GR20: June 2011

11 messages
15/02/2012 at 20:28

Hi guys,

Here's a brief outline of our GR20 trip in June 2011 (‘our’ being me and my Dad).  There are loads of threads on here so any questions about practicalities might be better added on to those: especially GR20 Blog Available

You'll see on that thread some of the questions I asked (including travel) before going and I'll be happy to assist where possible, though Paddy is normally on hand and is usually best placed.

We took Paddy's Guidebook, which it should by now go without saying is fantastic.  We had no set plan for each day and adjusted our itinerary as we went to fit in some extras.  We managed to take in Montes Cinto, Ritondu, and d'Oru and the Aguilles de Bevalla.  Unfortunately Monte Renosu had to be avoided because of extremely strong winds.  Incredibly we didn't see a single drop of rain the entire two weeks; I appreciate how lucky we were.  It brewed up a couple of times but never came to anything.

Edited: 15/02/2012 at 20:30
15/02/2012 at 20:30

Footwear: this exercised much of my thinking before going.  Just before going I discovered some quite light mids (Meindl Respond) that fit me perfectly, which were great.  There were loads of people doing it in trainers, including simple running trainers as well as those like my Dad in heavier walking boots.

Tent: Having faffed about with the refuge booking site we decided just to take a tent as it wouldn't add much weight and then not to bother booking.  There was never a problem for us in getting a space, though I think on a couple of nights if you'd have arrived late in the day it could have been trickier given how full they can get.  Also I can obviously only speak how it was for us early in the season (late June).  We took my Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 with a sheet of light plastic flooring (the one from MLD).  It stood up fine and came back completely in tact having made sure we did some careful pitch selection, though the MLD flooring got a little torn.

Food: we ate at the refuges each night, which was fine; we only had a couple of duff dinners.  It is expensive but is filling and is largely decent value if you consider that Corsica is expensive generally and the method by which the food has to get up the mountain.  The best meal of the trip was at Bergeries de Vaccahja (p103 of the book).  We camped there the night and the farmer cooked a wild board leg (that he’d shot himself) in an outside wood oven: it was incredible! He also made his own brocciu (a local cheese), which was the best on the walk and apparently is renowned for being so.  Also fantastic was the brocciu lasagne at the Bergeries de l’Onda.

15/02/2012 at 20:30

Kit: we went fairly light and were glad of it (base weight pre-food/drink with half the tent each was 7.3kg).  It gets cold in the evenings and I was glad of my warm gear.  I’d be happy to talk gear with whoever wants to but won’t bore the others in this report.

Some of the highlights:

  1. Getting to the refuge at midday on the first day and not being able to believe we were there so soon.  We had to check the sign on the refuge to be sure we hadn’t made a mistake!
  2. Watching the sun set into the sea at the end of day 2.
  3. Realising that we were fit enough to do Monte Cinto on day four and not jeopardise finishing.
  4. Ciottulu – beautiful view after a long day including the Cirque.
  5. The Cirque de Solitude was fine.  If you’re confident in your footing then in itself it’s fun.  The worst bit is the sheer amount of people in it, so be prepared to try and nip round people without putting them off or to wait.
  6. Vacchja – the wild boar dinner
  7. Sitting on top of Monte Ritondu early on a Saturday morning, looking down at a frozen lake ringing with the sun glistening.  I also really enjoyed the climb up Monte d’Oru.
  8. l’Onda – lovely place to camp and the food and hospitality were great
  9. Refuge de Prati – the view out to sea is incredible
  10. Bergerie Assinau – this was the only night we didn’t camp.  The Bergerie is down from the refuge and is well worth it.  We were cooked a really good meal, which ended with a guitar being brought out and those who could being asked to play a song or two whilst home made liqueur was handed round.  Sounds a bit lovely dovey but it was a really fun night.
  11. Swimming in a river almost every day and drying out on the rocks.  Some were colder than others… especially the pool at the end of the Cinto day.
  12. Fantastic company all the way along.  I normally enjoy walks where we’re not going to bump into other people but there is little choice on the GR20, if you accept that it becomes one of the most enjoyable aspects.
  13. The views are non-stop spectacular.
  14. The walking is enjoyably tough.  Having said that I think a lot of fit walkers will find the days shorter than perhaps you’d be used to unless you walk beyond the days set out in the book.
15/02/2012 at 20:31

Our Itinerary

  1. Calenzana – d’Ortu (high level)
  2. d’Ortu – Carozzu (high level)
  3. Carozzu – Asco
  4. Ascent of Cinto from Asco
  5. Asco – Ciotullu (this is the day of the Cirque)
  6. Ciotullu – Bergerie Vaccahja
  7. Vaccahja – Petra Piana
  8. Piana – up and down Monte Ritondu – then on to l’Onda (via high level)
  9. l’Onda – Vizzavona (high level)
  10. Vizzavona – Capanelle
  11. Capanelle – de Prati (low level because of the wind)
  12. de Prati – Bergerie Asinau
  13. Asinau – Conca (via the Aguilles)

Distance = 208km (129.25miles)

Total ascent = 15,210m

Total descent = 15,225m

Longest day was 28.5km (day 12)

On the final day we walked 27km, climbed 1,250m and descended 2,535m; fair to say we were pretty knackered at the end of that day.  A swim in the bluest sea the day after was an amazing reward.

Hard to get across what a great time we had.

15/02/2012 at 20:34

Here's the link to that other thread again: GR20 Blog Available

Sorry this had to be posted in parts- the website wasn't playing ball.

Edited: 15/02/2012 at 20:35
15/02/2012 at 20:45

Sounds like you had a great time on the GR20!

Getting from Calenzana to the Refuge d'Ortu di u Piobbo in half a day must have been a serious confidence booster for the rest of the trek.

You did well to include a few extra mountains. I managed your 'Day 8', climbing Monte Ritondu in the morning, then taking the high-level route to the Refuge de l'Onda in the afternoon. It was well worth the effort. I climbed Ritondu with a French Canadian woman, but she took the low-level route to l'Onda, and arrived much later than me.

I'll have to have a read of the blog now.

Edited: 15/02/2012 at 20:47
15/02/2012 at 20:55

Thanks Paddy and thank you for your help before we went. We had such a good time.  We were on top of Ritondu by 8.30am on a glorioulsy sunny morning.  There were only two other people there - a German couple who were very keen climbers and were just doing peaks across Corsica.

The blog is YGarn's that he put up ages ago.

15/02/2012 at 21:01
and you're right about the confidence booster.  My Dad is retired and had been away in the Annapurna region for 6 weeks just before we went to Corsica so he was fighting fit: I was worried I would be hanging on his coat-tails for two weeks! Going straight from a manic few weeks at work is not the best preparation...
15/02/2012 at 21:25
I've just been reminded of one other highlight: an ice cold can of Orangina at the end of each day followed by the gorgeous chestnutty Corsican beers.
15/02/2012 at 22:04
One of the few places that have stood up against the rising tide of Coca Cola... and produced their very own Corsica Cola!
16/02/2012 at 14:10
See Fred's report of his September 2011 trip here
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