Planning for spring

bcnhiker

Posted: Wed, Jan 2, 2019, 8:43

Hello fellow trekkers :) Happy new year.

Since I did the GR-20 in September last year I can't get it out of my head. I've been doing some research to find similar routes and it seems the GR-20 is still the best route for various reasons. (I like the concept of doing some of the high level routes in the Italian Alps but as fas as I can tell you cannot camp and you have to stay in the luxurious refuges, which is not something I want to do.)

So I will be doing the GR-20 again this year, in Spring. I'd like to know from trekkers who have more experience than I, when is the earliest it can be done without winter equipment? It seems mid - late May is possibly the earliest. Is this true?

BTW I'm planning on doing a roundtrip/circular route. I will do North to South, turn around, and do South to North.



GRRR 20

Posted: Thu, Jan 3, 2019, 6:59

Many years ago I started the GR20 in late May and it was touch and go in some places because of snow and ice. I also met three men on that trip who had made two previous attempts on the GR20 in late May and they didn't get more than one day into the trail before deep snow and sheets of ice forced them to abandon it. So, it might work for you or it might not. It all depends on what you find when you start.



Michele
moderator

Posted: Fri, Jan 4, 2019, 9:27

bnchiker,

The "earliest it can be done without winter equipment" in my opinion is late June. There are 2 passes in the northern section that require crampons and ice axe. This past year (2018) in early July they had just been cleared from ice.

--Michele



bcnhiker

Posted: Fri, Jan 4, 2019, 10:09

Hi Michele and GRRR 20. Thanks for the useful responses.

It's looking like doing it in May/early June is risky. My reasoning for wanting to do it early is to avoid the crowds and the overpacked refuges with limited camping spots (eg Refuge de Carozzu), but it seems like the crowds are unescapable due to the relatively short summer window in which it can be done without winter equipment.

It seems the best period to do it to avoid the crowds (in contrast to some info you can find online and in the guide-books) is mid summer: July & August, but I really don't want to it in the heat.

Putting all that to the side, from your experience when is the best time to do it to avoid the crowds?



GRRR 20

Posted: Fri, Jan 4, 2019, 12:33

It gets quieter between September and October, around the time that the guardians vacate the refuges. Bear in mind that you need to carry food for several days as there are only a few places you can resupply. Once those last few places close, you are on your own. I have visited Vizzavona a couple of times in the winter when everything is closed.



Michele
moderator

Posted: Fri, Jan 4, 2019, 13:14

What GRRR20 said. September and October are your best bet. Also bear in mind the weather will be very unstable and unpredictable, with temperatures dropping drastically at night.



GRRR 20

Posted: Fri, Jan 4, 2019, 19:00

Yes it gets cold in October. Last time I was there in October I loosely attached my jacket under the flap of my pack and lost it God knows where.



bcnhiker

Posted: Wed, Jan 30, 2019, 5:31

I did the route in early September last year and the weather was pretty decent but it was still quite busy, but based on what you've said late September/early October seems like a good time to get away from the crowds. I don't mind carrying food and wotnot. Only problem is I don't think I can wait until September haha.
I was hoping to do it early this year but based on your feedback and some more research i've done it looks like late June is probably the earliest I can do it without additional equipment. I found this video also showing pretty bad conditions in June 2018: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBPzeDCengc It seems like one of the trekkers has super light-weight crampons which I've not seen before, I'm not sure they were very effective though. But also the refuges seem fairly quiet. I will ponder over this to decide haha. Thank you both for your feedback!



GalGan

Posted: Mon, Mar 18, 2019, 14:31

Hi mountain lowers. HELP!
I start GR20 on May 5 from south (Conca). There is some questions, maybe someone can help.
1. Сan i go without a tent? All hopes for refuges. Plan to take sleeping bag, maybe also without mat?
2. What about shopping on trek in early May? Can I buy some food anywhere?
3. In refuges there is no electricity in May, yes? It means I need powerbank.
4. I really don't like to wear sunglasses. Can I leave those at home or this equipment is must have due bright snow on passes? On Everest BC trek 2 days was so bright sun with snow, that could blind. Glasses saved me.
Thanks!

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Hello from Riga!