Ascent of Monte Amaro on 2010-10-22

Climber: Rob Woodall

Date:Friday, October 22, 2010
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Monte Amaro
    Elevation:9163 ft / 2792 m

Ascent Trip Report

My 70th Ultra-prominence summit, bagged in a 22 hour day from Peterborough UK... well sort of - I left home at 2 a.m., was back at the car by 9 pm and asleep at the next trailhead by midnight.

Due to a French Air Traffic Control strike the flight (BA, unusually for me) kept N of French airspace and traversed the Alps. Unexpectedly getting a GPS signal I was able to do some Ultra-spotting, with a birds-eye view of Cornetto, although I was on the wrong side of the plane for Cima Tosa / Brenta, Cima Valdritta and Cimone. As we flew S, Corno Grande thrust impressively out of the cloud base to the SE, with the more rambling outline of Monte Amaro visible beyond it. Picking up a hire car (Renault Twingo - sigh!) at Rome FCO, a drive of about 3 hours got me to the "Block Haus" trailhead, 1890m, N42 09 37.9 E14 07 58.3.

After a brief false start (back to the car for the Cagoul!?) I set off at 15:00 - rather later than intended but I knew the trail was good, I reckoned I could be off the summit before dark and with the full moon, a good torch and a GPS track to follow back down I was confident of getting down OK. The trailhead nowadays is at the gate beside the first of several communications installations. For conservation reasons, the remaining mile of road is done on foot (initially take the obvious steep grassy trail to avoid a loop of road). Once the road runs out, a trail continues, grassy at first, then skirting R of a thicket of dwarf pines. After 50m or so, be sure to keep R (slightly downhill). A slightly more obvious trail rises a little, then heads into the pines. If you take this higher route, there follows 15 mins of increasingly desparate scrambly fight through/over tree roots before an escape can be made back down to the main path. The main trail by contrast is easy throughout, descending a little then gently ascending through the pines, emerging on a saddle, then traverses due S, keeping fairly level for a mile. A water fountain is reached, then the trail climbs to gain a ridge at 2446m (GPSr). There is a great view E across the plain to the curve of the Adriatic coast, while closer to hand is a spectacular system of precipitous ridges running down NE from Monte Acquaviva. The ridge is climbed initially W then S, ascending fairly steeply to gain Monte Focalone, N42 06 25.7 E14 06 54.3, 2682m (GPSr). 3cm of recent snow had frozen and the slope was steep and slippery enough to justify the Kahtoola microspikes (snow chains for running shoes!) which I quickly pulled over the trail shoes. From here a side ridge goes off L to the slightly higher Acquaviva, but the eye is drawn to the arete which leads S to Cima Pomilio, N42 05 57.6 E14 06 28.1, 2643m (GPSr). The arete is easily traversed, on its crest or by the path which keeps slightly to its L, never harder than YDS 2. A signpost points L (E) down a very fine deep valley. A steepish ascent leads to Cima Pomilio (signpost just below the summit), then the route turns R (WSW) then descends W to the Tre Portoni saddle. This latter summit is bypassed on its L - obvious easy trail. A saddle is crossed (2544m - the Acquaviva key saddle) then the trail rises L across a steep slope, following a fairly narrow ledge for a few metres. The slope below is nowhere near vertical and the trail didn't feel exposed but the ground is loose at times and a fall could be pretty serious. Grade maybe 2+ at worst, with a short steep pull up to a ridge (this point carefully waypointed for the return, N42 05 46.1 E14 05 21.7, 2641m GPSr), then a gentle descent SW (I could see no path - probably snow covered) to another saddle before the final summit climb. The slope is fairly moderate but the snow was icy.

All this time, I'd not seen Amaro summit as it had been obscured by cloud. By the time I arrived the cloud was coming and going, the light constantly changing, the sun low on the horizon - superb! Three Italians were there, apparently overnighting in the small red metal shelter. The other summit furniture comprised a standard Italian-style prismoidal metal trig - also bright red - as was the smallish metal cross. Cross and trig were both festooned with wind-sculpted ice. After permitting a 10 minute photo frenzy, the clouds rolled back in.

18:15 - almost sunset and time to head down. I made pretty rapid progress to the steep traverse; once carefully across this I pushed on again. By the icy summit of Cima Pomilio it was dark except that I had the benefit of a bright full moon. Back across the arete, up Monte Focalone and down its N ridge. Coming to a large cairn I realised I had overshot the descent route by a few metres. Consulting the GPS track I'd recorded on the way up, I headed back 20m or so and made the acute turn (due W initially) to regain my upward route. The moon was behind me now and the head torch was needed for the rest of the descent, which was quite a bit icier with the onset of evening, but never warranting anything more serious than the microspikes. Back at the water fountain I had a good drink, refilled my bottle and completed the walk out.

Returning to the trailhead at 21:15, I was horrified to see the car boot was open and the doors unlocked! Luckily nothing was missing and I wondered if the comms masts' radiation had interfered with the car's electronics (I recall Bob Packard mentioning that his (fairly old) GPSr wouldn't work here, in 2009). Not a good place to leave valuables in the car, perhaps, just in case...

After some food at the car I pointed the SatNav at the Monte Camicia trailhead, arriving there at about midnight - where I slept pretty well after a memorable 22 hour day, very pleased with my 70th Ultra.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5125 ft / 1562 m
    Extra Gain:1083 ft / 330 m
    Round-Trip Distance:16 mi / 25.8 km
    Route:NNE ridge
    Trailhead:Blockhaus trailhead  6204 ft / 1890 m
    Grade/Class:YDS 2+
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Snow on Ground, Scramble
    Gear Used:
    Weather:Cool, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 

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