Gran Paradiso, Normal Route


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2 days

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3 climbers per guide

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Alps Advice

The Gran Paradiso is a big, isolated peak directly south of the Mont Blanc massif. Along with the Piz Bernina and the Barre des Ecrins, it is one of the few 4000 meter summits which lie outside of the main Alpine areas of Mont Blanc, the Valais and the Berner Oberland. It is located, logically enough, in the Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso, a large unspoiled area encompassing a high group of peaks just south of Aosta.

The ascent of the Gran Paradiso, by any route, requires a fair degree of effort. No mechanical lifts are available to aid the climber. There are two "normal routes", or rather two approaches to the same normal route. The more popular and the quickest is via the Vittorio Emanuele hut. The other is via the Chabod hut. Even though the hike to the Chabod hut is a bit longer (starting at 1850 meters as opposed to 1960 meters for the Emanuele hut) we recommend using the Chabod. This is a fairly new hut, quieter, with a wonderful approach hike through extensive tamarack forests. There are many ibex that enjoy life in the area surrounding the hut, and we almost always see them.

The route from the Chabod hut climbs easily up the glaciers under the northwest side of the peak, then joins the route coming in from the Emanuele hut at about 3500 meters. More easy glacier climbing follows, then a bergschrund crossing and a short steeper snow slope to the final rocks. The last section is quite fun, airy climbing on good rock to the distinct summit blocks.

The normal route of the Gran Paradiso is a great introduction to the 4000 meter peaks. The route is moderately long, and gives a good sense of accomplishment. Unlike many of the other "easy" 4000ers, where mechanical lifts "climb" most of the mountain for you, on the Gran Paradiso you have to earn your success.

Gran Paradiso from the Chabod hut
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The regular route on the Gran Paradiso is a snow and glacier climb with a tiny bit of rock at the end. Most of the route is fairly low angled, but there is a bit of steeper climbing just above the bergschrund at the head of the glacier and on the summit rocks. The altitude and the large elevation gain (900 meters or 3000 feet getting to the Chabod hut, and 1300 meters or 4300 feet on summit day, with a 2200 meter, 7300 foot descent) present a demanding challenge.


Climbers need to be in excellent condition to manage the high altitudes and large elevation gains. Before tackling the Gran Paradiso we recommend spending a bit of time climbing other peaks in the Alps in order to become a bit more acclimated tot he elevation.

The summit of the Gran Paradiso
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Kathy Cosley & Mark Houston
UIAGM Internationally Licensed Mountain Guides

AMGA Certified • SNGM members
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