Attention, please, web site updated at 31/12/2015.

Tour of the Monviso

Around the King Stone

It is proposed here the classic circular route around the Mount Monviso, suitable for hikers in good shape. The Italian people face it starting from the Pian del Re, in the valley of the Po . The French, however, enter the ring to the refuge of the Viso, reaching up the valley of the Guil. The ideal season for the Tour of the Monviso goes from July to September

  • Number stages: 3
  • Difficulty: for average hikers
  • Difference or level + 2.380 / - 2.530 m
  • Signposting: white-red notches and stakes
  • Suitable for families
  • (+39) 0175 94273
Description of the stages

The Tour of the Mount Monviso is one of the most spectacular and popular trekking in the Western Alps, as well as the oldest multi-day itinerary around a top. It was performed for the first time in July, 1839 by James David Forbes, a professor of natural philosophy at Edinburgh University. Forbes, accompanied by a local guide, departed from the Guil valley and climbed the hill Traversette, then walked around to the east Monviso, more or less on the current, classic route of the Tour of the Monviso. Finally, he got back into the valley of the Guil through the step of the Vallanta after 14 hours of walking, all of the above concentrated in a single day. The Monviso, with its 3,841 meters of hight, is obviously a great protagonist but it is simplistic to think that the charm of the Tour of the Monviso is only due to the presence of the King of Stone. One of its strengths is the extraordinary variety of the environments through which it runs, which belong to three valleys (Po, Varaita and Guil): from the magnificent lakes of the upper valley of the Po, to the lakes Giargiatte, passing by the stone pines of the forest in the valley of Alevè Varaita, going to the step of the Buco di Viso, the first tunnel in the Alps opened at the end of the fifteenth century. All this with gradients almost always modest and without ever losing altitude: from the 2,000 meters of the Pian del Re you descend only once to 1,937 meters, and with a satisfying walk you climb between hills at a height of 2,655 of the Hill of the Viso and 2,947 in the Traversette pass. Thanks to the presence of five refuges around the Giant of the Cozie, it is now possible to deal with the Tour of Monviso according to everyone’s preparation and according to the time available: It ranges in fact from the routes of 2 days to the 4-5 days itineraries, suitable for families.

Map to the itinerary
Stages of the itinerary
Pian del Re / Quintino Sella Refuge

Travel time: 2h 45’
Difference or level: 650 m
At the head of the Po valley, at the end of the road coming up from Crissolo you can see opening the grassy basin of Pian del Re, dominated by the strict rocky summits of the Monviso. It is a very famous and popular resort, for here it is the source of the Po, the longest river in Italy, with its 653 km of length. The etymology of the name Pian del Re is uncertain, according to some scholars it has its origin in the fact that here was born the "king" of Italian rivers, other scholars instead argue that the valley has this name because a king of France with his army would have stopped there. The Pian del Re is the starting point of hiking trails that lead to the overlying lakes and refuges of the Monviso and the upper Valley of the Pellice. The path that leads to the Quintino Sella hut is one of the most beaten by both hikers who make the classic Tour of Monviso, and by the climbers who climb on top of the Stone King for the normal route or the East ridge. From the parking lot of the Pian del Re (2.020m) and by walking along the cart track, skirting the bog, you will soon reach the source of the Po. Here, take on the left an obvious trail that climbs to the south with a series of hairpin bends to touch the basin that hosts the Lake Fiorenza, in which are reflected the rock jetties of Monviso and Visolotto. It runs along the lake to the east, and skips on the right one branch leading to the shelter Giacoletti, then you climb a grassy valley to reach a collar that overlooks the valley of the Rio dei Quarti. Always following the trail, which bends to the right, cross a steep stretch and you get to another collar, where you are in front of a crossroads. To the right, take a direct path to Giacoletti Refuge, while on the left onto the trail down to the lake Chiaretto and go up to the mountain Ghincia Pastour and Alpetto refuge. You leave behind both branches to continue to the center on the main trail that surrounds upstream the lake Chiaretto, whose name comes from the milky blue color of its basin. After a stretch slightly downhill, the trail climbs along a slope of scree bending towards the south - east and then rises with a series of bends on the northern slopes of the Rock Trunè. At an altitude of about 2,530 the trail turns right, cutting between the huge boulders of the moraine that extends between the Viso Mozzo and the Monviso. Turning left, up the eastern boundary of the moraine, you can proceed to gently climb through a chaotic expanse of boulders and penetrate in the dry debris basin that extends between the amount of Monviso and the inclined slabs Face of the Viso Mozzo. The trail runs through the valley on the left, rises slightly between the slabs of the Viso Mozzo, then cutting down slightly on the large leads of the Colle del Viso. Over the pass opens the Lago Grande di Viso, which is the largest body of water in the area. Leaving the lake at the bottom right, you continue on the trail that soon leads to Quintino Sella refuge (2.640m).

Quintino Sella Refuge / Vallanta Refuge

Travel time: 4h 45’
Difference or level: 730 m
From the Quintino Sella Refuge, coasting downhill on the trail that runs along the eastern part of the Grande di Viso lake, you will soon reach the South end of the lake, where you are at a crossroads. Leaving out the right path for the passage for Sagnette, continue on the trail to the South, made clearly visible from the GTA trail. Shortly after you neglect the left branch for the Alpetto refuge and, with some ups and downs, you proceed in the basin of the headquarters of the lakes Sagnette. The trail cuts across the rocks at the base of the rocky shoreline of the Michelis tip and the Trento tip, to meet, at an altitude of about 2,675, a path from the Alpetto refuge. Going to the right with small turns you go over Gallarino, a large saddle that opens to a ridge inside of the Po valley, between the basin of Sagnette and the extended plan Gallarino. From here you can admire a splendid panorama that encompasses the nearby Top of the Lobbies, the summit of the Monviso and in the background, the Serra dell'Argentera, the Cervino and the Monte Rosa. Once you leave to the left, the path to the hill of Luca, which falls on the floor Gallarino, turn right uphill on the trail of the GTA that affects the rocky southern slope of the Punta Trento. Advancing uphill, you come in shortly to Passo di San Chiaffredo (2.764m), an extensive depression located between the Punta Trento and the Punta Malta, on the watershed between the Po Valley and the Val Varaita. The name reminds San Chiaffredo, Christian martyr whose devotion is particularly widespread in the Po valley, in Crissolo the shrine is located on the site of the martyrdom. Crossing the pass you forward in the wide basin of the terminal valley of Giargiatte. The trail proceeds towards the south-west with some ups and downs between the rocks, before coming to the Lake Lungo and then to the Lake Bertin. Just downstream of the Lake Bertin, you leave on the right path that leads to the bivouac not far from Bertoglio. From here the trail descends the GTA with various activities in a narrow rocky valley until you come out in the following valley, on whose left stands the Coast of Long Ale, with its towers. Going down into the valley of Giargiatte with numerous twists and turns through the rocks and scree, you earn a second basin, littered with boulders and dominated to the south by the severe Rocca jarea. The trail runs along the right side of the hydrographic basin, where the boulders allow a little space of the prairies. At the end of the moraine boulders and debris, the basin becomes entirely grassland. This is where you will find the old Gias Fons, whose name is due to a cool spring that flows near an isolated boulder. Leaving to the left the river, the trail descends with various coils in an enchanting forest of larch, up to Pian Meyer, a delicious and grassy basin. Here you leave on the left a branch directly to the Refuge Bagnour and continue to descend with sinuous bends up a steep wooded slope. Then comes a second grassy plain at an altitude of 2,018 meters, where the river meanders through meadows and woods. Bending to the right, the trail proceeds through a long stretch to the North in the pines, then it starts to go down with a few turns toward the bottom of the valley Vallanta, alongside the ruins of the Grange Gheit (1.912m). Once you have crossed the valley Vallanta through the stream on a footbridge, you proceed on the left side basin, passing just below the Grange del Rio and, after a short climb, you will come to a junction. Here you leave the branch for the bivouacs Boarelli and Berardo, to continue on the trail that goes up the main valley. They meet therefore the source known as the Fountain of Health and some farmhouses of the Gias Ajaut, then you cross the stream again, always on the catwalk. The trail now goes back a long basin, along the foot of a giant landslide from threatening Cresta Savaresch, which limits the valley to the west. Coming to the end of the long plateau where there are the ruins of Gias Souberayn, you meet the path coming from the Conce. The main trail then rises along a very steep slope, through a carrier called Pian Para, where on the left you off a path that leads to Passo della Losetta. Continuing to the right of a bumpy trail, you have to cut diagonally up a rocky slope to a small bowl. Here you leave the trail to the left side of the Vallanta Pass and, by turning right, with a short climb you reach the rocky hill where stands the refuge Vallanta (2.450m), dominated to the east by the majestic wall of the Viso di Vallanta. Not far from the Lake of the refuge is located Bealera Founsa, powered by the homonymous river. A little further up is the old Gagliardone refuge, damaged several times by avalanches and now disused.

Vallanta Refuge / Du Viso Refuge / Pian del Re

Travel time: 5h 30’
Difference or level: 884 m
Note: The path can be divided into two stages, by stopping to sleep in the refuge of Del Viso. From the Vallanta refuge you cut briefly to the north - west, in order to land on the marked trail that climbs on the right side of the hydrographic basin of the Bealera Founsa. The trail climbs diagonally beneath a rocky bar, leaving the lower right corner the old hut Gagliardone. Once in a small suspended basin, you will come to a fork. You will skip the left branch to the Passo della Losetta and continue to rise with a series of switchbacks up to the upper basin where you will be able to find the lakes of Vallanta (2.710m). You have to pass to the west side of the two bodies of water, then climb with switchbacks between grass and other debris. With a stretch diagonally across the rocks, you will reach the Vallanta Pass (Col de Valante, 2.811m), it is a clear depression of the main watershed, on the French-Italian border, between Mount Losetta (or Pointe-Joanne) and Punta Gastaldi. The view on the Italian side is dominated by the north - western face of the Monviso. On the French side, the view extends over the upper valley of the Guil, where stands the refuge Del Viso. From the pass that descends on the French side, you will have to follow the trail among the rocks, to the beautiful valley of the Lac Lestio, from which originates the river Guil. Continuing down a path to the left side of the river, you come to a grassy plain at an altitude of about 2,450. Here you cross the river, and soon after, you find yourself at a crossroads. Leaving the path down to the left along the valley towards the Belvedere du Face, turn right, first down and then up the hillside among the pastures. After all that, a gentle climb takes you to the refuge of Del Viso (2.640m). From the hut, take the path to the north, which, proceeding almost flat between meadows strewn with boulders, goes to cross the torrent of the band at an altitude of 2,437. Once you have neglected the left side of the branch that descends in the direction of Belvedere du Viso, you will proceed on the lawn for a hundred little meters to another crossroads. Leave the trail to the hill Seilliere and climb to the right side along the stream. Arrived just under a pond, turn left to go to a waterlogged plan at an altitude of 2,569. The trail continues to the right with a series of collapsed switchbacks, then folds again to the left, towards the watershed between Guil and Pellice). Along the trail, ruined by erosion and marked by cairns, you come under the rocky crest of the border. You have to leave towards the branch to the left not far from the Step Seillierino, and proceed eastward at the foot of the rocks, first uphill and then slightly downhill to the entrance of the French Buco di Viso (Pertuis du Viso), dug between 1475 and 1480 by the Marquis Ludovico II of Saluzzo. It was created in order to allow the caravans transporting salt and merchandise from Dauphin to the Marquis, to use an alternative method to the dangerous Pass of the Traversette. If you have a stack you can switch to the narrow tunnel, but the entrance from the side of the Alps has often been made difficult by the encumbrance of debris. Alternatively, you can leave to the left the Buco di Viso to continue on the path, with several bends between the rocks, going up to the Pass Traversette (Col de la Traversette 2.950m), a glue debris that opens on the main watershed of the chain Alps, between the rocks Fourioun and the Punta Traversette. It has been a famous crossing path and passing trail since the ancient times: according to the Roman historian Livy, Hannibal would have used the Traversette pass to cross the Alps on October 26, 268 BC, with its twenty-six thousand men and thirty-seven elephants. The Carthaginian leader would have opened a gap between the rocks with a very original technique, which involved heating the rock with fire and its immediate cooling with water and vinegar. This is the same technology applied more than 1700 years later by the makers of the Buco di Viso. Regarding the name, for many authors, it would be more correct to say "Hills of Traversetta" because the pass is unique. In French we use the term "Col de la Traversette" in a singular sense. The name Traversetta means "narrow passage between the two sides." From the hill begins the descent into the Valley of Traversette to the Pian del Re. The trail drops with a series of switchbacks to a steep scree slope (this stretch becomes dangerous when it's still snowy, necessitating the use of ice ax and crampons). Once you leave to the left the Italian entrance of the Buco di Viso (2.882m), continue on the marked trail that descends in the scree. You have to leave again on the left a branch to the Step Luisás and you will get to some half-destroyed barracks. The trail continues to fall with a series of switchbacks, passing near the source Ordi and then going through the debris Pian Mait (or Mait Di Viso, about 2,700 m), dominated by the East wall of the Rocks Fourioun. Mait is a Provençal word meaning "cupboard", and in fact the appearance of the debris basin, enclosed by high rocks, refers in part to that of the old kitchen cabinet. Come on a plain where there are the ruins of a barrack, the trail starts to go down to the right with various activities among the boulders and the rocks. At an altitude of about 2,600, a branch is left to the right for the refuge Giacoletti, better known as the Path of Postino, and you have to continue on the trail that cuts the steep slope below the South buttress of Mount Meidassa. You will arrive to the Pian Dar Moine, where, at an altitude of about 2,640, you come to a fork. Ignore the branch that goes up to the Hill Dar Moine, but instead you have to follow the old military cart that drops you right into the meadows. You continue the descent to a moraine of large boulders, then fold it to the right and cross the river flowing at the bottom of the valley. At about 2,275 m you leave the right path for the Coulour del Porco and the Refuge Giacoletti, and then continue along the bumpy dirt track that descends into a valley, dotted with boulders. Once in a bottleneck at about 2.115m, ignore the path that branches off to the right and leads to the Lago Superiore. Going down to the stony dirt track on the left side basin of the valley, you will reach the Pian del Re.

Accommodation and rest stops

The route takes you along mountain paths of high valley; the indicated receptivity is the only available path, at a short distance other refuges can be found.

On the path

Rifugio Pian del Re
Place Crissolo, loc. Pian del Re
Info (+39) 0175 94967; (+39) 349 3932559;
Place Crissolo, lago Grande di Viso
Info (+39) 0175 94943; (+39) 348 5618747;
Place Pontechianale, loc. Bealera Founsa
Info (+39) 0175 956025; (+39) 0175 950161;

Not a long distance

Place Crissolo, loc. colle Losas
Info (+39) 0175 940104;
Place Oncino, lago dell’Alpetto
Info (+39) 340 5342622;
Place Pontechianale, lago Bagnour
Info (+39) 320 4260190;