What are the most dangerous passages of the GR20?

It’s no legend that the GR20 is considered to be one of the toughest trails in the world, with its many dangerous sections! It’s all relative: as the GR20 is very popular, it gets a lot of media coverage (especially in recent years), so you hear a lot of things about it: in reality, it’s a wild and technical trail, but it’s still doable as long as you’re aware of your level and have a little humility in the face of the Corsican mountains ! In short, let’s talk about the dangerous sections that have given the GR20 its reputation as a difficult trail!

Difficult passage no. 1: the cirque de la solitude

The cirque de la solitude is the most dreaded and mythical passage: except that officially, the cirque de la solitude, known as “E cascettoni“, is no longer on the GR20 route; you now go via the monte Cinto. As a reminder, the cirque de la solitude was (and still is) on stage 4 in the north-south direction, between the Asco station and the Tighettu refuge.

Circus of Solitude, a dangerous section of the GR20

It was reputed to be highly technical because it was a “chasm” into which you had to descend in order to climb back up on the other side: to ensure a little safety, you had to hold on to chains, bars etc…. In short, the cirque de la solitude is still a very dangerous passage today, but it is no longer officially on the GR20 route (you can still go there with a guide)

IGN map of the circus of solitude

For more information:

  • discover the cirque de la solitude
  • Reopening of the cirque de la solitude

Some images of the cirque de la solitude (not on the GR20)

Difficult section 2: Pointe des Eboulis at Monte Cinto

This is another technical section of the GR20: the Monte Cinto section was originally a variant of the GR20, but since the accident in the cirque de la solitude, it has become the alternative route and then the official section. To date, if you do the GR20, you’ll go via the Pointe des éboulis (2,600 metres above sea level). Monte Cinto is Corsica’s highest peak, towering at an altitude of 2,700 metres and attracting hundreds of hikers every year.

As well as the steep gradient (more than 1,200 metres of ascent between the Asco station and the Pointe des éboulis), you’ll be walking through scree at an altitude of more than 2,500 metres on a very exposed face! In windy conditions, Monte Cinto can be a real rollercoaster!

The IGN map of Pointe des Eboulis on the GR20

A glimpse of the Pointe des éboulis in very windy conditions on the GR20

Difficult route No. 3: the Capitello breach, bocca alle Porte

Leaving the Manganu refuge, you’ll climb straight up the slope in scree: it’s really tough, but once you reach the Capitello breach, you’ll have an incredible view of the two high mountain lakes below, the Capitello and Melo lakes!

Here’s a video to show you a view of Capitello from the sky, with the path on the ridge!

But once you’re at the top, there’s more to come. To get to the Petra Piana refuge, you’ll have to walk along a ridge with a number of facilities, like this

capitello breach development, a fairly dangerous passage

What’s super hard about this section:

  • The 700-metre positive gradient between Manganu and the brèche
  • The scree slopes on the way up to the brèche
  • The facilities (ladders and ropes or chains once at the top to exit the breach and reach Bocca à Soglia)
The climb to the Capitello breach, a technical and dangerous climb
the breach of capitelo

Difficult route No. 4: the Aiguilles de Bavella

On the GR20 south, there is a well-known variant known as the Alpine variant of the Aiguilles de Bavella! This really aerial variant takes you up to Bavella via the needles, a very pronounced ridge with breathtaking views! Find out more about the Aiguilles de Bavella here!

Developments on the Bavella needles

Be careful, if you’re doing the GR20 from north to south, you’ll arrive tired on this section, as it’s the penultimate day of walking, and you don’t want to be shaky on your feet! What’s more, there are also facilities to make it easier to go up or down, mainly chains with anchor points.

here is a technical and dangerous passage on the bavella variant

So think carefully before embarking on this high-flying variant! What’s more, the Col de Bavella is very busy, and is one of the few places where a road can be found, allowing hikers from outside the region to do part of the GR20 in a loop!

Here’s a video preview of the Bavella variant

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