The Sentier J.A. Carrel winds for thirty kilometers in the Breuil basin in the shadow of the Matterhorn between views and landscapes of rare beauty. Named after the man who first reached the summit of the Matterhorn along the Italian route on 17th July 1865.
It is possible to do this in 2 legs. A path full of personality, capable of arousing in the hiker those intense emotions that firstly hunters and shepherds, and then explorers and mountaineers, have always experienced at the foot of the Gran Becca (The original local name for the Matterhorn). The path starts at an altitude of 1850 meters at Perrères and goes
up on the right side of the valley to beyond the tree line; along the ancient paths that connect the “tramail”(the highest mountain pastures) allowing you to observe the life and work of these Alpine farms at first hand, farms that have managed to preserve the charm of the olden days. You then move into a wild and evocative environment, the moraines, at the foot of the Gran Becca (Matterhorn) and it finally reaches the historic Oriondé refuge at an altitude of 2808 meters, which is the base of the Matterhorn. From here there is a panoramic view of the valley, also from here the Matterhorn is so close it is possible to see its most intimate forms and its narrowest ravines. You climb along the right-hand side of the Matterhorn valley and come down along the left-hand side, with a magnificent larch forest greeting you as you come back into Perrères, a filter between wild nature and civilization.
Jean Antoine Carrel (1829 – 1890)
Jean-Antoine Carrel “il Bersagliere”, was born in Cretaz in Valtournenche in 1829, he grew up as a shepherd and farmer. A hunter and a great walker, he loved his land and this lead him to acquire a great ability to climb and travel over the mountains safely; he is called the bersagliere for his participation in the Wars of Independence. In the years in which explorers and mountaineers began to take an interest in the Matterhorn, he was the only man in the valley who believed in the possibility of climbing the Gran Becca (the name by which the Votornen, inhabitants of the valley, called the Matterhorn), he saw in this passion a new profession, he sensed a future for himself and for his people. Rude, resolute, haughty and difficult to treat, as a guide he was unmatched for skill, confidence and courage. Friend-rival Edward Whymper considered him “the most elegant climber I have ever seen”, the only one with whom it is possible to reach the summit of Gran Becca (Matterhorn). He conquered the Matterhorn, being the first man to climb it from the Italian side on 17th July 1865.