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Glacial environments of the Monte Rosa chain

An imposing show of spectacular high-altitude mountains, of elevated landscape and environmental worth, a vast land with rich geological treasures: these are the “Glacial Environments of the Monte Rosa chain”. The site includes the southern slope of Monte Rosa and the valley heads of Ayas and of Gressoney; it extends until the high Valtournenche and towards the North, borders with the Dent Blanche-Matterhorn-Monterosa chain. From its majestic glacial surfaces, to ample Alpine pastures, to coniferous forests at lower altitude: here, every environment breathes live nature. The area has been the subject of botanical studies since the 1800s, due to its existing endemic species and glacial relics; here Phanerogames reach their maximum heights within the Alps, exceeding 4000 meters, such as the Poa laxa and the Ranunculus glacialis. An ideal refuge also for many valuable ornithological species, such as the White Grouse, the Greek Partridge, the Mountain Rooster, and the Golden Eagle. Furthermore, the site registers the Alpine Chaffinch’s record for high-altitude nesting. For Stein-bocks, it consists of an important migratory line of communication between the different populations of the valleys of Ayas and Gressoney with those of Alagna and Macugnaga, and from here with the Swiss ones. It is therefore easy to meet them in spring while they graze down in the valley.


  • Hiking

    The trails are many and they are very popular during the summer.
    All itineraries are described in the TRAILS section.

  • Mountain biking

    There are not many trails for mountain bike lovers. Among these is the road which starts at Saint Jacques and heads towards the pasture of Verraz Superiore, and the one which follows the course of the Ru Courthoud canal, within the municipality of Ayas, until you reach the water-intake construction close to the homonymous torrent. Another itinerary consists in the climb towards the Superior Pass of the White Summits from Cervinia, with a successive descent (circular tour) to Valtournenche through the Inferior Pass: the high peaks which can be seen while pedaling make the journey worthwhile, while the ski installations which have crept up on the land are less interesting.

  • Horseback riding

    A trail ideal for horses is the road which begins at Saint Jacques and leads to the Plain of Verraz Superiore.

  • Snowshoe trekking

    Two trails are marked towards the Ferraro Refuge, crossing the plateau of Verraz Inferiore and which allow the visitor to appreciate the naturalistic characteristics of the site. Important: please check the snow and weather forecasts before your departure.

Discover the site

In order to enjoy the magnificent blossoming, the best period to visit the site is undoubtedly summer, particularly in July and August. The mild climate makes for enjoyable excursions, even challenging ones which reach the summits, or along the imposing and spectacular glacial moraines of the famous mountainous Monte Rosa Massif. High-altitude meadows are also worth discovering in late spring and especially during summer months, before the arrival of herds: a classical example is found in the plain of Verraz Inferiore, with the yellow blossoming of the early Crow-Foot, which serve as introduction to the morainic scenarios and the grandeur of Monte Rosa.
The intermediate seasons of spring and autumn can offer many interesting points of discovery during a hike in the Monte Rosa area. Autumn in Val d’Ayas, for example, presents the warm colours of Larches which splendidly frame the glacial environments, making excursions within the Cime Bianche (White Summits) Valley or towards the Verraz plain particularly pleasant from a landscape point of view. In spring, when the snow melts, lovers of wild fauna will find this an ideal period for the observation of Chamois or Stein-bocks which are visible at low altitude as they graze down in the valley.
The vastness of the area and the variety of what it has to offer attract visitors who love the mountain, ranging from school groups, to families, to the most demanding hikers. The trail network is so varied in terms of levels of difficulty that it can satisfy any demand. Nonetheless, we recommend visitors on foot, and especially on mountain bikes, to strictly stay within the marked trails.

Behavioural conduct rules

We remind you that you can contribute to the preservation of these sites by following these simple rules:

visit the site on foot, with skis or snowshoes; avoid using motorized vehicles, boating equipment, hang-gliders, para-gliders or similar; mountain bikes and horseback riding are permitted only in specific authorized areas (external to the site): please respect hikers;

please stay within the marked trails, as trampling can ruin the fragile grass and undergrowth areas; in winter, please follow the recommended trails so as not to disturb animals which are fighting against hunger and cold;

please observe wild animals from a distance, do not capture them, do not disturb them nor feed them, and do not photograph occupied nests;

keep your dog on a leash and on the marked trails;

do not pick minerals or flowers;

do not make fires;

please bring your garbage back to the villages, where you will find many recyclable waste-collection points;

camping is permitted only for nightly bivouacs at an altitude of over 2500 meters; take care not to wash your dishware in springs or stagnant ponds of water; campers and trailers must be parked outside of the park, in specific authorized areas.

How to get there


By car

By train

The closest train station is located at Verrès.

By bus

A Bus Service is available from Verrès to Saint Jacques (approximately 9 daily trips). In summer, a shuttle service is available with circular trips which connect the different villages of Ayas, including Saint Jacques.


By car

At the exit of Pont-Saint-Martin from the A5 highway, turn right in the direction of Torino. At the first round-about, turn left and follow indications for the Valley of Gressoney. You will then enter the center of Pont-Saint-Martin and after about 500 meters, take the road which heads towards the right, and follow along the regional road of the Valley of Gressoney. In sequence, you will pass the municipalities of Lillianes, Fontainemore, Issime, Gaby and Gressoney-Saint-Jean. Once you have reached the village of Gressoney-La-Trinité, continue straight on until you reach the hamlet of Staffal or the area from which the cableway to Gabiet departs.

By train

The closest train station is located at Pont-Saint-Martin.

By bus

A Bus Service is available on the Pont-Saint-Martin line to Gressoney-La-Trinité (approximately 10 daily trips).


By car

Take the A5 Torino-Aosta highway and exit at Châtillon - Saint-Vincent. Continue for 21 km along the regional road in direction of Cervinia. The site’s entrance can be reached on foot from the skiing area of Cime Bianche (White Summits), climbing towards the Cime Bianche’s (White Summits’) southern Pass, or from the area of Breuil-Cervinia towards the northern Pass of Cime Bianche (White Summits). During seasonal opening, the ski-lift installations can be used to get closer to or enter the site.

By bus

You can use the Châtillon-Breuil Cervinia busline from Savda, or connections with the cities of Torino, Milano, Alessandria, Vercelli, Genova.

Accessibility codification of sites

VIVA has chosen to supply everyone – youngsters, adults, the elderly and the disabled – with all the sites’ information so as to allow the visitor to choose a destination in an autonomous way.
An “Accessibility Codification”has thus been defined.

Glacial environments of the Monte Rosa chain

Information to reach the site 2
Accessibility from main roads 3
Parking for the disabled 3
Accessible restrooms 1
Information panels 0
Slopes (max 8%) 0
Trail width (min 90cm) 1
Road surface 0
Resting areas approx every 10 m 0
Safety and protection of trails 0
Periodic maintenance 2

0 corresponds to ABSENCE of the indicated parameter;
3 corresponds to the PRESENCE of the indicated parameter, in optimal condition;
1 – 2 are INTERMEDIATE VALUES: in general, they indicate the presence of the parameter which must however be improved (1 = sufficient, 2 = close to optimal)


More paths :

VIVA suggests:

Long path

Tour Mont Rose

  • Elevation gain : 1.478 m
  • Travel time: più giorni
  • Signposting: 6-7-7A-7B-8A-8B-9-10-15-20-TMR

What to see:


Average path

Rifugio Sella

  • Elevation gain : 930 m
  • Travel time: 3h
  • Signposting: 9

What to see:


Average path

Laghi di Resy

  • Elevation gain : 874 m (954 se si va a Palon de Resy)
  • Travel time: 3h
  • Signposting: 8C-8D-9-AV1-TMR

What to see:


Average path

Lago blu

  • Elevation gain : 490 m
  • Travel time: 2h 30m
  • Signposting: 6-7-8-8E-TMR

What to see:


Easy trails: routes that present no major technical difficulties or too challenging slopes. They can be covered in full or in small sections, allowing in both cases to come into contact with unspoilt nature, discovering its pace and balance …

Medium difficult trails: routes that can be covered in a day, varying considerably in terms of height differences and technical difficulty; the benefit is in being able to reach wildlife destinations of great impact.

Long trails: excursions lasting several days which provide for stopover places and catering along the route.

cartina Glacial environments of the Monte Rosa chain


Municipality: Valtournenche, Ayas, Gressoney-La-Trinité

Surface: 8.645,6 ha

Altitude: 2.000 ÷ 4.531 m s.l.m.

Responsible forest station:
Antey-Saint-André, Brusson, Gaby


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