16-23 January : touring in Val Devero

This week we found that special something, a little corner of paradise in the Italian Alps, not far from Lake Majeur…

Imagine a little plateau, at 1700 meters. To get there, is a ten kilometre narrow road which climbs along cliffs and impressive drops. Bends follow tunnels and finally, we come back to the light : you are at Alpe Devero !
End of the road, no cars anymore… We are walking on snow through
the village, surrounded by beautiful small houses ; bricklayers and carpenters have been using granite and larch wood for generations as we see in all the architecture. The ambiance is peaceful and it’s good to be immersed in the Italian language.
Only three lifts in this tiny ski resort, open just for each weekend ! Despite this, Alpe Devero is a good place for a gentle start to our journey : some good turns in excellent powder, a short skin up to the large dome which has pride of place above the last poma and the downhill leads us straight to the only restaurant open in Alpe Devero ! pasta for one, gnocchi for the others, classic Italian cuisine!
After lunch, we put on skins again, to continue to another hamlet named Crampiolo. Located at less than one hour from Alpe Devero, Crampiolo is only accessible by walking or skinning.
By the end of this afternoon, the light gives a beautiful warm glow to the snow. The amount of snow is impressive and all the roofs are covered with a thick layer of more than 1m50 ! Even the chimneys have a funny white Phrygian cap ! Each rock is covered with a delicate cocoon-like curve inspiring our meditation…
Crampiolo… Discovering this little jewel, snuggled into a clearing in the middle of a larch forest, surrounded by impressive rocky mountains inspires me with an intense happiness ! Crampiolo is exactly the mountain hamlet I always dreamed of as a child… Fiorela, Luca and Agnese are the names of our hosts. They have run their chambres d’hôtes for 7 years, usually just during the summer. But this winter, they decided to stay open all winter long, and we are their first clients ! Thoughtful, friendly, smiling, we anticipate a cosy and warm week.
What a week we had ! .. A gastronomic delight! This family makes its own cheese here and at Alpe Sangiatto, a pasture located a bit higher up. Most of the products we ate were organic (meat, cheese, apples…) homemade (butter, charcuterie) or provided by other local producers (honey, jam). Every evening we enjoyed a delicious meal prepared by Fiorela from this high quality produce.
What’s more… Ah yes ! I forgot ; skiing !!! Well, skiing is not outdone by the fantastic food. At Crampiolo, both sides of the valley are dedicated to touring ; this week the quality of the snow wasn’t perfect but we did 6 day tours without repetition, seeing no one. Each day brought a new atmosphere, see-sawing between fantastic tree skiing on easy or steep slopes, or alpine itineraries, slipping in between challenging couloirs and granite needles. Possibilities are endless, from easy skiing to technical ascents ; from a simple daytrip to a journey of several days.
In short, Fiorela is warned; we have already signed up to come back !
Thanks a lot to Pam, Gary, Charlotte, Wynne, Louella, Simon and Sally who trusted us enough to join this new ski tour ; photos are visible on our web site or by clicking on the following link

08 February 2010

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