Testa dell'Ubac (2991 m)
Maritime Alps, Piedmont - Italy
valle Stura, provincia di Cuneo
Starting point: Prati del Vallone
Height to climb: 1241 m
4h from Rifugio Talarico to the summit. Allow at least 2h 45min for the descent.
First climbed: agosto 2008
A few words
Testa dell'Ubac is located in the Maritime Alps, on the border between Italy and France. This page describes the route to the summit from Pontebernardo / Prati del Vallone, in the Stura Valley, about 55 km W of Cuneo, Piedmont (Italy).
Getting to the starting point
From the GTA
The starting point is easily accessible from the GTA. From Pontebernardo (Posto Tappa GTA is at Pensione delle Barricate, 0171/96616), you can reach Rifugio Talarico (1h 20min from Pontebernardo, and an elevation gain of 438m), where this route begins.
Iit's possible to overnight at the Rifugio (unmanned, keys at the same Pensione delle Barricate).
Drive from Cuneo to Borgo San Dalmazzo, then take the road for the Valle Stura di Demonte. After Pontebernardo (1312m), some 55km from Cuneo, take a small paved road on the left (signs for "Rifugio Talarico" and "Prati del Vallone". After 5 Km of this narrow paved road you reach the grassy basin of Prati del Vallone. Park here. In the nearby stands Rifugio Talarico (unmanned, see above) and other buildings (former military buildings, now used for children's summer holidays).
By public transport
Pontebernardo is served by a bus service run by Ati (www.atibus.it, Click on "Orari e Linee"), which does the runs between Cuneo and Argentera (the last village of the Valle Stura) via Vinadio.
From Rifugio Talarico and Prati del Vallone, follow the dirt road past the buildings (fountain on the right) up through the valley Vallone Superiore di Pontebernardo (signposts).
Continue on the mildly sloped track up to a fork (35min. from Rifugio Talarico): signposts point left for Rifugio and Passo della Lausa, and right for the Colle di Stau (GTA). Take then the smaller path on the left, that starts ascending the tree-bare valley in the direction of some large cliffs, apparently blocking the route straight ahead.
Ignore a turn-off L for the Becco Alto del Piz (red paint on a rock) and follow the hair-pin bends on the right leading just below a long building (Rifugio della Lausa, 2404 m, 2h).
Past a sign pointing to a water source, a very short detour R from the main path leads you to the Rifugio (unmanned). The main path switchbacks in the middle of the bowl and gains an upper valley of mixed boulders, rocks and loose stones from which the large and steep couloir for the Passo della Lausa is clearly visible (picture n.2).
Past a memorial stone (2514 m), ignore another fork R for the Vens Pass and the Vens Hut (Passo di Vens e Rifugio di Vens) and follow the cairns to reach the base of the couloir, that you start ascending on the left. There is a faint path to follow (cairns), that becomes very clear especially in the upper part of the couloir. The going is tough and needs extra care, however, as it gets steeper and, in places, slippery and tricky because of loose stones and boulders (picture n.3).
Be aware that as the couloir is on the N side of the Passo della Lausa and very deep-set, snow is very likely to be found even late in season, and crampons and icebreaker may be needed even in, say, July.
With a tiring ascent you eventually gain the col (Passo della Lausa, 2880m, 3h 15min). The emergency hut (bivacco) G.Vigna stands on the left, just metres below the col (picture n.4).
From the Passo della Lausa you enjoy a nice view of the French side (Tinée Valley) and, on the very left, of the Testa dell'Ubac.
To approach the mountain (picture n.5) you descend a few metres on the French side before traversing down to the left (cairns). The dim path stays well below the ridge (picture n.6) of the Cime della Lausa, and if you follow the cairns you won't have any problem to reach the Bassa dell'Ubac (2905m). No scrambling nor exposure is involved.
Once at the Bassa dell'Ubac, just below the summit, don't follow the wide couloir on the R but, again, stick to the cairns that lead you on the left (SW) (picture n.7), through rocky steep terrain up to the two crosses of the summit (2991 m)(45min from Passo della Lausa, 4h from Rifugio Talarico).
Enjoy now, at last, the wide-reaching views that the Testa dell'Ubac offers on a good day. To the SE the view is onto the chaotic Vallone Superiore del Piz, with the nearby towering M.Tenibres and the Rocca Rossa, backed by the Becco Alto d'Ischiator and Mount Corborant, among the most famous peaks in the Maritime Alps (picture n.8).
Farther behind, but truly far from here, you can see Mt.Malinvern, the impressive bulk of the Serra dell'Argentera and Mt.Matto. To the W-NW, behind the Vens peaks, Mt Enciastraia is visible and quite near from here, as is Mt.Oronaye; further NW stands the Chambeyron group. Beyond the peaks towering over the Stura valley (Bersaio, Nebius, Rocca La Meja), to the N, the unmistakable familiar triangle of the Monviso dominates the horizon.
This is a tiring and demanding route, but the views you enjoy from the summit will reward all your efforts. If you are doing the GTA, you won't regret this one-day detour from your trek!
The route entails no scrambling nor exposed passages, but late-lying snow in the coulour leading to the Passo della Lausa may make things definitely more complicated.
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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