3 peaks: Mt. Aquila – Corno Grande – Corno Piccolo

After completing the “Centenario” trail and a full traverse of the Scindarella mountain a restorative supper and a very pleasant overnight stay at the mountain hut Rifugio Duca degli Abruzzi I felt ready for the second leg of this year’s Gran Sasso tour. On my agenda were a quick visit to the summit of Monte Aquila, an ascent of Corno Grande (Vetta Occidentale) via the west ridge and the ascent of Corno Piccolo via the so-called ‘normal route’.

I got up early in the morning, well before sunrise, and decided to skip breakfast in order to avoid the ‘traffic’ that had to be expected around noon on the highest peak of this mountain range.

gs-051Campo Imperatore and Monte Scindarella (seen from Sella di Monte Aquila)

It was a cold but exceptional beautiful morning. The sky was clear, thus permitting fantastic views on the high plains of Campo Imperatore (east) and Campo Pericoli (west) while traversing the foresummit of Monte Portella and the col ‘Sella di Monte Aquila’.

monte aquilaSummit cross of Monte Aquila (2494m) and south face of Corno Grande (2912m)

From the mountain hut it is a short and easy hike up to the summit of Monte Aquila. From its top it is possible to have a close look at the impressive south face of Corno Grande and the most frequented routes (Via normale, Direttissima, Cresta Ovest). However, I was keen to start the ascend and cover the 418 meters of height difference between this summit cross and the other.

Here a few impressions from the ascent:

As the normal north route turned out to be virtual impracticable without crampons, the descent route would have to go trough the beautiful “Calderone” glacier. The firm snow reflected the heat of the sun, and the dark blue the sky provided the complementary color to the towering walls and the peaks of Corno Grande. At a point I found myself surrounded by a host of butterflies.

After a rest at the mountain hut Rifugio Franchetti the afternoon would be dedicated to the ascent of Corno Piccolo. As I had learned at the Franchetti, after a landslide also the “Via Ferrata Danaesi” was currently closed. So, no other choice but taking the normal route …