Ascent of Gran Paradiso on 2010-06-22

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Andrew Tibbetts
Dave Kenyon
Date:Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Gran Paradiso
    Elevation:13323 ft / 4060 m

Ascent Trip Report

Overall timings include hut climb (1h 30) and descent (1h05)

There had been a lot of fresh snow over the weekend and this was just about the only 4000er in condition at the start of the trip, with a beaten trail due to its popularity. A new Ultra for Andrew, a repeat for me but good acclimatisation for Mont Blanc, so all good...

We arrived at Pont (car park, 1960m) early afternoon and took an gentle (hot!) walk up to Vittorio Emanuele II hut (2732m). Before dinner, Dave took us through some techniques including prussiking and crevasse rescue.

By alpine standards we had a relatively easy start next morning; after a light breakfast we were away from the hut at 05:40, just after first light. The path is initially rocky, but this early in the season we were soon on snow and then on the glacier - few if any crevasses in evidence. Fine views opened up with the alpenglow catching the summits. Steep and easy sections alternated; in time we reached a level narrowish ridge with views S to Monte Viso and SW to Barre des Ecrins and its satellite peaks - very impressive. A steep snow slope led up onto the ridge, with a short section of exposed scrambling leading to the Madonna summit. Room here for 2 or 3 only; several other parties around. Views are superb - the isolated 4000er Piz Pernina is visible a long way east; the bulk of Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa dominating the N skyline. We descend a little then traverse N to the two adjoining tops which are slightly higher: the centre summit having a mini-madonna; the northernmost is the higher by virtue of a metre or so of snow. We watch a party summit from the north (hard route).

We carefully descend the upper part of the route, then the remainder is quite easy, but steep and involving a fair bit of "boot skiing" once the crampons are off. We are back at the hut at 13:20, and back at the car in another hour. (NB a decade earlier, Lewis Davies and I did Paradiso as a day hike from Pont - perfectly feasible with a pre-dawn start).

A little way along the Val Savarenche we stopped for a beer and Dave got to work firming up plans for our next ascent. He had a booking on Tete Rousse (for Blanc) later in the week but unable to contact them to bring it forward to tomorrow evening, he contacted the Monte Rosa hut. The guardian confirmed Dufourspitze is in condition - that'll do! We drove back to Expedition HQ at Chamonix where Steve, Wynn, Becky and Alan have an apartment for the week.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:7025 ft / 2141 m
    Extra Gain:66 ft / 20 m
    Round-Trip Distance:7.5 mi / 12 km
    Route:West face
    Trailhead:Pont  6430 ft / 1959 m
    Grade/Class:PD-, YDS3
    Quality:10 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Exposed Scramble, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Guide, Hut Camp
    Weather:Cool, Calm, Clear
Hot sun, occasional cold wind
Ascent Statistics
    Time:6 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 30 Minutes

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