Monte La Caccia … twice

August already drawing to a close and, finally, the long anticipated return to the splendid Orsomarso mountains! This time, as a group of three, three exciting days of hiking through the mostly pathless wilderness. Our main destination: Monte La Caccia (1,744m), the summit closest to the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

After an early breakfast at the Calabrian village of Sant’Agata di Esaro we took the road for the mountain pass “Passo dello Scalone” which constitutes the demarcation between the Lucanian and the Calabrian Apennines.

From the pass we took a steep and narrow dirt track and, turning left after a few hundred meters, entered the forest intent to find a route through the lush underbrush up to the ridge of Monte La Castelluccia (1,295m). Through the gaps in the canopy it was already possible to catch glimpses on the surround peaks, most eminently on Monte Faghitello and the majestic Montea.

A short break, and then further up the increasingly steeper and rockier ridge that now already offered nice views on the dark blue waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. From the northwest instead we could see milky white clouds rolling in.

After taking some pictures and patching the small cairn that marks this probably seldom visited summit, we pushed on in a northern direction, towards the double-peaks of Monte Cannitello (1,464m) and the clouds still gathering behind it.

At the col between Monte La Castellucia and Monte Cannitello we came upon a quiet pleasant hiking trail which would lead us to the shoulder of the latter and, later on, to Serra La Croce, the last elevation between us and the south-east ridge of Monte La Caccia.

Another break on the col between the summits. An after-lunch nap and some fun-scrambling up the two summits of Monte Canitello later we started our descent towards Serra La Crocce.

Now more and more clouds were pushing in from the sea, smothering the surrounding peaks on by one. After less than an hour, still following the trail, we were walking through a misty wonderland.

On reaching the mountain hut located on the southern slopes of Serra La Croce our small party was debating  whether to stay at the hut and up the ascent the following morning or continue with the heavy backpacks in order to plant our tent in vicinity of the summit. A phone call later this matter was settled. With the permission and a lot of useful indications and information provided by one of the maintainers we decided to spend the night at this lovely hut.

Alright, but its early afternoon! Let’s leave our stuff here and take to the summit before sunset!” – My idea, … obviously. The mountain itself still shrouded by thick clouds was simply too much a temptation. Not least because I knew that this kind of clouds usually tends to break just before sunset.

Halfway up the ridge my companions decided to call it a day and return to the hut. I pushed on and … I had been right. The summit that evening! The very moment the mist lifted, the sea of clouds right beneath my feet and the last rays light from the setting sun on my face … silence, calm and pure bliss.

Almost more rewarding still were the views on the descent …

At the end of the day a nice cup of tea at the mountain hut, building a fire and preparing dinner. The colors of the sky after sunset. A good night of sleep. … I really would’t have known what else to ask for.

In the morning almost all the clouds had gone. Finally the impressive south face of Monte La Caccia was well visible. After breakfast we packed our bags for the ascent, my second time up this beautiful mountain in less that 12 hours!

Fun on the ridge and, again, exceptional views in almost every direction.

After the descent the second day was spent with some route finding, exploring the ravine like valleys of the area and a quick ascent of Monte Faghitello (1,432m). After some minor issues with finding a negotiable route for a safe descent we managed to get back to our trailhead, “Passo dello Scalone”, about one hour before sunset.