Itinerary 3: Punta di Prato Pulito

The Sibillini Mountains are part of the central Apennines and can be roughly divided in a northern massif, with the majestic Mt. Bove (2169m / 7116ft), and a southern massif which reaches its highest elevation with the peak of Mt. Vettore (2476m / 8123ft). One of the more easy accessible trailheads is the mountain pass Forca di Presta.

pdpp05

The wide and well marked hiking path that winds up the rocky and barren slopes coincides with the main trail to Mt. Vettore. Another major peak, however, might make an even more interesting destination during the cold season: Punta di Prato Pulito.

Note: Weather conditions, especially the seasonal “snow line”, should always be taken into account, as the main hike trail might not be visible or entirely inaccessible without proper gear.

From Forca di Presta (1550m / 5085ft), for about 2,5km simply follow the main track which is skirting the rock formations of the heavily vegetated and therefore slippery crest. Even under bad visibility conditions (high fog, low clouds etc.) the trail is always well apparent.

cdpp02Clouds are closing in but not obscuring the trail

Once you reach the snow line, it might be better to abandon the main track altogether, though. Being exposed to the light of the midday sun, this southern slope tends to hold firm, firn-like snow and can be rather unpleasant to negotiate in a traverse and some slopes are rather exposed. Kicking steps may work for a while, but using crampons is preferable. (Keep also in mind that Mt. Vettore is notorious for violent wind gusts.)

pdpp03Vegetation on the slopes of Mt. Vettoretto (2052m / 6732ft)

Simply hold on to the crest until you reach the peak of Mt. Vettoretto (2032m / 6666ft), marked by a small heap of rocks.

Capture From this point there are two options: a) follow the rocky and somewhat exposed ridge (red line) or b) keep to the main trail (blue line). The first option will take you directly to the peak of Punta di Prato Pulito (2373m / 7785ft). Choosing the ridge means dealing with a moderate scramble, equivalent perhaps to I+ (UIAA). The last section, right underneath the summit, is slighly steeper but not a serious obstacle.

pdpp09The summit pyramid (background)

The second option is surely less exciting, but, depending on the weather conditions (snow, fog, wind etc.) and your personal faculties, it is a reasonable alternative. Just aim for the alpine hut on the col, then turn left and follow the crest for another 200 meters. (Keep in a secure distance from the corniced rim!) In any case, option b is the right choise for a perfectly safe descent.

pdpp12On the snow covered peak (ital. = punta)

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