Monte Rotondo is one of the six major mountains (Monte Cinto, Monte Rotondo, Paglia Orba , Monte Padru, Monte d'Oro and Monte Renoso) on Corsica. In contrast to all the other summits it is rather hard to reach since it stands quite alone in the backcounty. On the other hand this gives the summit aspirant the possibility to do some serious trecking or to spend a very long day in one of the beautiful gorges that lead to the mountain.
Monte Rotondo is supposed to be the best lookout mountain on Corsica. With 2622m of altitude it is the second highest summit after Monte Cinto (2706m). The summit iself consists of a rather small summit block on a west-east ridge. To reach this ridge is the main challenge of the ascent. If you don't count the 1600m altitude gain.... Start your day very early - weather on Corsica is sometimes a little rough and often in the afternoon the highest summits are covered in clouds.
And that would be a shame. My tourbook states that in 1852 Ferdinand Gregorovius said: "The horizon that you see from Monte Rotondo, is by far more awesome and beautiful than the one seen from Mont Blanc". Don't mind whether he is right (or whether he has been on Mont Blanc or who he is) - the view of all Corsican summits plus all the mountain lakes is worth a little suffering (or getting up early).
Getting ThereCorsica can be reached by ferry or by plane. Major gateways are Ajaccio in the west and Bastia in the north. Usually both ferries and planes start from Marseille or Nice on the Côte d'Azur.
There are two possible trailheads for Monte Rotondo (and - like any other of the highest summits on Corsica - trecking trail GR20 not far away - treckers certainly will come near the mountain anyway) both are rather far off and the ascent altitudes are enormous 1600m from Restonica Gorge, 1800m from Manganello Valley.
The gorge is one of the major climbing centers in Corsica (besides Monte Gozzi. You reach the gorge either from Ajaccio in the west or Bastia in the north by taking Route Nationale 193 to Corte. There turn into D623 which immediately leads into the gorge. 11km behind Corte the trailhead is at the bridge Pont de Timozzo.
One of the most beautiful valleys of Corsica, Maganello is some 15km of cascades, waterfalls and rock pools. You can reach it from Route Nationale 193. Between Tattone (south) and Vivario (north) a narrow little side road (D23) heads east into the Manganello valley. The trailhead is at the very end of this road at Canaglia.
Red TapeNo permits no fees required. Rotondo is free to be climbed in any respect.
When To ClimbThe season in Corsica is May through September. Outside the summer months accomodation is rather hard to find. In that case you must be prepared to get a room somewhere on the coast. With appropriate gear climbing Monte Rotondo is possible all year round.
AccommodationAccommodation is rather easy to find in the summer months. Outside the season only a few hotels and appartments are open. There sure are campgrounds in Corsica but none near Monte Rotondo. The nearest are in Tattone (Manganello route) or in Corte (Restonica route). There are supposed to be cmpgrounds in Restonica gorge but I'm not sure.
The Petra Piana Refuge south of Monte Rotondo is quite a popular mountain hut among climbers. It is part of a two day round trip starting from Canaglia through the Manganello Valley, overnight stay at the Refuge, Monte Rotondo ascent the following day and descent to Restonica gorge.
Mountain ConditionsFor Weather information for Corsica lookup the Meteo Corse page. Be always sure to bring warm clothes. Even in summer when temperatures at the coast get to be 30°C + the peaks of Corsica can be freezing cold.
Maps 'n' BooksAs for Maps I used only a road map scale 1:200000 since the guidebook I used has maps and is really excellent.
The book is:
Corsica (Corse / Korsika)
Klaus Wolfsperger, Tom Krupp
ISBN: 3-7633-4819-0 (English)
ISBN: 3-7633-4907-3 (French)
ISBN: 3-7633-4280-X (German)