Mount Maniglia (3177 m)
Cottian Alps, Piedmont - Italy
valle Maira, provincia di Cuneo
Starting point: Campo Base, Chiappera
Height to climb: 1527 m
4 hours from Campo Base to the summit; allow 3 hours to go back to Campo Base, or 3 hours to proceed to S.Anna di Bellino
First climbed: luglio 2007
A few words
Mount Maniglia is located in the Cottian Alps (Piedmont, Italy), not far from the "king of rock", Mt.Monviso. This page describes the route to the summit from Chiappera, at the top of the Maira Valley, about 80 km to the NW of Cuneo, Piedmont (Italy).
Getting to the starting point
From the GTA
The starting point is on the GTA.
From Cuneo to Caraglio, then past Dronero, Acceglio and Saretto to the very end of the Valle Maira, at Chiappera (1614 m, 54 km from Caraglio, 66 km from Cuneo). Leave the car at Campo Base (camping and mountain hut, 1650 m).
By public transport
Bus service between Cuneo and Acceglio, run by Autolinee Nuova Benese (www.benese.it: lines and timetables available only on the Italian page. Click on "Orari Linee").
Campo Base is some 8 Km from Acceglio. To get there you might use the "sherpabus", info here: www.acceglio.com/info.htm.
From Campo Base take (roughly N) the dirt road, keeping on the left side of the valley. Past the impressive Stroppia Waterfalls (barely visible, on your left) follow signposts for Colle di Bellino (GTA, red and white markings).
After some mildly confusing junctions, past Grange Collet (2006 m, car parking and no vehicle whatsoever beyond this point) the road narrows to a mule track and then to a path, on the grassy valley floor of Valle del Maurin. Past Grangia Maurin (2143 m), you still stick to the GTA red and white signs along the small watercourse (rio Autaret).
At the 2430 m mark, a wooden signpost (picture 1) points left for Bassa di Terrarossa ("Redsoil Lowlands"). You leave the GTA path and take this smaller path on the left, beginning a steady ascent up on grassy terrain and loose rocks up to an (almost dry) small lake. Beyond this point the route climbs the Ciabrera Valley heading N first, then NE past a shoulder, on loose rocks, grass and small scree.
The path is all marked with faint red paint signs (the blaze is a red square), but signs are extremely hard to spot, in part because the route takes unexpected turns and directions, in part because waymarking is scarce. Just keep an eye for the next sign all the time, and you'll find it sooner or later. This is, however, the most discouraging and distressing part of the ascent, though neither steep nor exposed nor difficult in any way (Note that I almost got lost on the way back too).
As you reach the shoulder you get a glimpse of the Bassa di Terrarossa and, on the left, of the (still far) crest of Monte Maniglia.
From the shoulder onwards the path bends NE and orientation becomes much easier. Keep climbing (picture 2), and gain the Bassa di Terrarossa by passing a rocky spur on the left, on an easy trail through boulders and loose rocks (picture 3).
From the Bassa di Terrarossa (2838 m, 3h from Campo Base) - where the soil is indeed reddish - you climb up the steep but easy and ample crest (picture 4) reaching in 1h (4h from Campo Base) the SE summit, and with easy clambering the slightly higher NW summit too (picture 8).
From up here, if you are lucky to enjoy a bright sunny day as I was in July 2006, the view is simply breathtaking. Monte Maniglia stands isolated and therefore enjoys a sweeping view in all directions. To the S-SW the Chambeyron group and upper Valle Maira (picture 5); to the N-NW Monte Mongioia (3300 m), Mt.Salza, and upper Val Varaita (picture 6); to the E the Marchisa group, with its three famous and easily accessible 3000 m peaks (Rocca La Marchisa, Chersogno and Pelvo d'Elva) (picture 7). In the same direction, much closer, Mt Bellino, and just below Colle Bellino (2804 m), the highest point in all the GTA trek as it might be. Unforgettable.
Back on the GTA
Once back at the Bassa di Terrarossa, a path stretches out N with a plunge downhill for the Grange dell'Autaret (2540 m) and from there it is an easy if lengthy descent to S.Anna di Bellino, where you can overnight at Rifugio Melezè (1812 m). I have never personally done the part of the route from the Bassa di Terrarossa to the Grange dell'Autaret, but I was told by people I met on the summit of Mt.Maniglia that the path is easy, and the CAI Guidebook "Monte Viso - Alpi Cozie Meridionali" rates this stretch "E" too, like the rest of the route.
Alternatively, to reach S.Anna di Bellino you may wish to retrace your steps all the way back to the fork at the 2430 m mark and from there climb up to Colle di Bellino (2803 m) and then all the way down to S.Anna di Bellino. I understand that if you are doing the GTA you may want to reach its highest point (Colle di Bellino) at any cost, but to make this long detour you need to be super-energetic and this extra effort makes truly little sense to me.
One way or the other, by reaching Rifugio Melezè at S.Anna di Bellino you complete your GTA stage and, after a restful night, you are ready for the next peak: Rocca la Marchisa or Monte Mongioia.
My solo-ascent of Monte Maniglia has been a memorable experience, one of the best recollections I have of these last years of mountain-walking. Whenever I think of "stunning views" enjoyed from the summit of a mountain, the images you find on this page are among the first to come to my mind.
Monte Maniglia is a highly recommended destination. You can reach a considerable height (3177 m) without scrambling or walking on exposed stretches or difficult terrain.
1) it is a 1500 m climb, so you have to be fit and well trained (consider 4h of relentless ascent).
2) between the fork at the 2430 m mark and the Bassa di Terrarossa orientation is difficult in good weather, let alone in poor visibility! Don't embark on this route if the weather is not good, it would be risky, little fun and with no views at all.
For GTA walkers it is no doubt a heavy stage, but implies no delay in the official schedule.
La descrizione di questo itinerario risale ormai a parecchi anni fa e non verrà più aggiornata. Nel frattempo, però, i luoghi, le vie di accesso ed i sentieri potrebbero essere cambiati.
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