GRAN SAN BERNARDO HILL

You will be able to enjoy the view of a small lake, frozen until late spring, and breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.
If you look at the map, the long chain of the Alps seems to divide Europe in two, from east to west. Through this chain, communication doors open which connect the peoples of the south and those of the north.
The Gran San Bernardo is one of these gates: for a long time it was one of the main ones and one of the most anciently known. Located at 2,472 meters above sea level, the hill is dominated to the north by the Chenalette, to the south by Mont Mort, to the west by the Pain de Sucre.
The pass, due to its position, is exposed to almost incessant winds and to a temperature that oscillates between a minimum of -30°C and a maximum of +19°C. The annual snowfall reaches, and sometimes exceeds, twenty metres.
In the beginning, to go up to the hill, there was only a small path that flanked the edge of the lake.
Since the time of the Roman Empire, when the temple dedicated to Jupiter Penninus was built on the hill, the pass was an important communication route across the Alps. Around the Roman temple, buildings dating back to the same period have been discovered, an archaeological site known as Plan de Jupiter.
In 1045, by San Bernardo di Mentone , a hospice was built on the hill, managed by a congregation of regular canons, with the aim of sheltering, assisting and protecting the numerous travellers, including pilgrims who traveled along the Via Francigena .
Starting at least from the 16th century, the canons of the hospice bred large Molossian dogs, for the guard and protection of the hospice, but also for numerous other uses. The use that made them famous in the world was that of auxiliaries to the canons in tracing the trail in the fresh snow, predicting the fall of avalanches, and finding travelers lost in bad weather, or even buried by avalanches. Starting from the 1800s, the breed known today as the San Bernardo Dog was selected from these dogs.

Hiking in Champex-Lac with Saint Bernard: Winter hiking will make you discover an idyllic region. Meet the St. Bernard dogs during a 45-minute walk while admiring the magnificent mountain panorama. A sleigh pulled by a Saint Bernard can accommodate children aged 2 to 8 in turn. Adults, meanwhile, can take turns keeping a dog on a leash. Excursions are held in any weather. If there isn't enough snow, the race will be done without sledges, with dogs on a leash. The number of participants is limited to 8 people divided into a maximum of 3 groups (1 dog per group).
Location: Champex-Lac. Go to the Champex-Lac Tourist Office (go through Orsières to get there).
Dates: January and February (Saturday and Sunday)
Price: Adults CHF 35 | Children (2 to 16 years) CHF 15 | free for children under 2 years. Children must be accompanied by an adult (max. 3 children/adult).
Email: event@fondation-barry.ch

If we were to mention all the personalities who have marked this historic hill with their footprints, we would meet them over the course of every century. However, the most spectacular passage remains that of Napoleon who, with his army of 40,000 men and 5,000 horses, 50 cannons and 8 howitzers, crossed the pass in 1800. The transit of the artillery presented many difficulties and it took eight days for the entire army passed.
In 1892 the current carriage road was opened on the Swiss side and, only in 1905, on the Italian one.
At the hill you can enjoy the view of a small lake, frozen until late spring, and breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. The area is a destination for ski mountaineering itineraries thanks to the snow cover until the beginning of June and for hiking during the summer.

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