Northern Section Conditions

DP1

Posted: Fri, May 31, 2013, 9:32

Hello. We are a group of 5 fairly experienced/fit walkers planning to arrive in Calvi 6th June and begin the Northern section of the GR20 from Calenzana on the 7th. Having read recent posts (and detailed replies from the experienced forum members who know the route well and monitor the parc site), it sounds as if the Northern section is still mainly snow covered. My questions are (and I understand this is only an opinion):

1. Judging by the current conditions and forecasted weather, how safe would it be to start the Northern section on the 7th? 2. As we are planning on camping, will the pitches at the Refuges be OK to use? 3. If we were to begin at the Southern end instead, what are the options for getting there from Calvi?

--

Denis.



Joanna

Posted: Fri, May 31, 2013, 10:58

You should follow this official blog:
http://randoblogpnrc.blogspot.no/

there are some photos there taken two days ago, it does not look good! But all the refuges are open now, and i'm sure the camping spots will be snow-free by next week. The problems are the passages, take a look at the photos on the blog!



DP1

Posted: Fri, May 31, 2013, 11:27

Thanks Joanna, I've been keeping an eye on that site. Those photos are from a few stages along, but I would imagine that will be a similar situation all through the Northern section.

--

Denis.



Joanna

Posted: Fri, May 31, 2013, 11:41

To get from Calvi to Porto Vecchio, you have to go from Calvi to Bastia or Ajaccio, then from there to Porto Vecchio. Check www.corsicabus.org for timetables. Then you catch the navette to Conca. It's a long journey!



DP1

Posted: Fri, May 31, 2013, 13:14

Thanks Joanna.

Would car hire be an option does anyone know??

--

Denis.



Michele
moderator

Posted: Sat, Jun 1, 2013, 7:29

Denis,

Since you are a group of five, a car hire could be an option (if you can drop it off at Porto Vecchio). But you should also check out with some taxi agencies. A taxi ride from Calvi to Conca might be in the range of 100-150 euros (not sure though): convenient if you can split.

--Michele



DP1

Posted: Sat, Jun 1, 2013, 8:12

Thanks Michele.

--

Denis.



Justyna

Posted: Mon, Jun 3, 2013, 7:21

DP1,

thanks a lot for this topis and you Joanna for the link. Everyone is all the time complaining about the heat and temperatues being to high and I actually did not realize it is this bad at the moment. I just wonder, is it due to the weather in Europe this spring which is generally much colder than normally, or do the trails in Corsica normally remain this snow covered in beggining of June?

I guess I need to udate my "what-to-take" list with ice axe and a pair of crampons.

--

Justyna



Joanna

Posted: Mon, Jun 3, 2013, 8:05

It's normal for some small patches of snow to remain in the shadows until mid-June, but nothing as extreme as this year.
It looks like the only warm place in Europe this spring is Scandinavia :-) May was on average 2 degrees warmer then usual!



DP1

Posted: Mon, Jun 3, 2013, 11:42

We were surprised at how much snow is still around, it's thanks to the 'experts' on this forum that I've been checking the Parc website for updates and can plan for it.
Am I missing something or has the Parc site not been updated since May 29?

--

Denis.



Joanna

Posted: Mon, Jun 3, 2013, 12:13

they don't update very often



DP1

Posted: Mon, Jun 3, 2013, 12:17

Thanks Joanna. I'll just keep checking.

--

Denis.



roman laba

Posted: Mon, Jun 3, 2013, 12:52

Mondays 6/3 Corse Matin has an article on the helicopter rescue of seven French hikers from the col between Manganu and Pietra Piana.

LINK

The owner of the mountain store in Bastia on the Place du Marche told me today that that section had been closed by the park because of the snow conditions.

EDIT: Link added by mod

--

RL



Michele
moderator

Posted: Mon, Jun 3, 2013, 14:16

Thanks Roman,

Interesting news. I wonder if there is an official place where they publish such information (the closure of the trail that is). There is a number of people leaving for Corsica these days.



Justyna

Posted: Mon, Jun 3, 2013, 17:08

Thank you Roman for the news.

Could I ask you all to post any news you have/hear/read about the current conditions of the treck? Iw would be highly appreciated as I am leaving to Corsica on Saturday and am really devastated now with the news. It looks like it is not really possible to do Northern GR20 at the moment.

Are there any news about the southern section?

Thank you veeery much in advance!

--

Justyna



Michele
moderator

Posted: Mon, Jun 3, 2013, 18:14

Justyna,

The best thing you could do is to either call on the phone the Corsican Mountain Rescue 04 95 61 13 95 or drop an email in French to equipemontagne@parc-corse.org and ask them about the current situation and their recommendations.

--Michele



Marta

Posted: Mon, Jun 3, 2013, 21:24

Justyna, I have heard that in the southern part there is no more snow so in my opinion it is ready to be done : -) Let's take a look at the forecast for f.ex. Monte d'Oro http://www.meteoblue.com/en_GB/weather/forecast/week/monte-d-oro_fr_64362 I think that summer and the weather improvement are comming finaly :-)))

I arrive to Corsica on Saturday night and on Sunday morning I start to complete a southern trail of GR20 from Conca. :-) In case of bad weather I will stop myself in Vizzavona and I will give up.. :(

Is anybody here who is going to start GR 20 at 9th of june?



Justyna

Posted: Tue, Jun 4, 2013, 6:32

Hey Michele,

thanks a lot for the contact details, I am deffinitely going to use these to get some more reliable information.

Marta,

I am also arriving to Corsica on Saturday and originally planned to go from the north but I am still researching the weather conditions. Might be that we will start going up south from Conca too. Let's keep in touch, maybe we'll meet up somewhere :)

--

Justyna



skndstry

Posted: Tue, Jun 4, 2013, 7:56

Hey everyone. I'll arrive in Corsica today. I'll try to start from Calenzana tomorrow. If I find internet somewhere I'll give you an update on the conditions.

Also, I'm looking for a ride from Bastia to Calvi/Calenzana this evening, since I missed my ferry to Calvi this morning :)



bala4

Posted: Tue, Jun 4, 2013, 11:44

Thank you so much - this is exactly what could help in this years extraordinary circumstances. Very actual information from somebody "on stage".

We'll start in 10 days from Calenzana and all our attempts to reorganize our tour (we sleep in the refuge, we don't have an own tent) failed as the south is totally full (answer from the PNRC when we tried to change our reservations from northern refuges to southern ones). This was not really a surprise as of course lots and lots of people will start in the south this year - but it frustrated us a bit anyway. So for those who didn't make a reservation: make sure to have an own tent!

Any about the several passages are more then welcome! Snow of course, unexpected amounts of water (after what happens in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic currently I remember situations of lots of snow melting fast that makes small waters to real rivers that can't be passed) and also if there is any danger of missing the path (rests of snow hiding the signs, "mud-avalanches",...

We want to stay on the save side and are meanwhile ready to return in Ascu Stagnu if necessary - I do hope, the first 3 days from Calenzana to Ascu Stagnu can be done without any troubles within the next ten days. And we still hope for 3 days more towards the south....

Good luck to EVERYBODY starting within the next days and thanks in advance to everybody who doesn't only care for his/her own tour but also care for those who will follow their way!

--

Bala



Michele
moderator

Posted: Tue, Jun 4, 2013, 12:20

Thank you Bala.

I strongly urge those who will be on the trail shortly: if you guys have a smartphone and can afford an internet connection, please drop us a line about the (snow) situation of the most important sections, (i.e. Cirque de la Solitude, Breche de Capitellu etc.) and any other relevant information useful for all.
Thank you everybody



skndstry

Posted: Wed, Jun 5, 2013, 12:28

hey. i'm still in bastia because i couldn't get to calenzana in the evening. I'll be there this evening though and will start tomorrow. My plan is to go as far as I can and feel comfortable. I will ask the guardiens about the conditions and update you guys.



Michele
moderator

Posted: Wed, Jun 5, 2013, 12:34

Thanks skndstry, much apprecitated.



Michele
moderator

Posted: Thu, Jun 6, 2013, 11:03

Today 6 June, on the official blog page they posted some pics and a comment related to the abundant snow cover of the highest parts of the Restonica valley (breche de Capitello etc.). with recommendations about the need of crampons.

Odd enough the first 4 pics were shot on May 7 and only the last one on June 5.

--Michele



acooper

Posted: Thu, Jun 6, 2013, 14:45

The Facebook page for the book "GR20 la Corse au Coeur" just announced that somebody was injured yesterday in the Cirque and warned that there is still lots of snow. Hmm. Stay safe everybody.



Michele
moderator

Posted: Thu, Jun 6, 2013, 14:57

Thanks for the update, acooper.



DP1

Posted: Thu, Jun 6, 2013, 16:41

DP1 left the UK this morning, given the updates they decided not to risk the Northern route and have hired a car to take them down to the Southern end. Will start the walk tomorrow. Thanks all for your info and advice.

--

Denis.



Michele
moderator

Posted: Thu, Jun 6, 2013, 16:50

Wise choice. All the best for DP1.
And, Denis, if you get any updates on the trail please let us know.

Thank you



Milla

Posted: Fri, Jun 7, 2013, 8:12

I've planned to leave on June 15th. Now it feels there is plenty of time for snow and ice to melt, but maybe safer to start from the south this year anyway. Hopefully we will get updates from the route.

Safe trekking to all!

--

Milla



Jan

Posted: Fri, Jun 7, 2013, 12:22

We arrive on June 11th (Figari) and start hiking on wednesday (12th) from the nord.
For reassurement about crampons (or not), I will call the phonenumber above (first hand infor).

Thanks for further updates and advice above!

--

blieve goan



Michele
moderator

Posted: Fri, Jun 7, 2013, 13:14

Thank you Jan. Please let us know. Any update is welcome.



skndstry

Posted: Sat, Jun 8, 2013, 11:27

So I'm in Asco right now. Finally got cell phone coverage.

Until Asco you're fine without crampons, althoug there is an ascent on a snowfield. If you don't have crampons and an ice axe you really shouldn't go through the cirque. Even if you have them, a guide is highly recommended, without you're not only a danger to yourself but also to others underneath you.

There's also a bus for hikers from Asco to the next stage (Bergeries de Ballone) that you can take to avoid the cirque.

If you have any questions Id be happy to answer them if I can.



Wanderer

Posted: Sat, Jun 8, 2013, 15:35

Hi Skndstry (or anybody), do I understand rightly that you started in Calenzana and had no problems all the way to (Haute) Asco? Thats great to hear.

But what about from there?

You recommend not using the route through Cirque de la Solitude if you don't have crampons (and which we don't). My brother and I have planned Haute Asco-Monte Cinto (col)-Ref. d'Ercu. Is that doable at all? Or is that out of question (again, without crampons)

Any good guesses?



DP1

Posted: Sat, Jun 8, 2013, 19:08

All going well on the Southern route, busy in Conca but still managed to get the last tent pitch. Two long days of walking and just made it to R. d'Asinau had to pitch tent in wind and rain.Long day ahead tomorrow to the next refuge, walking poles a real help on this terrain. Can see the snow about 100m above us.

Denis

--

Denis.



Jan

Posted: Mon, Jun 10, 2013, 7:37

We're excited to start next wednesday from the nord.

I just rang the Corsican Mountain Rescue +33 4 95 61 13 95 about the necessity of using crampons.
They strongly advised me to take them with me because you will have to use them on two locations (Cirque de la Solitude and ... ) along the route where's a lot of snow.

--

blieve goan



South Col

Posted: Wed, Jun 12, 2013, 9:23

Following this thread with great interest - & some concern over what to do regarding the cirque, it has to be said! - as my son & I are due to start from the North on the 26th. Interesting to read about the bus from Asco, guess that's an option if snow's still lying....Thanks for all the info re conditions, & grateful for any further feedback!

Colin



Wimpy

Posted: Wed, Jun 12, 2013, 11:20

Hi everyone,

any updates from anyone who's done the northern section in the last few days?

The last we heard was that crampons were still needed in the Cirque and on the Breche du Capitellu. Is that still the same? Has anyone done either of these without crampons? If so, how did you find it?

I've been checking on the weather. Am I right in thinking the best place to check the mountain weather is http://france.meteofrance.com/france/montagne?MONTAGNE_PORTLET.path=mont...

It has weather for a couple of high points (1,400m and 1,600m). According to this, the freezing line is above 4,000m, so I'm hoping the snow has been retreating...

One last question: does anyone know if the Corsican Mountain Resque people speak English? I've been putting off phoning them since unfortunately my french is non-existing...

Thanks one and all, and keep the updates coming!



peppertree1

Posted: Wed, Jun 12, 2013, 15:54

I placed a call to the information desk in Calenzana yesterday and with my poor but passable French was able to discuss conditions with the man who answered the phone. Crampons and ice axe are still advised on the Cirque. He did indeed affirm that there is a bus transfer from Asco to Vallone although I'm not sure of the schedule. I asked him if we would be able to do the Breche du Capitellu with spikes (not crampons) and he said that we would be able to pass that way. We are starting on Monday from Calezana.



Jan

Posted: Fri, Jun 14, 2013, 14:42

now in Haut Asco after 3 days from Calenzana. Splendid walks. Superb scenery!
Lovely weather. The refuges are well equipped for hikers.

The cirque is probably for tomorrow but we are not sure if we will able to cross it.
Crampons is the bear minimum. Ice axe and alpine experience is very welcome if you believe other hikers.
3 days ago, a German of 40 years old died in the cirque...

There is a shuttle between Haut Asco and a village (Calasima) near the refuge de Tighjettu (2h walk).. You have to reserve your place.. More intel @ the refuge on Asco..

--

blieve goan



Michele
moderator

Posted: Fri, Jun 14, 2013, 16:33

Jan,

today (14 June) the Park official blog page http://randoblogpnrc.blogspot.it/2013/06/cirque-de-la-solitude.html#links is showing pics from the Cirque. There doesn't seem to be much snow left so I believe that with the needed caution (and crampons) the place is passable.



South Col

Posted: Tue, Jun 18, 2013, 18:48

Just been looking at updated photos showing conditions in the Cirque, taken earlier today - looks encouraging!

http://randoblogpnrc.blogspot.it/2013/06/cirque-de-la-solitude-1806.html



raincoal

Posted: Wed, Jun 19, 2013, 9:48

Hi everyone,

I just came back from the the GR20, I did the northern section from 8th to 16th June starting at Calenzana. The first few days had quite a lot of rain and foggy weather, but ever since then the sun has been shining. On the 11th I had to take a bus from Haut Ascó to Calasima to bypass the Cirque de la Solitude, which I heard is currently closed since somebody died over there. Otherwise, crampons and ice axe were advised at the time, I don't really know about the current situation. The bus costs 35€, and runs at 9am, 12am and 4pm, you book it in the refuge, and leaves you at the little town of Calasima (the ride takes 1h 30). From there you keep walking along the road, and get to a parking lot from where a path forks: right leads you to the bergerie de Ballone (really nice place to camp, with superb views and cool pools) and eventually to the refuge Tighiettu, going left is a more direct way to Ciottulu di i Mori.

Just a word of advice: the snow is melting, and specially in days like Manganu -> Pietra Piana, there was a lot of soft, melting snow to cross, which is quite dangerous, and many descending GR20 paths have become small creeks. The Pietra Piana camping grounds are flooded and you have to camp somewhat further from the refuge. That day we had to pull out a guy who was waist deep in the snow with a leg somehow jammed in a rock. Some days earlier we had to assist with a GPS in the Spasimata slabs in order to call the helicopter for a guy who slipped and broke his ankle. Both guys where quite aged, and were wearing running shoes. We saw even some guys with jeans and tennis shoes. Don't do that. And btw, watch out for the weight you carry. We had 16 kg backpacks on, and it was a horrible idea. Not only carrying that weight is exhausting, but the sheer bulk of the backpack made climbing and scrambling quite difficult.

I hope that helps.

Cheers



Michele
moderator

Posted: Wed, Jun 19, 2013, 13:14

Thanks raincoal for your precious feedback.

The latest news from the park blog dated 18 June are encouraging and now crampons in the Cirque are not necessary anymore and a lot of people are safely crossing it. However the few patches of snow left require a little attention.

I too have seen a lot of people using running shoes on the GR20!!! Personally I believe that terrain is awful for that type of footwear. Let alone tennis shoes!!!!!

--Michele



mattia

Posted: Sun, Jun 23, 2013, 14:42

Hi,
Just wanted to confirmed that there is still some snow on the way to Petra Piana. Much more then in Cirque de Solitude. We found Petra Piana approach more dangerous than Cirque. We passed at least 15 snow fields.
We left Petra yesterday morning. It was still a little but wet and muddy.

--

mattia