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Fraction Villaretto, Usseglio – Fraction Cornetti, Balme

Tipologia percorso


Dislivello in salita

1.400 m

Dislivello in discesa

1.250 m

Tempo complessivo

7.15 h

In senso inverso

7.00 h

Usseglio 1265 m – Colle di Costa Fiorita 2500 m circa – Passo o
Ghicet Paschiet 2435 m – Balme 1450 m

The ascent to the Colle di Costa Fiorita crosses the wild and striking valley of Venaus. The path, which had not been used for years and was recuperated by the GTA, climbs up steep grassy mountain ridges and then over stony ground. It is therefore essential to follow the path because the grass is very slippery, especially when it is wet and when it is tall and dry (August, September); in the parts on stony ground be careful not to send stones down onto possible hikers below you.

From Villaretto, follow the carriage road towards the valley, cross the bridge over the Rio Venaus which flows between two walls: near the second one, that is, the one on the orographic left (votive pillar), take a road that goes up towards the north, skirting the wall.

Where the valley, wild and steep, narrows, the path begins to climb steeply on its orographic left side, dominating the stream between alder bushes, the path soon becomes a mule track, paved at times and with steps and higher up it is enriched with rhododendrons , birches and larches.

At an altitude of 1630, 1.20 hours you come across a crossroads and continue to the right, still continuing to climb until you exit the woods; leave a downhill branch on the left and continue on the right path which continues north along a long hillside, almost flat at first, then slightly uphill, across the steep side of the mountain covered with rhododendrons and crossed by numerous depressions.

After crossing the main gully from which a small stream effluent of the Rio Venaus descends, the path starts to climb again with hairpin bends on steep meadows reaching Pian Venaus at around 2000 m; 1.00 hour and leaving a characteristic rock formation on the left (1925 m).

Those making the crossing in the opposite direction must pay close attention not to go beyond the crossing point of the main gully: from Pian Venaus follow the path that descends in a southerly direction onto the steep meadows and, having reached just above the crossing point of the gully , turn sharply left and reach the center of the canal with a short crossing to the left.

Cross the wide, grassy Pian Venaus in the center heading north, leaving on the right the ruins of some ancient shelters once used by miners employed in the asbestos mines in the area. You continue to climb in a northerly direction and then with a long half-hill slope on the steep left hydrographic side of the valley, until you reach a clear saddle located on a grassy shoulder at an altitude of approximately 2200 (omit the trail sign); 0.40 hours Continue to the right on the flat path that cuts halfway up the grassy shoulder and reach the gully that climbs towards Colle di Costa Fiorita. Now the valley, dominated by the looming walls of the Torre d’Ovarda, becomes wider. Continue north, first on steep grassy terrain and then on stony ground (marked cairns) until you reach the hill at around 2500 m altitude, which appears as the maximum depression of the long and flat crest of the Costa Fiorita, located at the base of the southern rocky crest -east of the Eastern Point of the Torre d’Ovarda; 1.00 hour. The name derives from the exceptional flowering, especially of rhododendrons, which the panoramic place presents at the beginning of summer, in pleasant contrast with the wild environment of the Venaus valley below. A small trail marker has been erected on the hill with a characteristic stone with engravings made by shepherds. From the hill you descend in an east direction following the path that winds between rocks and meager pastures until you reach the grassy plain at an altitude of 2263; 0.30 hours, crossed by a watercourse and characterized by a large boulder sheltered by the ruins of a hut: here you meet the EPT 128 mule track that leads from Lemie to the Paschiet Pass. Go up the mule track in a north-west direction, shortly reaching Passo Paschiet. Go up the mule track in a north-west direction shortly reaching Passo Ghicet Paschiet 2535 m; 0.30 hours., which opens onto the Ala Valley; nearby there are several rock engravings made in ancient times by local shepherds.

For those making the crossing in the reverse direction: from Passo Paschiet you descend on the EPT 128 mule track until you reach in 0.20 heures. the plain at an altitude of 2263. Here you leave the mule track (which after crossing the plain in a south-east direction continues to descend towards Lemie), turn right, going around the large rock with the ruins of the hut, cross the course water and begin the ascent following the path that heads west to Colle di Costa Fiorita 2500 m. In case of fog or rain it is still advisable to go down to Lemie on the EPT 128 mule track and then go up from Lemie to Usseglio (8 km) on the carriage road, since losing the path in the Venaus valley would pose very serious problems.

From Passo Paschiet you descend on the EPT 214 path on the right of the valley between Torre d’Ovada on the left (ibex repopulation area) and Punta Golai on the right reaching, among lands with many gentian plants, the shelf where you they find the Green Lakes. Near the upper lake 2154 m, which runs along the eastern shore, you can observe outcrops of reddish rocks, containing interesting garnet (red) and epidote (green) crystals, very common in the Paschiet valley (for this reason the area is always popular with mineral seekers). From the Green Lakes area you have a splendid view of the vast and steep northern slope of the Torre d’Ovarda, limited on the right by the long and recessed canal which culminates with the Colletto del Canalone Rosso. The S.A.R.I refuge stood here, the rubble of which is still visible (now there is the Gandolfo bivouac at 2301 m). Having passed the western shore of the lower lake, the path descends onto land covered by low bushes and rhododendrons, reaching the valley that descends from Colle del Vallonetto, at a point located a little upstream from Alpe Pian Buet 2006 m, near a water outlet. The path continues the descent into the aforementioned valley and with several turns reaches a clearing where there is a crossroads: neglecting the left branch to Alpe Paschiet, continue on the right one which always remains on the orographic right of the Paschiet stream, among pastures and sparse larches, it passes two farmhouses and at around 1700 m above sea level, just before a short climb, it passes near a characteristic and evident slate quarry. Not so many years ago, these stone slabs were dragged on sleds to the town in the winter and used to cover roofs. The path touches Alpe Pian Salè 1580 m, runs through a large pasture near a large mountainous rock and then crosses the stream (thus reaching its left bank) on a walkway located near an enormous erratic boulder under which it is nestled a mountain pasture. Shortly afterwards you pass near the village of I Frè 1495 m; the toponym, which means the blacksmiths, derives from the ancient settlement of miners from Valsesia, evidence of which remains in the sixteenth-century houses.

From here along the asphalt road between laburnum trees, you quickly reach the hamlet of Cornetti. After the square, continue along the road and after about 200 m. on the left is the Stopover, Les Montagnards Refuge; 2.15 hours.

The old center of Balme, 1450 m, consists of a sixteenth-century settlement perched around the Rucias stronghold: the houses are connected by covered passages (with some frescoes) which allowed you to reach all the services (fountain, oven, chapel) without going out outdoors, to shelter from the snow and the avalanche that periodically hit the town. Also due to the avalanche (now deflected by a concrete wall) the walls above the most exposed houses in the town were built in the shape of the bow of a ship

In a loggia flanked by the rock there is still an inscription relating to the foundation of the town (Ali 5 May 1591 me Juan Castagnero ho fato la ptu (present) cara laus dea); It is tradition that Juan Castagnero came from the Bergamo area to begin the exploitation of the iron mines promoted by Emanuele Filiberto (in which the Valsesian people apparently participated), and founded the town. Even today, most of the inhabitants bear his surname. Near Rucias, the Stura forms a suggestive waterfall of about thirty meters called the gorgia, i.e. the gorge; this waterfall fed a power plant that supplied energy to the entire municipality (still functioning)





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