If you are hiking the GR20 you will come across the mini ski station of Haut Asco between the refuges of Carrozu and Tighiettu. Situated at the foot of the Monte Cinto, the island’s highest summit (2710m) the village is the Mecca for mountain sports.
The Chamonix of Corsica, historically Haut Asco has drawn enthusiasts from all over the world. A good night’s sleep here, in a bedroom with crisp bed linen, a firm mattresses and a steaming hot shower is a winning idea when you are undertaking this hiking trail. It is a favourite stop on our GR20 North holiday.
Since Haut-Asco was re-opened as a ski station in 2015, both accomplished skiers and novices have been flocking up to enjoy the snow. It is not the only ski station on the island, there are four in total.
The station was first opened in 1964 but was out of action for 24 long years, it re-opened in 2015 with European and French funding. When you arrive at the station by road, you see on your right an imposing building called ‘Le Chalet,’ this is a gite, restaurant and comfortable hotel. Today it is owned and run by Monsieur Patrice Guerrini, it was first opened in a joint venture by his father and uncle in 1964, the same time as the ski station.
‘Back in the day, people would arrive by the bus load, school buses would ferry people up and down the valley, the snow was plentiful and the station was packed out. The road was not regularly cleared and just making it up to the station was an adventure in itself!’ Patrice recounts. ‘The station would host big ski competitions that would attract both French and Italian champions to participate, it was known as the Chamonix of Corsica.’
Since the closure of the ski station, ‘Le Chalet’ has relied solely on the summer season to generate its revenue. Due to the ever developing popularity of the GR20 hiking trail, the hotel and restaurant has managed to stay open six months of the year and employ ten people. The new objective is to open for ten months, with a hotel, bar, restaurant, ski school, ski rental, snow shoes and a palette of original winter activities. New pistes will be opened on the higher slopes and six new ski canons in operation to ensure 3 months skiing. If all goes well, the hotel will add 15 bedrooms and a new gite.
The outdoor snack bar grills Figatellu, a local speciality that fills the air with a delicious sizzling bacon smell, the ambiance is bustling and it is heart-warming to see time and money being invested in the Corsican mountains which can sometimes be overlooked for coastal development.