Gran Paradiso, Northwest Face


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2 days

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1 climber per guide

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Alps Advice

Gran Paradiso Northwest Face

Years ago a friend and colleague, Alain Comeau encouraged me to go and climb the Gran Paradiso. And, "if you go" he said, "do the Northwest Face". This was great advice.

The Northwest Face of the Gran Paradiso is a large sweep of ice, about 1200 feet of steepness the blankets the northwest side of the peak. The angle is fairly constant at about 50 degrees, with perhaps a few degrees steeping in the lower part.

There are three aspects to this climb that make it so special, and in many ways unique for big ice faces. First, it is generally uncrowded. Even though it gets many ascents, there seem to be far fewer climbers on it than one would find on comparable faces in the more busy part of the Alps. Second, the route is very clean, there is little rock fall or other objective hazard nastiness. And third the face is wide and open. this gives it a sense of exposure unlike routes that follow gully systems or other confined features.

The Northwest Face is climbed from the Chabod hut, a fine and newly built hut on the northwest side of the Gran Paradiso. Day one of the trip is a pleasant hike up to the hut. On our second day we walk up to the glacier, climb its lower slopes to the base of the face to begin the pitched climbing. After crossing the bergschrund, we climb about 10 or 11 pitches of ice to the ridge crest. The last section of the climb follows the ridge to the summit of the Gran Paradiso, first on snow and then on a fun rock crest. Descent is by the normal route back to the Chabod hut and the car in the valley.


This is a great route for ice climbers and technical mountaineers. It is a good introduction to the bigger ice faces of the Alps. The angle is unrelenting but the route is not too long to be enjoyable.


This is a route for skilled and experienced alpinists. Climbers need to be able to move quickly on moderate ice and be efficient with belays.

The top of the Northwest Face
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Kathy Cosley & Mark Houston
UIAGM Internationally Licensed Mountain Guides

AMGA Certified • SNGM members
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