Timpa di Cassano (‘Via del Chiodo’)

One of the most impressive rock faces of the eastern chain of the Pollino massif belongs surely to the Timpa di Cassano. With only 1,376 m this mountain does not rank among the highest peaks of this mountain range. An ascent via its east face is a hard piece of work, though. A vertical wall of about thirty metres divides the steep, scree and talus strewn slopes from the final ridge, and there aren’t many possible routes to choose between.

One of the most interesting and, arguably, the most direct one skirts the central crag to a point where these rugged cliffs, bending towards the Raganello torrent, form a spacious bowl. Just a few metres before the very edge the escarpent forms an angle where it is broken up by a vertical crack. This is the only weak spot in the mountains otherwise perfect ‘defence wall’.

There was (and is) only little information available about this route. Its name, ‘Via del Chiodo’ (engl. “Route of the Nail”), is said to derive from a nail left by the first climbers who used this crack in oder to reach the summit ridge.

A fine morning, the 1st of May, I decided to explore this forsaken part of the mountain, have a close look at the passage and see myself whether it would be possible to complete a solo ascent. What I found was a quite interesting crag. However, at the end I chose not to adventure myself into a situation that would have me free-soloing a 5th grade passage without knowing what was waiting further up the cliff. The nail is still in place and already visible from the base of the wall. But the prospect of a late retreat that would include downclimbing this crag without protection was anything but winsome.

I might be back one day and complete this ascent, – better prepared next time, I think, i.e. with a rope and in company. Also in order to avoid another rough and slithering descent via the smooth and quite unpleasant limestone slabs of the east face.

Here some more images from this short and, alas!, uncompleted ascent:

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