from Staffal, Val di Gressoney
The Castore, with its 4221 m elevation, is one of the most popular peaks among the alpinists who want to enjoy a breathtaking environment, without facing too great difficulties.
The prerequisites needed to make this trip are essential to enjoy the best of this route which, although easy, requires a good athletic training, stable weather, adequate equipment, but above all a very good knowledge about glaciers, progression, recovery from crevasse.
The tour, as decribed here, takes place in 2 days.
From the town of Gressoney La Trinité you continue towards the ski resorts of Staffal 1830 m where you park (for a fee), and you decide whether to take the cable car, or take the path that leads to the Colle di Bettaforca 2727 m.
When you reach the Bettaforca, you continue along path No. 9, whith indications for the Refuge Quintino Sella 3585 m.
You'd better walk along the trail at a moderate rate, as it is necessary that the body begins its adaptation to high altitude.
Along the way you can see to your left the Val d'Ayas Glacier with its treacherous crevasses.
The trail continues with a rather smooth slope without significant steeper sections; after a couple of hours you get to a rocky ridge, equipped with cables, which continues in the north up to a hundred meters from the hut.
The ridge is technically easy and allows to quickly gain altitude, leading to the immediate vicinity of the Refuge.
The altitude begins to be significant, and it is imperative to hydrate very frequently, thus avoiding excessive loss of fluids. This facilitates the adaptation of the body to the elevation.
Once arrived at the Refuge Quintino Sella, you can take your room and go down to the dining room to enjoy an excellent bowl of soup.
The alarm clock is set to 4:30 am, so after a quiet night, we look out of the window; the weather is perfect, very promising, we have breakfast, we prepare our backpacks, we dress well and in the entrance hall of the shelter begin to tie to each other with the rope.
We put on our crampons and with a slow but steady climb, on the Glacier Felik, we first pass under the imposing peak of Punta Perazzi 3906 m, then follow the trail that continues along the impressive ridge, near the Colle del Felik 4061 m.
From there you can see very clearly in the East the track that from the Rifugio Quintino Sella leads to the Western Lyskamm, while we start on the ridge our climb to the top.
We stop a little to take pictures, drink some hot tea, and then restart soon towards the summit. We cross the exposed ridge, without great technical difficulties. You surely need not to fear the heights, and proceed with a firm step.
First we reach two secondary summits, at an altitude of 4180 and 4183 m, then after a last little drop, still on the ridge, we climb up to the Castore 4221 m, reaching it at 8.07 am, 2 hours and 30 min since our departure from the refuge.
From the summit you can admire several impressive peaks: to the west the Polluce, the Roccia Nera, the Eastern and Western Breithorn, the Matterhorn, Mont Blanc (farther away); to the east the Western and Eastern Lyskamm.
We spend a few minutes taking photos and drinking some hot tea on top and then we start back towards the Refuge Quintino Sella, that can be reached in about an hour and a half, by the same route of ascent.
Even on a sunny day you should not "waste" your time on the summit, as the heating of the glacier may make the descent difficult and insidious, especially in the steep section that leads to the Colle del Felik, which can be annoying in case conditions are not good.
Along the same route.
■ ac, 2012-07-25