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Vetta Centrale (2893 m) from Campo Imperatore

Vetta Centrale (2893 m) from Campo Imperatore

Vetta Centrale (2893 m) from Campo Imperatore

Page Type: Route

Location: Italy, Europe

Lat/Lon: 42.47000°N / 13.57000°E

Object Title: Vetta Centrale (2893 m) from Campo Imperatore

Route Type: Trad Climbing, Scrambling, Via Ferrata

Season: Summer, Fall

Time Required: A long day

Grade: II

Route Quality: 
 - 4 Votes


Page By: Lupino

Created/Edited: Oct 17, 2006 / Sep 7, 2007

Object ID: 236152

Hits: 6257 

Page Score: 80.49%  - 12 Votes 

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Vetta Centrale (2893 m) is one of the four summits belonging to the Corno Grande, togheter with Vetta Occidentale (2912 m), Vetta Orientale (2903 m) and Torrione Cambi (2875 m). We are in the wonderful scenario of the Gran Sasso massif, recalling to us the dolomitic landscape  
Looking to South
South view
characterised by vertical rocky walls, dark cracks, wide and narrow ledges, gravelly slopes and valleys, green meadows and even a uniqueglacier, even if little; the southermost glacier of Europe (Ghiacciaio del Calderone). The steep side of the glacier, under the Vetta Occidentale of Corno Grande is visible, while at the bottom the glacier surface is completely hidden by stones and rocks.  
View of Calderone glacier
Summit view on the Calderone glacier

Alpinistic skill (UIAA II+ grade) and good condition are requested to gain the summit by this route. The long tour described in the following sections, including the approach by a short ferrata and the long descent through the Calderone glacier up to the starting point, is a very exciting experience to be done not in bad weather condition. The pleasent alpinistic sections of the route become really dangerous if snow is still present. A real danger is the very high risk of rocks falling down in summer season; the helmet is obliged. A lot of other and more difficult routes (up to UIAA VI grade) exist on the W-NW side as well as on the S-SE face.
The hystory says that the first ascent was by Acitelli and Gualerzi on 1892 by the NW side here described, but others climbers opened harder routes to the summit in the XX century, and the most difficult were done by the new generation of climbers from the 80’s.
Corno Grande Map
Sketch of the Corno Grande area

Getting There

The starting point is from the Campo Imperatore (2120 meters). The plateau of Campo Imperatore is not a village, but only the upper station of the cablecar, connecting Campo Imperatore with the base (Loc. Fonte Cerreto). Close to the station there are also an hotel, a refuge (even called Ostello) and an astronomic observatory.

From Rome: The fastest way, by car, is the Highway A24-Roma/L’Aquila. Exit at Assergi (about 120 km) and proceed by the S.S. 17-bis to Campo Imperatore (about 25 km). In summer, when the road up to Campo Imperatore is practicable (no snow), you can reach the starting point by car. Otherwise, generally from November to end April-May, you have to take the cableway, placed few kilometers from the Highway A24 at 1120 meters, connecting directly Campo Imperatore (open from 08:00 to 17:00, +39-0862-606143 cableway station). In summer the cableway can be on maintenance.
Early morning
Sunset on the Corno Grande

The base of the cableway station can be reached even by bus from Rome. The bus transportation service provided by ARPA s.p.a. line, the private company connecting Rome with many destinations in Abruzzo region, starts from the Railway Station “Tiburtina” of Rome. Take the bus directed to L’Aquila (ARPA Terminal Collemaggio): you arrive at destination by 01:40 hours. From L’Aquila take the line “6D” to Fonte Cerreto (about 45 minutes to the destination). The service is always available during the year. 20 runs every day (from Monday to Saturday) from 06:55 to 22:45, and 11 runs on Sunday.

Route Description

Ascent: 960 m from Campo Imperatore to the summit - Time:4:00-5:00 hours
- 670 m up to the Forchetta del Calderone;
- 290 m up to the summit
Descent: 960 m from the summit to Campo Imperatore - Time:3:00-4:00 hours
- 210 m to the Ghiacciaio del Calderone;
- 750 m to Campo Imperatore
Route on the NW-side
The NW route. Red=ascent/partly descent - Green=descent

The ascent
On Sella d Aquila
Sella d'Aquila
From Campo Imperatore, passed the astronomic observatory, follow the indication of the trail that gently ascents on your right till the Sella dell’Aquila (2335 m).  
Towards Ferrata Bafile
Sella d'Aquila
Hiking on the ridge directed to the Monte Aquila, leave on your left at first the trail to the normal route to the Vetta Occidentale, then the trail to Monte Aquila (on your right). Ascended few elevations (Il Sassone, 2500 m), reach the junction with the Direttissima route to the Vetta Occidentale; leave it on your left. Put the ferrata-kit on, useful to overcome safely some exposed parts of the following route. The view on the Valle dell’Inferno is beautiful, as well as the E-side of the Corno Grande and the walls where is placed the Bivacco Bafile capture your attention. 
The ferrata Bafile
The ferrata
The gravelly slope
The gravelly slope

The short but amazing ferrata runs along ledges and little walls, with ropes and ladders. The trail now cuts a gravelly slopes coming down from the E-face of the Vetta Occidentale.
At about 2600 m, reached the junction with the trail continuing to the Bivacco Bafile, you have to turn left climbing towards the narrow saddle called “Forchetta del Calderone”. By an easy climb (at most II UIAA grade) arrive at the Forchetta del Calderone (2790 m).

Forchetta del Calderone

Forchetta Gualerzi

Embedded stone
From the saddle descent with caution about 15 meters up to a wide gravelly terrace that cuts the N-side of the Torrione Cambi. Continues few meters on the right till the sign “3B”, identifying the base of the chimney to be climbed: the most difficult part of the ascent. Climbing about 50 meters with mostly II UIAA grade (some slippery and dressed rocks) arrive few meters under the saddle “Forchetta Gualerzi” (2840 m). Descent about 40meters from the saddle in the direction of the Valle dell’Inferno, leaving on your right the route to the Torrione Cambi. Clear indication on the rocks show you the attack of the last part of the ascent to the Vetta Centrale. Climb a chimney, passing under a characteristic embedded stone (UIAA II+) and scramble up to the summit (2983 m).  

The descent
Go-back to the Forchetta Gualerzi and rappel to the gravelly terrace. Turn right, walking few meters on the slippery terrace close to the rocky wall, and rappel again (about 60 m) along the chimney connecting with the base of the Ghiacciaio del Caldeone (2680 m).
The route directed to N now crosses the glacier, completely covered in this part by stones. Follow the trail towards the Passo del Cannone, leaving on your right the trail the Corno Piccolo. Look at the number “35” on the rocks that identifies the trail, supported by few metallic ropes, to the Passo del Cannone. By a confortable trail continue up-and-down the descent to the saddle Sella del Brecciaio (2506 m) and then, overcoming a steeper descent, arrive at Campo Pericoli, a wide green plateau surrounded by the Corno Grande and other summits of Gran Sasso such as Pizzo d’Intermesoli and Pizzo Cefalone. Continue the flat path till the junction with the trail coming from the Bivacco Bafile and the Direttisima and go-back to Campo Imperatore by the same route of the morning.

Essential Gear

Ferrata-kit, helmet, rope (60 m) and equipment for belaying and rappelling.


View of Calderone glacierPiccolo Campanile della ForchettaThe terraceClimbing Forchetta GualerziRappellingVetta CentraleOn Sella d\'Aquila
Climbing the Forchetta del Calderone 2Forchetta del CalderoneThe ferrata BafileSummits of Corno GrandeTowards the Forchetta del CalderoneW-faceS-ridge of Sella d\'Aquila
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