Italy's Alta Via 1, a 180km trail through the Italian Alps following the northern flank of the Aosta Valley, boasts magnificent views of the Alpine giants: Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn, the Grand Combin and Monte Rosa. Indeed, it is sometimes known as the Giants' Trail and can be combined with a sister-route, the Alta Via 2 (covered in a separate Cicerone guide), which runs along the southern flank of the valley, to form the Tor des Géants. Stretching from Donnas to Courmayeur, the Alta Via 1 offers fantastic alpine walking, with welcoming refuges and small hotels providing overnight accommodation (and great food) along the way. The guide presents the route in two sections, for the advantage of those who can't spare the full fortnight-plus needed to walk the entire AV1. The trail is described in 16 stages, with alternative stages covering some popular variants, including an optional detour to visit the famed monastery at the Great St Bernard Pass. Each stage includes clear route description and mapping, plus notes on local points of interest and accommodation options. An alternative itinerary, list of useful contacts, kitlist and glossary can be found in the appendices. The AV1 crosses cols of nearly 3000m as it traverses the side-valleys of the main Aosta Valley. Suited to those with some of experience of alpine trekking, the walking is demanding but without technical difficulty. And the rewards are many: quieter huts, breathtaking vistas and a chance to immerse yourself in fabulous mountain landscapes overlooked by soaring, snow-clad giants.
Andy, born and bred in Northern England, developed his early mountain skills with his local scout group in the hills of the Lake District and Snowdonia. Since discovering the joys of the Alps with a Cicerone guidebook in 1999, Andy and his wife Sue have explored much of the Western Alps, walking, running, cycling, ski touring or snowshoeing. Since the late 1980s Andy has enjoyed leading others in the mountains, and he worked as a hillwalking leader before joining the teaching profession. With 25 years service in Dartmoor Search and Rescue, Andy has vast experience of the moors and recently completed the in-depth training and assessments to become a qualified International Mountain Leader. When not in school, Andy is likely to be found in the Western Alps, on Dartmoor or in the mountains of Britain.
Map key Overview map Route summary table Introduction The route Geography Geology History Art and culture Wildlife Plants and flowers Weather When to go Access and travel In-route transport options Accommodation Mountain huts Clothing Food and drink Language Maps and navigation Waymarking Safety and emergencies Insurance Using this guide The Alta Via 1: An Italian Haute Route Eastern section Stage 1 Donnas to Sassa (Etoile du Berger) Stage 2 Sassa (Etoile du Berger) to Rifugio Coda Stage 2A The Col Portola Route: Sassa (Etoile du Berger) to Rifugio Coda Stage 3 Rifugio Coda to Rifugio Barma Stage 4 Rifugio Barma to Niel (La Gruba) Stage 5 Niel (La Gruba) to Gressoney-Saint-Jean Stage 3A Rifugio Coda to Rifugio della Vecchia Stage 4A Rifugio della Vecchia to Rifugio Rivetti Stage 5A Rifugio Rivetti to Gressoney-Saint-Jean Stage 6 Gressoney-Saint-Jean to Rifugio Vieux Crest Stage 7 Rifugio Vieux Crest to Rifugio Grand Tournalin Stage 8 Rifugio Grand Tournalin to Cretaz, Valtournenche Western section Stage 9 Cretaz, Valtournenche to Rifugio Barmasse Stage 10 Rifugio Barmasse to Rifugio Cunéy Stage 11 Rifugio Cunéy to Closé/Oyace/Lexert Stage 12 Closé/Oyace/Lexert to Ollomont/Rey Stage 12A Closé/Oyace/Lexert to Ollomont/Rey: the low route Stage 13 Ollomont/Rey to Rifugio Champillon Stage 14 Rifugio Champillon to Saint-Rhémy-en-Bosses Stage 15 Saint-Rhémy-en-Bosses to Rifugio Bonatti Stage 15A Via Francigena from Saint-Rhémy-en-Bosses to Great St Bernard Monastery Stage 15B Great St Bernard Monastery to Rifugio Bonatti Stage 16 Rifugio Bonatti to Courmayeur Appendix A Alternative schedule Appendix B Useful contacts Appendix C Useful phrases Appendix D Kit list