It is quite a while now that I wanted to make good for a long postponed exploration of the Matese massif. After toing and froing the choice had fallen on the northwest route to Monte Miletto (2050m), its highest peak. At AM 8.00 sharp I would start out from this day’s trailhead, the mountain hut Rifugio Guado la Melfa (1302 m). But the first thing I noticed were nondescript sounds coming from the woods of Monte Alto.
It took me quite a while to attribute these sounds to of a pack of hounds. ‘Right, it’s hunting season!’, I thought. As I had already read about the recklessness of the local hunters and occasionally occurring hunting accidents, I deemed it wiser to put on a security vest. Well, not really an elegant dress, but, remember, better to be safe than sorry.
After a close encounter with some gundogs I decided to alter the planned route and took for a traverse of the beech forest in direction of Monte Morzano. Though moving cross country I made good progress up the steep slopes. However, when I reached the col it became clear that I had deviated quite a bit in a westerly direction. It also became apparent that, in order to get on the northwest ridge, where I hope to retrace the actual hiking path to Colle Tamburo and Monte Miletto, I would have to do some climbing on almost vertical terrain. No big deal, after all. I hit the ridge at an altitude of 1750 m and, indeed, came almost immediately upon the first red and white signposting.
I had to learn that the northwest route to Monte Miletto is devoid of any discernible “path”. Also the signposts is not really following any logical line in the geological features. Climbing up through vast dolinas and narrow, ravine-like ditches is somewhat between a diverting hillwalk and an easy scramble. While ascending and enjoying the nice views one should not forget to watch where to place the feet, though.
After less than an hour the top of Colle Tamburo was already in sight. From this point on the signposting is not really required anymore and it seemed best to stick to the ridge that meanders towards the summit of Monte Miletto. To the left the view goes over the moraine landscape dipping down to the Fondacone valley, to the right lies a broad valley and Lago del Matese.
After a short break on the summit of Monte Miletto I decided to traverse its foresummit, with the old radio station, and descend its steep slopes towards the opening of the Fondacone valley. From there I would try to find a negotiable way to the twin rocks of the Campanarielli which divide the Fondacone Valley from the glacial cirques of the Folubrico.
Again, great views, especially from Campanariello di Monte, which, indeed, is very easy to scale. Unfortunately the sun was already standing low, and time was pressing. So I knew that I would have to renounce my intentions of scaling also the somewhat lower Campanariello di Valle. In order to reach it I would have had to bypass its bigger brother on the left side and cross a very narrow ridge. The rock quality was evidently not the best – very, very frangible with slippy tufts of grass in between. With an quite impressive exposure on both sides it didn’t apply to try it in a rush, anyway.
Not knowing how much time it would take me to get back to the trailhead I had also to renounce my plan of a full traverse of the glacial cirques of the Folubrico valley. Instead of descending to the bottom of the second cirque I decided to climb up a somewhat aerial looking ridge towards Colle Tamburo and cross its northern slopes in a westerly direction. A thought and a blow. In no time I was back on the northwest ridge, looking down on Monte Alto and the valley that would take me to the trailhead. After retracing the hiking trail I soon reached Masseria di Vallesecca, a large glade with the remnants of an old farmhouse, and, after another thirty minutes, the mountain hut Rifugio Guado la Melfa.
Click on the image in order to enlarge the map – RED: northwest route to Monte Miletto – GREEN: alternative route, traverse of the glacial cirques of the Folubrico valley – BLUE: route from Valle Fondacone up the north shoulder of Monte Miletto