Overview: the easiest route to the harder mountain of the whole ApenninesThe south side normal route is the easiest route to climb (or descend from) Corno Piccolo: it traverses from east to west the wild south side, a steep and broken slope, furrowed by several couloirs and terraces.
It’s a marked trail (3D) for expert hikers: it starts from Vallone dei Ginepri, few meters below Sella dei Due Corni saddle, and leads to the west ridge, near the summit of Prima Spalla. From there you can reach Corno Piccolo summit in a few minutes.
The south side normal route was climbed down by Enrico Abbate and Giovanni Acitelli, during the first ascent of Corno Piccolo (18th of september 1887): they come from the north side, so they did at the same time the first climb and the first traverse of the mountain.
Best season to climb: early summer-autumn.
A) Coming from Gran Sasso north side (Prati di Tivo), you have to reach La Madonnina dell’Arapietra by chairlift; if the chairlift is closed or you don’t want to use it, you can drive the road on the left of the Prati di Tivo main square: it leads to the Sella di Cima Alta saddle (3,5Km); from there, following the wide and scenic Arapietra ridge, in about 1h you reach La Madonnina (2028m, 1h).
From La Madonnina, take the trail nr. 3 to Franchetti hut (2477m, 1h), then continue walk up until you reach Sella dei Due Corni saddle (2547m, 20min, 1h 20min from La Madonnina, 2h 20min if you started from Sella di Cima Alta).
B) Coming from Gran Sasso south side (Campo Imperatore Hotel, 2120m), follow the trail (nr. 3) that reaches the pass of Sella di Monte Aquila (2335 m, about 40min), crossing at half coast the slopes of Monte Portella, then walk up the scree slope (quite steep) descending from Sella del Brecciaio (2506m, 1h); from there DON’T TAKE THE TRAIL TO VIA FERRATA BRIZIO (because of its dangerousness, it’s not mantained and closed), but continue walking on the trail nr.3, crossing Conca degli Invalidi bowl, above the west side of Corno Grande, until you reach Passo del Cannone (2679m, 1h); from Passo del Cannone, descend a steep slope of rock and gravels (some passages equipped with fixed ropes, dangerous with snow), bearing on your left, until you reach Sella dei Due Corni (2547m, 30min, 3h 10min from Campo Imperatore Hotel).
From Sella dei Due Corni, either you come from A) or B) approach, walk down the path toward Vallone dei Ginepri, leave on your right the start of Via Ferrata Danesi and, after few meters, you meet the start of the Normal Route (about 2400m, 15 min from Sella dei Due Corni)
Since many climbers can use this route to descend from Corno Piccolo main summit or from Prima Spalla summit, I’ll describe also the descent:
From the summit of Corno Piccolo, walk down the west ridge, toward Prima Spalla; few meters before you reach the summit of Prima Spalla take the narrow couloir on your left (south) and descend it, following the several paint marks, until you reach sentiero Ventricini, on the bottom of Vallone dei Ginepri (about 1h from Corno Piccolo summit, 45min from Prima Spalla summit)
Essential GearA pair of good mountain-shoes
Guide, maps, external links
L. Grazzini, P. Abbate, “Gran Sasso d’Italia”, Cai-Tci, 1992
S. Ardito, “A piedi sul Gran Sasso”, Iter, 1992
S. Ardito, “A Piedi in Abruzzo” vol. 1, Iter, 1996
A. Alesi, M. Calibani, A. Palermi, “Gran Sasso – Le più belle escursioni”, SER, 1996
“Gran Sasso d’Italia. La carta dei sentieri”, edited by Cai-L’Aquila (scale 1:25.000)
Meteo bulletin Meteomont: Abruzian Apennines
Corno Piccolo view from north (Prati di Tivo)