A winter stay at the Hospice du Grand-Saint-Bernard with snowshoe hikes
2 to 3 days of immersion in a wild and mystical region, a place of passage and a concentrate of human history
Discover the Pays du St. Bernard and experience the spiritual and millennial welcome of its famous Hospice. We will cross the Great St. Bernard Pass, following in the footsteps of pilgrims, refugees and hikers. We will stay and discover this high mountain region with accessible snowshoe hikes offering breathtaking views.
The Great St Bernard Pass, located at 2473m on the Italian-Swiss border, is a place charged with history. This highest point of the Via Francigena is rich in the passage of mankind. The Romans had already built a temple dedicated to Jupiter here.
In 1045, St. Bernard of Aosta founded the Hospice du Grand-Saint-Bernard to help travellers exposed to the dangers of the mountain. Since then, a religious community has been welcoming people to this refuge of humanity.
We will benefit from this thousand year old tradition and share our meals with visitors and our hosts who will welcome us with respect for the history of the place. We will climb to the pass on snowshoes from Bourg-Saint-Bernard and settle in.
From there we will go hiking to discover this high mountain region. Breathtaking views await us towards Italy, the Val Ferret and the eastern chain of the Mont-Blanc which will be offered to us in all its beauty with the Grandes Jorasses and the Mont Dolent in the foreground.
During your stay, your guide will introduce you to particular aspects of the geology of the area. From a paleogeographical point of view, we will be on the Iberian continent and will have crossed the remains of the Valaisan Ocean on our way from Orsières.
And the local fauna will have no more secrets for you at the end of this timeless journey!
Meeting at 9.30am at Orsières train station from where we will take a minibus to our starting point on snowshoes. We will climb 540m through a magnificent and very wild valley, 5km, 3hrs. We will take a break to drop off our gear and have a bite to eat before an introduction to the avalanche beacon and search exercises.
Afterwards and if the weather and time permits, we can go to the Italian side or climb the shoulder of Mont Mort (alt 2653, D+-160, 1h30). The panorama on the Vélan and the Italian summits is simply breathtaking. Or we can delve into the history of the Hospice (museum, church, monuments, treasure). Your guide will be happy to give you information with historical anecdotes. Dinner at the Hospice in the common room.
Day 2 (if staying 3 days):
After sharing a hearty breakfast with the chanoines, we will climb, passing through Italy, towards the Fenêtre d'en Haut to have our picnic and enjoy the view of the Mont Blanc range and Italy. D+-400m, 6km. Dinner at the Hospice in the common room.
Day 3 (or Day 2 if staying 2 days):
If not done on day 1, optional morning climb to Mont Mort and then return to Bourg Saint-Bernard via a beautiful descent. We will also have the option to make a diversion to the Col Ouest du Barasson (D+- 400m, 4km, 2h30), from where the view on the Italian side is spectacular. The idea for this day is to do at least one of these two options with a return to Orsières in the late afternoon.
This programme is indicative and subject to change depending on the group, weather and snow conditions. If it is not possible to climb to the pass because of the danger of avalanches, an alternative route will be proposed (Cabane Brunet or similar).
What to bring
Backpack min 30 litres, charged phone. Travel light!
Personal and hygiene items and medicines, with a change of dry and warm clothes for the stay at the Hospice
Cotton or silk travel sheet
Warm and breathable hiking clothes to handle the physical effort in winter weather; at least :
1st technical layer, e.g. wool (avoid cotton), also for legs
2nd warm layer such as a fleece jacket, plus a warm down jacket
Gore-tex trousers and hiking jacket
Sunglasses / mask, hat, cap, one pair of gloves + one spare, sun cream
Complete equipment for snowshoeing, with mountain boots with Vibram soles
Avalanche transceiver (3 antennas + marking function), probe, shovel
Water bottle / Thermos flask
Min 1 litre, max 2 litres of water, possibly a hot drink
Small snacks or energy bars
Camera and binoculars, recommnded
Public outings of this trek will be confirmed as soon as the minimum number of participants required is reached.
You are responsible for your own insurances (travel, accident, cancellation, etc.).
Payment is requested before the start of the hike. 100% of the fees are due in case of cancellation 10 days before the start of the hike, and 50% for 30 days.
Bank : UBS Switzerland SA
IBAN CH63 0027 9279 D910 6215 0
In favour of Boudewijn van Doorn, CH-1180 Rolle
Guiding service by a UIMLA Mountain leader with a Swiss federal diploma of higher edication
Transfer to and from the start/finish of the hike by minivan from Orsières train station
Half-board accommodation (dormitory) at the Hospice du Grand-Saint-Bernard (supplement for single room)
Picnics with 3dl drink
Snowshoes and poles
Safety equipment (avalanche transceiver, shovel, probe) depending on available stock, contact us
Explanations on the region, nature and landscape, geology, fauna and flora, enriched with cultural and historical aspects
Drinks taken outside of meals or not included in the half board
Public or private transport to and from the meeting point
Rental of avalanche transceiver, shovel, probe not in the guide's stock
Everything not mentioned in the "Included services" section