Ospizio Sottile (2480m), trail 11
from Ondrò Verdebiò to Colle Valdobbia/Ospizio Sottile
Trail 11 starts from the hamlet of Ondrò Verdebiò/Valdobbia and arrives at Colle Valdobbia (2480m),where the Ospizio Sottile hut is located. It is 4557m long and the total positive elevation gain is 1081m.
The approximate time for the climb is 3h12. The trail is rated T difficulty.
The Valdobbia Hill is a pass that connects the Lys Valley with the Sesia Valley, and is located along a very ancient route that was traveled all year round: being almost perfectly aligned with the Col du Joux and to the Ranzola Hill, was the ideal link for Valsesian emigrants who wanted to arrive in the Greater Aosta Valley and then move on to France.
A chapel and a stable existed at the hill, (built in 1787, in the name of Gian Giuseppe Liscotz of Gressoney, by Captain Giovanni Giuseppe Gianoli of Riva) which soon proved to be inadequate shelters for the large passage of people and animals. A tragedy that happened in 1820 prompted Valsesian canon Nicolao Sottile to finance the construction of the present mighty building, which was inaugurated in 1823. The first few years it was kept open for only three months (November, December and March), run initially by Sottile himself). From 1871 King Charles Albert allowed it to be open year-round, with two janitors taking turns covering the entire season.
With progress, and the creation of communication routes at less extreme altitudes, migrant transit became less and less important, and the bombs of World War II partly destroyed it: the ruined hospice was abandoned for several decades. It was completely renovated in 2000, and is currently open only during the summer season: since 2020 it has been run by the friendly Simone Polenghi, you can definitely eat well there and also stay overnight (more guidance on the dedicated site) so as to enjoy the spectacle-if the weather is clement-of spectacular sunsets.
The chapel attached to the building is dedicated to Our Lady of the Snow, and every year in August a mass is celebrated there (which, on August 4, 1890, was also attended by Queen Margaret of Savoy).
It is the highest hospice in Europe, at a higher altitude than the much more famous Great St. Bernard Hospice.
Trail 11 up to it from Gressoney is quite long but perfectly marked: once past the valley step, the slope softens and you climb the wide valley from cliff to cliff, with the view of the Hospice disappearing at one point and reappearing when you have practically reached it. It is possible to find snowfields along the final stretch even in early summer, but they are traversable or circumventable without risk.