Time: 6h. Up: 780m. Down: 1050m.
Distance: 15km. Difficulty: medium.

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Stage 63: Maljasset (1910m) to Chiappera (1640m)

Click and drag on map above to see area around trail. Click here for large zoomable map.

Since no comprehensive hike through the Alps would be complete without including the Italian Alps, tonight you dine and sleep in Italy. You will need to hike through some rugged terrain and cross the 2641m high Col de Mary to get there, but some Bella Italia is worth a little effort, no?

In fact today is not a long hike and you will have plenty of time to enjoy the dramatic scenery along the way, and even to climb a 3000+m peak, if you wish, before you descend into the Valle Maira to the hamlet of Chiappera.

You may wonder why the H2H spends so little time in Italy, especially if you just “happen” to know that 28% of the Alps are Italian. Well, there are three reasons. First, I don't speak Italian, and it turns out that comparatively few of the Italian websites I looked at offer English, French, or German versions, so online research for the H2H through Italy proved to be difficult. Second, the Italian stages I considered as alternatives seemed either too rugged, or spent too much time in heavily populated areas … and in many cases the trails seemed particularly inefficient. And lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I prefer French cuisine.

An amusing aside about the monoglot Italians. Many years ago, when I was cycling over the Alps from Munich to Siena, somewhere in the southern Dolomites I got lost and so stopped to ask the way. I approached a friendly looking older man and asked, "Do you speak English?". A shake of the head. "Sprechen Sie Deutsch?". Another shake of the head. My next question, "Parlez-vous Français?", was clearly too much, and, with a thump of his hand on his chest he announced, "Italiano!!". At which point I told him that, unfortunately, I did not speak Italian, and we parted amicably. I shortly found a sign that put me back on track, and had a wonderful time, both then and on several occasions since, in Italy. However, outside of the major tourist centers it seems that they are still not as multi-lingual as the Germanic and Gallic lands to their north.

Todays hike follows the same trails as the Via Alpina. From Maljasset, head up-valley along the road and then, after a couple of hundred meters, fork right in the hamlet of Maurin, cross the bridge, and start climbing south into and along the Vallon de Mary. Pass the Bergeries Inférieure (2293m) and Supérieure (2365m) de Mary on your way to the Col de Mary (2641m). From here descend into and along the Valle de Maira to the Rifugio de Campo Base just before the hamlet of Chiappera.

Alternatives: there is no way to shorten the day. On the other hand, if you are feeling energetic and want to climb a 3000m peak, you can turn east at the Col de Mary and follow the trail about 1km up to La Spera (3003m). If the weather is bad, consider taking a day off because, although you won't be exposed anywhere along the trail, the way-marking may be difficult to follow if visibility is poor.

If the Rifugio at Chiappera is booked solid, or if there has been an early snowfall, take the following slightly lower one or two day route (following the GR5 the whole way) to Larche, the goal of the next stage. From Maljasset head west along the road down-valley via the hamlet of la Barge (1872m) until you come to a fork. Take the left-hand fork and follow the road and then a trail to Fouillouse (1890m -- reached after about 3.5h, +350, -390, 11.5km). Unless you want to have a very long day, you should overnight here (for accommodation, see below). From Fouillouse head up-valley to the Col du Vallonet (2524m), then descend and climb once more to the Col de Mallemort (2559m) before finally descending to Larche (1675m -- reached about 6h, +880m, -1100m, 13.5km after Fouillouse) where you rejoin the main route of the H2H. A slightly lower but perhaps slightly longer option for the second day is to go over the Col de Mirandol (2433m) and then down via St.-Ours (1775m) and the Plateau de Mallemort (2078m).

Maps: IGN-3637OT Mont Viso, IGN-3538ET Aiguille de Chambeyron.

The House to House blog... stage 63.

<A couple of representative photos from this stage will be added here after the hike>
In the meantime, click here to go to all of the H2H photos on Flickr.

GPS Track
<To be added during or after hike>

Room and Board Options
Lunch: picnic.
Dinner and overnight: there is only one place to stay at Chiappera: the Rifugio Campo Base (+39-(0)171/99068, 25 to 56 places (reports vary) in bunkrooms of 4-8 beds). If you take the alternate route via Fouillouse, then you can stay there at the Gîte-Auberge Les Granges (+33-(0), 5 bedrooms, 6 bunkrooms). For accommodation in Larche, see the next stage.

Getting There and Back
Maljasset: take a taxi/minibus about 47km to the nearest railway station at Montdauphin-Guillestre (contact information for taxi/minibus here, and for train schedule information, see the SNCF).
Chiappera: walk or take a taxi 7km down the road to Aceglio, from which infrequent buses go the 43km down-valley to Cuneo, where there is a railway station (contact information for taxi and bus here, and for train schedule information, see Trenitalia).
ViaMichelin Road Map and Driving Directions: centered on Maljasset, centered on Chiappera.

Background Information and Links
Many and various...

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