For most of the time, we will be criss-crossing the famous GR20, which is well-known as one of Europe’s finest long distance walks. Our unique itinerary takes in the best of the dramatic scenery of northern Corsica.The route mixes skinning and carrying skis with some demanding skiing at an average altitude of 2000 meters!
Actually the vertical skied is significant. It is a route for skiers familiar with alpine techniques who are in good physical condition. Route finding can be difficult in some places especially if the weather is bad which being in the Med it never is of course. Overnight stops are in refuges or shepherd's huts which are equipped with wood stoves. We therefore need to carry sleeping bags. The route described is from South to North we can figure on between 5 to 9 hours per day.
Skill: **** This is a strenuous tour involving ascents of 1400 m and the use of unguarded huts. The route includes steep ascents and descents and exposed ridges. There will be some abseils/lowers.
Stamina: **** The advanced level ski tours are nearly all hut-to-hut. You will be hiking uphill for several hours each day using skins and carrying a pack weighing 7-10 kg so physical fitness is very important.
Day 1: Travel Day. Fly from UK to Ajaccio, the capital of Corsica. Depending on the arrival time, the group will either stay in Ajaccio or catch the train up to Vizzavona, the starting point of the tour.
Day 2: Vizzavona to Onda. A stiff start, 950 meters climbing and 680 meters of descent over 6 hours. From the Vizzavona pass we follow the right bank of a stream in the Agnone valley, cross the stream on a small bridge and continue to the Muratellu peak which is the starting point of the climb of Monte d'Oru. Descend the easy Onda valley then some small but steep drops to reach the ridge that leads to the refuge at Onda.
Day 3: Onda - Petra Piana. A hard 7 hour day with 860 meters of climbing rewarded with a mere 360 meters of descent. From Onda we cross a rock field and descend to Bocca Oreccia. Then climb a large shoulder to 1600 meters altitude. After a large flat area we follow the easy tops of the Pinzi Corbini to reach the refuge at Petra Piana.
Day 4: Petra Piana to Manganu. A very difficult day due to the presence of cliffs. There is 570 meters of climbing and 810 meters of descent over 6 hours (that’s better!). From the refuge we climb a large slope then cross the shoulder that dominates the refuge. Then traversing upwards across a large, steep slope we reach a very exposed section to join a pass of the Haute Route. We cross the pass and after a section of cliffs descend a large valley to the refuge at Manganu.
Day 5: Manganu to Verghju. A slightly easier day with 650 meters of climbing and 850 meters of descent over 6 hours. From Maganu follow the Vaccaghja huts on the contour line to reach the Campotile plateau and the Ninu lake. We climb to a large pass then follow the summits to a beech grove. We descend to the Col St Pierre then finally down to the Col de Vergio ski station.
Day 6: Verghju to Tighjettu. This is a fairly hard day which takes in Corsica's highest refuge situation at 2000 meters at Ciottulu. There is 1040 meters of climbing and 755 meters of descent over some 7 hours. From the refuge at Vergio we cross the Bocca Foggiale and ski down to the huts at Ballone. Finally we climb to the refuge at Tighjettu.
Day 7: Tighjettu to Haut Asco. The final day is around 7 hours with 960 meters climbing and 1230 meters descent down to the old ski station of Haut Asco. Climb the steep Stagnu valley to reach a small, flat section. Cross the Cruchetta pass and on down to the road at Asco. Travel by taxi the 35 km to Ponte Lecchia where we stay overnight.
Day 8: Travel Day. Return by train to Ajaccio for our return flight home.
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