2011 GR20 Corsica

Done in June 2011.

Link to the all photos here (90 images)

The expedition video:

So, after arriving by plane to Nice, spending a night there, and next day on a ferry to Calvi, this is the summary of how our adventure went after that:

DAY 1, STAGE 1

*Calenzana -> Refuge d’Ortu di u Piobbu (high level)

*Walking time 5:45 – 12:15

*Ascent 1550m

*Descent 235m

As always it was very exciting first day of walking. Or should I say scrambling, crawling, climbing… anyway it was everything else than ordinary hiking. So rugged was the terrain. Though later days would reveal even more difficult paths to come. The ascent was very heavy but the amount of people was more suprising. The camp sites at Calenzana and later in Piobbu were quite full. I would imagine Everest base camp having  similar bustle and anxiety around.

(original photo by J.Peppanen)

DAY 2, STAGE 2

*d’Ortu di u Piobbu -> Refuge de Carozzu (high level)

*Walking time 5:30 – 12:15

*Ascent 750m

*Descent 1050m

We left right after the first light and it was a good choice -there was quite a race for the tent spots at Carozzu!! I didn’t really like that but it was perhaps one of the smallest refuges for camping. Jack was feeling feverish again in the evening and that was not good news at all.

DAY 3, STAGE 3

*de Carozzu -> Haut Asco

*Walking time 5:30 – 13:30

*Ascent 860m

*Descent 710m

We wanted to go as slowly as possible, not to raise our heart beat and so to test how Jack would feel in the evening. Not good was the answer and a rest day would look almost certain. Pity that such a dark clouds were hanging over our expedition so early… what if the rest day would do no good? Questions and more questions, especially because we had no clue what was raising the fever. Well better not to worry too much before hand, especially after such a beautiful day as this day was. The shaky suspension bridge and Spasimata slabs, never forget.

(original photo by J.Peppanen)

DAY 4, ASCENT OF MONTE CINTO

*Haut Asco -> Monte Cinto -> Haut Asco

*Walking time 7:20 – 16:20

*Ascent 1450m

*Descent 1450m

The rest day didn’t go as we planned it. Jack was resting and it made miracles to him but for me and my comrade Patagonian Scrambler it became quite tough day. The highest mountain of Corsica was not that piece of cake but I’m glad we did it.

(original photo by J.Peppanen)

DAY 5, STAGE 5 & (6)

*Haut Asco -> Refuge de Ciottulu di I Mori

*Walking time 5:30 – 17:15

*Ascent ~1700m

*Descent ~1100m

The whole team was ready and in good shape again to tackle the most daunting part of  the GR20 – Circue de la Solitude. Previous day had prepared us well with difficult scramblings and dealing with heights but still we sighed for a relief when it was done. Our plan was to keep going and we did so until the half way of the next stage and spent the night at di I Mori.

DAY 6, STAGE (6) & 7

*de Ciottulu di I Mori -> Refuge de Manganu

*Walking time 6:30 – 16:15

*Ascent ~700m

*Descent ~1100m

One and a half stages ahead though our alarm sucked this morning and badly, no idea why. One hour delay and long lunch break at di Verghio made this day long as well.

DAY 7, STAGE 7 & 8

*de Manganu ->Refuge de l’Onda (high level)

*Walking time 5:20 – 17:10

*Ascent ~1370m

*Descent ~1540m

We left early again. It was still dark when taking the first steps but the choice was good since we ended up doubling up the two stages. Petra Piana didn’t look that tempting at all and we decided to take the high route variant to l’Onda. At the end of the day there was terrible descent for my knees but the coming half way point of Vizzavona was drawing near and one could feel it at the refuge l’Onda which was busier than anywhere else so far!

DAY 8, STAGE 9

*de l’Onda -> Vizzavona (low level)

*Walking time 6:30 – 15:00

*Ascent ~670m

*Descent ~1180m

Spirits were high this morning and we could already smell the pizzas and beers of Vizzavona, the true oasis along the GR20. How wrong I was!!! Something weird started crawling in my stomach and in the afternoon going was already quite difficult. I made it to Vizzavona but couldn’t eat anything, no pizzas no beers. After laying down a while I vomited and cried. Was this the end of the full gr20, because bad stomach flu or even diarrhea could take more days to recover than we were able to rest… the night felt with great uncertainty.

(original photo by J.Peppanen)

DAY 9, STAGE 10 & 11

*Vizzavona -> Bocca di Verdi

*Walking time 8:45 – 20:15

*Ascent ~1320m

*Descent ~995m

Fortunately I didn’t threw up anymore and I felt strong enough to move on in the morning. The next stage should be easy enough. I felt still very weak because had eaten pretty much nothing but the body had some reserves left, even enough to tackle the second stage of the day, which was a bit foolish I think. In the evening I was complitely done.

(original photo by J.Peppanen)

DAY 10, STAGE 12

*Bocca di Verdi -> Refuge d’Usciolu

*Walking time 7:45 – 16:40

*Ascent ~1290m

*Descent ~830m

After an exhausting day this stage felt good to hike and it offered some beautiful landscapes to admire. I was still really low on energy but at least I had my appetite back a bit. The end was near already and as I had been feeling quite weak it gave extra boost for the morale. We had to plan a bit the following days because it seemed arriving to Conca on late saturday or sunday would made us stuck there because of the few bus connections.

DAY 11, STAGE 13 & 14 (low level)

*d’Usciolu -> Village de Bavella

*Walking time 6:30 – 18:15

*Ascent ~1390m

*Descent ~1920m

Second to the last day of walking and we were feeling great. In some way it was also good to be close to the finish line. The day was quite long and strenuous in the end because of the double episode but the rainbow really ended to the village of Bavalle. We slept in a dormitory of a cafe, the first non-tent night since Nice, and ate some really nice pizzas! We felt this was a perfect place to celebrate the almost finished gr20.

DAY 12, STAGE 15

*Village de Bavella -> Conca

*Walking time 5:00 – 11:00

*Ascent ~700m

*Descent ~1670m

We had a bus to catch at 13:30 so no time to waste. We left while still dark and ate the breakfast on the route. The last day was pure joy though there were some difficult parts to navigate in the thick bushes. Even the descent was not that bad as the profile might have let you to think.

Conca, that paradise on the other side of the island which became only a bus stop to us, was truly a welcoming sight after almost two weeks spent on the tough Corsican mountains. No it was time to move on to the beach of Bastia…

(original photo by J.Peppanen)

(original photo by J.Peppanen)

GR20 Expedition 2011:

Mr. Jack Wolfskin, mr. Patagonian Scrambler and myself. Thanks guys, and greetings to all the great people met on the trail!

(Video report will follow also)

10 thoughts on “2011 GR20 Corsica

  1. Antti, I liked your report and the slideshow. However I need to point out maybe you guys pushed it too hard, doubling up some stages even when in poor physical conditions (you seem to have had the same gastroenteritis I had last year😦 ). And from that sentence “It was good to be close to the finish line” transpires your will to leave the trail as soon as possible as if you had stopped enjoying it. Am I wrong? Hope so. :))

  2. Michele, I think you’re both right and wrong.

    We did push on that one day perhaps too hard, but otherwise I don’t think so. Have to remember that we three are quite competitive minds so was nice to have some harder days there and test some personal limits:) We enjoyed while moving, not so much sitting on camp sites. In the end it was nice to feel the finish line approaching, for me is part of the joy, like the last sprint:)

    What made me a bit sick that one day, I’m not sure at all. I didn’t think it as same as you suffered from but it could be, it could be…

  3. Hi Antti,

    Very beautiful photos, and you are all very brave too. I met your mum and dad at Malaga airport.
    I am sure you would like to climb Adam’s Peak mountain in Sri Lanka where you could see breathtaking views of the sunrise.
    also Sierra Bermeja mountain range in Estepona.
    Best wishes,
    Marie

  4. Moi, ollaan lähdössä Korsikalle . mietitään onko alkupäässä (Calenzassa) paikkaa mihin voi jättää ylimääräisiä tavaroita? Miten siirtyminen retken jälkeen Contcasta Calviin onnistuu parhaiten? kiitokset vastauksista jo etukäteen.
    Terveisin Petri &Jari

  5. Terve sällit!

    Hmmm kiperiä kysymyksiä. Calenzanassa ei ole juuri mitään muuta kuin se ensimmäisen yön leirintäpaikka/majatalo. Siis todella uinuva kylä. Ehkä sinne yösijaan on samalla mahdollista jättää ylimääräisiä tavaroita säilöön. Calvi on huomattavasti isompi kylä, josta vois löytyä helpomminkin.
    Concasta takaisin Calviin on pitkä matka tai hyvä varata riittävästi aikaa. Bussilla ehkä ensin Bastiaan kuten me tehtiin. Concasta on taksikyyti päätien varrelle, josta sitten pohjoiseen menevään bussiin. Oliskohan se mennyt kahdesti päivässä se bussi. Me otettiin joku aikainen iltapäivä. Lähdettiin viimeiselle etapille riittävän ajoissa, jotta ehdittiin puoleen päivään Concaan. Opaskirjasta ja tuolta Corsicaforhikers-foorumilta kannattaa kalastella vielä lisätietoja. Bastiasta taitaa päästä junallakin sitten Calviin, mutta varmaan kaksi päivää vie tuo siirtyminen kokonaisuudessaan:D

    Erinomaista reissua ja laitahan linkkiä palattuanne valokuviin, jos sellaisia julkaisette:)
    -A

  6. Hello Antti,

    2 friends of me and i are hiking the northern part of the GR20 this month. I just wanted to ask if you know which camera Mr. Peppanen used and how he transported it.
    I am thinking to take my 2 kg dslr with me, but i am hestitating because of the weight and my lack of ideas to transport it comfortable through the mountains.

    thank you!

    Tobias

  7. Hi Tobias,

    My friend had a “normal” dslr, can’t remember the model now but it was with a kit lens. So he carried it in a bag that covers just the camera body+lens. Of course it was bulky and heavy. He tranported it inside the air plane and while walking behind his backpack. So whenever he wanted to take a photo, it was while having a break or someone gave the camera to him:D

    You see the camera + bag here:
    GR20_DAY01_04_Photographying

    At the Northern part you need to use your hands all the time, so that was the only way we figured out how to transport that big camera without being on the way all the time…

    Good photos, but I found my Samsung WB2000 pocket camera quite sufficient and much more handy!:) Of course if you want print size quality, it might be worth it to take your dslr. The gr20 gives lot to photograph:)

    Enjoy the trip, and let me know how it went and if seeing your photos later on!
    -A

  8. Hi,

    Nice trip you did!

    Do you think is a good idea to do the GR20 with only a 35 mm 1.8 on a dslr (so with the crop factor is 50mm equivalent)?

    I’m not sure if I wanna bring two lens and the 18-105 is heavy…

    • Hi Sam,

      It’s up to you and I bet you know better what are you expecting from your photographs. My advice is to go light, as light as possible unless taking photos is as important as hiking itself. I had only a small pocket camera with me and couldn’t have carried any heavier there🙂

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