GR20


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June 1st 2013
Published: December 21st 2013
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The GR20 is renowned as the toughest long distance trek in Europe, covering the interior of Corsica for 200kms. I did the guided 2-week trek of the Northern and Southern sections with Utracks. The northern section is deemed the more technical and interesting, with the iron ladders and chains at the Circle of Solitude as a major highlight. However the Southern section is not to be underestimated with stunning alpine forest scenery, steeper ascents and descents, and longer days than the Northern section. By the end of the trek, I was physically spent. I am no climber, but I had a hell of a lot of fun with the rock scrambling. You also need to have complete confidence in yourself and your boots, as sometimes you are balancing on 45-50 degree rock ledges or traversing thin ridgelines. Starting in the first 2 weeks of June, there was always a good chance of some snow on the trail, however this year the snow had not yet melted which was unprecedented. As a result, we had to skip the Circle of Solitude because it was deemed too hazardous with lots of snow and ice, even if we had ice axes and crampons – we had been told that a couple of hikers had perished, and many others had had to be evacuated from that section. Weather-wise we had the 4 seasons in one day ranging from sun, rain, wind, snow, hail. Typical French hospitality in the gites and mountain refuges with good filling meals, aperitifs and Corsican red wine flowing at the end of the day – yeah, it was tough.


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Start of the GR20Start of the GR20
Start of the GR20

Day 1 from Calenzana to Bonifatu - 700m ascent and 450m descent - 11kms - approx 4 hrs.
day 2 from Bonifatu to High Ascoday 2 from Bonifatu to High Asco
day 2 from Bonifatu to High Asco

long hard day with 1480m ascent & 598m descent - 9.5 kms - approx 8-8.5 hrs.
famous footbridge at Spasimatafamous footbridge at Spasimata
famous footbridge at Spasimata

30m long and suspended above a waterfall
boot first aidboot first aid
boot first aid

My friend Hong's boots died on day 2. Cable ties and medical tape sort of did the trick until she could buy a new pair.
snow bridgesnow bridge
snow bridge

On the descent to High Asco, we had to skirt around this enormous snow bridge which blocked the trail
day hikeday hike
day hike

As we had to miss most of day 3 (Circle of Solitude) due to snow and ice, we did a short day hike before being transferred to Calasima by van, and then walked to Vallone refuge instead.
soupe corsesoupe corse
soupe corse

delicious local veggie soup which we got every night as a starter


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