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Monte Generoso: via della variante + via ferrata Angelino

Published by Stijn , 15 December 2015, 22h29.

Region: World » Switzerland » Tessin » Sottoceneri
Date of the hike:12 December 2015
Hiking grading: T5- - Challenging High-level Alpine hike
Climbing grading: I (UIAA Grading System)
Via ferrata grading: AD
Geo-Tags: CH-TI   I   Gruppo Monte Generoso 
Time: 8:00
Height gain: 1600 m 5248 ft.
Height loss: 1300 m 4264 ft.

While winter has at least made a brief visit to the north of Switzerland, the south still looks like summer. It's mid December, but alpine hiking is still possible in Tessin to altitudes well above 2000m. Our goal had a slightly more modest altitude, but an all-the-more rewarding route to the top: the via della variante onto the Monte Generoso.


We start at the bottom of the valley, at the Maroggia-Melano railway station. The picturesque village of Rovio would offer a slightly higher starting point, but due to limited bus connections this doesn't offer any time gain for us. Though the day is short and our route fairly long, we only start walking at 10:15. The late start lets us enjoy more of the afternoon sun on the via della variante, after which we plan to do the via ferrata Angelino and watch the sunset from the mountain, before descending by head-torch.

In Rovio, we follow the hiking path in the direction of Monte Sant'Agata until the first hairpin, where we go straight ahead to the Prato di Pioda. Already here, a rather dramatic sign warns in four languages about the "extremely dangerous passage". According to other Hikr reports, this sign used to be up at Perostabbio. Give it another year, and the sign might have drifted down all the way to the Lago di Lugano shores...

We continue with a sustained ascent through the forrest (reasonably well-marked with cairns and pink paint) towards the Baita di Perostabbio. We have a lunch break in the sun outside of the the small rifugio, which is always open.

The path becomes a little more vague after the Baita di Perostabbio. There is one flashy yellow sign, but otherwise there are only a few vague red markings. However, as long as you keep paying attention, it's hard to go wrong.

Around the 1400m contour, the landscape changes dramatically. The forrest suddenly ends, and we find ourselves in a stunning landscape with unique rock formations sticking out of the steep grass slopes. The path ascends in a fairly direct line, with a few of the steeper sections requiring a bit of care (T4+).

Around the 1570m contour, the route changes character again, as the path starts traversing south. This is the heart of the via della variante (T5-). After following some ledges, the finale involves bits of easy scrambling (usually with fixed cables for additional help). The crux is a little "bridge" consisting of some granit stones lying precariously on two iron bars, followed by a short climb where the rocks tend to push you out into the abyss a little. This is the only place where the fixed cables are actually quite helpful. As mentioned by Zaza and Simiae, the two final fixed cables in the route are damaged, but we had no problems managing without them. The via della variante ends at the saddle of P. 1652, between Baraghetto and Monte Generoso.

We ascend the Monte Generoso summit along the north ridge (T3 or K1). Ignoring the massive construction site at the hotel, the panorama on the Monte Generoso, stretching from Monte Viso over Monte Rosa and Tödi to Piz Bernina, is quite magnificent. The railway won't be running again until 2017, so there's a some time left to enjoy Monte Generoso without hordes of tourist trampling about.

After a long break on the summit, we head over to the secondary summit of Baraghetto. Below Baraghetto, a small house has been build into the west face, the so-called Casa della Marchesa Carla Nobili-Vitelleschi. Apparently the slightly eccentric countess had the house built for her back in 1927. There's a fixed rope along the steep descent from the ridge to the Casa della Marchesa. The house seems to be in the process of being renovated. It has even received a proper door and large glass windows onto the balcony!

Back on the Baraghetto, we embark on the via ferrata Angelino (K3). We take the via ferrata in descent, from Baraghetto down to P. 1659, which is slightly more difficult than doing the route in ascent. The short via ferrata involves a number of vertical ladders, an airy traverse between two of said ladders, and a steep scramble with a chain as additional help.

Sunset is now upon us. We watch the spectacle at the Cima della Piancaccia together with five chamois. That's three more than the number of humans we have seen since Rovio!

For our descent, we intended the direct route from Cima Crocetta down towards Rovio, but this path looks rather vague. We decide that following the marked hiking path towards Arogno is a safer option in the dark. Looking at the bus timetable at the outskirts of Arogno, it seems that we have just missed the bus and have to walk further down to Maroggia-Melano. However, in the village centre, a bus is just waiting. It turns out that the timetable that we saw, already had the new bus schedule which is only valid from tomorrow. Thankful for the convenient connection provided by the old schedule, we take the bus down to Capolago and the train back up north.


Among the many great moments of the day (the weather, the summit panorama, via ferrata, the sunset...), the via della variante must the absolute highlight. It's an alpine hiking route in amazing scenery, absolutely worth the large ascent on the approach.

Hike partners: Stijn

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Comments (2)

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rochi says:
Sent 15 December 2015, 22h49
Well done!!
Great trail, great pictures!

Francesco says:
Sent 16 December 2015, 11h23
..Bravi !!!

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