From Turin to Queyras, it can be seen from almost everywhere. Its characteristic silhouette and its imposing stature attract the eye and with good reason: at 3,841 metres (12,602 ft), Mount Viso is the highest peak in Italy’s Cottian Alps, a majestic rock giant just a stone's throw from the border between Italy and France.
Although the first ascent of Viso was in 1861, the first ever tour of the mountain was made in 1839 by the Scotsman James David Forbes, a philosophy professor with a passion for mountaineering and glaciology. The tour of Mount Viso is often considered to be one of the earliest, if not the first, itinerary for roaming around a summit.
Today, there are several ways to organise your exploration of Viso. Some do it in two days, others in six; it all depends on the itinerary chosen and the paths taken. There is no official itinerary, which allows everyone to design their own route. Here, I present a four-day itinerary that will allow you to fully enjoy this incredible territory straddling the Italian Piedmont and the Queyras Regional Natural Park. Some people add a Viso route to their Queyras expedition to walk for ten days. If you’re interested in that, please have a look at my Collection on the Queyras route: komoot.com/collection/1271376.
On the French side, a tour of Mont Viso usually starts from the village of Echalp or from the Roche Écroulée. Here, I suggest departing from l'Echalp as it’s more accessible if you choose to come by public transport. To get there, you can take the train to Montdauphin-Guillestre station and then take the ZOU lines S25 or S28 to Ristolas. In summer, shuttle buses will take you from Ristolas to l'Echalp. For more information on the routes and timetables from Montdauphin-Guillestre, visit zou.maregionsud.fr/en. For summer shuttles, go to queyras-montagne.com/navettes-transports.html (in French).
Each stage ends at a refuge. If you normally prefer to pitch a tent, be aware that camping is not allowed on the French side of the route, as you’re hiking in the Ristolas-Mont Viso nature reserve. An exception is made near the Viso refuge though. On the Italian side, you’ll find a few unguarded huts and are allowed to camp at a reasonable distance from the trails. I indicate in the descriptions of each Tour when it’s possible to pitch a tent near the huts. As a general rule, don't hesitate to ask at the huts directly for the best spots in the area.
As far as equipment is concerned, both hiking or trail shoes are suitable for this route, depending on what you want to do. If your ankles are fickle, choose the high-top models.
I recommend that you hike Mont Viso between the beginning of July and the end of September to avoid the snow at the highest points of the route. If you hike between 15 July and 15 August, make sure you book all of your accommodation in advance. In September, there are fewer people on the trails and you can enjoy the beautiful autumn colours.
Ready to get going? Create and customize your own version of this adventure using the full Tour below as a template.
Last updated: August 21, 2023
Your Mont Viso tour begins in the small village of Échalp. On this first stage, you will gain altitude and obtain sumptuous panoramas on the Italian side.
The warm-up is short-lived: you almost immediately begin your ascent towards the first pass of the adventure, Col Lacroix. The climb is quite gradual…
This second stage takes you from the Granero refuge to the foot of Monviso. You sail between Italy and France in an incredible setting.
You start your day at the foot of Lac Long, then begin your ascent of Col Sellière. The climb is steep but quite short, and is done largely on a superb ridge path, which…
Get recommendations on the best single tracks, peaks, & plenty of other exciting outdoor places.
This third stage takes you a little more into wild terrain, and allows you to admire Monviso from all sides.
You leave the Quintino Sella refuge and start your day on the shores of Lake Grande di Viso. This beginning of the stage is very pleasant: you walk on a flat path dominated by four peaks over 3…
Last day of walking on this tour of Mont Viso, you go down to Échalp while still enjoying a few magnificent paths and panoramas.
As soon as you leave the Vallante refuge, you begin the ascent of your last pass of the hike, the Col de Valante. The ascent is demanding, but you enjoy great views of Monviso…
Hiking Collection by komoot
Hiking Collection by komoot
Bike Touring Collection by alvento – italian cycling magazine
Mountain Biking Collection by Mountain Bike Holidays