Corsica Haute Route

Ski-Areas > Corsica > Corsica Haute Route (L'Alta Strada)

The Haute Route lets you link Quenza with the Asco valley, or vice-versa, in 11 days. The route coincides at certain points with the GR20, giving you the possibility of using some refuges (Capanelle, L'Onda, Pietra-Piana, Manganu, Ciutulone, Prati...). The route mixes some extreme skiing at an average altitude of 2000 meters. The snow is often boilerplate and you need to watch out for cliffs. All this adds to the fun and will affect your choice of equipment. It is a route for skiers familiar with alpine techniques who are in good physical condition. Route finding can be difficult in some places especially if the weather is bad. You will need 1 :25,000 series IGN maps of the route and the Topo Guide La haute Route à ski. The vertical skied is significant. The best time is between February and the end of March but this is just a guide as the conditions change with each year.

Overnight stops are in refuges or shepherd's huts which are equipped with wood stoves. You will therefore need to carry a sleeping bag. The refuges in the Parc Naturel Régional have kitchens with gas stoves and utensils.

History of the Alta Strada

The history of a winter traverse of the Corsican Haute Route stretches back over 60 years. In 1935 an article appeared in "la Montagne" a French magazine describing an winter climb of the Monte Cintu by a certain G. Manquat.

Just after the war, J. Pantalacci made a ski tour of Monte d'Oru and the Punta Migliarella. It was he who first suggested the idea of traversing all the Corsican mountains on skis: some of these tours give us the belief that it should be possible for a mountaineer, well trained and equipped, to cross on skis the region of Cintu and the plateau d'Ese on a trek of some days. Today many hundreds of people cross the Haute Route on skis each winter.


The route described is from South to North: Apart from the first day's warm-up you can figure on between 5 to 9 hours per day except for stages 3 and 4 which are somewhat longer. Jean-Pierre, my friend from the Massif-Central followed the Haute Route with two friends in February 2003. You have to carry quite a lot of gear he also recounts one incident: we had climbed to a pass and were just about to descend, there was a small corniche followed by a wide, steep slope which looked suspect as it was on the leeward side and the snow was very deep, I carefully skied down and called to my friend. In a great leap he landed on the slope, which fractured and broke away. My heart stopped, fortunately he threw himself up the slope and somehow avoided being taken. I asked what he thought he was playing at. He told me the slope was so inviting that he simply threw caution to the winds and wanted to make some large turns. He was a good deal more careful for the rest of the trip.

Day 1: Bucchinera / Quenza to Adduccia

This is an easy day with 750 meters climbing and 710 meters descent and should take around 5 hours. From the ski de fond hut at Bucchinera traverse the Cuscionu plateau which leads to the climb of l'Incudine, the highest peak in southern Corsica at 2,134 meters. After crossing the Furcinchesi stream you reach the shepherds huts of Adduccia

Day 2: Adduccia to Usciolu

Although there is only a mere 350 meters of climbing and 150 meters of descent there is are some very difficult cliffs to negotiate just before the refuge at Usciolu which you will have to do on foot. From Adduccia , traverse the northern part of the Cuscionu plateau to reach the Bocca di L'agnonu, you follow a watershed with cliffs. Finally a series of tops descends to the refuge about 6 hours later.

Day 3: Usciolu to Prati

This is a long and difficult day of 9 hours and 950 meters climbing and 880 meters of descent. From the refuge at Usciolu you follow the watershed to pass below the summit of Monte Furmicula. Turning east the summits of Punta Campitellu and Cappella climb to the refuge at Prati.

Day 4: Prati to Capanelle

Another hard and long day with 1080 meters climbing and 1310 meters descent. From the refuge cross the Foce di Prati plateau to descend the western side to limit of the beech wood at the foot of cliffs at 1650 meters. Descend to the col de Verde (there is the possibility of shelter here). Afterwards climb to Monte Renosu then ski down to Capanelle.

Day 5: Capanelle to Vizzavona

980 meters of climbing and 1240 meters of descent over 6 hours makes this a fairly hard days ski touring. From the refuge at Capanelle follow the ski lift to the flats that lead to a small pass. Climb a steep couloir to reach the sources of the Scarpaceghja. Traverse the bottom of a large bowl to reach a large shoulder, you climb a very steep couloir to the Punta di l'Oriente and then ski to Vizzavona through a beech forest.

Day 6: Vizzavona to Onda

Another fairly stiff day on skis, 950 meters climbing and 680 meters of descent over 6 hours. From the Vizzavona pass follow the right bank of a stream in the Agnone valley, cross the stream on a small bridge. Continue to the Muratellu peak which is the starting point of the climb of Monte d'Oru. Descend an the easy Onda valley then some small but steep drops to reach the ridge that leads to the refuge at Onda.

Day 7: Onda - Petra Piana

A hard 7 hour day with 860 meters of climbing rewarded with a mere 360 meters of descent. From Onda cross a rock field and descend to Bocca Oreccia. Climb a large shoulder to 1600 meters altitude. After a large flat area follow the easy tops of the Pinzi Corbini to reach the refuge at Petra Piana.

Day 8: Petra Piana to Manganu

A very difficult day due to the presence of cliffs. There is 570 meters of climbing and 810 meters of descent over 6 hours. From the refuge climb a large slope then cross the shoulder that dominates the refuge. Then traversing upwards across a large, steep slope you reach a very exposed section to the pass of the Haute Route. Cross the pass and after a section of cliffs descend a large valley to the refuge at Manganu.

Stages 5 to 8 can also be linked in the following sequence

5: Capanelle-Vizzavona 6: Vizzavona-Pietra-Piana 7: Pietra-Piana- Onda 8: Onda-Manganu

Day 9: Manganu to Verghju

A slightly easier day with 650 meters of climbing and 850 meters of descent over 6 hours. From Maganu follow the Vaccaghja huts on the contour line to reach the Campotile plateau and the Ninu lake. Climb to a large pass then follow the summits to a beech grove. Descend to the Col St Pierre then down to the Col de Vergio ski station.

Day 10: Verghju to Tighjettu

This is a fairly hard day which takes in Corsica's highest refuge situation at 2000 meters at Ciottulu. There is 1040 meters of climbing and 755 meters of descent over some 7 hours. From the refuge at Vergio cross a forest to the North to pass some cliffs at their base to reach the shepherd's huts of Tulla the follow the large slopes to the refuge at Ciottulu. Climb slightly to descend to Bocca Foggiale. Cross the pass to the left to traverse under a cornice then follow the left bank of the stream down to the huts at Ballone. Finally climb to the refuge at Tighjettu

Day11: Tighjettu to Haut Asco

The final day is around 7 hours with 960 meters climbing and 1230 meters descent down to the old ski station of Haut-Asco. Climb the steep Stagnu valley to reach a small, flat section. Cross theCruchetta pass but take care as there is frequently a cornice. Keep towards the cliffs while skiing towards a waterfall. Go around some large cliffs then cross some open terrain to reach a canyon which narrows to a forest which leads to Asco.

<< | Corsica | Col de Vergio >>