To plan this route, we strived to follow the alpine divide, which was more or less the border as well. Made for hiking purposes and unable to climb cliffs or cross glaciers, our ambition was to explore the in between, staying as high as we could, sometimes off track, and far from the refuges hereabouts. Among a mineral environment and impressive glaciers, the Bassac Deré and the Basei passes were definite highlights. We progressed northwest to southeast and could rely upon IGN maps, very helpful 3D satellite maps, and plentiful documentation.
The climate was alpine, with colder temperatures at night, at higher elevations, and close to the glaciers. Differences were quite brutal, from -5° to +25°. The weather was variable, rain fell often, but nothing was under snow. In fact, the glaciers were bare, which was heartbreaking to stare at. Sometimes off track, we figured out some unmapped paths were well marked. However, some parts were steep and quite exposed, but none of them required any technical skill or equipment. Note that the Vanoise and the Gran Paradiso national parks made the area prohibited from camp, in theory.
We were as light as we could, without spare clothes or food. This way, we weren’t independent and shared our equipment to have the least weight to bear. We had warm and waterproof camp and clothes though, and hiking boots to handle demanding terrain. We didn’t rely on refuges for water, food, and shelter either. Water from rivers and lakes was everywhere up there, even in the driest season, which we filtered or boiled. Our everyday food rations were weighted, based on our basal caloric rate. We camped every night along the route without anyone around and leaving no trace.