An “extremely dangerous” and a forgotten path on Monte Generoso

Published by 360 Pro , 20 June 2008, 10h40.

Region: World » Switzerland » Tessin » Sottoceneri
Date of the hike:18 June 2008
Hiking grading: T5 - Challenging High-level Alpine hike
Geo-Tags: CH-TI   I   Gruppo Monte Generoso 
Access to start point:cff logo Maroggia-Melano
Access to end point:cff logo Rovio, paese

Despite the fact that Monte Generoso is extremely touristic it offers very interesting paths and secrets. For my way up there I chose the popular (at least for hikrs) Via Variante and for my way down I took an almost forgotten path via Tiralocchio and Sasso Piatto down to Rovio.

The way up

I started my hike at the train station Maroggia-Melano and walked along the marked hiking path to Rovio. From there I followed the Via Variante. Since the Via Variante has been described numerous times here on hikr, I don’t need to elaborate again. For some good descriptions you may want to check out some other hikr reports.
Zaza: the first on hikr
Ironknee: the most detailed on hikr
Alpin_rise: some variations.
There are others too.

I do have a few remarks regarding the Via Variante though:
  • So far nobody mentioned the very interesting natural spectacle, which can be seen close to the huts of Prato di Pioda. If you are in the area it’s definitely worth visiting. The spring of the river Sovaglia comes out of a little cave which is about a meter high in a fascinating manor – especially now in spring and after a long rain period when there is lots of water shooting out of the cave. See pictures 1 2.
    In order to get there turn right down to the river approximately 100m after the hut of Prato di Pioda and follow the river to its end (or beginning). There are clear path traces leading to it. To get back to the Via Variante just climb up the hill to the left of the cave (pathless).
  • Is the Via Variante T5 or T4? In the book Alpinwandern Tessin the authors rate the “Via Variante” as T4. However everybody on hikr gave it a T5. I personally think it’s a T5 as well, but an easy one, maybe T5- would be a good compromise. Anyway I think it’s good that there are warning signs on this very touristic mountain. The path is quite obvious and looks tempting, because of the Swiss cross painted on the rock. A sign like this won’t stop the experienced and knowledgeable hikers, but probably prevents the accidental “Japanese, American, ... tourists” from doing this “extremely dangerous” hike.
  • At this point the steel ropes are in OK condition (the one which Ironknee mentioned broken is still broken, but it’s not crucial at all). In the last part of the route they definitely help to ease climbing.
  • The conditions I encountered where very wet and slippery, almost to the point where it was dangerous. Without the steel ropes towards the end I probably would have had to turn around.

Via Ferrata Angelino
Once I was up on the saddle I first went left to the cross at P. 1694 Baraghetto . From there I wanted to check out the “Via Ferrata Angelino” (despite the warning sign which tells you it’s closed). Bypassing the closed off bridge is very easy and after that I went down the “via ferrata” about 2/3 of the way. At a drop of approximately 6 meters with a little overhang, I checked the stability of the handrail to which the steel rope and chain were attached to and decided to turn around! The whole thing was very rusty and almost broke when I shook it. I would strongly advise to respect the warning signs at this point and not use the “via ferrata” any more. I doubt the handrail would hold your weight after a fall.

Therefore, I went back up to the Baraghetto and continued to the peak of Monte Generoso. Unfortunately there was some fog rolling in and I couldn’t see the spectacular view to the Po plain, the Apennine or the Swiss High Alps.

Some Italian tourists where scared when I appeared all of a sudden from the “not-path” and asked me how I came up there. I showed them the way I took from Rovio and then they where scared even more “non e possible… da solo?”. It was quite amusing for me.

The way down
For my way down I chose an old and almost forgotten path which is shown on my 25K map from the 70-ies, but has been removed from the newer editions of the Swiss maps. I’m pretty sure it has a name like “Variante” as well, but I don’t know it (maybe Zaza does). It goes down to Rovio in the west flank at point 1452, via Tiralocchio, Sasso Piatto and the Valle della Carbonera, close to P.703 it joins up with red/white marked hiking path from Bellavista to Rovio. To my surprise the path traces can be seen quite clearly, even though the markings are almost completely missing all the way.

Following is a detailed description of this path. There’s a map of the hike here, in case you don’t have access to the 1977 edition of the 25K map Lugano.

From the top of the train station at Monte Generoso, I walked down along the marked hiking path towards Bellavista. At P. 1452, instead of following any of the paths there, I walked up to the train tracks, crossed them and from there went down into the west flank. Due to the relatively high grass it took me a while to find the path traces, but once found it was quite easy to follow them. In case you can’t find path traces, bear northwest (slightly right) below an obvious drop. I headed towards a distinct tree see picture here at Tiralocchio (near P. 1339). Before P. 1339 the path continues on the right side of the ridge, but returns to the ridge shortly after. The rest of the path is now all in the forest, so the orientation gets a little more difficult. 

The path continues to follow the ridge down to the ruins of an old house (at pretty much exactly 1000m, see picture here) - on the map the ruin is right below the “d” of Cascina di Mezzo. Instead of continuing to go downhill, I now turned north (right) and actually slightly uphill to the little river there. After crossing the river I walked uphill in pretty much a straight line to the lowest point (ca. 1070m) in the ridge east of Sasso Piato.

I followed the ridge eastwards for about 50 meters before going down the slope. I traversed this slope going downhill almost all the way to another little river, then going downhill in a zigzag. I crossed the river right below a large drop at around 960m and continued towards Pianca delle Tanelle. There following another ridge down and later turning left. Shortly above P. 703 this path joins up with the main hiking path from Bellavista to Rovio. A tree is marked there with a big red arrow. From there I then followed the marked hiking path all the way to Rovio.

Even though the technical difficulties on this path are only in the T3 range and not very hard, I tend to rate this a T4 anyway, due to the fact that it is an unmarked route and if you can’t see path traces the orientation in the forest is not always easy.

Botanical Rarities
Last but not least, the botanically interested will find some rare species on the slopes of Monte Generoso, in particular the peonies (Paeonia officinalis). For some pictures see 1 2 3 4. It’s the only place in Switzerland where these beautiful flowers grow naturally. I also saw some Langenseenarzissen (Narcissus x verbanensis), but unfortunately they were already done blooming.

An interesting article about rare plants in this area can be found in the SAC archive

Maroggia-Melano – Rovio – Prato di Pioda – Perostabbio – P. 1652 – Baraghetto – P 1652 – Monte Generoso – P. 1601 – P. 1452 – Tiralocchio – Cascina di mezzo – Sasso Piatto – Pianca delle Tanelle – Roncaccio - Soldino - Rovio

Hike partners: 360


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Comments (7)

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Zaza says: Hi 360,
Sent 20 June 2008, 12h18
a very nice description with astounding pictures, congrats!

Virtually all those routes are described in Angelo Valsecchi's book "Monte Generoso", which was translated in several languages. It used to be available at the station of the train in Capolago. This book also contains interesting information about the botanical treasures of the area.

regards, zaza

360 Pro says: RE:Hi 360,
Sent 20 June 2008, 14h02
Thanks. The book is still available and I just ordered it here :-)

On another note: In a comment to Alpin_Rise's report you mentioned that the "Sentiero delle Guardie" ends/starts at Tiralocchio. I actually looked for path traces there. However, I didn't see anything obvious. I guess the book will have some insights on the "Sentiero delle Guardie" as well...

Zaza says:
Sent 20 June 2008, 15h08
Thanks for the link...whew, they have a load of interesting brochures. I'll definitely have to order a few of those!

I seem to remember that the SdG should start a bit lower than Tiralocchio, probably near Alpe di Melano. But you'll find the details in the book.

Fancy giving it a try? I'd be game!

regards, zaza

360 Pro says: RE:
Sent 20 June 2008, 17h00
Yes, I'd like to explore the SdG too!
I'll let you know before I attempt to follow the old paths of the "Guardie".

PS: Maybe we should get some old uniforms, wear old army boots instead of high tech shoes and wait until it's icy and slippery in order to get the "real feeling" :-)

ironknee says: Und...
Sent 20 June 2008, 17h17
...vergesst mich nicht wenn ihr das in Angriff nehmt! :0)

Zaza says: updates
Sent 4 May 2009, 21h09
Frank Seeger hat den SdG am Wochenende begangen, von Perostabbio nach Alpe di Melano. Sie haben 3.5 Stunden (!) gebraucht von Perostabbio bis Sasso Piatto. Seine Einschätzung: „T6, markiert, es braucht gute Nerven“...

Übrigens ist die Via Ferrata nun wieder hergerichtet und begehbar, mit drei kurzen, leicht überhängenden Leitern.

Alpin_Rise Pro says: RE:updates
Sent 7 May 2009, 16h34
sag mir wenn du gehst, hab viel Zeit nächstens.
Mal sehn was mit "guten Nerven" gemeint ist... wenns markiert ist, ist schon mal ein Nervenstrang entlastet!

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