Climbing Gran Paradiso by the ski route

Climbing Gran Paradiso by the ski route

When I had attempted the route up Gran Paradiso before with members of the Tuesday Climbing Club, we had followed a spur just out of sight to the right of this photograph, although most people had taken the so-called ski route directly up the glacier. Skiing down Gran Paradiso is popular in the early part of the year, hence the name.

This time I was alone, it was 5 am and still dark, and the sensible thing to do was follow the crowd. This is the most popular climb in the area, and a stream of head torches led away from the rifugio towards Gran Paradiso. Just in front of me was a German-speaking guide with four clients in tow, and I let him find the easiest way across the boulder field to where the snowline began - after all as a guide he should know what he was doing.

At the snowline a head torch was no longer necessary and from then on the group were quickly left behind - five tiny figures silhouetted against the snow of the ski route, all closely roped up as they zigzagged methodically up the snowfield. It didn't look much fun to me.

This photograph was probably taken about two thirds of the way up, looking back down the ski route I had followed. The tallest peak in the distance is Torre Gran San Pietro (3692 m) on the Apostoli mountain.

The Mountains