Bad idea to go in early November?

Bianca the Kiwi

Posted: Tue, Oct 13, 2015, 12:32

Hey everyone, I'm from New Zealand and I want to do this hike but I'm afraid that it will be too cold and dangerous early November - does anyone have an idea on if it will be okay or not to tent and carry food and water the whole way? And wold there definitely be no where to refill my water bottle?
Also if anyone is keen to also do the hike in November I would be keen to go in a team or duo.




Posted: Tue, Oct 13, 2015, 16:46

My first experience of the GR20 was many years ago, in the second half of November. Here is what it was like.

Calenzana to Piobbu - Rain all the way uphill. Dark and mist before I reached the refuge, and sheets of ice all around the refuge. No ice axe or crampons, so it was dangerous to approach. Freezing cold inside.
Piobbu to Carozzu - Absolutely no hope of following the main route because it was covered in snow and ice. Instead, dropped into the valley near Bonifatu and walked up the valley to Carozzu. Sheets of ice around the refuge. Freezing cold inside.
Carozzu to Calenzana - No hope of getting any further into the mountains, so bailed out on an easy low-level route to Calenzana, then got trains to Vizzavona.

Tattone to Petra Piana and Refuge de l'Onda - walked along the valley from Tattone to Bergeries de Tolla. Continued up the valley hoping to reach Petra Piana. Couldn't get anywhere near the refuge as there were sheets of ice at the head of the valley. Doubled back and tried to reach the Refuge de l'Onda, but again found sheets of ice before I got there. Bailed out in the dark and bivvied on the ground without a tent. Really freezing cold.
Vizzavona - Following a heavy fall of snow, just explored the GR20 and other low-level routes near the village. Half a metre of snow everywhere made it difficult to walk, or even see where the paths were. Stayed at the Hotel Monte d'Oro.

Got the train to Ajaccio and bus to Zicavo

Zicavo and Plateau de Coscione - Made a long circular walk, leaving a hotel in Zicavo before sunrise. Deep snow on the Plateau de Coscione had a frozen surface, so the crust wouldn't carry me without breaking halfway through every step. Took all the daylight hours to follow the GR20 across the plateau. The descent to Zicavo in the dark was horrible.
Cozzano to Refuge d'Usciolo - Attempted this link from the village of Cozzano, straight uphill. Gave up before reaching the ridge where the GR20 was, because the soft snow was two metres deep and it was taking far too long. I didn't realise at the time, but I was shown a photograph the next year, where the refuge was completely buried.

One thing I realised was - don't walk the GR20 in November.

As for water - that wouldn't be a problem anywhere - except where it was all frozen.


Posted: Tue, Oct 13, 2015, 16:53

I supposed I should have explained - it wasn't my intention to walk the whole of the GR20 at that time. I just decided to look at a few low-level stretches of it in the north, in the middle, and in the south. If that's what the low-level parts were like, imagine what it would be like high in the mountains.


Posted: Tue, Oct 13, 2015, 22:04

Hello Bianca,

the posts above say it all. Walking the GR20 in winter is a challenge per se and it's not recommended. Deep snow and ice are everywhere therefore crampons and ice axe are a must. However a tent is not necessary because the refuges will be open (though unstaffed and with no supplies). Plus you will have to carry your 15-day food supplies start to finish: a considerable weight. I'm not saying it's not feasible I'm just saying it's ultra-tough and .. yes ... potentially dangerous.


Bianca the Kiwi

Posted: Wed, Oct 14, 2015, 16:03

Wow thanks so much, I figured this was the case but I really do appreciate the advice! I think I'll save it for next summer.

If you have any suggestions of a walk/a good organisation that would guide me for a walk that's possible in November -particularly Italy - then I would be happy to hear your thoughts but no worries if not.

Thanks again!


Posted: Wed, Oct 14, 2015, 16:54


In this forum on another thread ( we were discussing the Italian Alta Via n.2 (info here but I guess that's another high level route best to be done in summer.

Another alternative of a route feasible all year round would the The Selvaggio Blu trek (which I happened to have walked a few years ago).
You may read more about it here:
and here:

I also made a documentary video of my adventure here: