Stage 4: To Auberge U Vallone

  • Ascent: +/- 1400 meter
  • Descent: +/- 1350 meter
  • Time: 9hr

The stage from Haut Asco to Auberge U Vallone used to traverse the impressive Cirque de la Solitude, a steep valley with sheer cliffs on three sides. Many horror stories have been written about this stage, but it really wasn’t as hard or difficult as you were made to believe. Indeed, I’ve found stage 4 a lot less dificult than the first two stages. Most hikers agreed on this.

On the whole, stage 4 used to be an awesome and enjoyable experience.

A mountain crow enjoying the view of the Cirque de la Solitude

Due to a landslide, however, the Cirque de la Solitude has been permanently closed and fixed chains have been removed. The new GR20 sees you up the slopes of Monte Cinto untill the summit ridge is reached. From there you can go right – down the valley towards Auberge U Vallone – or left towards the summit of Monte Cinto itself, before returning to the GR20.

 The rerouted stage 4 is now by far and away the hardest stage of the hike. It takes 9 hours to complete and features all of the difficulties of the old route through the Cirque. The ascent toward the summit ridge of Monte Cinto is long, steep, and features plenty scrambling. When I hiked to the summit of Monte Cinto in 2014 the routefinding was tricky and no fixed chains were present. Luckily this has changed with the rerouting of the GR20. The climb towards Monte Cinto is also a very beautiful hike, with incredible rock formations and an icy mountain lake to meet you. For those who are not yet exhausted by the time they reach the ridge, the prospect of climbing Monte Cinto’s proper summit looms.

Start very early to avoid thunderstorms and to allow plenty of time to relax and swim at Auberge U Vallone.

The climb up to Monte Cinto
Early morning climb up to Monte Cinto

When reaching the valley floor there are two choises of accommodation: The basic Refuge de Tighjettu which is located on a rather gloomy spot in the valley, or the idyllic Auberge U Vallone, which has better camping spots, offers good meals and a warm shower.

Swimming hole at Auberge U Vallone
Mirror shot of a swimming hole at Auberge U Vallone

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