Sommeiller: The Valley Without End.
The path that I propose is one of the most beautiful in the Western Alps. It is a dirt road in high altitude (more than 19 km long), built in the sixties, in order to take advantage from the point of view of tourism and skiing the Glacier Sommeiller.
It was a unique case in the Alps Italian Western, soon unfortunately, the glacier began to retreat, making it impossible summer skiing (still, sad to witness, the abandoned pylons of the ski lifts).
Today, thanks to this incredible journey, we can go to visit the hill of Sommeiller, to see the glacial lake and what remains of the glacier, which year after year, is disappearing!
The recommended period is late July to August, you will have the opportunity to trace the last hairpin bends of the road, literally between two walls of snow.
The glacial lake will be at most of the filling and the snow still give the impression of an active glacier.
Personally I prefer to go in the fall, there is a lot less people, but above all, less off-road traveling through the dirt road (raise an incredible amount of dust).
The view from the hill of the Western French Alps (Savoie) is exceptional!
Getting ThereFrom Turin:
Take the A32 motorway, after one hour by car exit Bardonecchia (1312m.).
Once you exit from the motorway, suddenly take the direction Rochemolles (to the right).
After 7,16 Km. of a mountain paved road, you reach the beautiful Alpine village of Rochemolles (1657 m.), where you park your car.
From Rochemolles start the beautiful dirt road (built in 1961).
Trail DescriptionDeparture from the bridge "do Mourin" which gives access to the homes of Rochemolles. Shortly after the chapel of St. Rocco, where the asphalt ends, continue to the right. Some switchbacks take us to the spacious lawns surrounding the Grange Mouchecuite, among other things mentioned in the book "The Fire" by writer Mario Soldati.It then crosses the path of the old decauville.
After crossing the river Almiane, joins the artificial lake with ENEL path remains flat for about two kilometers. The dam was built by the State Railways in 1930. Was originally to be of the multiple arcs but, following the collapse of a dam similar to Gleno (BG), the project was revised by adopting the technique in gravity 'massive concrete. The dam is 60 meters high and has a pronounced arc just about 200 meters long with a width of 5 meters to the top 'that become the base 45. The inert material necessary for its production (sand, gravel, crushed stone) was removed to Fond du Plan, where is the refuge Scarfiotti.
Today, evidence of the three quarries were many lakes of emerald color. The reservoir has a capacity 'of 3.9 million cubic meters.
Near the monument commemorating the 31's Alpine Battaglione Fenestrelle overwhelmed in January 1931 by an avalanche, cross the river, meeting shortly after the fountain of Baby.
Passing just above the Gr Picreux and crossed a bridge made of wooden planks, we come to the Fond du Plan where we leave to the left of the deviation for the refuge. The road we are now traveling was made by the VARO (Societa 'to increase tourism in the Valley of Rochemolles) in the early '60s to the ski for summer skiing on the glacier Sommeiller (they were the only ones in the Alps Cozie ), abandoned for decades as a result of the withdrawal of the same.
The same company 'realization' is also a haven function of a small hotel. Transit on the road was subject to the payment of a toll.
So we face the many geometric zig-zag Rousse above the floor of the Dead and the collar.
From this, with a short descent, we carry the Pian dei Frati, the last flat section, where we cross the bridge over the Rio Fond. At the end of the plateau, we expect the unexpected asphalt, from which comes off the trail to the Pass Fourneaux. In another series of turns, in a landscape where the vegetation 'has disappeared, goes around Pian di Patare', where there are the remains of a small pond.
We expect then the last 3 turns, very challenging because of the really rather spoiled. We arrive finally at the Colle Sommeiller, located on the French-Italian border, between the Rognosa of Etiache and Punta Sommeiller.
Here we also find a small lake while 'was completely demolished the old shelter Ambin (name by which it was stated once the hill) representing an excellent shelter in case of bad weather. The road goes uphill for another three hundred meters reaching the edge of the glacier, where you can still see the remains of the old lifts.
Due to the high altitude reached is recommended to bring your 'equipment appropriate to deal with sudden changes in the weather.
In Short.Difference in altitude: 1695 meters.
Distance: 19.59 km
Walking time: 4.30 hours (up only).
Period: July to August (personally I prefer September to October, there is less risk of encountering cars).
Cartography: CENTRAL INSTITUTE OF GEOGRAPHICAL 1:25.000 n. 104 Bardonecchia-Monte Thabor-Sauze d'Oulx - 1:50.000 n. 1 Susa-Chisone and Germanasca
Important! there is no phone coverage.
Two imposing mountains.All the way that you will do will be under the stern gaze of two massive mountains, both located on the Italo-French watershed.
Pierre Menue and Rognosa D'Etiache.
When the road was not there!
An embarrassing and unresolved question.Up to twenty-six years ago, at the top of Rochemolles Valley in France, there was a small village of summer skiing on the glacier Sommeiller.
It was reached by a long road, from about 1,300 in Bardonecchia came to 3.009m of the Sommeiller Hill, on the Italian-French border.
On the hill there was a hotel-refuge called "Ambin", such as the massive neighbor, who is now completely ruined.
The summer skiing Sommeiller had two or three lifts according to the periods of its history.
The last provision before closing included two lifts in the highest part of the glacier. The three lifts were called "Sommeiller" 2850-3200, "Niblè" 3000-3150, "Ambin" 2800-2950.
The whole area was designed and built by the Italians in the French territory, with the approval of the French.
Currently, the glacier has retreated and thinned a lot, so much so that it is farfetched to imagine that there were ski lifts on what is now a bit 'more than one language in a snowfield.
Yet the pylons are still there to witness that presence, with no little indignation of those who come there to have a wild and unspoiled vision of a glacial valley above three thousand. The ski lift is the most recent 1976 and Leitner.
For years, the French ask in vain that the ferrous material of the ski is taken away by the Italians.
This is real "junk" ni the high mountain that are there to deface an alpine landscape.
The mountain must return to what it once was, with no traces of man's passage.
Italians should be ashamed of this, and to provide as soon as possible to clean up the "Dying Glacier".
World Diving Cup from great heights!It is the custom for some years that the beautiful world championship diving from great heights to stop, for a race of the season, at the dam of Rochemolles, .
Want to know more?
read this page:World Cup of diving from great heights!