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Monte Resegone (Gamma 1, Centenario, Silvano De Franco, Sentiero delle Creste, Cresta Giumenta)

Published by Stijn , 29 January 2016, 20h17.

Region: World » Italy » Lombardy
Date of the hike:23 January 2016
Hiking grading: T5- - Challenging High-level Alpine hike
Via ferrata grading: TD-
Geo-Tags: I 
Time: 2 days
Height gain: 2400 m 7872 ft.
Height loss: 2400 m 7872 ft.

After doing the Traversata Alta delle Grigne in December, I knew that I would be back in the Alpi Lecchesi, but I had not expected to be back this soon. I had to endure some weird looks from people who didn't understand that I would head south, just now that the snow has finally arrived in the north. But the sunny weather forecast for the Italian Alps was too tempting for me.

There are several more reasons why the mountains around Lecco are particularly interesting for a weekend away, especially in winter. There are many interesting routes at relatively low altitude, that are doable almost all year. Numerous mountain huts are open and staffed on weekends year-round. Last but not least, a journey without delays through the Gotthard tunnel is also something that only happens in winter...

My choice this time fell on the Monte Resegone, with an overnight stay in the Rifugio Azzoni just below the summit. In two days, I linked together some sort of "best-of" of the many routes than can be done on this mountain.

Day 1
Piazzale funivia - via ferrata Gamma 1 - Piani d'Erna - Passo del Fò - via ferrata del Centenario - via ferrata de Franco Silvano - Monte Resegone
T3 / K5-, 6h15, 1600m ascent, 350m descent

The Piani di Erna cable car is in operation year-round. However, I don't take advantage of it. Instead, want to climb up to Piani di Erna using the Gamma 1 via ferrata (K4-). I follow route 1 towards the Rifugio Stoppani until a sign for the via ferrata tells me to turn left. The first part of the via ferrata is quite vertical and exposed. However, it mostly consists of ladders, so there are not too many technical challenges. After some 200m of ascent, there is an escape route towards Stoppani. However, the difficulties don't increase any more afterwards. On the contrary, the exposure and intensity clearly decrease in the second part. The route also gets more enjoyable, with fewer ladders and more scrambling on rock. There is a short two-wire bridge and a longer suspension bridge (both quite comfortable), before the ladders are back again on the final climb to the Pizzo d'Erna summit. After a solid 600m of ascent on the via ferrata, the route ends directly at the summit cross. The entire via ferrata is secured with chains instead of cables, which isn't as bothersome as I feared, apart from making quite a rattling noise.

The normal route onto the Resegone is path number 1, climbing from Piani d'Erna via Pian Serada towards the summit. I ignore that and take a detour towards the Passo del Fò, where I have my eyes set on another via ferrata. A sign for the Ferrata del Centenario (K3) can be found above the helipad just east of the pass. The route is relatively short (150m of ascent) and climbs mostly through a couloir, connecting the Passo del Fò with the wide, inclined grass terrace of Pian Serada. Passing by an impressive free-standing rock tower is undoubtedly the highlight of the route. The steeper parts of the via ferrata (briefly slightly overhanging at the very end) are relatively easy thanks to many iron rungs. Short people might find the route slightly harder, since the rungs are sometimes placed rather far apart.

I join the tourist path on Pian Serrada and follow this up to an altitude of about 1750m (bits of T3, mostly T2). Turning briefly onto an unmarked path that is coming up from the north-west (small signpost pointing to the tourist path), I find the start of the via ferrata Silvano de Franco (K5-). The route follows the small Monte Resegone west ridge to the summit, which involves just over 100m of ascent. The first half of the route has some amazing rock for enjoyable and relatively challenging scrambling. This must be one of the best "pure rock" via ferratas (i.e. no rungs, pegs, ladders, etc.) that I have climbed so far. The quality of the rock is slightly lower in the second half of the route and in a few spots I have to rely more on force than on technique to pull myself up. Overall though, the Silvano de Franco via ferrata is a beautiful route, very worthwhile in spite of its short length, and not to be underestimated in difficulty.

Just below the Monte Resegone summit is the Rifugio Azzoni, which is open every weekend in all seasons. I'm surprised to be the only guest staying for the night. It's a good opportunity to practise my Italian with the guardians (the very hospitable trio of Cico, Stefano and Lorenzo) while the full moons shines brightly outside.

Day 5
Rifugio Azzoni - Sentiero delle Creste - La Passata - Passo del Fò - Cresta Giumenta - Piazzale funivia
T5-, 7h, 800m ascent, 2050m descent

The Sentiero delle Creste (briefly T4 / I, mostly T3) follows the Monte Resegone south ridge for about 3km over the Cima Quarenghi to the col of La Passata. Even though the path often stays a little east of the ridge proper, it still follows the ridge fairly consistently and offers plenty of nice views. The upper parts of the path are covered by a layer of ice. I'm glad to have my crampons, though microspikes would have been even more suitable. The grade of T4 is limited to a few spots of scrambling without much exposure that I encounter in descent between the Rifugio Azzoni and the intermediate col of I Solitari. The descent from the Quarenghi statue to La Passata is non-technical, but properly steep and potentially hazardous in wet conditions.

From La Passata, I follow the easy path towards the Capanna Alpinisti Monzesi ("Rifugio Monza"). The path passes by the Miniere della Passata. The tunnels of this former mine (adding up to a total length of about 100m) can be explored, as long a you bring a headtorch and ideally a helmet.

I reach the Passo del Fò again soon after the Rifugio Monza. From here, I take still another path, now heading west over the Giumenta ridge (crux T5, otherwise up to T4) towards the Monte Magnodeno. The more challenging sections of this ridge route are secured by cables and a via ferrata set is recommended for less experienced hikers. (That didn't stop two different locals from taking their dogs onto the ridge!) Most of the difficulties are encountered near the Passo del Fò, with the route getting gradually easier as you get closer to Monte Magnodeno. The crux is a short but steep chimney without many good holds in the rock. Most people do the Cresta Giumenta in the opposite direction, which is slightly easier, because then the crux is taken in ascent. The crux can also be completely avoided, as there is a path that traverses on the south side past that part of the ridge. Cresta Giumenta is worthwhile for the many spectacular views directly down to the city of Lecco, but would be even more pleasant with fewer loose stones lying around.

I get some well-deserved pasta for lunch at the Bivacco Magnodeno. The people at the small hut are rather surprised and excited to see a foreign visitor. Afterwards, I descend back towards the car park via Campo dei Boi. In spite of repeated instructions from other hikers to just "follow the path, always straight ahead", I end up on the wrong way. After trespassing on two farms and doing an unwanted 100m of additional ascent along the main road, I finally end up back at my car. I still have no idea where I went wrong. Just don't follow my gps track blindly...

Driving back to Switzerland, I make a spontaneous stop in Pusiano to enjoy a wonderful sunset over the Lago di Pusiano. It puts things in perspective a little. As much as I enjoyed climbing the Monte Resegone to spend the night at the Rifugio Azzoni, I now have to admit that you can also watch a spectacular sunset without climbing a mountain!

Hike partners: Stijn

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