Tor des Geants

Endurance Trail 330 km - 24000m D+11-18 September 2016

The Vittorio Sella hut

“The goal is nature at Vittorio Sella”

Altitude: 2588 m
Address: Loc. Lauson – Valnontey - 11012 COGNE
Opening period: 1 April – 25 September
Contact: 0165.74310 – 349.1899168

Hut managers: Jean and Maurizio Mapelli

The Sella hut has been managed by the Mapelli family for over thirty years. Today the brothers Jean and Maurizio have ‘inherited’ this place of welcoming nature. With love and passion for this area and for the many sports which allow you to experience them to the maximum, the brothers will welcome you up there.

“The hut used to be one of Victor Emmanuel’s hunting lodges. Years later it was bought by a man from Biella, a friend of the mountaineer Vittorio Sella, to whom he dedicated the hut. The surprising thing about the story of this hut is Victor Emmanuel II’s transformation from an avid hunter to a stout protector of nature. In fact it was he himself who ordered the natural and game reserve of Gran Paradiso, which has now become the Natural Park. A true animal paradise, as a result of the explosively blooming flora: from the end of May to the beginning of July. It is eo find yourself face to face with a chamois or an Ibex deer, but what is even easier, is to fall in love with this place”.

The hut

In the heart of the Gran Paradiso National Park, the hut reflects the love of the mountains which the man to whom it is dedicated Vittorio Sella, always had. Jim Curran, in his book on K2, writes of him: “Sella is still remembered as perhaps the greatest mountain photographer of all time. His name is synonymous with technical perfection and a refined aesthetic”. He inherited his passion for the mountains from his uncle Quintino Sella, who was a founder of the CAI (Italian Alpine Mountaineering Club). And it is no coincidence that the hut is used by the Club’s Biella division. He was among the first to perform a winter ascent of the Matterhorn and Monte Rosa, and amongst his many achievements there is his winter crossing of Mont Blanc. His photographs are art and history at the same time. Praised by the great Ansel Adams for the “sense of wonder” which they evoke.

One curiosity: Sella captured the mountains using photographic plates, which are heavy and difficult to transport, but which were his unfailing accompaniment even in the most remote of destinations. In order to transport them, he developed special equipment, saddle bags and modified rucksacks. For love of the mountain tops, he did all this and more.


The Lauson Basin, in which the hut is situated, thanks to its position is covered and surrounded by snow from November until May and offers to skiers some of the most evocative ascents and crossings of all the Gran Paradiso range.

In summer, there is an abundance of hiking trails to choose among.

  • Colle della Rossa (3195 m)in two and a half hours: following the Alta Via Route no. 2, from behind the hut, you reach a fair height, at the foot of the forbidding Punta Rossa. From the expansive planes looked over by the Costa di Lauson and then on to finish at the jagged backbone of the pass.
  • Towards the Casolari dell’Herbetet, 2435 m: this is one of the best panoramic sites in the whole of the Gran Paradiso National Park. The view over Valnontey is fabulous, with a succession of incomparable peaks and glaciers. The ascent to the Casolari is also an opportunity to see the park’s game wildlife.


  • 5/6 hours, on the Grivola, 3969 m: one of the most beautiful mountains in the Alps, it’s pyramid shape makes it recognisable from every slope, so much that Giosuè Carducci defined it as “the arduous but beautiful Grivola”. The trail loops around towards the Colle della Rossa, 2844 m, and then towards the Nera, 3491 m. From the pass the Grivola comes into sight. Cross the glacier of Trajo and then go up the ridge towards the peak.
  • Two days, on the Gran Paradiso, 4061 m: the highest peak on Italian territory and the most coveted 4000 m mountain of the Alps. The baptism at a 4000 m altitude,  begins for many mountaineers from Valsavarenche, whilst the itinerary which goes from Valnontey is suited for the most experienced mountaineers, going up to the spectacular Ghiacciaio della Tribolazione (glacier of tribulation). One name, one meaning. Then on to the glacier of Gran Paradiso and up to the summit along the usual trail, which goes up from the Vittorio Emanuele II and Federico Chabod huts. 
  • Gran Serz, 3552 m: the most easily reachable peak from the Vittorio Sella hut, it has become a classic destination. On the ridge which divides the Cogne Valley from Valsavarenche, it is a spectacular panoramic point. The rocks which lead to the summit offer an easy and fun climb.


“We love tradition, and so we welcome you with typical Aosta Valley dishes, fondue and polenta, onion soup, vegetables and barley, not to mention many vegetarian dishes: savoury pastries and salads”.

Dates and ideas

  • Party for the huts, 3rd Sunday of June: to mark this date, which takes place every year, we organise a wind concert. An afternoon of music at the hut.