Need help with our GR20 plans

uh

Posted: Tue, Jul 16, 2013, 15:04

Hello,
my wife and I are planning the north part of GR20 during the last two weeks of September.

Since we have few days at our disposal, we need help from you experts.

Our plan is to start around the 20th of September from Calvi/Calenzana, and follow each GR20 stage per day. On the 7th day, we are planning to go the normal GR20 Stage 7 to Refuge de Pietra Piana, and then from there head to Corte.

My main question is: is it practical to do this on Day 7 and reach Corte by evening? We hear from Manganu we can go to Bergeries de Vaccaghia, from where we can get a transport to Corte. So any information on this, or a better route would be appreciated.

One suggestion we got from a website was to travel from Calenzana to Bonifatu on day 1, and then go from Bonifatu to Haut Asco on day 2. Does anyone have opinions on this route?

We plan to have our own tent, so do we need reservations for either camping or food? We want to travel light, so we are counting on getting food at the refuges and we are hoping they are not closed for the season by end of September.

Any other advice from you experts would be deeply appreciated. Thank you for your help.

Day 1: Calenzana to Refuge d'Ortu di u Piobbu
Day 2: Refuge d'Ortu di u Piobbu to Refuge de Carrozzu
Day 3: Refuge de Carrozzu to Refuge d'Asco Stagnu
Day 4: Refuge d'Asco Stagnu to Refuge de Tighjettu
Day 5: Refuge de Tighjettu to Refuge de Ciottulu di i Mori
Day 6: Refuge de Ciottulu di i Mori to Refuge de Manganu
Day 7: Refuge de Manganu (1601 m) - Refuge de Pietra Piana and then head to Corte
Day 8 free day for emergencies, or spend either at Corte or Bastia.



Tarjei

Posted: Tue, Jul 16, 2013, 15:53

I think the only transport you maybe can get from Bergeries de Vaccaghia is by horse. You can get down to Corte from there by going down to the Refuge de Sega in the Tavignanu valley and go down from there to Corte (no roads in that valley).

From Petra Piana you can get to Corte either by going back towards Manganu and go down to the Bergeries de Grotelle in the Restonica valley (have to go down pass Lac du Melo from Bocca a Soglia). From there you can either walk all the way down to Corte or get a lift by car, there is a bus service in the Restonica valley, but I'm not sure if it goes all the way up Grotelle.

Another option is to go towards the Bergeries de Tolla (the low-level route towards Onda) and from there go to Tattone and take the train to Corte.

You can go directly from Bonifatu to Haut Asco, but that will take you past the Refuge de Carozzu anyway. And you will not go through the two first stages which I found great. The part between Bocca Piccaia and Bocca Carozzu is one of my favorite parts of the walk. You will spare a day sure, but you will miss out on a great part of the walk. Though, the part between Manganu and Petra Piana is also great.

No need for reservations when carrying your own tent, or for getting food. The refuges won't be closed though, they will be open anyway. But the guardians are usually leaving in the end of September, I think at what date is dependent on how many people there are at the moment.

Tarjei



Gaffr

Posted: Tue, Jul 16, 2013, 17:07

From Bonifatu, as Tarjei says, you can go direct to either Piobbu or to Carozzu refuges...there are two separate paths from the auberge Bonifatu. Both paths are of good quality. If very fit maybe you could go all the way to Ascu in one day? The advantages would be that you would be able to walk, within your time limits, the section between Manganu and Petra Piana/and connect with the train......not to be missed! With a severely restricted time on the route it must be a question of trading off one or more with another....for me all of the etapes on the route have special qualities.

--

Gaffr



cpt_pickard

Posted: Tue, Jul 16, 2013, 18:49

Your day 5 plan seems to be rather short... I would definitely go all the way down to Castel de Verghio (or at least climb Paglia Orba, if you were to stay at Ciottulu...).

I would vote against skipping the first two stages via Bonifatu. As Tarjei has correctly pointed out, your day 2 is demanding but extremely scenic.

Dan



Turnertactics
moderator

Posted: Wed, Jul 17, 2013, 7:55

Your plan is more or less the same as we did in 2010 so it is achievable. We stopped at Castell de Verghio rather than Ciottulu di i Mori as Dan suggests. The hotel there has basement bunk rooms, which were a welcome change to sleeping on hard ground. They have hot showers too.

As we only had 6 nights to play with, our last stop was the Refuge de Manganu. We exited the GR20 after crossing the Breche de Capitellu and descending to the Lac du Melo and the Bergeries de Grotelle.

There is a navette from the Bergeries to Corte but only in August. We hitched a lift for part of the way but flogging down the road in the heat wasn't ideal. The Restonica gorge is spectacular though and worth considering.

There's a bus or train from Corte back to Bastia.

--

Alan



uh

Posted: Thu, Jul 18, 2013, 6:38

Great info, thanks Tarjei, Gaffr, Dan and Alan.

Based on your suggestions, we will avoid Bonifatu and stick with the Stage 1 and Stage 2 plans.

On day 5: we will go to Castel De Verghio
On day 7: two options:
1) Refuge Manganu to Bergeries de Grotelle, leaving GR20 soon after Breche de Capitellu
2) Refuge Manganu to Pietra Pienna and then Tattone.

both options seem great, it is going to be a tough choice, but I am glad we have the choice :-)

I doubt we will be able to do Haut Asco any sooner, by combining a stage as Gaffr mentions. While I believe we are fit hikers, we have not done mountain scrambling and we are worried that we will not even be able to do what we are planning for the 7 days. Also, while my wife is scared of heights, she really insists on doing the north, so we will just have to see if we can manage this through 7 days.

Gaffr: I am not sure I understood your comment about not missing Pietra Piena and connect with the train. Did you mean going on to Tattone? If you get a chance to clarify that option, that would be great.

I guess going from Bergeries de Grotelle to Corte is going to be a challenge, especially that time of the year.
How far is the restonica valley from Grotelle, to consider the bus option?
Is taxi an option & available from Grotelle? any rough ideas on cost?

thanks again, this is a huge help!



Gaffr

Posted: Thu, Jul 18, 2013, 7:32

Yes, what I meant was the stage between Manganu and PP, which is a grand section, and to descend via Tolla to reach Tattone for the train. In 2007 we went down to bergeries Tolla and then up to l'Onda...I haven't been lower that the bergeries though! This year coming up from the south I reached PP from l'Onda via the cretes and enjoyed this section.
I heard this year that the bergeries Tolla no longer was providing the food service for walkers.

--

Gaffr



Turnertactics
moderator

Posted: Thu, Jul 18, 2013, 7:43

We tried phoning for a taxi at the Bergeries de Grotelle but couldn't summon anyone. I'd say the road down the gorge is about 8 miles and with no bus in September, you'll probably have to walk it all unless you can hitch a lift. The route to Tattone will be more in keeping with the GR20 but it's going to be a long day either way.

You don't have to decide which you prefer until you get to the Refuge du Mangalu.

If you think scrambling is going to be an issue, why not do some before you go and build it into a training plan? There isn't a great deal of scrambling on the GR20 in reality and any difficult bits have chains and ladders but it might help with confidence.

A few techniques to bear in mind: Focus on hand and foot placements and not the situation and face into the rock to descend anything that feels too exposed. taking a short confidence rope might help too.

--

Alan



Turnertactics
moderator

Posted: Thu, Jul 18, 2013, 7:59

Me again!

There's a great mapping web site: http://www.geoportail.gouv.fr that shows the topography in very good detail. It also has a useful measuring tool. It shows the Bergeries de Grotelle to the centre of Corte at about 15km. Pietra Piena to Tattone is about 14km.

--

Alan



uh

Posted: Thu, Jul 18, 2013, 16:07

great suggestions. I will look into the confidence rope, that may be just the right thing we need. Would it also help to bring carabriners, would they be useful during the chain sections?

Day 7 looks long with either option, we will take your suggestion and see what we do when we reach Refuge Manganu.

As for food, we don't plan to take anything beyond one day emergency supplies to limit our pack weight.

By what time do we need to reach each of the Refuges to make sure we get dinner? If it is better to book in advance for dinner, we can do that too.

We are very excited and looking forward to this trip. Thanks for your help in refining our plans



Turnertactics
moderator

Posted: Fri, Jul 19, 2013, 7:37

I can't remember what the chain placements looked like so I'm not sure what in-situ opportunities there are to loop a rope over. Some of the lightweight carabiners are only about 35 grams so taking a couple won't add too much weight.

As long as you book dinner at the refuge as soon as you arrive, you will be OK. We took one set of emergency dehydrated food packets and ended up using them up on the last night. We're doing the same when we return at the end of August this year. No need for stoves either. You just need a pan. The Refuges provide cooking facilities for campers.

--

Alan



Joanna

Posted: Fri, Jul 19, 2013, 7:46

Taking a rope won't help much if you don't know how to use it. Roping two people with equally low experience together will just get the both to fall down in case if...
There is no place to put carabiners on the chains, those are not a ferrata. Anyway, the only place with chains is the Cirque.

It is not possible to book dinner in advance, you just book it at arrival.



cpt_pickard

Posted: Fri, Jul 19, 2013, 10:21

Cannot see a point in ropes/biners either here. There is, in my opinion, nothing on the whole trek deserving any worries as to the climbing difficulty.

But the most important part is - if you know how to use a rope and biners, you absolutely do not need them because it is so easy that you will just cruise through.
If you need ropes/biners on the GR20, I would not trust you with the rope.

Leave the rope at home, dead weight.

When people say the scrambling is difficult, it means it is physically difficult, it is exhausting and such. It is in no way a difficult climb. There is absolutely no reason to fall or something. Just be careful, watch your step and think ahead in those few trickier places and that's it.

Dan



Turnertactics
moderator

Posted: Fri, Jul 19, 2013, 12:42

The scrambling isn't difficult unless you've got a fear of heights. The fear of it is worse than the actual scrambling. A confidence rope is just that, to aid confidence.

Personally, I was a bit dissapointed the GR20 wasn't more technical and wanted more but scrambling is my preferred route up or down a mountain.

An old piece of 9mm rope can always be left at the Refuge de Tighjettu for someone heading north over the Cirque du Solitude. It won't be needed after that.

--

Alan



cpt_pickard

Posted: Fri, Jul 19, 2013, 12:51

I understand that views may differ. It would not boost my confidence if I were tied somehow to a rope, without a proper harness, which would then be somewhat attached to something without placing proper securing devices in the wall - or - worse - held in other people's hands without a harness and a belaying device... this all executed by people who fear the scrambling on the GR 20. This, on my planet, calls for a fall caused by the inappropriate reliance on the incorrectly used climbing aids.

But I don't want to start a flame here, opinions may vary. Whatever floats their boat...

Dan



Michele
moderator

Posted: Fri, Jul 19, 2013, 13:11

In my opinion it just takes a little practice to smoothly pass the Cirque. Some previous training to build one's selfconfidence with steeps. There is nothing so darn difficult to require rope & gear. The only problems may arise from people who are faced with this probably unexpected environment and never did anything of the sort in the past.

ah ... and from those foolish enough to try to pass it with the rain ...

Michele



uh

Posted: Fri, Jul 19, 2013, 17:23

Thanks for all the opinions that helped me better understand the pros and cons. It seems to me that having the rope as a backup option, and using it with extreme care only if absolutely essential, would be our approach.

One last question to you experts:
As I think through our last day *day 7), I am realizing it is going to be impractical to go from Refuge Manganu to Corte: either via Tattone or via Bergeries de Grotelle. The 30+ km walk, if we dont get a taxi or bus, is not something we can do, especially after the exhausting 6 days.

So the other option I am considering is to leave GR20 from Castel de Verghio after day 5. What are the chances of getting a transport from there to Corte?
Or we can consider walking from Castel De Verghio to the villages of Albertace or Calacuccia, if our chances from there are better to reach Corte.

thanks for the huge help you all have been in finalizing our plans!



Michele
moderator

Posted: Fri, Jul 19, 2013, 17:39

You can get off at Verghio and reach Corte by bus.
Here is the timetable: http://www.corsicabus.org/busCorte/COR_Evisa_Port.html

If I'm not mistaken the bus stops there at 15.15 hrs.



Turnertactics
moderator

Posted: Fri, Jul 19, 2013, 19:35

There is another alternative: Back track from the Refuge du Mangalu a little to the Bergeries de Vaccaghja and exit down Tavignano valley. That's easily done in a day.

Mangalu to Corte via the Restonica Gorge wasn't terribly taxing either. We set off early at about 6am and were in Corte before 3pm. We did hitch a lift but only for about 4km.

The Castell de Verghio bus runs up to the end of September: http://www.corsicabus.org/busCorte/COR_Evisa_Port.html

--

Alan



cpt_pickard

Posted: Fri, Jul 19, 2013, 21:12

As far as I know, you can sleep directly at the Bergeries de Vaccaghja, they run a small private campground - thus avoiding the backtrack. It is only a short distance from Manganu and you will not miss anything spectacular.

Missing the main part of the Vergio - Manganu trail by leaving GR 20 at Vergio, however, would be a pity, it is highly scenic.

One more idea:

Vergio - Manganu is a short and easy stage. If you reach Manganu early, you can drop your bags and do a roundtrip up and down to Punta Alle Porta and back (i.e. the beginning of the stage to Petra Piana). It is the highest point of the GR 20 so it is worth visiting. It is 6 km roundtrip from Manganu with 650m of climb. 3.5 hrs should do it.

Dan



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