Itinerary: From Selleries refuge go to the mountain pasture on your left and upward, following path 337. Pass by the group of old houses called Bergeria of Ciardonnet and arrive at Ciardonnet Lake, always following the same path. From the lake, climb up the steep stony ground which climbs towards Mount Orsiera. From here it is possible to climb the two peaks, the South one walking the trail to the cross the North one, the highest, for which you should have climbing gear.
start altitude(m): 1.980 mt
top altitude(m): 2.890 mt
total heightdrop (m): 910 mt
New adventure mates for today. We succeded in persuading two friends of ours to join us in our outdoor weekend. A good sportsman and his partner, who had never been to the mountain before. Eager about the program and well equipped after a week of Q&A -no, no flip-flops required; no, we won’t climb Mount Everest; yes, a comfy backpack would be appropriate- we aim for our first stop, well known by now, the Selleries refuge.
Today is a good day, or at least it seems so. A warm sun is peeking out of the early morning clouds and go along with us towards the refuge. We leave the cars here -alright, laziness is taking over us, but we know that tomorrow we will love that hour of descent spared! Cars left, room check-in done, boots done up -some worn down, some others brand new- we set off for the trail.
The landscape is awesome right from the beginning; we move just a little forward and can have sight of the entire valley, covered by a layer of smooth clouds which hide the cities underneath, but build a magical atmosphere. We don’t know which one is the right path to go to Mount Orsiera and wrongly take the one which goes to Cristalliera’s Peak. It takes us some minutes to realize we are on the wrong side of the river -what good guides we are!- but luckly just a little flip and we find the right one, not before passing the pasture, its cows, and its fresh manure.
The route upward is easy and enjoyable, a delightful walk to warm our legs up looking forward to the climb to the top -our adventure buddies absolutely don’t think so, but it is only a matter of proper training- Step by step, stopping and pausing for a photo or some rest, we reach the ramshackled Bergerie (old high pasture houses) and soon after, finally, Ciardonnet Lake, our first goal. A light rain is waiting for us, but a providential rock shields us for the lunch.
Our buddies stop their adventure here, the last climb is indeed rather steep, we need to climb the stony wall overlooking the lake and it is not really appropriate for mountain beginners. An easy long walk is waiting for them, followed by a relaxing sunny afternoon around the refuge.
For us, the fun is just starting. Our loyal four-legged friend is happily jumping and getting ready for the last climb. Enjoying the warm autumnal sun rays, the sky getting clearer, we can finally have a true look at the lake, with its emerald and sapphire colours, amazing.
Backpacks again on, some raindrops begin to pour once again and we need to get covered again. Carelessly we aim straight fot the top, unaware that the path begins a little bit behind us. Suddenly, we find ourselves hanging from the rocks, wondering how it could have been possible for the two seniors to climb here -it is a real climb, a huge thanks is owed to the Accademia Torino for our strong arms.
In the end we step onto the path again, far easier compared to our reckless attempt of free climbing. Careful step after careful step, we slowly walk towards the top. The path is not long neither tiring, but it is awfully steep, particularly at the end, due to the gravel and moving rocks of which it is made. But we don’t get discouraged -the seniors we met before at the lake were fresh and relaxed, it isn’t possible not to do what they have just done!- so, step by step, slip after slip, we reach the top of Mount Orsiera.
The light rain has made the rocks slippery, so we decide not to go to the cross at North Point, the path is too dangerous. What a shame, we would have to climb up here again -our biggest sorrow 🙂 – to conquer the peak.
The sight stretches endlessly all around and it is possible to glimpse the Moncenisio Lake too, unmistakable with its bright colours.
We have taken our time getting here and our friends are waiting us for dinner, so our stay at the top is quick, also due to the freezing wind that beginsto blow.
The descent is fast, the path runs quickly under our steps, when suddenly we have some kind of vision: a grassy open space, perfectly above Selleries refuge, enlightened by a lone sun ray. For a moment we think we are in a movie, and just like in a movie, we are overwhelmed.
The detour we have made doesn’t steal time from us -the path towards it is on the same level at which we are- on the other hand, the reward is huge. It is a little clearing which dominates the valley underneath. An old votive column has been built just on the edge of the cliff. The landscape is wonderful. Mia -the little dog- and us, spare some minutes relaxing and admiring the clouds coming in the valley, the warmth brought by the last rays of sun heating us up.
But the sun that is heating us is also quickly setting, so we walk rapidly down to the refuge as well. A tasty dinner is waiting for us with local deliciousness and a colourful sunset with red and orange reflections. All this in the wonderful setting of the refuge terrace and the little church out there.
Well fed, warmed up and almost ready to get the deserved rest, we decide to have a last walk. Just some steps towards the grazing pasture in front of the lake, no moon to enlighten our path and the perfect darkness to admire a full-starred sky. Finally without the slightest trace of a cloud, we are able to admire it in all of its majesty.
Frozen, we come back again and for good. A warm blanket is awaiting even if it’s not winter-cold yet, and a long night of rest. Tomorrow, after our friends have left, we will meet another buddy, a real trekker, who will come with us to Cristalliera’s Peak.