Sentier J.A. Carrel


Jean Antoine Carrel  (1829 - 1890)



Jean-Antoine Carrel “il Bersagliere”, was born in Cretaz Valtournenche in 1829. He grew up making the shepherd and the farmer. Hunter and great walker, he loved his land that help him to obtain important climbing skills and tread mountain safely; he was called “il bersagliere” cause of his participation to the Independence War. During the period when explorers and climbers start to be interested in Matterhorn he was the only man of the valley that believe in the possibility to climb La Gran Becca (the name as Votornen, valley inhabitants, called Monte Cervino). He foresaw in that passion a new job and guess a future for him and his people. Rude, resolute, proud and hardly manageable man, as a mountain guide was peerless for his cleverness, safety and bravery. The friend and rival Edward Whymper considered “the most graceful climber I’ve ever seen”, the only one with whom it can be possible to reach the summit of Gran Becca.


During the celebration of the 150th anniversary from his feat, that brought him to drive the first expedition of “Votornen” at the top of the Matterhorn through the south-west ridge, his countrymen want to dedicate an itinerary at the feet of “his Becca”, la Gran Becca that was for him a reason for living and that is still source of life and inspiration for “Votornen”.


The J.A.Carrel Trail winds for thirty kilometers in Breuil valley in the shadow of the Matterhorn between views and landscapes of rare beauty. A path full of personality able to raise in excursionists those intense emotions that hunters and shepherds first and explorers and mountaineers then, have always lived at the foot of the Gran Becca.

The path starts from the 1850 a.s.l of Perrères going up on the orographic right side of the valley beyond the limit of the forest vegetation; along the ancient paths that connect the "Tramail", the highest mountain pastures, then moving to a wild and romantic surroundings, the moraines at the foot of the Gran Becca, to finally arrive at the Refuge Oriondé at 2808 meters altitude.

From here the view dominates the valley, the Matterhorn is so close to reveal his most intimate forms, its most narrow ravines.

The return journey to Perrères go down on the left orographic side, the anthropized one, pass through the recent historical evidences that made Cervinia famous all over the world then move to the south, among green pastures till Valtournenche, the cradle of the main characters of history of this place.

The descent in a charming larch forest, filter between wild nature and civilization, bring us back at the bottom of the valley where the adventure has begun.