Time for only 3-4 stages. Which should I do (early June).

doberman

Posted: Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 16:51

Hi guys,

Im in Corsica for only a week and am looking to do 4 days worth of G20 action. My girlfriend isn't the best with heights and it'll be the first week of June so we have ruled out the first four stages (running North to South).

We're hoping to start at Vallone or Ciottulu di Mori and then head down to Vizzavona. That's stage five-nine. So:

1) How easy is it to join the trail at Ciottulu di Mori or Vallone?
2) Do you think, barring no extended winter, that it will be fine snow-wise?
3) Are there any technical bits that are as crazy as some of sheer drops/exposure in the north section? I have watched as many videos as I can and it seems ok, apart from some bits from Manganu to Petra Piana. Is that the case?

Sorry for the all the questions: just really excited to get on the G20 and make the most of the short time we have there!

Thanks!



annaou

Posted: Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 17:51

Hi, guys,
Early June will definitely have quite a bit of snow in first 4 stages, but possibly in parts of some stages all the way to Vizzavona. It may also be subzero at night which can freeze some surfaces. I would recommend going south to north from Conca. There is one stage which has an alternative "alpine" route with chains on one spot, the rest is more like "hiking", not as much of rock scrambling, though there is always a bit of scrambling everywhere on GR20. South to north has bailout treks which can take you back down from almost every stage, you can take easier routes, and you can sleep at bergeries instead of refuges. Refuges are very rustic, most of them don't have capability to charge your phone, but you can get juice at bergeries most of the time.
I don't know how to join the trail at your spot, haven't done that. Manganu to Petra Piana is very rocky, but even that is not as much of a sheer cliff as almost everything north of Vizzavona

Best of luck! And be sure to pack very light, with a very tight backpack, there are some overheads where you need to be able to squeeze through with your pack. Or, you need ropes to hoist your pack through, which is a lot of extra weight.

--

Annaou



doberman

Posted: Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 22:32

Thanks very much for the help. I will look into going from Conca. I'm just worried the experience won't be quite as mind-blowing as some of the stuff north of Vizzavona.



Gaffr

Posted: Fri, Mar 1, 2019, 7:19

Hello,
So many unknowns with your questions...travelling in a car, or where do you arrive on the island or airport etc.?
With just a short amount of time on the island you could spend at least a day at each end just getting into and out from where you leave the route.
To make the best of a short stay how about using the train to get to Vizzavona….from Bastia or from Ajaccio depending on where you reach the island?
Advantage is that you start your walk at around 900 metres going in either direction.
I would head South where you could reach Capanelle for an overnight or on to Col Verdi in a long day out then up to Prati you could overnight here and on to Usciolu…..running out of time? then down to Cozzano village and then out to the coast...bus? I have been to Cozzano but of that occasion I was walking the route of the MM Centre.
This area of the GR20 has some fine pleasant walking especially so between col Verde and Usciolu.
I did look up the PNRC blog this morning but nothing forthcoming when usually at this time of year there is a report and images of the conditions found by the Rangers on this site on a monthly basis.
The entire route 'mind blowing'? ….just steady walking, easy scrambling and if you have done your preparation walks carrying the same amount of kit that you intend to be carrying on your back on the island you should be in good shape to enjoy the time on the beautiful island. You most certainly will want to return to do the entire route.

--

Gaffr



Michele
moderator

Posted: Fri, Mar 1, 2019, 8:19

doberman,

1) Vallone from Calasima is an easy walk. The point is you need to hitchike your way to such small village. Look at your map to do some planning.

2) This year it seems we will have an early summer (and therefore less snow), but, of course, it's all up in the air. As a rule the highest parts are still covered in snow until the end of June. Last year in early July the snow in the highest sections was in patches but walkable.

3) Be cautious when doing the Manganu-PietraPiana stage, because the potentially dangerous section is the bit between "Bocca alle Porte" and "the breche de Capitellu".

Best Luck with your GR20

--Michele



doberman

Posted: Fri, Mar 1, 2019, 11:11

Again, thanks for the help guys. You've been far more helpful than I could have imagined! I am very grateful.

I should mention that we are arriving to Bastia early in the morning on a Saturday and not renting a car. We are also leaving there on the following Saturday.

With regards to 'mind-blowing' - in the videos of all the stages that I have watched, the ones that really took my breath away were almost all exclusively in the northern section of the route. Hence my worry at going south as I would miss all the bits that inspired me to come to Corsica in the first place. I'm talking mainly about Ciottulu di i Mori to Manganu to Petra Piana to Onda.

Perhaps we could start in Castettu/Catsellu di Verghio/Vergio and heading south. Is that quite an accessible starting point? Or we could start in Viz and head north, I suppose.

Michele - the Bocca alle Porte to Breche de Capitellu was the only bit I was concerned about from the videos. We will have good hiking boots but I worry the snow may be a bit sketchy. Will we definitely need poles? We will have all our packing for the whole week on our backs and also a tent so will be looking to go as light as possible!

Thank you all again.



Gaffr

Posted: Fri, Mar 1, 2019, 21:14

Hello,
Knowing a bit more about your circumstances and tight schedule on the island. I would still as you have suggested and I said in an earlier post that for you the Vizzavona start is the one for you and especially so that you arrive and leave from Bastia....Ferry?
Heading north after arriving to Vizzavona by train and leaving the trail a little way after Manganu at close to the bergeries de Vaccaghja there is a trail down to Sega refuge and then down the mule track to Corte....train back to bastia.
Given the best of conditions without too much snow an itinerary of Vizzavona-L'Onda-Petra Piana-Manganu-Vaccaghia-Corte would given the good conditions get you within your week on the island on a train back to Bastia. Within the week that you have you could pitch your tent at the Sega refuge if things were going well timewise.
For me my favourite part of the GR20 is the one between Petra Piana and Manganu and there are many excellant stages all very different but there is something special in each one of them.

--

Gaffr



doberman

Posted: Fri, Mar 1, 2019, 21:20

Brilliant. Thanks for the help Gaffr!



Steve Dan

Posted: Fri, Mar 1, 2019, 21:33

Hello doberman.
That was a first class suggestion from Gaffr and I'd say it would definitely be plan A.
I will just add this.
You may well have been blown away by the videos of the northern GR20 but in reality, once your boots are on the trail, you will find that that the whole route winds it's way through some spectacular and memorable wilderness.
Starting from Conca, you would no longer have to worry about snow conditions, have fewer concerns about your girlfriend's fear of heights and at the end of stage one, Refuge Paliri is in a wonderfull setting, tucked in beside the granite cliffs of Bavella. From here, taking the alpine variant through the Bavella needles on stage two, over Alcudina, across the Cuscioni Plateau and scrambling along the Arete de Monda to reach Usiolu on stage three, scrambling and opportunities to climb a peak or two en-route to Prati or Verdi on a long stage four and an option to take the alpine variant ( snow permitting) over Renoso on stage five would be quite enough to keep even the most seasoned hiker happy.
A relatively easy stage six from Campanelle would see you at Vizzavona in time for an afternoon train down to Bastia. As an alternative, shorter trip, you can head down to Cozzano from The Col de Laparo and catch the early morning bus to Ajaccio.
Finally, snow or no snow, take your poles. Most of the decents on the GR20 are loose, rocky knee crunchers.
Steve.



doberman

Posted: Sat, Mar 2, 2019, 0:02

Thank you very much Steve. I am unfamiliar with the south route as have been concentrating most on what Gaffr suggested. I will definitely look into your suggestion - sounds excellent.

I've read about early June snow conditions from years of forum posts on here and it seems the Breche de Capitellu to Bocca alle Porte will definitely be too hazardous. We have very little experience in snowfields and don't want to risk it.

Does anybody know if it is possible to get from Breche de Capitellu to Lac du Melo and then back up to Petra Piana to avoid the dangerous crossing and all the snow?



Gaffr

Posted: Wed, Mar 6, 2019, 9:20

Hello,
Conditions can be very different in June....see the images of the Breche de Capitellu area in 2007 compared with that I found in 2013.
In 2007 in the image you can see folks ascending to the gap from the Loch area in 2013 roughly same time mid June it was chocked with snow.
By the way in 2007 Breche de Capitellu was on the maps where the Bocca alle Porte is labelled now.
Always as SD says Poles are an important aid on the GR20.

see....The GR20-blogspot.com... or maybe...http://gaffr.blogspot.co.uk
You may have to keep pressing on the more posts button to reach the GR20 page

I'm too old to be on top of these things! I just don't know how to make a relevant post get the top of the list etc.

--

Gaffr



doberman

Posted: Wed, Mar 6, 2019, 15:25

Great blog. Really informative. It looks so good. But I suppose we will have to wait and see about the weather.

When you went in 2013 and it was snowy, Gaffr, was there an alternative from Breche to Capitellu to Petra Piana that avoids the snow? Can you hike down to Lac du Melo and then back up? Or should I buy some crampons or do the south route instead. I'm really desperate to do this part of the northern section!

I'm also a bit worried about renting tents at the refuges. If we have to change our plans to do the southern route due to snow we will have no time to book it. Do i need to worry about tent pitches selling out that early in the season? Or can I just book them on arrival?

Thanks again for your help.



Gaffr

Posted: Wed, Mar 6, 2019, 20:28

Hello,
None of us could ever know this early what the conditions in early June will be this year. The PNRC.blogspot hasn't produced any report so far this year.....usually reporting from January onwards.
Travelling North from Breche de Capitellu the next refuge would be Manganu.
As you can see in the image taken in 2007 there are two folks coming up the gully there...Corte painted on the rock....in 2013 you would have required crampons and an axe to descend. Short time to spend on the route...would you have time to reach Melo? Without having attempted any way, other than the usual route, I would suggest that any alternatives, certainly in adverse conditions, would present you with more difficulties.
Don't know too much about tents at the refuges....always carried my own...I have seen folks get the use of a pre pitched tent and sleeping mat from the refuge folks.
The good thing about getting initially up to Vizzavona by train is that you have the opportunity to travel in either direction having sussed out the conditions present on the route.
Recommend Paddy Dillon's guide to the route GR20-Corsica.

--

Gaffr



doberman

Posted: Wed, Mar 6, 2019, 23:04

Thanks Gaffr. Really wish we had booked the holiday in July now. The detour would be leaving the G20 at Bocca a Soglia or Bocca Renoso, down to the lakes and back up to the Breche de Capitellu, coming from Corti. If that is still impossible with snow then I guess we won't be able to do the stage without crampons. I don't think the detour would be too much, distance-wise.

The traverse from Soglia to Capitellu in snow looks potentially quite fatal, hence us wanting to do anything to miss that out if the conditions - as expected - are tricky.



doberman

Posted: Mon, Mar 18, 2019, 22:35

Just an update: we decided to start in Viz and make our way to Bavella over five days:
1) Viz - Capanelle
2) Capanelle - Prati
3) Prati - Usciolu
4) Uiscoli - Ascinau (via Maltaza)
5) Ascinau to Bavella half-day and then over to Sari-Solenzana for a bit of beach as early as possible.

I'll get my fix of summits with Punta della Capella, Monte Renoso and Incudine so not so sad about missing out on the north now!

Final questions that I will bother you with:
--- Is there a straightforward way to get from Viz to Capanelle so we can start there instead? Want to save a day in case of weather. We arrive at 18:00 on the Saturday. Would this be possible? How much would a taxi cost?
--- What will it be to go via bus or hitchhike to Solenzara? I love hitchhiking and had some great experiences in Switzerland but is Corsica as hiker-friendly? It appears so from stuff i've read but just want to double check.

Thank you all again so much



Steve Dan

Posted: Thu, Mar 21, 2019, 6:20

Hi again, doberman.
Campanelle is a very awkward place to get to by road, with no direct access from Vizzavona. The nearest place that you could reliably count on finding a taxi would be Corte. The 50km trip would probably cost you around 100 euros.
The Usiolu- Asinao stage of the GR20 was re-routed a few years ago to go via Maltalza and the bergeries di Croci, designed to split a long stage in half with an overnight at di Croci. The original, more direct route over Alcudina ( the one I last walked in 2008 ) is now marked in yellow as the alpine variant. You'll save yourself a lot of walking by taking this, a long stage in itself.
You shouldn't have any problems hitching a ride from Bavella, it's a popular tourist destination that sees plenty of traffic. There are no buses on that route. For train and other bus timetables go to
www.corsicabus.org
Steve.



Michele
moderator

Posted: Thu, Mar 21, 2019, 9:37

I agree with Steve about the new official route that goes via Matalza etc. I walked it last summer out of curiosity but I was totally unimpressed with this long detour. Moreover even if Croci is an excellent place to stay (nice people, good food, free hot showers etc) there's no shade whatsoever (no trees). So under the beating sun it's pretty brutal. Next time I'll walk the old route.

--Michele



doberman

Posted: Thu, Mar 21, 2019, 13:09

Ok good, was quite concerned about the distance of that. I do have quite a love for meadows and greenery, however, and I figured it might be quite a nice break from the semi-scrambling that the original route would involve (unless I am mistaken and it is quite easy?), particularly given that my girlfriend is a bit scared of sheer drops. I'll have a look at videos online and see what it looks like.

Thanks for the responses guys.



doberman

Posted: Thu, Mar 21, 2019, 13:11

I had read that someone had taken a chainsaw to a bridge on the original route, but that was several years ago. I had also ready that the original path was quite overgrown now. I presume that isnt the case anymore if it is market as an alpine variant. Is that the case?



Michele
moderator

Posted: Thu, Mar 21, 2019, 14:03

doberman,

Yes, the original path has been restored and there is no scrambling involved. The bridge that was chainsawn some years ago has been restored (however crossing the stream is also very easy, bridge or no bridge).
The new path is a long winding route in the greenery and it's absolutely easy. The feeling however is as if you're off your typical GR20 path in some way. It's pretty clear this has been done more to please the local bergeries who want to get a share of the "GR20 business". Or they would have rebuilt the Pedinelli hut which was in a perfect spot along the original way.

--Michele



doberman

Posted: Wed, Apr 3, 2019, 18:51

Thanks Michele. Very excited now!