Grande Traversata delle Alpi – first part Nufenen to Varzo

day one: Nufenen to Alpe Nefelgiu
(750 m elevation gain; about 8 km; 9.00 am to 4.30 pm)

We started at 9.00 am and ascented first to Griessee. There we had to take a deviation because of the installation of wind generators (they are really tall…as we came back we witnessed the transport of one wing…awesome!).

From there we went on past Alpe Bethelmatt to another small “Alpe” where we had lunch break at about 11.30 am. Meeting a cross race, it took us quite a long time to descent from Griespass, because we had to pay attention at the racers and had to leave the normal path quite often. But we were very impressed by the performance of the athletes.

After our lunch break we went on to Lage di Morasco, where we put our feet in the quite cold water. But it was a very welcome cooling down for us.
On the Rifugio near the sea we cooled also our throats with a “Radler” (half beer – half lemonade; in Italy with “Lemonsoda”; but 6 € each! Puh!)

Afterwards we ascented to Alpe Nefelgiu within an hour for dinner and overnight stay. After having a closer look on the inside of the small hut we decided to take our tent. Don’t like mices shit so much…


day two: Alpe Nefelgiu to 200 m altitude below Bivacco Ettore Conti
(700 m elevation gain; 6.8 km; 9.00 am to 4.30 pm)

After the first night in our tent we started at 9.00 am to Passo di Nefelgiu (elevation gain from 2048 m to 2583 m). First a slow ascent getting steeper later on until we reached the “Passo”.
There a short break for a few sips from our water, heading down a steep descent afterwards until we reached Lago Vannino at 2194 m at 12.30 am. The descent was quite hard for me, steep and slippery.

Here we made a big break near a nice ice cold little brook. My friend also washed her hair in it. I did only my laundry (with special outdoor soap of course).

Short after 2.00 pm we started with the intention to reach the Bivacco Ettore Conti. But we quitted that plan about two ours later and made our own Bivacco on a nice lawn with a little brook because we were quite tired and left the 200 m more elevation gain for the next day.

Having some spare time than, we unhurredly took some photographs and also met lots of marmots up there.


day three: 200 m altitude below Bivacco Ettore Conti to Lago di Pianpoglio
(about 200 m elevation gain; 4.7 km; 8.30 am to 1.00 pm)

That morning we started at 8.30 am 200 m below Bivacco Conti. We had found a beautiful place for our tent near a little brook, but beeing of melting water the brook had dried up in the morning with the result that I was running out of water soon.

The ascent to Bivacco Conti and therefore Scatta Minoia was very tiring because of the left over snow fields. Nevertheless it took us only 45 min time for the 200 m elevation gain. The Bivacco was in quite good conditions, what means no mice shit or something else.

Starting form there we made the long descent to Lago di Pianpoglio via Alpe Forno, that was unfortunately not operated and made a short stop at a small river to fill up my water reserve by means of a “Sawer” water filter.

We wanted to have only a break there originally but decided eventually to stay there and have half a rest day.


day four: Lago di Pianpoglio to Alpe Devero
(70 m elevation gain and 400 m elevation loss; about 7 km; 10.00 am to 2.00 pm)

After a very humid night at Lago di Pianpoglio we started not until 10.00 am with direction Alpe Devero. It was mainly an decent to reach that small location. After a short time we reached Lago di Devero with lots of nice places to stay already on its north bank.

After a short break by the sea we finally descented via Crampiolo (very beautiful and always worth a visit) to Alpe Devero and its local campground at reached it by 2.00 pm.

The campground was quite expensive proportional to its condition (20 EURO for one tent and two people for one night).

But at the “Latteria” we where able to buy some very delicious cheese, amongst otheres also from Alpe Buscagna were passing by the next day.

day five: Alpe Devero to Alpe Veglia
(1000 m elevation gain; 14.8 km; 9.00 am to 5.30 pm)

In the morning we woke up because of a short thunderstorm and therefore we had to wait until our tent was somewhat dry again. So we started not until 9.00 am for our longest and hardest stage for sure. We had to gain 1000 m elevation and to descent another 850 m again over a distance of about 15 km.


We ascented via Alpe Buscagna to Scatta d’Orogna, having a nice encounter with a farmer with a workhorse.

We reached Scatta d’Orogna at 1.30 pm and had there our lunch break because the following part had a heavy risk of rock fall and therefore that was our last possibility for a longer time.

From Scatta d’Orogna to Passo di Valtendra it was quite flat but we had to follow a small path in steep terrain.

Pic Anni Wilhelm

Afterwards we had only to descent to Alpe Veglia. At about 5.30 pm and another short break we finally reached our destination. The local campground charged also 19 EURO for one night and was only little better than the former at Alpe Devero. At least it was a very natural campground and the owner was very very helpful to find out some bus and train connections back to Nufenen for us for the next day.

Finally we knew, that we had to go down to the local parking lot at Ponte Campo for the bus connection to Varzo at 8.45 am in the morning.

Normally we would have had one more day left and our plan had been to go directly to Brig, but the weather had changed from sunny to instable with rain, thunder and lightning. So we found it too dangerous to go one more pass with 2700 m elevation gain and decided to go back directly.


day six: back to Nufenen
( about 400 m elevation loss; about 4 km to Ponte Campo, remaining distance by bus and train; 7.30 am to 4.00 pm)

After a quite short night we started to descent at 7.30 am to Ponte Campo. But the way down was much longer than we had expected, so we hurried to reach the bus on time hopefully. Reaching Ponte Campo we weren’t able to recognize the bus stop at once and after a short conversation with an Italian (only car parking here…no bus stop…its down the road but you are to late) we decided to descent to Varzo.

After a short time we met finally the belated bus that took us down to Varzo. Puh!

Pic Anni Wilhelm

From the train station there we took the bus to Domodossola (10.37 am), because the connections by train from there to Brig were better than than to wait for the one train directly from Varzo to Brig.

At 12.48 am left our train for Brig and at 2.20 pm eventually we left Brig in direction Ulrichen and from there we took the bus up to Nufenen.

Pic Anni Wilhelm

At about 4.00 pm we reached our car again and therefore the starting point of our tour.