There are two routes to Pizzo Mirabella which both combine on a dirt road north-west of the Vuscagghierra Saddle. Of the two the eastern one across the saddle is the more picturesque as it offers the best views of the destination – Pizzo Mirabella – and the whole Iato Valley. This route would be an easy hike if it weren’t for the fact that the whole (yes, the whole) route is overgrown with macchia, mostly nasty thistles and blackberry brambles. It is a bushwhack of epic proportions and you should be aware of that.
Getting ThereSee the getting there information on the main page. There’s nothing to add here.
- Start altitude: 510m
- Summit altitude: 1165m
- Prevailing exposure: S
- Type: over overgrown paths (a short hike along a dirt road in between)
- Protection: marked, but barely – use your own judgement!
In contrary to what has been said in the overview – there is a short patch in which the route is not overgrown – you’ll find it right at the beginning. You follow the road westward, which passes the Masseria la Chiusa to the north but soon – after about 800m the fun starts in earnest. At a gate to the left (sign) you have to double back to the east and climbing the fence you get a first glimpse of what is to come. However, at first the trail climbs smoothly without too much undergrowth until you get to a small water reservoir. Here turn left and follow a (nearly invisible) path between the reservoir and a fence to the right (east). The path bends eastwards and starts to climb steeply, always negotiating nasty (I mean it!) thistles and blackberry branches which reach out for you.
This part of the route is hard to describe –the path vanishes here and there but re-emerges readily again a few steps above. A first landmark is a large cave – you don’t have to climb to it to reach the Mirabella summit but you might want to as it contains prehistoric petroglyphs. The trail, however, passes by some 30m beneath the cave, still steadily climbing eastwards. After a while – there are new signposts – the trail turns north and now climbs steeply towards the Vuscagghierra Saddle. No brambles here but you’ll find that long grass leaves can be quite as nasty, cutting into your shins with no mercy.
You reach the saddle – a beautifull setting between the rocks, in itself worth the climb. On the other (northern) side keep level and follow the path (readily visible in this part) along the slopes. It descends into the next saddle, where a dirt road meets, which you can follow for a couple of hundred metres westward. The path, however, leaves the road soon and decends into the south slopes beneath the Mirabella Crest. Here again going woud be easy but for the overgrown paths with fallen trees strewn in between. The path descends steeply and circumvents the rocks on the crest but soon ascends again and – wonders of wonders – meets another dirt road on top of the crest. This you can follow for a couple (yes two!) switchbacks, where a narrow path doubles back and now follows the northern slope of the Mirabella crest.
This path slowly, but steadily climbs towards the summit following the whole remaining crest to the northern side. It finally, in a steep scramble, reaches a saddle just beneath the Mirabella summit block from where the final ascent starts. My guidebook recommends staying on the left side of the summit ridge but I found that advice impractical. You’d need real climbing gear on that route. Instead head along a very steep meadow to the right of the ridge which will lead you to a point to the north of the summit. From there you’ll have to scramble up the remaining steps to the summit via an exposed UIAA II climb.