosta valley and Piedmont) and Switzerland. It gives name to the Monte Rosa Alps supergroup, which in turn is composed of various important groups and subgroups, east of the Cervino and south-east of the Mischabel range. It is the most extended range in the Alps, and second in height after the Mont Blanc. It is the highest mountain in Switzerland and the second in Italy, and has the highest average height, containing 9 of the 20 highest peaks of the chain.

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Monte Bianco

Methodos - M4810 - Monte Bianco

Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco in Italian) is a mountain situated in the North-occidental Alps, in the Graian Alp range, on the watershed line between the Aosta valley (val Veny and val Ferret in Italy), and Haute-Savoie (the Arve valley in France), in the territories of Courmayeur and Chamonix, which give name to the Mont Blanc Massif, belonging to the subsection of the Mont Blanc Alps.

It’s 4808,72m (the last official measure was taken September 13, 2017) make it the highest mountain in the Alps, in Italy, in France, and in general in Europe if we exclude the Caucuses. This is why it’s called the King of the Alps. It shared a spot on the list of the highest Seven Summits with Mount Elbrus in the Caucuses.

Primarily granite full of peaks and crests, cut by deep glacial valleys, it is internationally renowned for its climbing and, from a historical point of view, the birth of mountaineering coincides with its first ascent: August 8, 1786.