Arête Integrale de Zonza

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 41.79947°N / 9.21427°E
Additional Information Route Type: Trad Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.8 (YDS)
Additional Information Difficulty: Alpine D+, 5c max
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 12
Sign the Climber's Log


Geographical classification: Corsica - Corse > Bavella Massif > Punta di l'Acellu > Arête Integrale de Zonza


Arête Integrale de Zonza (Punta di l'Acellu)

The stunning Punta di l’Acellu – meaning Peak of the Bird – which is also named Tour I,  being the Southernmost peak amongst Bavella Towers and the first one starting from Col de Bavella, is quite a great place to climb! Thanks to the quality of the granite and the relative proximity to Col de Bavella, Punta di l'Acellu is probably the most frequently climbed peak amongst the Towers of Bavella.

Arête de Zonza topo

I am convinced that the popularity of this peak, in addition to the reasons previously mentioned, is due to the existence of a route which is just considered the greatest classic climb of medium difficulty of the Bavella area and probably of the whole island: the Arête Integrale de Zonza.

Scenery at foot of Punta di l'Acellu
Col de la Bavella, scenery at foot of Punta di l'Acellu
Sunset from Col de Bavella
Sunset from Col de Bavella

Getting There

Access to Corse/Corsica

Corsica, known as the Island of Beauty (l'Ile de Beauté) belonging to France but much closer to Italy, can be easily approached by plane (airports both in Bastia on the Eastern coast and Ajaccio on the Western coast)and by ferry-boat from Livorno and Savona italian ports. The most convenient destination in Corsica to visit the Bavella area, one of the wildest region of the island, is the airport of Bastia if you’re getting there by plane; the same Bastia port if you’re getting there by ferry-boat.

Main entrance to Bavella group is Col de Bavella m. 1211.

Aiguilles de Bavella seen from Punta Velacu
Aiguilles de Bavella seen from Punta Velacu
Light and shadows on Bavella Massif
Light and shadows on Bavella Massif

  Road approach to Col de Bavella

- From Bastia (Corsica Eastern coast) follow the road RN 198 towards Solenzara; a few kilometers before getting there, turn to right following D268 to Col de Bavella (km. 130 from Bastia).

- From Aiaccio (Corsica Western coast) follow the road RN 196 to Petreto, then N852 to Aullene, Quenza and Zonza (km. 90 from Aiaccio). From Zonza follow the road D268 to Col de Bavella (9 km.).

Walking Approach

The starting point to reach Punta di l'Acellu is Col de Bavella m. 1211. Wide parking area. It's possible to stay overnight on the pass or getting there directly from Zonza, a small typical resort situated on the South side of Col de Bavella (9 km. from the pass).

Arête Integrale de Zonza report

Arête Integrale de Zonza report - French scale

Summit altitude: m. 1588
Difficulty: max 5c (French scale)
Climbing length: 300 m
Equipment: sparingly equipped (some pegs and natural protections)
Exposure: SE
First ascent: L. Van Hege, P. Solvay, J. Delwart, J. Ganshof 1927, april, 16th
Starting point: Col de Bavella m 1211

A great outing on a highly satisfactory route, the classic of classic on Bavella, providing a magnificent climb up the ridge facing towards Zonza. Different variants exist and pegs are few, therefore the ascent requires a bit of istinct to find the correct route. Moreover it's advisable to bring a good route-report

Bavella forest
Start of the "Variante Alpina"
Walking on GR20 Alpine variant
Approach on GR20 Alpine variant









Approach - From Col de Bavella follow the “Alpine Variant” of GR20 (yellow marks) rising steeply towards the Col de l'Acellu. Just after a small col, leave the main trail (GR20 Alpine Variant) and turn to left, going down on a wide vegetated slope skirting the East Face of Punta di l'Acellu and then getting the bottom of the South Ridge (Arete de Zonza). Cairn near the start of the climb.

Route report

L1 - From the cairn climb close to the ridge overcoming a small overhang, then on easier ground reach the belay on an outcrop - 5a, then 3b, 40 m
L2 - From the belay climb a slab, then some shallow parallel grooves and a short chimney to a comfortable belay on a block - 4a, 27 m
L3 - Climb a sloping slab reaching a belay on a shoulder along the arête at foot of a wall with superb "tafoni"; here possibility to escape by following the iron cables on the right, then abseiling to the base of East face) - 3a, 25 m.

On Arête de Zonza, Punta di l'Acellu
On Arête de Zonza
Arête de Zonza, the greatest classic climb of Bavella
Arête de Zonza, the greatest classic climb of Bavella










L4 - To the right, then returning left, climb up the wall with "tafoni" - easier on the left (2 slings)- reaching the summit of a pinnacle. Short downclimb to reach a narrow notch - 3c, 40 m
L5 - Follow the edge climbing a wall cut by some thin cracks and belay on a notch with "tafoni" - 5a, 35 m
L6 - Reach some slabs, climb those leading to a wall of "tafoni". Up the "tafoni" on the right, traverse right and after a smooth brief wall belay on a narrow ledge - 5c, 35 m
L7 - Climb directly a crack, then some "tafoni" slanting right and on easier ground reach a belay under a compact wall - 5a, 45 m
L8 - Climb a thin crack cutting the compact wall, then on easier ground exit on shoulder with blocks below the summit of Agellucciu - 4c, 40 m

Corner-crack on Arête de Zonza
Corner-crack on Arête de Zonza upper part
Summit of Punta di l'Acellu
Summit of Punta di l'Acellu









Traverse the Agellucciu or skirt it on the right side (there is another possible escape from the ledge below the top of Agellucciu by three abseils towards East to reach the foot of the E face) and reach a comfortable belay equipped with an abseil anchor. A short abseil (25 m) leads into the Genovesi saddle.

L9 - From the saddle climb directly a crack, then some small walls towards a steep wall carved with fine "tafoni". Climb the "tafoni" at first to the left, then to the right. Belay on "tafoni" - 4b, 25 m
L10 - Slanting right on "tafoni" and a slab, reaching a comfortable belay at foot of a compact slab cut by two thin cracks slanting left - 5a, 20 m
L11 - Climb the compact slab at first following the cracks, at it ends directly on the slab (2 spits). Slanting left on easier ground along some ledges - 5b, 35 m
L12 - Towards left climb a short corner-crack leading to the beautiful summit - 3a, 20 m.

Punta di l'Acellu summit
Start of the descent route
Acellu, landing of the abseil
Landing of the abseil, Ariettu in background










Descent From the top of the Punta di l'Acellu head to NW (towards Punta di l'Ariettu, Tour II) following some cairns that lead to an anchor under an overhang. Abseil 25 meters, reaching the first ledge. Walk along the ledge towards right – facing out – getting to a narrow gully which descends at the foot of the tower, near Col de l'Acellu and the Alpine Variant of GR20.

Essential Gear

Rope 2x50, some quick draws, some slings. The route is equipped by spare pegs, bring normal climbing equipment and a selection of cams and wires both to integrate the protections along the pitches and to put on some belays.

Cimate and nature

As a general rule climate in Bavella range is the typical one we find in Mediterranean middle-mountain areas situated at these latitudes, with the obvious differences related to the great variability in the altitude of the peaks, ranging from 500 meters of the Aiguilles d'Ornucciu to 1899 meters of Punta u Furneddu and Punta Muvrareccia: it may be very hot in summer, while winters usually are cold and can record remarkable snowfall; early and middle Spring and early Fall are the better seasons to climb.

Blooming of Aquilegia Bernardii (Columbine) along Acellu descent
Blooming of Aquilegia Bernardii (Columbine) along Acellu descent
Lezard having fun on the summit, Punta di l'Acellu
Lezard having fun on the summit, Punta di l'Acellu

Due to Bavella closeness to the sea, winds are often stronger if compared to the winds at the same height on the Alps. Rainfall sometimes are important and dangerous when joined with strong winds. On the contrary, sometimes we can find some long periods of drought. Anyhow Punta di l'Acellu shows a climate that is closer to the alpine one if compared to other lower peaks of Bavella, due to the altitude and above all to its location on a ridge exposed and not protected from the wind. Nature is wild and peculiar; in Corsica we can find more than the 5% of authoctonous kinds of flower and plants, in addition to the authoctonous fauna. On the contrary, several kinds of animal current inside Mediterranean countries are away from Corsica, like squirrels and vipers.

Red Tape

Punta Caletta map

Bavella is really a fantastic world, a preserved setting situated inside the Parc Naturel Régional de Corse - Parcu di Corsica. Pay attention: free camping and bivouac are not allowed and fires are strictly forbidden. Maximum care is required to keep for the future this extraordinary environment.

When to climb

Best season to climb on Punta di l'Acellu goes from late April to middle October


The choice of accomodation on Col de Bavella and surrounding is wide and varied enough, ranging from equipped campsites to hotels, apartments and renting rooms.

Village of Zonza
Village of Zonza
Bavella pano

COL DE BAVELLA There are two refuges:

-Auberge du Col de Bavella – Hotel and Gite d’Etape Auberge du Col de Bavella

-Les Aiguilles de Bavella – Gite d’Etape Gite d'Etape Les Aiguilles de Bavella



ZONZA In Zonza (9 km. from the pass) there are three campsites, rooms to rent and some hotels: Hotel L’Aiglon, Hotel de la Terrasse, Hotel Incudine - Residence Le Mouflon d'Or.
Campsites: Municipal Camping of Zonza, Camping La Riviere (Road to Quenza), Camping Bavella Vista (Road to Quenza). There are also two equipped campsites along the road D 268 between Solenzara and Bocca di Larone: Camping U Ponte Grossu and Camping U Rosmarinu

Guidebooks and maps


Bavedda (Corsica) Climbing, hiking and Canyoning Guidebook
Corse L'ile verticale
Massif de Bavella Guide d'Escalade en Corse

“Bavedda – Aiguilles entre ciel et torrents: Escalade, Rando, Canyon” by Jean Louis Fenouil and Jean Paul Quilici - FFME

“Guide d’escalade en Corse” Vol. I Massif de Bavella by Jean Paul Quilici – Bernard Vaucher

"Corse, l'ile verticale" by Martial Lacroix e Pierre Sanchou, Ed. Adrénaline, 1999. A selection of 72 beautiful multi-pitches in Corsica, in French

Map: IGN 4253 ET “Aiguilles de Bavella – Solenzara”


Meteo Corse



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