With July fast approaching, and my attempt to traverse the Monte Rosa Chain of mountains only a few weeks away, I found myself back in the Alps for the start of my summer season…this time to stand on the highest peak in Italy, Gran Paradiso. At 4061m, it’s certainly not the tallest mountain I’ll stand on, but the final day altitude gain of 1,300m ranks as one of the steepest.
In classic alpine route style, we approached Gran Paradiso from the Vallee d’Aoste, carrying all the gear we would need. It was a relatively easy approach of a couple of hours, before finding ourselves hitting the glacier, and snow line, at around 2,300m. A restless (always!) night in the Vitor Emmanuel Refuge was had, before setting off at 4am for our summit push. I hit the summit at 8am, just after full sunrise, the final summit ridge proving to be an extremely narrow and vertigo enducing affair, the 14’000ft drop off to my right reminding me to trust my gear and hold my nerve. A quick photo opportunity, followed by a rappel off the east face, and a down climb of only a few hours….Gran Paradiso done.