September. Weekend and neither in the mood for longer hikes nor for lying on the beach all day. As our original destination, the “Via Ferrata del Caldanello”, had been declared off-limits by a decree of the local authorities we had to come up with a new plan. The nearby Monte Sellaro (1,439m) seemed a natural choice.
I had seen this mountain many times from afar, either when passing it on the coastal road or from one of the peaks of the central Pollino massif. Its remarkable shape will catch the eye from almost every direction. Although not one of the highest peaks of the eastern chain, the variety of ascent routes it offers makes it to a very special destination. But, as we learned, there is much more to explore in its vicinity.
We left the car not far from the sanctuary and former monastery “Santa Maria delle Armi” and took some dirt track that, initially looking like a hiking path, later simply petered out into a large talus ramp. No map at hand. Well, no problem. We did not come here to use the main doorway, did we? – No, sir.
However, the somewhat improvised (and occasionally pretty much exposed) scrambling route that took us in less than an hour to the summit was simply fun. Following the logical line of the natural features we would hit the south (or south-west) ridge only about 50 m beneath the actual summit.
The summit view is truly stunning. From the top of Monte Sellaro it is not only possible to overlook almost all the major peaks of the central Pollino massif (Timpa del Principe, Monte Manfriana, Serra Dolcedorme, Monte Pollino, Serra delle Ciavole, Serra di Crispo) but also those of the eastern chain, i.e. the craggy cliffs of Timpa di Porace, Timpa di Cassano, Timpa di San Lorenzo and Timpa della Falconara. To the south the view goes over the Ionian Sea, the Gulf of Sibari and the Sila range.
Since it seemed much too early in the day for descending and turning our backs on these mountains we decided to try some more scrambling on the twin summit of Monte Sellaro, too. And Monte Panno Bianco (1,330m) did not disappoint us, offering, apart from the nice view, an easy but very pleasurable scramble up its rugged south-west face.
I am already keen on returning next spring and on trying out some other route on this beautiful, beautiful mountain. And, hey, why not have a bath in the Ionian sea after the climb?