Corno Grande 9,554′ Canalone Bissolati – Gran Sasso d’Italia National Park 4/12/2012

As some might guess I have a pretty big hit list for peaks. Well today I knocked an unusual one off it. One of the goals of this trip was to be open minded. I didn’t really want to make any set plans so I could just go with the flow and the weather. While looking at the weather the other night in Verbier I saw an opening to head down to central Italy and go for it. The Appennini Moutains form the spine of central Italy. This peak, the highest of the range, is only 80 minutes from Rome when driving the speed limit. I took a train from Le Chable to a bus to Aosta, then another train to Milan which ended up being late and I missed my train to Rome. I caught the later one but missed my connection to L’Aquila the main hub for the Appennini. I ended having to rent a car or start up the mountain at 11am. Italy’s highways are nuts, but I’m really proud of myself for finding my way out of Rome to the exact Autostrade without a city map. I only broke about 30 traffic laws in the process 😉

I woke up in Fonte Cerrato and took the funivia up the mountain. A local offered me his number in case of emergency. People are really cool in Italy. He also showed me the way to the “trailhead” off to the side of Campo Imeratore Road. Thanks Lorenzo. The hotel picture, the large red building, once housed an imprisoned Mussolini. German special forces freed him before his trial in 1943. The place is creepy in a cool and funky sort of way. Campo Impertore has access to some top notch terrain as you’ll see. They also have big vert and great funivia laps on the front side, though there wasn’t enough snow this late in the season.

So on my way I headed up to the pass that puts you on the ridge to the Directissima. I had heard that this line has some technical climbing in the 5.8 range and has some serious steeps as well. Being alone I figured that Bissolati would be the better choice for ascent and descent. This would give me the chance to get to know the line and the snowpack and how my skis were with a fresh tune. The snow was very unusual to me. This part of Italy has a full on maritime snowpack but I was surprised by how rimey it was. Bonding seemed reasonable so up I went. The bottom has the crux with a 50+ section that’s narrow and very rocky. Then it scales back for a while to the 45+ range. You have another steep section and then it scales back to 40 till the last summit pitch. The summit bowl is 48+ down to the choke which is around 50. The snow was a mix of 30% 2′ of well bonded rime encrusted cream cheese which skied awesome, 50% corn and 20% chunder from sluffing and slides. What I was seeing kept saying to me keep going though the post holing through 2′ of heavy took it’s toll.

This was the funnest ski of the year for me so far. I love the feeling of a hard solo. The focus you need to maintain is very centering. When you walk away from the solo your perspective on the civilized world is enhanced. Doing it in a foreign country well that just takes it up a notch. On the last tram down I was talking with a bunch of guys from the ski school there. Most were surprised that an American would even know of their backwater ginormous little hill. All were surprised that I went for it alone. I have to tell you I was a bit worried on the train to Rome but when you bring that focus to bear on your target and you have a plan you can get it done. It feels really good to check this awesome peak off my list.

Now on to the stoke. These are very beautiful mountains. I’m sure I will look at these pics often. Trying something new as the upload time is killing me over here. Enjoy.

Heading to Tuscany for a few days and will drink lots of vino. There might be some windows before I leave Italy, but I’m heading somewhere on either Monday or Tuesday, that’s when the car goes back. Ciao.

On the train from Le Chable
The train to Rome was going about 150mph here
Nearing the top in the Funivia
There is a ton of hike to terrain here.
This is some.
And More
Corno Grande South Face
More hiking options
A cool Range across the valley
Bissolati's entrance
On the way up
Limestone mountains rock
Summit
Timing is everything
Tilted it. Oooops
Cool towers abound
Looking down the upper crux
Looking at the lower crux
Lower Bissolati at lower left of center.
Campo Imeratore Hotel
Hahahahaha Stickers

 

 

 

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