Itinerary 5: Cima delle Murelle (east ridge)

The entire Majella massif, with its deep ravines and its vast and desertlike high plains, is a very special place for long hikes in relative solitude. Although it has higher peaks to offer, for instance Monte Amaro (2,793 m / 9,163 ft) and Monte Acquaviva (2,737m / 8,980ft), the sight of this beautiful mountain is unmatched by the peaks surrounding it from either side.

The different, regulary frequented routes are mainly using either one of the three ridges. However, this gem is not so often climbed, as many visitors of this mouintain range are exclusively bound for the above mentioned peaks.

Trailhead for most ascents is the (closed) mountain hut Rifugio Bruno Pomilio (1,892 m / 6,207 ft), where it is possible to leave the car and take the normal route, signposted as trail P. An easy hiking path passes the minor peaks of Mt. Blockhaus and Mt. Cavallo before reaching the col ‘Sella di Acquaviva’ (2,097 m / 6,879 ft). On the col it is possible to refilll water supplies at the eponymous fountain.

 

From the col it is possible to choose between two hiking trails (signposted as P and G7). The first is passing the bivouac Fusco and Mt. Focalone before leading up the southwest ridge of. The latter traverses the pine forerst and leads to the onset of the somewhat more aerial northwest ridge. Both trails offer very interesting and varied views.

Another option, however, is an ascent via the not often frequented valley ‘Valle di Plombaro’ and the mountain’s east ridge.

Except for the long approach from the trailhead, the ascent on the east ridge is probably the easiest, surely the most varied route up to the top. You may leave the car at the picnic area located at the lowest point of the valley ‘Valle di Palombaro’. After about two hundred meters the cement road turns hard right. At this point you may choose between two alternative routes. One is the wild and, apparently, not often frequented valley itself. The trail is (scarcely) signposted, sometimes in red and white (G5), sometimes in green and yellow (P1). The other is a forest track signposted as G4, which passes a well and, a few hundred meters further on, the first mountain hut, Rifugio Ugni. Both trails meet in proximity of the second mountain hut, Rifugio Martellese, situated only a few meters below the top of Mt. Ugni.

From this point on it is possible to circumvent Mt. Martellese, heavily vegetated with the Pinus mugo, on either side. The shorter and, arguably, nicer trail is the one which passes Mt. Martellese on its right flank (west). This trail allows views on the beautiful east face of Cima delle Murelle. It is noted as G4 or G7 and will take you to a col situated at the base of the east ridge. From the col the hiking path can become sometimes unclear. However, following the ridge is not hard and it will take you almost directly to the summit. In case of doubt rather keep slightly to the left, as the rock quality is not very good and the right or north side of the ridge betimes fairly exposed.

 

From the summit the view stretches over the so-called ‘Anfiteatro delle Murelle’, a broad valley of glacial origigins. And on the other side you can make out the yellow spot that is the bivouac Carlo Fusco. In order to reach it you may choose between the northwest and the southwest ridge of the mountain. Both descent routes are beautiful and without hazards. However, the southwest ridge is considerably longer, as you will have to ascend another steep slope leading up to Mt. Focalone and follow the hiking path which is skirting the whole valley before dipping down towards the bivouac hut. Although it is possible to do this itinerary in one (long) day, you should take an overnight stay in one of the mountain huts or bivouacs into consideration, because a round trip would be at least exhausting.

 

Some additional considerations:

Cima delle Murelle can be climbed all year round. Arguably the best months are July and September/October. August might be to hot and the small bivouacs crowded. The Majella massif can hold snow accumulations well into summer. Because of its proximity to the Adriatic Sea and the overall altitude (between 8,000 and 9,000 ft) substantial snowfalls are very frequent. A winter ascent can be a very rewarding experience. But keep in mind that this already taxing hike is likely to be complicated by often knee- or even waist-deep snow.

Bivouac C. Fusco: The neat little shed has room for max. six guests and is always open. There is no source of water near, though. In order to avoid a long and taxing descent, it is a good idea to bring a sufficient supply of water, or you may refill your supplies at the fountain (‘Fonte Ghiacciata’) which is situated along the trail for the mountain hut Rifugio Bruno Pomilio (P), only about one hundred meter to descend from the bivouac.

Map IGMI 1:25.000
Click here: Map IGMI 1:25.000 – Cima delle Murelle, Valle di Palombaro, Feudo Ugni
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