Saturday, June 30, 2018

Val Veny: Hike to Rifugio Elisabetta


GPS tracks of hike to Rifugio Elisabetta up the Val Veny.A view of Val Veny looking northeast with Spotted Gentian.
Lake Comal and view southwest toward Rifugio Elisabetta.Lake Miage and the Miage Glacier.
Upper Left: GPS tracks of hike to Rifugio Elisabetta up the Val Veny. Upper Right: A view of Val Veny looking northeast with Spotted Gentian. Lower Left: Lake Comal and view southwest toward Rifugio Elisabetta. Lower Right: Lake Miage and the Miage Glacier.

Overview


Length: 15.2 km (9.4 mi)
Duration: 5.0 hours walking, plus time spend at lunch at Rifugio Elisabetta
Elevation: 1.681 m (5,515 ft) @ start of hike above La Visaille; 2.195 m (7,201 ft) @ Rifugio Elisabetta
Location: Italy, Valle d’Aosta, Courmayeur, Val Veny


Details


Last weekend, we dropped a friend off who was starting the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) from Courmayeur. See, Hike from Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti and Back. This week, we came back to pick her up. She started the hike from Courmayeur going counter-clockwise. We walked up her the Val Ferret (north of Courmayeur) to Rifugio Bonatti. On today’s hike we met her at Rifugio Elisabetta in Val Veny (sourth of Courmayeur) to walk her back.

This hike is easy to do. From Courmayeur, follow the signs for Val Veny and keep driving up the road Via Val Veny until you cross a bridge and you see cars parked on the side of the road (approximately here). Park and start walking on the asphalt road, which will give way to a dirt road and then a trail/road all the way to Rifugio Elisabetta Soldini. As far as trails go, it’s not that interesting, but the scenery makes up for it.

From the rifugio, we caught sight of two herds of alpine ibex (Capra ibex) – called stambecco in Italian – and one herd of Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra).

On the way to or from the Rifugio, make sure you stop to see Lake Miage. It’s a short climb from the main trail/road first to reach Cabane du Comba (1.968 m) and then on upward to the lakes. You’ll see some beautiful blue lakes, but keep walking to see Lake Miage, which is browner in color.

Note the ice cliffs at one end of the lake. They are part of the Miage Glacier, “Italy's longest glacier and also the largest debris-covered glacier in Europe.” [Wikipedia]. The debris gives the lake its brownish color. When we were there, we saw small rocks rolling down the ice cliffs into the water. It was a warm day. On warm day on August 7, 1996, visitors to the lake saw a little bit more than a rock or two: they saw huge ice blocks calf off the glacier and cause a wave that swept people into the nearby lake as shown in this video. Be careful. For interesting views of Lake Miage over the years, see Glaciers online.

Next to the Rifugio Elisabetta you can view a plaque honoring those lost in the 1946 crash of B-17 above the rifugio at Aiguille des Glaciers. For more information, see the B17 Mont Blanc site.

Flora


We noted two things about this hike in contrast to last week’s hike in Val Ferret. First, we didn’t as many orchids – at least that were easily visible from the trail – as in Val Ferret, and second, in Lago Combal there are a lot of shrubby trees that looked to be part of the willow family, but we couldn’t be sure.  Plants we didn’t see in Val Ferret but we did see here in Val Veny were Dryas octopetala and Gentiana punctata.

Usual disclaimer: we use the resources listed in the post Resources for Identifying Plants around Bergamo to identify plants shown here, specifically the web sites that allow you to change region. (Set region to Valle d’Aosta). If we had to give ourselves a score for identifications, it would be 95% accurate for species and 98% for genus.



Key: [Family] Genus species – Common name in English (Common name in Italian)

[Asteraceae] Crepis aurea – Golden Hawk's Beard (Radicchiella aranciata)
[Asteraceae] Petasites albus and hybridus– Likely based on emergence of flowers before leaves.
[Asteraceae] Tussilago farfara – Coltsfoot (Tossilaggine comune)
[Ericaceae] Vaccinium vitis-idaea - Foxberry, Ligonberry (Mirtillo rosso)
[Ericaceae] Rhododendron ferrugineum – Alpenrose (Rododendro rosso)
[Gentianaceae] Gentiana punctata – Spotted Gentian (Genziana punteggiata)
[Geraniaceae] Geranium sylvaticum - Wood Cranesbill (Geranio dei boschi)
[Linaceae] Linum spp. – Blue Flax (Lino)
[Orchidaceae] Nigritella nigra rhellicani  - Vanilla Orchid (Moretta, Vaniglia d’Alpe)
[Primulaceae] Primula spp. – Possibly P. hirsuta.
[Primulaceae] Soldanella alpina – Alpine Snowbell (Soldanella comune)
[Ranuculaceae] Aquilegia alpina – Alpine Columbine (Aquilegia delle Alpi)
[Ranunculaceae] Caltha palustris – Water Cowslip (Caltha palustre)
[Rosaceae] Dryas octopetala – White Dryas (Camedrio alpino)
[Rosaceae] Rosa spp.
[Saxifragaceae] Saxifraga oppositifolia – Purple Mountain Saxifrage (Sassifraga a foglie opposte)



[Ericaceae] Rhododendron ferrugineum – Alpenrose (Rododendro rosso).Gentianaceae] Gentiana punctata – Spotted Gentian (Genziana punteggiata).[Asteraceae] Crepis aurea – Golden Hawk's Beard (Radicchiella aranciata).
Left: [Ericaceae] Rhododendron ferrugineum – Alpenrose (Rododendro rosso). Center: [Gentianaceae] Gentiana punctata – Spotted Gentian (Genziana punteggiata). Right: [Asteraceae] Crepis aurea – Golden Hawk's Beard (Radicchiella aranciata).

[Linaceae] Linum spp. – Blue Flax (Lino).[Primulaceae] Primula spp. – Possibly P. hirsuta.[Orchidaceae] Nigritella nigra rhellicani  - Vanilla Orchid (Moretta, Vaniglia d’Alpe).
Left: [Linaceae] Linum spp. – Blue Flax (Lino). Center: [Primulaceae] Primula spp. – Possibly P. hirsutaRight: [Orchidaceae] Nigritella nigra rhellicani  - Vanilla Orchid (Moretta, Vaniglia d’Alpe).

[Ranunculaceae] Caltha palustris – Water Cowslip (Caltha palustre). [Rosaceae] Dryas octopetala – White Dryas (Camedrio alpino).Saxifragaceae] Saxifraga oppositifolia – Purple Mountain Saxifrage (Sassifraga a foglie opposte).
Left: [Ranunculaceae] Caltha palustris – Water Cowslip (Caltha palustre). Center: [Rosaceae] Dryas octopetala – White Dryas (Camedrio alpino). Right: [Saxifragaceae] Saxifraga oppositifolia – Purple Mountain Saxifrage (Sassifraga a foglie opposte).

Polenta concia (infused with Fontina cheese) at Rifugio Elisabetta.Tagliere misto at Rifugio Elisabetta.Approaching Rifugio Elisabetta.
Left: Polenta concia (infused with Fontina cheese) at Rifugio Elisabetta. Center: Tagliere misto at Rifugio Elisabetta. Right: Approaching Rifugio Elisabetta.

Brochure of the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB).Brochure of the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB).
Brochure of the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB).

Map of Courmayeur.Map of Courmayeur.
Map of Courmayeur.

View of Cabane du Combal, with Lake Combal in front.Looking northeast along Val Veny.
Left: View of Cabane du Combal, with Lake Combal in front. Right: Looking northeast along Val Veny.

Ettore, the French Bulldog (Bulldog francese) with a stick.Rifugio Elisabetta with the Lex Blanche glacier behind it.View from Val Veny to Grandes Jorasses.
Left: Ettore, the French Bulldog (Bulldog francese) with a stick. Center: Rifugio Elisabetta with the Lex Blanche glacier behind it. Right: View from Val Veny to Grandes Jorasses.


Flower Close-Ups


Now for a little flower porn...

[Asteraceae] Tussilago farfara – Coltsfoot (Tossilaggine comune).[Gentianaceae] Gentiana punctata – Spotted Gentian (Genziana punteggiata).
Left: [Asteraceae] Tussilago farfara – Coltsfoot (Tossilaggine comune). Right: [Gentianaceae] Gentiana punctata – Spotted Gentian (Genziana punteggiata).

[Geraniaceae] Geranium sylvaticum - Wood Cranesbill (Geranio dei boschi).[Linaceae] Linum spp. – Blue Flax (Lino).
Left: [Geraniaceae] Geranium sylvaticum - Wood Cranesbill (Geranio dei boschi). Right: [Linaceae] Linum spp. – Blue Flax (Lino).

[Orchidaceae] Nigritella nigra rhellicani  - Vanilla Orchid (Moretta, Vaniglia d’Alpe).[Ericaceae] Vaccinium vitis-idaea - Foxberry, Ligonberry (Mirtillo rosso).
Left: [Orchidaceae] Nigritella nigra rhellicani  - Vanilla Orchid (Moretta, Vaniglia d’Alpe). Right: [Ericaceae] Vaccinium vitis-idaea - Foxberry, Ligonberry (Mirtillo rosso).

[Primulaceae] Soldanella alpina – Alpine Snowbell (Soldanella comune).[Primulaceae] Soldanella alpina – Alpine Snowbell (Soldanella comune).
[Primulaceae] Soldanella alpina – Alpine Snowbell (Soldanella comune).

[Ranuculaceae] Aquilegia alpina – Alpine Columbine (Aquilegia delle Alpi).[Rosaceae] Rosa spp.
Left: [Ranuculaceae] Aquilegia alpina – Alpine Columbine (Aquilegia delle Alpi). Right: [Rosaceae] Rosa spp.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Hike from Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti and Back


On the TMB looking north down Val Ferret.Tracks of hike from Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti.[Ranunculaceae] Thalictrum aquilegifolium – Columbine Mead-Rue (Pigamo colombino).View from trail 42, Testa Bernarda looking toward Courmayeur.
Upper Left: On the TMB looking north down Val Ferret.
Upper Right: Tracks of hike from Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti.
Lower Left: [Ranunculaceae] Thalictrum aquilegifolium – Columbine Mead-Rue (Pigamo colombino).
Lower Right: View from trail 42, Testa Bernarda looking toward Courmayeur.



Overview


Day 1 – Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti via TMB

Length: 13 km (8.1 mi)
Duration: 6.0 hours walking, plus top at Rifugio Bertone
Elevation: 1197 m (3,929 ft) @ start of hike at Hotel Monte Blanc; 2,025 m (6,643 ft) @ Rifugio Bonatti
Location: Italy, Valle d’Aosta, Courmayeur, Val Ferret

Day 2 – Rifugio Bonatti to Courmayeur via Sentiero 42, Testa Bernarda

Length:  15.4 km ( 9.6 mi)
Duration: 7.5 hours total, with 1 hour lunch break at Rifugio Bertone
Elevation: 2,025 m (6,643 ft) @ Rifugio Bonatti; 1197 m (3,929 ft) @ start of hike at Hotel Monte Blanc; maximum elevation 1,588 m (8,388 ft) on Test Berndarda peak

Location: Italy, Valle d’Aosta, Courmayeur, Val Ferret

Details


The Day 1 hike to Rifugio Bonatti was to accompany a friend on her way to do the Tour du Mont Blanc. We all stayed the night at Bonatti. She continued on to do the tour (so jealous we were) and we made our way back to Courmayeur (Day 2 hike).

We drove up the night before the Day 1 hike and stayed in the Hotel Mont Blanc. We left the car parked in the hotel garage and started our hike from there.  To find the way to Rifugio Bonatti and the TMB in general, go the main church, Parrocchia San Pantaleone, and follow the Strada del Villair and keep an eye out for the TMB indications.

Above Rifugio Bertone, you can pick the TMB route – a slightly easier and less hilly hike to Rifugio Bonatti – or the Sentiero 42, Testa Bernarda. (Our Italian friend pointed out that bernarda is a way to refer to female genitalia. Do what you may with that piece of information.)


If the number of people we saw at Bonatti is any indication, lots of people from all over the world to the Tour du Mont Blanc. Reserving ahead of time would be a good idea to have a spot to sleep.

Flora


We used the resources listed in the post Resources for Identifying Plants around Bergamo to identify plants, in particular the web sites where you can set region. (Set region to Valle d'Aosta). If we had give ourselves an accuracy score for identifications, it would be about 95% accurate for species and 98% for genus.

The standout plant in these two days was for sure Dactylorhiza sambucina. I was surprised to see it present in two colors – a pale yellow and a dark purple – which is common.

Key: [Family] Genus species – Common name in English (Common name in Italian)

[Asparagaceae] Anthericum liliago – St Bernard’s Lily (Lilioasfodelo maggiore)
[Asteraceae] Adenostyles spp.
  • Possibly P. alpinus based on bloom time and elevation distribution.

[Asteraceae] Petasites spp.

  • Possibly P. hybridus based on purple brown flower stalks.
[Asteraceae] Tussilago farfara – Coltsfoot (Tossilaggine comune)
[Berberidaceae] Berbis vulgaris – Common Barberry (Crespino comune)

  • I know, we rarely cover shrubs in this blog, but this one I was curious about.
[Boraginaceae] Echium vulgare – Viper’s Burgloss (Viperina azzurra comune)
[Brassicaceae] Draba aizoides – Yellow Whitlow Grass (Draba aizoide)
[Brassicaceae] Huguennia tanacetifolia – Tansy-Leaved Rocket (Luppolo del Giappone a foglie di tanaceto)
[Ericaceae] Rhododendron ferrugineum - Alpenrose (Rododendro rosso)
[Fabaceae] Onobrychis montana – Mountain Sainfoin (Lupinella montana)
[Gentianaceae] Gentiana acaulis – Stemless Gentian (Genziana acaule)
  • Based on green inside of flower.

[Gentianaceae] Gentiana verna – Spring Gentian (Genziana primaverile)
[Lamiaceae] Stachys recta – Yellow Woundort (Betonica gialla)
[Melanthaiaceae] Veratrum album – White Hellebore (Veratro bianco)
[Orchidaceae] Gymnadenia conopsea - Fragrant Orchid (Manina rosea)
[Orchidaceae] Dactylorhiza sambucina – Elder-flower Orchid (Orchide sambucina)
[Orobanchaceae] Bartisa alpina – Velvet Bells (Bartsia delle Alpi)
[Orobanchaceae] Pedicularis verticilla – Whorled Lousewort (Pedicolare a foglie verticillate)
[Plantaginaceae] Linaria alpina – Alpine Toadflax (Linajola alpina)
[Plantaginaceae] Plantago alpina – Alpine Plantain (Piantaggine delle Alpi)
[Plantaginaceae] Plantago media – Hoary Plantain (Piantaggine media)
[Plantaginaceae] Plantago atrata – Dark Plantain (Piantaggine nerastra)
[Primulaceae] Soldanella alpina – Alpine Snowbell (Soldanella comune)
[Ranunculaceae] Caltha palustris – Water Cowslip (Caltha palustre)
[Ranunculaceae] Pulsatilla spp. 

  • Possibly P. montana
[Ranunculaceae] Thalictrum aquilegifolium – Columbine Mead-Rue (Pigamo colombino)
[Ranunculaceae] Trollius europeaus – Globeflower (Botton d’oro)
[Saxifragaceae] Saxifraga oppositifolia – Purple Mountain Saxifrage (Sassifraga a foglie opposte)
[Violaceae] Viola calcarata – Spurred Violet (Viola di montagna)


[Asparagaceae] Anthericum liliago – St Bernard’s Lily (Lilioasfodelo maggiore).[Asparagaceae] Anthericum liliago – St Bernard’s Lily (Lilioasfodelo maggiore).[Saxifragaceae] Saxifraga oppositifolia – Purple Mountain Saxifrage (Sassifraga a foglie opposte).[Ranunculaceae] Pulsatilla spp.  – possibly P. montana.
Left and Center Left: [Asparagaceae] Anthericum liliago – St Bernard’s Lily (Lilioasfodelo maggiore). Center Right: [Saxifragaceae] Saxifraga oppositifolia – Purple Mountain Saxifrage (Sassifraga a foglie opposte). Right: [Ranunculaceae] Pulsatilla spp.  – possibly P. montana.

[Asteraceae] Adenostyles spp., possibly P. alpinus based on bloom time and elevation distribution.[Asteraceae] Petasites spp., possibly P. hybridus based on purple brown flower stalks.[Ericaceae] Rhododendron ferrugineum - Alpenrose (Rododendro rosso).
Left: [Asteraceae] Adenostyles spp., possibly P. alpinus based on bloom time and elevation distribution. Center: [Asteraceae] Petasites spp., possibly P. hybridus based on purple brown flower stalks. Right: [Ericaceae] Rhododendron ferrugineum - Alpenrose (Rododendro rosso).

[Asteraceae] Tussilago farfara – Coltsfoot (Tossilaggine comune).[Berberidaceae] Berbis vulgaris – Common Barberry (Crespino comune).[Brassicaceae] Huguennia tanacetifolia – Tansy-Leaved Rocket (Luppolo del Giappone a foglie di tanaceto).
Left: [Asteraceae] Tussilago farfara – Coltsfoot (Tossilaggine comune). Center: [Berberidaceae] Berbis vulgaris – Common Barberry (Crespino comune). Right: [Brassicaceae] Huguennia tanacetifolia – Tansy-Leaved Rocket (Luppolo del Giappone a foglie di tanaceto).

Left: [Brassicaceae] Draba aizoides – Yellow Whitlow Grass (Draba aizoide).[Ranunculaceae] Trollius europeaus – Globeflower (Botton d’oro).[Ranunculaceae] Caltha palustris – Water Cowslip (Caltha palustre).
Left: [Brassicaceae] Draba aizoides – Yellow Whitlow Grass (Draba aizoide). Center: [Ranunculaceae] Trollius europeaus – Globeflower (Botton d’oro). Right: [Ranunculaceae] Caltha palustris – Water Cowslip (Caltha palustre).

Left: [Fabaceae] Onobrychis montana – Mountain Sainfoin (Lupinella montana).[Orobanchaceae] Pedicularis verticilla – Whorled Lousewort (Pedicolare a foglie verticillate).[Boraginaceae] Echium vulgare – Viper’s Burgloss (Viperina azzurra comune)
Left: [Fabaceae] Onobrychis montana – Mountain Sainfoin (Lupinella montana). Center: [Orobanchaceae] Pedicularis verticilla – Whorled Lousewort (Pedicolare a foglie verticillate). Right: [Boraginaceae] Echium vulgare – Viper’s Burgloss (Viperina azzurra comune).

[Gentianaceae] Gentiana acaulis – Stemless Gentian (Genziana acaule), based on green inside of flower.[Gentianaceae] Gentiana verna – Spring Gentian (Genziana primaverile). [Orobanchaceae] Bartisa alpina – Velvet Bells (Bartsia delle Alpi).[Plantaginaceae] Linaria alpina – Alpine Toadflax (Linajola alpina).
Left: [Gentianaceae] Gentiana acaulis – Stemless Gentian (Genziana acaule), based on green inside of flower. Left Center: [Gentianaceae] Gentiana verna – Spring Gentian (Genziana primaverile). Right Center: [Orobanchaceae] Bartisa alpina – Velvet Bells (Bartsia delle Alpi). Left: [Plantaginaceae] Linaria alpina – Alpine Toadflax (Linajola alpina).

[Melanthaiaceae] Veratrum album – White Hellebore (Veratro bianco).[Melanthaiaceae] Veratrum album – White Hellebore (Veratro bianco).[Primulaceae] Soldanella alpina – Alpine Snowbell (Soldanella comune).[Primulaceae] Soldanella alpina – Alpine Snowbell (Soldanella comune).
Left and Center Left: [Melanthaiaceae] Veratrum album – White Hellebore (Veratro bianco). Center Right and Right: [Primulaceae] Soldanella alpina – Alpine Snowbell (Soldanella comune) pushed up throw the snow.

[Orchidaceae] Dactylorhiza sambucina – Elder-flower Orchid (Orchide sambucina).[Orchidaceae] Dactylorhiza sambucina – Elder-flower Orchid (Orchide sambucina).[Orchidaceae] Gymnadenia conopsea - Fragrant Orchid (Manina rosea).
Left and Center: [Orchidaceae] Dactylorhiza sambucina – Elder-flower Orchid (Orchide sambucina). Right: [Orchidaceae] Gymnadenia conopsea - Fragrant Orchid (Manina rosea).

[Plantaginaceae] Plantago media – Hoary Plantain (Piantaggine media).[Plantaginaceae] Plantago alpina – Alpine Plantain (Piantaggine delle Alpi).[Plantaginaceae] Plantago atrata – Dark Plantain (Piantaggine nerastra).
Left: [Plantaginaceae] Plantago media – Hoary Plantain (Piantaggine media). Center: [Plantaginaceae] Plantago alpina – Alpine Plantain (Piantaggine delle Alpi). Right: [Plantaginaceae] Plantago atrata – Dark Plantain (Piantaggine nerastra).

Lunch at Rifugio Bertone. Meat and cheese plate with fontina and mocetta. Lunch at Rifugio Bertone. Polenta with egg served in a crock pot.Lunch at Rifugio Bertone. Tagliatelle with mushrooms.
Lunch at Rifugio Bertone. Left: Meat and cheese plate with fontina and mocetta. Center: Polenta with egg served in a crock pot. Right: Tagliatelle with mushrooms.

Meal at Rifutio Bonatti. Breakfast with book on identifying plants.Meal at Rifutio Bonatti. Dinner salad.Meal at Rifutio Bonatti. Soup.Meal at Rifutio Bonatti. Main course of meatballs and carrots.
Meals at Rifutio Bonatti. Left: Breakfast with book on identifying plants. Center Left: Dinner salad. Center Right: Soup. Right: Main course of meatballs and carrots.

View of the trail for the two day hike. Heading to Rifugio Bonati on the TMB in Val Ferret.View of the trail for the two day hike. Strada del Villair above Courmayeur which is part of the TMB.View of the trail for the two day hike. Rock marking trail #42 Testa Bernarda. View of the trail for the two day hike. Sunrise at Rifugio Bonatti and view of Mont Blanc.
Views of the trail for the two day hike. Left: Heading to Rifugio Bonati on the TMB in Val Ferret. Center Left: Strada del Villair above Courmayeur which is part of the TMB. Center Right: Rock marking trail #42 Testa Bernarda. Right: Sunrise at Rifugio Bonatti and view of Mont Blanc.

View of the trail for the two day hike. Above Rifugio Bonatti, walking south-southeast into Valley of Malatrà.View of the trail for the two day hike. View from Valley of Malatrà back toward Mont Blanc range. View of the trail for the two day hike. Bonatti, walking south-southeast into Valley of Malatrà. Center Left: View from Valley of Malatrà back toward Mont Blanc range. Center Right: On trail #44, descending from Testa Bernarda and heading toward Rifugio Bertone. View of the trail for the two day hike. On trail #44, looking down on Rifugio Bertone.
Views of the trail for the two day hike. Left: Above Rifugio Bonatti, walking south-southeast into Valley of Malatrà. Center Left: View from Valley of Malatrà back toward Mont Blanc range. Center Right: On trail #44, descending from Testa Bernarda and heading toward Rifugio Bertone. Right. On trail #44, looking down on Rifugio Bertone.