The Ferrata del Gorbeillon in Valtournenche is a demanding, physical but not excessively long via ferrata. It fits well, given the short approach and return, to spend half a day. It should not be underestimated for a couple of athletic passes and for constant exposure.
The starting point is the hamlet of Crepin in the municipality of Paquier along the road that connects Chatillon to Cervinia, in the province of Aosta. Along the regional road, you come to Paquier, pass the hairpin bends that cross the town until you notice on the left a downhill road with Crepin indications. Cross the Marmore stream and immediately after the bridge you will notice a brown sign indicating Cignana and a large open space in which to park the car.
Directions for Google Maps available here.
Follow path 6 to the left towards the artificial lake of Cignana. Go up steep hairpin bends along the wood, then along the hillside and on a downhill stretch until you pass a stream on a wooden bridge. We pass next to the sport climbing area. Just before reaching the cliffs you will notice a boulder with signs 14 and 15 and a sign indicating the ferrata. Go up the stony ground and then follow the path that climbs steeply leading to the start of the Ferrata del Gorbeillon just before entering the wood near a bend to the right (20 'from the parking lot).
The first section of the via ferrata is a prerequisite for making hikers aware of the difficulty level of the via ferrata in its continuation. The first section goes up through the larch trees in a traverse to the left and then going up into the woods and finally with a short stretch of descent that leads us to a crossroads. On the left the ferrata ends, on the right one continues and comes close to a delicate overhanging and challenging passage. Follow the cable until you reach another crossroads where we will take a slight descent to the left and ignore the cable that goes up (back from the via ferrata).
The initial section of the via ferrata starts on a simple horizontal ledge to the left in descent using some brackets and a singular red handle. This leads to a first overhanging pass that climbs up a small roof and then continues on a diagonal exposed traverse with some brackets for the feet. The rock is very jagged and offers grips for hands and feet if you have the patience to look for them. Crossing this section, a beautiful vertical slab is attached with metal brackets to support going up first to the left and then to the right on a rock that continues to offer good natural holds where there are no brackets. Climb along the rocks that are now supported by grass and some sporadic trees. We now cross a traverse to the left, first horizontal then diagonal with some supporting brackets. Continue up the hill until you reach a panoramic terrace where it is a good idea to take a breath as major difficulties begin now.
Start a wall in overhang first in traverse to left then in vertical. Although not long it is a first athletic trait. We continue the climb now on a wall leaning up to bypass a conchetta between trees and rocks going to the opposite side of the mountain. Go down a ledge in view of the Tibetan bridge until you reach an overhanging wall to go up first vertically then diagonally. We must hold ourselves up with arms to pass the carabiner, which we should do quickly without unnecessary delay that would only make us tire. We go around an edge and reach the start of the suspension bridge. Cross the bridge suspended on 3 ropes (30 meters) quite swinging. Cross the bridge and climb up a vertical wall aided at the beginning and then climbing up. The wall ends and the last steps are taken towards the end of the Ferrata del Gorbeillon (1h 45' from the start - approx. 2h total).
For the descent there are two options:
An almost unique and curious feature of this ferrata are some handles specially made for hands, in fact wire rope rings surrounded by a red sheath that in some places replace the usual metal brackets.
The ferrata is demanding and, given the altitude, it is also exposed. The overhanging sections increase the technical and athletic level of the via ferrata. The bridge is adrenaline-pumping and quite swinging in its almost 30 meters long.
The Ferrata del Gorbeillon is an athletic, challenging but short via ferrata. This would go well with another itinerary as long as it is short and not with long approaches. A great candidate is the Ferrata Covarey (1 hour drive south) or the Ferrata Casimiroor (1h 30 'by car going back over Aosta or the Ferrata Josè Angster (1h 30' in the direction of Grassoney).
Approach: 0:15 h
Ferrata: 1:45 h
Ferrata height difference: 200 m
Route difference: 300 m
Max altitude: 1800 m
Length: 2.9 Km
Mountain Group: Pennine Alps