5 - 6
FATMAP difficulty grade
If you were only ever going to ski one 4000m peak it is hard to beat the Gran Paradiso; it's a superb peak in beautiful surroundings.
The skiing is never really difficult but altitude is a factor and it can feel like a long day.
The glacier on the ascent is serious and needs to be well filled in to be suitable for springtime ski touring.
Carry full glacial kit, know how to use it and carefully consider the weather as you will require reasonable visibility. Chabod hut breakfast usually starts at 4am and may have staggered timings.
Leave the hut in downhill mode, then after a short ski to the flat area down from the hut, transition into skins and keep your couteau (ski crampons) handy or put them on.
Skin up towards a moraine ridge and gain the crest of it from the side.
Higher up leave the ridge, and start a long rising traverse.
A short traverse downwards takes you onto the glacier proper.
Here is a place to carefully consider roping up together.
Skin up the glacier, bypassing a section of crevasses by turning in close to steep ground coming off the Gran Paradiso.
Continue up the glacier, including a steeper section, before the angle eases and you will see a large serac.
Give this a wide berth, get out of the firing line and work your way up to the junction with the Vittorio Emanuelle route.
Keep going to flatter terrain before a steepening which can be glacial ice if it has been very windy.
If conditions are poor consider leaving your skis here and going to the summit on foot.
Skin up the steepening before an easier angled traverse takes you to the base of the summit rocks.
Leave your skis, put on your crampons, and take your ice axe.
As of 2019 there is a one way clockwise system to and from the summit.
New metal pigtails offer protection on the climb to the summit madonna which is not difficult but exposed mixed ground.
Enjoy the superb view from the summit and the obligatory photo with the madonna. The descent on the ridge crest is protected by bolts and it is useful to have a couple of quickdraws.
Transition into downhill mode when back at your skis and ski down to where the Chabod and Vittorio Emanuelle routes split.
Ski down the Glacier du Gran Paradiso, which has a couple of steepenings, and make use of the terrain to ski the sheltered snow and fresh tracks.
A descending traverse takes you off the glacier and into a broad valley which is followed until turning towards the hut over a shallow morraine ridge.
At the hut, enjoy a well earned drink, some food and the amazing views - it's a great place to spend the afternoon and dry your kit ahead of further adventures.