GR20 Snow Detours - Pietra Piana to Manganu | Corsica.forHikers.com

GR20 Snow Detours - Pietra Piana to Manganu

Calum

Posted: Fri, Jun 8, 2018, 18:45

Hi everybody,

Great forum, thank you to everyone for posting, I have learned a great deal from all of the questions and answers.

My friend and I will be arriving in Vizzavona on June 11th, and had planned to walk North starting on the 12th. We do not have crampons, axes, or harnesses, or ropes. I found snow reports today (links are below) saying that there are still potentially dangerous sections between Piana and Manganu, and Tighjettu and Haut Asco.

Is there a low-altitude trail we can walk to connect Pietra Piana and Refuge de Manganu? I will take a bus if needed, but I would prefer to spend the time walking.

Alternatively, do you have recommendations for a guide who would rent us equipment and accompany us on this short notice through the two snowy sections?

Many thanks.

Snow reports:
http://www.le-gr20.fr/en/blog/what-s-the-snow-like-on-gr20.html
https://www.altre-cime.com/2018/05/neige-gr20-3/



SQFP

Posted: Fri, Jun 8, 2018, 22:44

Hi,

from Petra Piana to Manganu, you can avoid the risky slopes of Capitello and Porte by walking down to the dull village of Orto, then back up to Manganu via the charming Crenu lake (follow the signs and markings).
That's a ~22 km/14 mi detour on good hiking/forestry paths, it takes at least 6 non-stop... give it a full day.
The other dangerous part that is Tighjettu-Ascu can be readily avoided, either by minibus between Calasima and Haut Asco, or by foot using the Calacuccia-Ascu leg of the Isula-Corte trail (no more snow there as of last week).

Alternatively you may contact Altre Cime, I know they employ at least one certified mountain guide (and sometimes several); ask them whether there will be one for hire, or already on the spot to assist (for a fee).

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Geology in Corsica



Elis

Posted: Sat, Jun 9, 2018, 6:14

Thanks for informing about the alternative route between Tighjettu and Ascu.
We are starting out from north on Tuesday and had the bus alternative as a back up. But if it is possible to hike a trail, even if it is a bit longer, that is much more preferred.

A question to the alternative route Isula Corte trail/Calacuccia-Ascu leg. I’ve had a hard time finding any details about this route. Is it the same as the old GR20 route going a bit more west between Haut Ascu and Tighjettu?



Michele
moderator

Posted: Sat, Jun 9, 2018, 6:16

I too am interested in this Isula Corte trail/Calacuccia Asco leg. Are there any gps tracks around?
Thanks



Gaffr

Posted: Sat, Jun 9, 2018, 7:42

Hello,
I think that maybe some of this ground was covered by SteveDan during his walk Sentier l'Ile Rousse to Corte....written up on the Forum...a year or so ago?

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Gaffr



SQFP

Posted: Sat, Jun 9, 2018, 14:33

The "old" GR20 route between Stagnu and Tighjettu = Cirque de la Solitude, nope, you don't want that. Still forbidden by law, still hazardous due to geology, still requires climbing gear and survival skills.

For those in a hurry, there is (temporarily?) the Ascu-Calasima bus to be booked, or other public transportation services, hitchhiking, whatever works best.

For those who are not afraid to venture off the crowded GR20 Highway, just make Stagnu-Ascu (walk or take the Stagnu-Ponte-Leccia bus), Ascu-Corscia ("Isula-Corte" hiking path), Corscia-Vergio ("Transhumance" hiking path and/or Corte-Vergio bus). The route is pretty obvious on any paper topographic map (or use OSM: https://tinyurl.com/yb8qkqrt ). There are paint marks/cairns/panels everywhere along the way, and neat gîtes/campings/stores in villages as well.

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Geology in Corsica



Michele
moderator

Posted: Sat, Jun 9, 2018, 9:07

Thanks SQFP for the heads up about the alternative route. I found it on my map and measured it. That is a tough alternative if done in one day!!! Besides the need to get a ride from Haute-Asco to Asco, starting at the Pont Genois, it involves 31 Km of merciless walk and a positive ascent of some 1300+ mt. Something that should be carefully gauged about before embarking into this long and hard detour to reach the Bergerie de Ballone (I would split into 2 legs to make it more ... humane).

--Michele



SQFP

Posted: Sat, Jun 9, 2018, 19:32

Well... I'd proceed this way: from Haut-Ascu to Ascu with the 9am bus; then hike from Ascu to Corscia (long but neat views and no risks), spending the night in Corscia (there's a gîte, not much else) or Calacuccia/Lozzi (gîte, hotel, camping, shops, restaurants...) On the next morning take the 8:30am bus (booked in advance) from Calacuccia to Vergio, asking the driver to stop at the "fer à cheval" ("horseshoe", a bend of the road). From this point one can reach a waterfall then the Radule gorges on the GR20 within 30 mn.
In such a case, it is more or less the same (schedule-wise) as if going across the Cinto ridge to Tighjettu/Ballone/Ciuttulu, then on the next morning doing the boring Tighjettu-Radule part before reaching Vergio - only with the addition of a pleasant, inexpensive evening off the GR after a wonderful hike far from the crowd ;)

edit: As a bonus, a pic from yesterday with still a bit of snow below the Bocca Pampanosa, just south of the Stagnu/Haut-Asco refuge.
https://reho.st/medium/self/61ca364f8de053f66ac79fe152a6d56448c3037c.jpg

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Geology in Corsica



Elis

Posted: Sat, Jun 9, 2018, 20:21

Thanks for the route description and the snow-pic SQFP. A bit of snow indeed!



Calum

Posted: Sun, Jun 10, 2018, 5:58

Thanks for everyone for responding.

We have contacted Altre Cime and received a message that they're currently on the GR20. Fingers crossed they're able to get back to us soon!

We will look into the detours today and hopefully still make the trip north - the weather looks like it's taking a turn for the worse so we'll make sure to factor in an early exit if needed. Safe travels to everybody!



SQFP

Posted: Sun, Jun 10, 2018, 11:19

Incidentally, three years to this day, 7 hikers died trying to achieve a GR20 stage - despite terribad weather forecast, and warnings by other people. They probably lost their life so as not to lose their boat/car/hotel reservation. Or maybe they couldn't wait to send their friends and families a bunch of glorious selfies.

Not to bring you bad luck, but as a reminder... :) Have fun !

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Geology in Corsica



mattn

Posted: Sun, Jun 10, 2018, 17:41

Thank you all for the information.

My fiancée and I are planning to hike the GR20 North this week north-to-south (Calenzana to Vizzavona). Unless the weather permits and snow conditions improve significantly around the Monte Cinto pass (stage 4: Haut-Ascu to Tighjettu) and at the Capitello pass (stage 7: Manganu to Pietra Piana), then we expect to detour these dangerous days.

I put together maps using alltrails.com for our initial track (stick to the GR20) as well as detours based on forum suggestions. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

In short, the detour for stage 4 would be:
- Bus 9:00am from Haut-Ascu to Ascu (Day 4) -- about 15 km; 30 min.
- Hike from Ascu to Calacuccia (Day 4) -- about 21 km; 9-10 hours.
- Hike or bus-then-hike from Calacuccia to Vergio (Day 5) -- about 21 km; 9-10 hours.

And the stage 7 detour -- about 23 km; 9-10 hours:
- Hike from Manganu to Orto (Day 7)
- Hike from Orto to Guagno (Day 7)
- Hike from Guagno to Pietra Piana (Day 7)

GR20 without detours

GR20 with detours



Steve Dan

Posted: Sun, Jun 10, 2018, 18:08

Hi guys
I'm a little late onto this thread, on the trail in Corsica as I speak.
I did walk the L'illle Rousse - Corte trail a couple of years ago, but I split the Asco- Calacuccia stage with an overnight at the Bergerie de Cabane. It would be a long day to hit all in one.
Also, the gite d'etape at Corscia was, I was told by a local, permanently closed, seemingly abandoned when I walked through. The campsites at Lozzi ( on the Sentier de Transhumance ), or Calacuccia, are your accommodation options.
Steve.



SQFP

Posted: Sun, Jun 10, 2018, 19:04

As for the stage 7, the latest news is it's now feasible without extra gear... but still takes extra time and caution wherever snow remains (and better not venture there if it's foggy/windy/rainy).

On the other hand, stage 4 still has plenty of snow which means that a full attire (special shoes, hiking poles, ice axe etc.) is necessary to overcome sloped/slippery snowfields around Monte Cinto.
Two hikers slipped yesterday, escaped unharmed thanks to their ice axes.

> Steve Dan
The "gîte communal" in Corscia definitely operates as of this spring (especially now that they promote the Sentier de Transhumance), however it has to be booked in advance by calling the city hall. Of course walking a few more miles to Calacuccia or Lozzi is more convenient.

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Geology in Corsica



chudood

Posted: Wed, Jun 13, 2018, 6:37

Hi! I will be beginning North to south on the 16th and would like to know if there was any updates on the snow situation and if micro crampons/poles would be enough or if full crampons would be required for the snow sections of which Monte cinti would be the most immediate for me.



SQFP

Posted: Wed, Jun 13, 2018, 12:47

On the northern face of the Cinto range some form of snow gear is mandatory (crampons, poles if you need them, plus ice axe or rock pic or whatever may stop your fall) due to sloped icy snowfields. Some dumb people went up there without gear but are dangerous to themselves and others. Photo here: https://reho.st/preview/self/49b0b0260795b30bf661902bbe2f306c0530fae1.jpg (2018/06/11)

Following an accident yesterday in that very area, the PGHM (=military, part of the rescue team) remind all hikers that due to current conditions, "snow gear is still mandatory".

In the Rotondo range things are less of an issue (sparse snowfields which are shorter and may be crossed given enough time and caution).

--

Remember to bring your own crampons and gear, all the shops on the islands are now out of stock because of too many careless hikers arriving in the last days ;)

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Geology in Corsica



GRRR 20

Posted: Wed, Jun 13, 2018, 11:10

Forecasts and pictures will give you half of the story. If you don't already possess the skills and equipment, then don't go, or at least go with a qualified guide. Snow conditions vary enormously in a few hours. After a cold night slopes can be very hard and slippery, but when the sun shines on them for hours, you can sink to your knees. Icy rocks are much worse than slopes of snow and if you fall on them an ice axe is little use.



SQFP

Posted: Wed, Jun 13, 2018, 12:58

Moisture has been low and temperatures above freezing for a few weeks in the mountains, I wouldn't expect many icy rocks . Still, the many "old" snowfields (... with their buff/tan hue) are akin to ice now, with a slippery wet surface due to melting and drizzle.
As said previously, two guys escaped safe thanks to their ice axes a few days ago. Yesterday, a 30ish girl slipped 40 meters down (twisting her ankle "only") due to having no crampons. Better have both of them, among other safety measures.

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Geology in Corsica



GRRR 20

Posted: Wed, Jun 13, 2018, 15:04

The first time I went on the GR20 there was late snow. I took an ice axe but whenever I reached snow it was very soft so the ice axe was dead weight. I wished I had left it at home. Then I suddenly found myself in a rock gully full of very steep and hard snow. The ice axe saved my life that day! It was dead weight every day, but well worth having for the 15 minutes it took me to get down that gully.



mt1

Posted: Sat, Jun 16, 2018, 15:10

Hi Geology in Corsica and Others on the forum

more about snow en-route

We are (were?) planning to do the gr20 North to South and planning to do the Monte Cinto Section around 28-30 June.

Do you have any thoughts about potential snow conditions then from your previous experience? How much snow is there at the moment and does it tend to remain icy or go soft and wet and more passable without winter gear as summer progresses?

We are wondering what to pack (we have and can use winter gear - but don't really want to carry it) , how flexible to be and whether to change our plans. We have hiked in Corsica before and missed the Monte Cinto Section - and done parts of the coast to coast - so this is a big decider for us.

Also is there any update about conditions between the
Manganu to Petra Piana sections

Thank you for your help

Mandey

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mt1



Gaffr

Posted: Sat, Jun 16, 2018, 15:33

Hello,
I would be very surprised if at the end of June that any remaining snow is no more than soft. Every season is different. My trips have been made over stage 4 in the middle of June in past seasons and the snow has been soft.
If you find that over the next two weeks that conditions are otherwise..... starting from the South, as I did on one occasion, can get around the problems in the North. In other words it gives you an extra week or so for the sun to do its work.

--

Gaffr



SQFP

Posted: Sat, Jun 16, 2018, 16:50

Pics from June 12th, N Cinto range. Taken minutes before a girl who did not want to carry an ice axe slipped on this snowfield - she was fortunate there were some boulders 30 meters below to stop her (at the cost of a broken ankle and 2 hours waiting for rescuers in the fog and drizzle).

https://reho.st/self/8060fb0003d7e95d37e0d735e564f1991d19152c.jpg
https://reho.st/self/49b0b0260795b30bf661902bbe2f306c0530fae1.jpg

Even if melting slowly away, due to their thickness (up to 2 m) some snowfields will very likely still exist for some more weeks, thus requiring extra caution. Keep in mind this year has been exceptional wrt snowfall. At the moment (June 15) PNRC authorities consider snow gear mandatory for stages 4 (Ascu) and 7 (Capitello), even though some young athletic people ran through the stage 7 under clear skies, equipped with nothing more than hiking poles and light rucksacks (pic)

https://reho.st/self/b68c81b3af140bca453d1284bde5017d460f8051.jpg

If you don't want to carry snow gear, you may always stay on the safe side by taking the bus around Stage 4, and various low-altitude alternatives to bypass stage 7.

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Geology in Corsica



Elis

Posted: Sat, Jun 16, 2018, 19:49

I passed through stage 4 on Thursday (14 June) and stage 7 yesterday (15 June).

Some thoughts from a fast packer perspective. Keep in mind that it is from the perspective of one who is used to, and comfortable with, moving on snow both as a mountain runner and mountaineer.

The snow was wet, we wore mini crampons and used poles.
We have small lights packs which makes it somewhat more stable/easier to manouver.
There were a couple of areas on stage 4 and one place on stage 7 were I wouldn’t have passed without my minicrampons.

I was also glad that we came from North going South because I wouldn’t have liked to descend the big snowfield towards Asco, I preferred going up there. Would have felt the same with full regular winter equipment.

We saw quite a few people with regular big hiking packs and no winter equipment. They didn’t look very comfortable! And I didn’t really feel comfortable watching them...
Another thought which has not been mentioned. One thing is to carry winter gear, another thing is to know how to use it. Observed one guy trying to put on his crampons, clearly hadn’t used those before. And it’s little use to carry an ice axe if you don’t know how to perform a self rescue. My advice would be to learn proper technique otherwise you would be better of taking the bus.

Liz



Gaffr

Posted: Sat, Jun 16, 2018, 20:51

Hello Elis,
Many thanks for your on the spot comments regarding the conditions at the two stages ( 4 and 7) that hold snow longest. This together with the images from the two stages (from SQFP) should be considered by those coming to the route soon. The question to ask themselves is am I comfortable getting about in these conditions.

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Gaffr



Gab

Posted: Sun, Jun 17, 2018, 2:29

Hi Liz,

When you say mini crampons do you mean something like these or a bit more serious?

https://rockrun.com/products/kahtoola-microspikes?utm_source=Google&utm_...

--

Gab



Werner BROOS

Posted: Sun, Jun 17, 2018, 11:23

Hi,

How about starting in Corte (Bergerie è grotelle) going to Petra Piana.
How is the trail if you ascent after the Lac Melo throug Bocca a Soglia and Bocca Muzzarella to Petra Piana.

Possible that we can start the Southern-part in Corte.

Grt
Werner

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W.Broos



mt1

Posted: Sun, Jun 17, 2018, 19:22

Thank you for replies ..very helpful

Where can I get the up to date pnrc conditions report from. The one on their site is from April?

Very Useful to hear about on trail conditions.

I am quite confident on snow from easy winters an alpine climbs & can use an axe so thinking about good quality microspike crampon..(any recommendations on model or brand useful) so I don't need to use stiffer boots and a light weight axe. My main concern is ice and if there are any steep snow chocked gullies and whether I need front point crampons and an axe to help me climb rather than break a fall.

Interesting point about those with heavier packs balancing on the steep snow. Certainly won't be doing a light weight speed trip but will be keeping weight down with light weight camping gear.

MANDEY

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mt1



Gab

Posted: Tue, Jun 19, 2018, 21:19

Does anyone have an update on the snow situation? Stage 4 and 7? No one mentioned it, but are there any sections of the route where avalanches could occur?

--

Gab



SQFP

Posted: Tue, Jun 19, 2018, 21:40

No avalanches. Only sloped snowfields. Some hikers who went through stages 4 and 7 over the last two days say snow gear is still required.

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Geology in Corsica



SQFP

Posted: Wed, Jun 20, 2018, 23:19

The latest news is, it is now possible to go through stage 4 without snow gear - snowfields may be avoided by following closely the red-white marks, always on rocky ground. Don't follow the shortcuts (footsteps) across snow.

Regarding stage 7: still some snow but no issue without snowgear, just takes some time and extra caution.

Of course, if weather allows...

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Geology in Corsica



Gab

Posted: Wed, Jun 20, 2018, 20:18

SQFP, thank you for the update. 1500g less to carry, so I can take my camping stove. :)

--

Gab



Gab

Posted: Wed, Jun 20, 2018, 20:18

SQFP, thank you for the update. 1500g less to carry, so I can take my camping stove. :)

--

Gab



Gaffr

Posted: Thu, Jun 21, 2018, 12:25

Just looked at my images for dates when travelling from South to North on the GR20. A year when the navette was in operation to reach Haut Ascu and in reverse. A few days earlier than the current year.
On the 13th, of June 2013 walked from Petra Piana through to Manganu....snow soft...walking poles were fine for support.
On the 16th, of June 2013 walked from Auberge Vallone through to Haut Asco....still soft snow again with the walking poles for support.
The declining snow was obviously nearly a week later this year on the traverse.
So not too uncommon to find this years problems in the early part of the season.

In 2007 on a North to South walk we were through to Vallone on the 21st, of June and through to Petra Piana on the 24th, June when I don't recall much more than small number of snow patches in the deepest of recesses.

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Gaffr



Michele
moderator

Posted: Thu, Jun 21, 2018, 8:16

@SQFP
What a relief.! I'm planning to walk stage 4 around 4th July and I really didn't want to take my snow kit along.



crownharemeadow

Posted: Thu, Jun 21, 2018, 9:22

SQFP - thanks for the update, that's excellent news!



sonja

Posted: Tue, Jun 26, 2018, 18:38

We just got back from doing the GR20. We did the whole route with the high level options. We had crampons and ice axe. Many people were doing the snowy sections without winter equipment and honestly it's surprising there are not more accidents. The snow was quite soft and people were slithering all over the place. We saw people sliding down steep snow slopes on their backsides. It was scary to watch and quite dangerous. We heard about one girl who had shorts on and fell on the snow and sliced her leg all the way down. She had to be taken out by helicopter. But with care most people were managing to do there routes. Personally, I think its worth carrying axe and crampons, despite the weight, as it makes it more enjoyable and safer



Miriam

Posted: Tue, Jun 26, 2018, 22:27

Hi,

Any updates on snow cover on stage 7? Our current schedule means we should be hiking it around July 8th, and we don't want to take crampons and an ice axe. If it's impossible to do the stage without those then we may do the Southern half instead.

Thanks!



Gaffr

Posted: Wed, Jun 27, 2018, 7:08

Sounds as if it is just the Northern part of the route that are doing?....starting from Calinzana on the !st of July perhaps?...seven days or so reach Manganu.
But if it is the entire route you are travelling over?....then starting in the South at Conca the arrival time at Petra Piana - Manganu will be eight days.
I would be surprised if this stage will not be possible when using walking poles...whatever the direction that you approach from....a lot of sun-filled days between now and then.
Have a good trip. The GR20, despite all of the hassle and bad practices, is a fine and memorable route to walk over.

--

Gaffr



Michele
moderator

Posted: Wed, Jun 27, 2018, 7:57

I too would like to know the current snow situation on stage 4 and 7. I will be on stage 4 in a week's time and still not sure if I should bring my ice kit. On another post I read the route is feasible zigzaging through the snow patches. Is it correct?

--Michele



SQFP

Posted: Wed, Jun 27, 2018, 8:28

See my answer from June 21. No snowfall ever since.

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Geology in Corsica



Michele
moderator

Posted: Wed, Jun 27, 2018, 11:37

Thanks SQFP. That's reassuring. No crampons then.



SQFP

Posted: Wed, Jun 27, 2018, 12:43

To make things clear: at the moment there are still a few places here and there where one has to walk on (melting or icy) snow, as not all snowfields can be readily avoided - even by following closely the white-red marks, or taking the easier unmarked variants (e.g. "western door" of Bocca alle Porte).

Still, no specific gear is needed as long as: 1/ the weather is good; 2/ appropriate caution is exerted upon walking on snow; 3/ other people around don't act stupid. As hazardous as on a snowy day in any city :)

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Geology in Corsica



Gab

Posted: Thu, Jun 28, 2018, 12:55

I have passed stage 4 yesterday. No problem with the snow at all. If you take the extra route to Monte Cinto there is a small section where extra care needed, about 50m, but nothing serious. Just be careful as the melting snow can collapse under your foot, so test before put full weight on it. Based on what I have seen so far, I can not imagine it could be much more serious on stage 7.

--

Gab



Michele
moderator

Posted: Thu, Jun 28, 2018, 14:50

Thank you Gab!!



Gaffr

Posted: Fri, Jun 29, 2018, 12:14

Hello Gab,
There is nothing better than a first hand reports of what is the situation with the two well discussed stages those of stages 4 and 7 on the GR20.
It's great to have the means to relay these on the spot reports. I would guess that you must be approaching the stage seven on your schedule....it would be helpful for those going to the GR20 or more important on earlier stages of the route. Maybe a wee report of what you have found when walking between Manganu and the refuge Petra Piana. :-)

--

Gaffr



Gab

Posted: Fri, Jun 29, 2018, 15:26

Hi, I have completed stage 6 and 7 today. The snow situation on stage7 is more serious than on stage4. There is a small section to cross before the first bocca and there is a longer one right on the other side of it. The first one does not look to scary, just follow the footsteps slowly and use your walking poles to secure yourselfe. It is a horizontal cross, so you do not have to walk upwards or downwards, which makes it fairly easy. The end of the slope can be seen, so even in worst case you see where will you stop.

--

Gab



Gab

Posted: Fri, Jun 29, 2018, 15:46

The second one can be nearly completely avoided by climbing above the snowfield scrambling-traversing on the rock. But then there are several more shorter or longer snowfields to cross, most of the time horizontally, following others footsteps.I actually felt quite safe with my walking poles and enjoyed every crossing. I do not think I would have felt safer with crampons on. The snow is very wet and melting so extra care needed at the ends of the snowfields. It is thinner there and can collapse, usually there is quite a big gap from the snow to the rock, so one can actually can badly hurt it's leg or slide under it. And if you have crampons on you may even cut yourself. I think walking poles and common sense all you need. I would probably agree with an ice-axe if you know how to use it. But of course it's everyone's own decision.

--

Gab



Gab

Posted: Fri, Jun 29, 2018, 15:43

Just for the record, I consider myself an experienced hiker, quite confident on rock, but have never walked on snow before.

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Gab



Gaffr

Posted: Sat, Jun 30, 2018, 5:56

Thanks for that Gab, I was expecting the position as you have reported. The thing is that this was similar to what I found in 2013 but that position in 2013 was 16 days earlier in June than what you experienced....The snow has clung-on much later this year.
Enjoy the rest of the route you will find lots of terrain variety all the way down to Conca....Monte Renosu, the fine long stretches along the easy ridges looking down onto wee villages after Verdi bocca, Alcudina and the Bavella alternative. I even enjoyed the final leg down to Conca where there is a variety of new plants to encounter.

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Gaffr



SQFP

Posted: Sat, Jun 30, 2018, 6:13

Thanks Gab. When you say you had snowfields on stage 7, did you follow the GR or did you take the tiny variant around Bocca alle Porte ("voie d'hiver" or "winter path", unmarked)?

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Geology in Corsica



Gab

Posted: Sat, Jun 30, 2018, 19:59

SQFP, I followed the GR20.

I had a surprise today on stage 9B. I did not expected snow there as no one was talking about it. It was clear of snow up to the summit. (Actually one 30m section was covered by snow, but it was easy to pass above it.) On my way to the summit I was warned to avoid the northern descend to Vizzavona as it holds quite a lot of snow and can be dangerous especially downhill. Then I met two runners, they said it is ok with caution, they have just ran up on it. It was afternoon, clouds were gathering and I was fairly tired, so I climbed to the summit and decided to stay on the safe side, so I walked back to the junction and followed the 9A route. Which I do not regret, as at least I had time to swim in the pools at the English Cascades.

--

Gab