GR20 second half of October

Fleur

Posted: Fri, Aug 30, 2019, 8:53

Hi everyone,

I'm considering doing the Northern section of the GR20 between 11th and 24th of October. I found some helpful topics on this forum (like this one http://corsica.forhikers.com/forum/p/25551 and
this one http://corsica.forhikers.com/forum/p/11796 ) but I wanted to check a few things & gather some more information.

I understand the huts will not be staffed, but will be open. I checked with PNR and they confirmed this. Is it safe to assume I don't need to bring a tent? Should I bring a bivy?

It's hard of course to make any predictions about the weather and in particular the snow. I guess in the early season there will be ice, what about in (late) October? I'll bring crampons (right?), but will I need an ice axe?

PNR also told me there's a water source near the huts, and gas + firewood. Can anyone confirm this? I'll bring my own gas anyway but it's important to know how much to bring (and carry).

I was thinking of doing just to do the Northern section, ending in Vizzavona. I would have 12 full days and one half day (return flight from Ajaccio at 16.30). Reasonable?

Any info much appreciated, many thanks!
Best,
Fleur



GRRR 20

Posted: Fri, Aug 30, 2019, 14:45

I've been there in the middle of October when the weather was good, though it was frosty at night, and had a great time around Monte Incudine. I've also been there in the middle of November when snow and ice meant that I could only follow a very few low-level alternatives. I could get from Calenzana to Piobbu (long before if was burnt), but the refuge was surrounded by ice and I had to go down into the valley to reach Carrozzu. I couldn't get any further than that. I could walk from Tattone to the Bergeries de Tolla, but snow and ice prevented me reaching the refuges at Onda and Petra Piana. I went to Zicavu and got onto the Plateau du Coscione, but it was covered in deep snow. I tried to reach Usciolu from Cozzano, but the snow near the ridge was too soft and deep.

So... you could be lucky with the weather in October but you won't know until you get there. If it starts snowing while you are on the trail, you have to be equipped to deal with it. New snow might mean you get avalanches!

I had two PNRC refuges all to myself and I have stayed in five of the refuges with other trekkers when they were unstaffed. You usually have to go outside for water as they don't leave the pipes connected in the buildings, in case they freeze and burst. You can use the gas stove, but if the gas runs out you have to hope there is a spare bottle and connect it yourself. You have to take ALL your own food. I have been to Vizzavona in October when everything was closed, except for the expensive hotel on the main road. The train still runs, so you can use it to visit Corte to buy food.



Fleur

Posted: Fri, Aug 30, 2019, 15:19

Thanks! That's informative. I'm hoping it won't be like your mid-November trek, but indeed I have to be prepared. So you'd say not just crampons but also ice axe? (I mean, will there be any ice? Worst case is a lot of fresh snow, right?) I don't have avalanche equipment, so I would need to get at least a beeper.

Can I buy on gas in Calenzana or would I need to get this at Calvi? I was hoping not to go into the center but travel from the airport to Calenzana more or less directly.

As for the train, you mean from Vizzavona to Corte? Because Vizzavona is my endpoint, I would need to get to Ajaccio after arriving in Vizzavona, unless I can find a place to sleep there.



GRRR 20

Posted: Fri, Aug 30, 2019, 15:41

No-one can say when it will start snowing in Corsica, but when it does start you have to remember that it falls on very steep rock and then it slides downhill. It can do that gently a bit at a time, or it might all go at once as an avalanche. But - it might not snow at all when you are there. That time I went in November, there was already snow and ice on the mountains, then there was a sudden very heavy fall of snow on top of that. Everyone I met was worried about me going into the mountains. Maybe you could check the weather forecast the night before you set off and try and figure out what's going to happen.

If you finish at Vizzavona, the train goes both ways - to Corte and Bastia - or through the tunnel to Ajaccio. Get the winter timetable when it comes out and find out when the last train leaves. Last time I was in Vizzavona in October I couldn't get food, drink or a place to stay in the village, but even when the campsite is closed you can find a place to pitch a tent. If you don't take a tent then you need to be on that train.



Fleur

Posted: Fri, Aug 30, 2019, 15:45

Thanks again.
I think I'll check beforehand what the snow conditions are, and adjust my plans in case it has already snowed or it looks really bad, and then do day trips instead.

Would you say I'd need both crampons and ice axe though?

And a train from Vizzavona to Ajaccio it is, then!



GRRR 20

Posted: Fri, Aug 30, 2019, 15:51

If there was snow and ice on the mountains in Corsica, I'd have my ice axe and crampons, but if I had a good weather forecast I wouldn't take them. I've been on those mountains in winter and there are too many places where just one slip means you die.



Fleur

Posted: Fri, Aug 30, 2019, 16:13

Yes I can imagine. It's just that an ice axe is only of use if there's an ice field and one can stop oneself with it, but I guess there could even be ice fields mid October then.

Do you know if the Refuge d'Ortu di u Piobbu is still closed by the way since it burned down in may? So it's best to go to Carozzu directly on day 1?



Fleur

Posted: Tue, Sep 3, 2019, 10:12

Does anyone know whether it's possible to buy gas in Calenzana in October or is everything closed?
I'm arriving on Friday evening at the airport around 19:00 and wanted to go to Calenzana directly in order to hike the next day, rather than go to Calvi. But I'm worried I might not be able to get gas anywhere. Does anyone know?



Gaffr

Posted: Tue, Sep 3, 2019, 11:02

Hello, The Spar shop uphill from the camping/Gite in Calenzana Usually has gas for sale....so long as you don't eave too early in the morning.
What us your arrival time to reach Calvi? The supermarket has gas.

--

Gaffr



Fleur

Posted: Tue, Sep 3, 2019, 11:40

Thanks Gaffr. Good to know the spar sells it. I see that it opens at 08.30, so I would just have to depart right after and hope that gives me enough time.
I'm not sure I understand the second question? My arrival at the airport is around 1900 but I don't plan on going to Calvi, if I can buy gas in Calanzana that is.



Gaffr

Posted: Tue, Sep 3, 2019, 12:17

Hello.... Never arrived to Calenzana via the airport... Have arrived by train or by ferry.
So had the opportunity to buy things in Calinzana.
So is there a back door way reach Calinzana from the Airport?
And on other occasions bought from the Spar shop.

--

Gaffr



Gaffr

Posted: Tue, Sep 3, 2019, 12:23

Apologies.... Just looked at map..... a taxi ride from the airport would avoid the need to go through Calvi.

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Gaffr



Fleur

Posted: Tue, Sep 3, 2019, 13:32

Yes taxi is the plan! So I don't need to sleep in Calvi and travel to Calenzana the next day :)



SQFP

Posted: Fri, Sep 13, 2019, 21:22

Snow is very unlikely in October (in late Oct. 2015 and 2018 there was less than a cm on the highest summits of the Cinto-Rotondo range, and it lasted only a few hours thanks to the sun). On occasions, wet weather and sub-zero temperatures at night can result in some morning frost and slippery rocks, though.

November is a different story :)

--

Geologist in Corsica