Plan: Day 32 - Rif Vaccarone to Rif Stellina - 30 km, 900 metres ascent, 9.5 hours. (Estimates per Via Alpina web site before I realised its shortcomings.)
Actual: Clapier Lakes (an hour on from Vaccarone) to Rif Stellina - 2610 metres:
29 km, 1100 metres ascent, 9.5 hours including 2.2 hours breaks.
Best bit: A fabulous walk and most sociable rifugio.
Up early to paddle across freezing river and ascend a few metres to Colle Clapier and our excursion into France.
It was pleasantly cool walking down the Savine valley. Gloves were even used (I would not say they were 'tested').
The sky was blue and it rose to 30C+ later, so the cool morning was welcome.
Passing over the Col du Petit Mont Cenis, old border stones were testament to the history of this spot, now several km into France.
The Refuge du Petit Mont Cenis was most welcoming, providing excellent coffee and crêpes, and a guardian who showed interest in the Free Loader solar charger.
We soon got views over lovely flower laden meadows to the 'blue lake', Lago del Moncenisio, and sent this message.
Back on the border after another lovely lunch, we stopped for a while to watch a golden eagle.
Our short cut and planned wild camp beyond Alpe Tour was sadly 'missing'. So we were obliged to make the 500 metre climb to Rifugio Stellina. On the way we passed Sonia and Fausto, plodding slowly up to join friends at the rifugio. It is run by volunteers from Novalesa. The boss is Franco (Rif Director), Ezio is this week's guardian, today Sandro reccied our new route for tomorrow, Claudio is fluent in English and an excellent translator, and his wife Piera is an archery enthusiast.
The nine of us have enjoyed an excellent meal, followed by a sing song in local dialect.
This is a wonderful place to be tonight.
Tomorrow's planned route is abandoned due to a landslide - fortunate then that our planned short cut was 'missing' and that we came here to learn of the landslide (we can see it - massive). Even more fortunate that Sandro has today reccied an alternative, and that Franco was here to show us where to go through binoculars.
There are isards (small deer) outside, mountains in view across the valley (over a cloud inversion). Earlier we enjoyed Brocken spectres from outside the rifugio.