OverviewPetite Colonne de Marcia m 2003
Haut–Asco, located in the Northern sector of Corsica, is the most “alpine” area of the island, both from the geological and meteorological point of view, covered with luxuriant pine forests and plenty of streams and little lakes. This peculiarity contributes to give to the landscape an alpine look, with peaks over 2.000 m. that suddenly fall toward the sea. Here is located the highest summit of the island, Monte Cinto m. 2706.
The impressive Asco Valley, surrounded by stunning peaks and cut through by the thundering Asco river, which flows with crystal clear waters through the cliffs and gorges and gives the name to the valley, penetrates within the heart of this wild region.
Petite Colonne de Marcia, also named “A Petra Alta” in Corsican dialect, is a stunning peak, a wonderful and mighty rocky tower, making with its sister “La Grande Colonne de Marcia” and Capu Larghia a characteristic little group - well visible North to the basin of Haut Ascu-Stagnu - which captures the eye. This fascinating peak shows a NE face and a SW face, both vertical and very difficult, and a SE face with a wonderful classic route, the Arête Sud-Est or Austrian Route, one of the finest climbing routes of the whole area.
Getting ThereCorsica can be easily approached:
- by ferry-boat from the French ports of Marseille, Nice and Toulon or from the Italian ports of Livorno, Genova and Savona (main Corsican ports are Ajaccio, Bastia and Calvi). The shortest trip by ferry is from Livorno port on Italy Western coast to Bastia port on Corsica Eastern coast.
- by plane; main Corsica airports are Bastia, Ajaccio, Calvi and Figari.
The most convenient destinations to visit the haut Asco is Bastia.
The closest town to the Asco Valley is Ponte Leccia.
- from Bastia (Corsica East coast) take the road to Corte and Ponte Leccia
Road approach to Haut-Asco
From Ponte Leccia follow the road N197 to Calvi and after 2 km leave the main road and turn to left, taking the road D147. Drive to South-West on the narrow and impressive road, penetrating within the Asco valley. After about 18 kms you will reach the small settlement of Asco m 600, the only village of the valley; the road penetrates within the beautiful Forest of Asco and after some hairpins reach the ancient ski-station of Haut-Asco m 1422 on the Stagnu “plateau”. Parking.
From Haut-Asco follow the gravel road rising towards the “chalets” and soon leave it at the first hairpin, where a narrow trail heading Nort starts (cairns). The track cross a little dry stream and crosses the slope mainly on level within the pine wood reaching a huge block and skirting it. The track begins to rise on a slope, at first vegetated and developiong below the pines, then on rocky ground. Getting near a big pine on a flat at 1550 m of altitude, leave the track and traverse right towards a rocky gully, traverse this latter under a rocky pedestal, follow a short vegetated slope getting the base of a characteristic reddish slab (waterfall). Rise on rocky ground and head to right rising towards a zone of slabs and rocky steps over a talweg. Climb the left flank then the right one of the talweg, getting to a huge block at the base of the very steep gully coming down from the notch between the Grande and the Petite Colonne at about 1700 m. Head to right taking on obvious ascending ledge skirting the bottom of the S face and rising to a rocky notch amongst some blocks under a peculiar corner.
Arête Sud-Est or Austrians Route reportPetite Colonne de Marcia – Arête Sud-Est or Austrians Route report - UIAA Scale
Summit altitude: m 2003
Difficulty: Alpine D+
Route length: 200 m
Difference in level: 600 m from Stagnu
First ascent: L. Arauner – J. Kuchler – W. von Redwitz – H. Vollmann 1934, October, 1st
Starting point: Haut-Ascu Stagnu m 1258, upper Asco Valley
A wonderful and exposed trad climb on excellent granite; the route follows steep dihedrals and coloured slabs on an airy ridge within a wild environment. A great classic route, one of the finest one of the Haut-Asco area.
From Haut Asco - Stagnu follow the gravel road rising towards the “chalets” and soon leave it at the first hairpin, where a narrow trail heading North starts (cairns). The track cross a little dry stream and crosses the slope mainly on level within the pine wood reaching a huge block and skirting it. The track begins to rise on a slope, at first vegetated and developiong below the pines, then on rocky ground. Getting near a big pine on a flat at 1550 m of altitude, leave the track and traverse right towards a rocky gully, traverse this latter under a rocky pedestal, follow a short vegetated slope getting the base of a characteristic reddish slab (waterfall). Rise on rocky ground and head to right rising towards a zone of slabs and rocky steps over a talweg. Climb the left flank then the right one of the talweg, getting to a huge block at the base of the very steep gully coming down from the notch between the Grande and the Petite Colonne at about 1700 m. Head to right taking on obvious ascending ledge skirting the bottom of the S face and rising to a rocky notch amongst some blocks under a peculiar corner. Belay.
L1 - Climb the 20 meters long dihedral, exit left avoiding a little flake, then climb directly on the left of a small vegetated gully reaching a stance. IV+, then III
L2 - Up the beautiful greenish slab, steep but cut by tiny cracks, reaching a grassy terrace with blocks. IV+
L3 - Climb the 10 meters corner over the stance; the corner is closed by a roof. Avoid it on the left, climbing a crack leading to another crack. Up the second crack. Belay on a ledge. V-
L4 - From the ledge climb a crack which Forks in the middle, then disappears before reaching a stance under a huge yellow overhang, called "la botte inverseé". IV
L5 - Avoid the overhang on the left, following a thin crack, that leads under another roof. Traverse left, and reach slanting left a good platform under a long corner-crack. V-
L6 - Climb the beautiful corner-crack, exit left skirting an overhang, then up some steep steps, reaching a stance on the fore-summit. V
L7 - Traverse on easy ground to a notch between the fore-summit and the summit.
L8 - Climb the airy ridge, then slanting right climb a slab on the East side of the summit ridge. III+
L9-L10 Follow the large summit ridge with easy climb, interrupted by a couple of short steep walls, reaching the summit cairn.
Descent - From the summit head to NW, reaching an equipped belay. Two great rappels (40 m + 50 m) towards West (towards Grande Colonne) lead on a large saddle between Petite and Grande Colonne. From the saddle three great rappels along the South gully lead to a rocky slope. Descend it to join the approach trail.
Red TapeNo fees no permits needed. The Haut-Asco area is located inside the Parc Naturel Régional de Corse P.N.R.C. (Natural Regional Park of Corsica), which has been acknowledged as “Great National Site” since the year 1985. Its 33,000 hectares' extension includes 143 communes and fills beyond 1/3 of the island’s territory.
Be aware that wild camping is strictly prohibited in Corsica.
Nature and climateNature is wild and peculiar; in Corsica we can find more than 5% of authoctonous kinds of flower and plants, in addition to authoctonous fauna. On the contrary, several kinds of animal current inside Mediterranean countries are away from Corsica, like squirrels and vipers.
Climate is alpine, with cold and very snowy winters. The middle summer months (July and August) sometimes may be hot.
When to ClimbBest season goes from June to middle October
Accomodation- Hotel Restaurant Gite "Le Chalet" - Haut Asco
- Refuge Stagnu - Haut Asco
- A couple of hotels in Asco
At Haut-Asco basic camping is possible, otherwise there are different equipped camp-sites along the Asco Valley; the closest is Monte Cinto Camping, located within the Haut Asco Forest, between Stagnu and the village of Asco
LACHAINE METEO ASCO
Guidebooks and maps
"Guide d'escalade en Corse - Corse du Nord", Tome I by Jean Paul Quilici and Bernard Vaucher, Ed. de l'Envol, 2000, in French
"Corse, l'ile verticale" by Martial Lacroix e Pierre Sanchou, Ed. Adrénaline, 1999, in French. A selection of 72 beautiful multi-pitches in Corsica, in French
"Corse paradis de l’escalade" by Martial Lacroix, DCL Editions, in French
IGN OT4250 "Monte Cinto" 1:25.000
Corse du Nord 1:50 000, Ed. Didier Richard, map 20