Rocca La Marchisa (3072 m)
Cottian Alps, Piedmont - Italy
valle Varaita, provincia di Cuneo
Starting point: S.Anna di Bellino
Height to climb: 1220 m
2h 30min to reach Colle di Vers, 45min from the Colle to the summit.
First climbed: settembre 2006
A few words
Rocca La Marchisa is one of the several scenic and easily accessible 3000m high peaks of the Cottian Alps, located just S of the Monviso, on the watershed between Valle Maira and Valle Varaita di Bellino.
The Rocca can be ascended from both valley-floors. GTA walkers, however, will prefer the Varaita route, as the starting point (Rifugio Melezè, at S.Anna di Bellino) lies on the GTA, and this is the route you find described on this page.
Just to know: the two routes have in common the last leg from Colle di Vers (2862m) to the summit, and it takes 2.30h to reach it from either starting point (from Valle Maira, the starting point is Madonna delle Grazie).
Getting to the starting point
From the GTA
The starting point is on the GTA.
From Cuneo to Costigliole Saluzzo, then take the road for Val Varaita. At Casteldelfino, take left at the junction (signs for S.Anna di Bellino). Past the village, reach the Rifugio Melezè (1806 m), where you leave the car. You may also keep driving a hundred meters past the Rifugio to the very end of the paved road, where you'll see signposts for Colle di Bellino.
By public transport
Bus service between Cuneo and Saluzzo, and from Saluzzo to Casteldelfino-Pontechianale is run by Ati (www.atibus.it, Click on "Orari e Linee"). From Casteldelfino, connection to S.Anna di Bellino is by a local bus (Autolinee Parola 0171 940711 or 333 3427290).
As the starting point is at about 10km from Casteldelfino, past Rifugio Melezè, walking along the road may be tiring and time-consuming. The village of S.Anna di Bellino, however, is renowned for its sundials, and it may be worth having a look at the place, if you have to walk.
From the car park, almost at the foot of the awe-inspiring Rocca Senghi (picture 1), a wooden signpost points L for the Colle di Vers, following a well maintained dirt road that embarks on a well-graded ascent up the Traversagn Valley.
About 0.45 / 1.00 on, the scenic grazing basin of Traversagn comes into sight (picture 2), dotted with "gias" and other seasonal shelters for livestock and shepherds, and overlooked by the impressive north face of Rocca La Marchisa, looming due S with its two clearly visible peaks (picture 3).
You leave the dirt road, and cross the pasture to its very end, due S, past a large riverbed. Signs are scarce here, but as you can see the Rocca you also know which direction to follow. Bear in mind that the Colle di Vers is the second large saddle to the right of the mountain, and that the path climbs up the steep grassy shoulder sloping down, in front of you, right into the Traversagn plateau.
After climbing the grassy shoulder, you ascend along the eastern flanks of the Marchisa, on a stony and easy zig-zagging path (picture 4) that takes you to the Colle di Vers (2862m)(picture 5). The pass marks the watershed between the Varaita and Maira valleys (2.30h).
From Colle di Vers, drop S just a few meters then climbs the rocks on your left (E) as soon as you can (picture 6). The eastern and southern flanks of Rocca La Marchisa are now clearly visible, with the trail to follow to the summit. True, from this side the Rocca isn't so towering as seen from N, but it is quite steep and impressive anyway.
Follow the dim path (cairns) up the eastern crest. The going gets progressively steeper and stiffer, on crumbly rocks and loose stones on unstable terrain, but with no exposure and no real difficulty.
It can be slippery and tricky, but when we climbed the Rocca La Marchisa in September 2006 we found snow (from well below the Colle di Vers), and we had very different problems. It took us 1.45h from the Colle di Vers to the top of the Rocca, while it generally takes you no more than 45 min. (pictures 7 and 8).
The summit enjoys brilliant wide-reaching views onto the surrounding peaks (Pelvo d'Elvo, Chersogno) and over the peaks of Varaita and Maira mountain ranges with, looming N, the ever-visible unmistakable triangle of the Monviso.
This is a 3000m-high peak which is truly worth climbing. No scrambling is involved, and the ascent is hard and steep only from Colle di Vers to the summit.
Both routes to the Colle di Vers are very interesting, both offering amazing views and crossing scenic landscape, but the ascent from S.Anna di Bellino (Val Varaita) is the one to prefer for practical reasons. Hikers on the GTA have no detour to make if they start from S.Anna, and those who've got a car will prefer the much larger and faster road of the Val Varaita to the narrow and lengthy road that leads up the Valle Maira
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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