Lavu Bellebone and Monte Rotondo from the south
With the exception of Monte d'Oro
, Monte Rotondo
is considered to be Corsica's
finest lookout mountain. What it lacks in location (Monte d'Oro
is located basically directly in the centre of the island) it makes up in elevation. At 2622m it is Corsica's
second highest mountain after Monte Cinto
. However, reaching the summit is a serious undertaking, thanks to the remoteness and the low altitude of the trailheads for this mountain.
The closest trailhead at Pont de Timozzo
is at roughly 1000m, while the southern trailhead at Canagila
is at 720m! A third option is to start at Bergerie de Grotelle
(1370m) at the end of Restoniza Gorge
but this route is roundaboutish and includes 400m descent to the Petra Piana Hut
or an insecure ridge traverse from Bocca Muzzella
across the summits of A Maniccia
and Punta Muferna
. An even longer route follows Val Rivisecco
which ends underneath Monte Rotondo's east face.
Thus reaching the summit of Rotondo
requires quite a bit of dedication. The only reasonable daytour route is the one tthough Val Timozzo
towards the beautiful glacier lake Lavu d'Oriente
. From here a steep block and couloir scrambe takes you up to the west ridge, from where UIAA I sections lead to the top. This route can be done roughly in a 9h return trip (excluding breaks).
Most climbers, however, take the approach across Corsica's trekking trail GR20
which runs through Bocca Muzzella
close by. Refuge de Petra Piana
offers accommodations to treckers and summitters alike, which stretches the ascent into a two day affair. Stone cairns take you Lavu Bellebone
and onwards to Monte Pozzolo
before heading up the south-east ridge of the mountain.
In any case weather has to be taken into account when climbing any mountain on Corsica. Fine mornings can quickly change to stormy, oversact skies and even in summer you are not safe from snowfall. We had to turn around in Bocca Muzzella
, while attempting the route across A Muvrella
, since within minutes the weather changed for the worse. Later - also typical for Corsica it cleared up again over the valleys while Monte Rotondo
still stood shrouded in clouds.
One a fine day, however, views can be exceptional. The Cinto Massif
to the north, the close-up views of the Restonica Mountalns
and the long curving band of Haute Corse's backbone mountains to the south: all combines into a wonderful 360° panorama. German 19th century historian and traveller Ferdinand Gregorovius wrote in his travel work on Corsica in 1852: "The horizon that you see from Monte Rotondo, is by far more awesome and beautiful than the one seen from Mont Blanc".
Monte Rotondo (centre) seen from Monte d'Oro
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
on the Côte d'Azur.
There are three possible trailheads for Monte Rotondo
(and - like any other of the highest summits on Corsica - trecking trail GR20
is not far away - treckers certainly will come near the mountain anyway). They are are rather far off and the ascent altitudes are enormous 1600m or 1700m from Restonica Gorge
, 1800m from Manganello Valley
The gorge is one of the major climbing centers in Corsica
. You reach the gorge either from Ajaccio
in the west or Bastia
in the north by taking RN 193
. There turn into D623
which immediately leads into the gorge. 11km behind Corte
the first trailhead is at the bridge Pont de Timozzo
, the second at the end of the gorge at Bergeries de Grotelle
. If you don't have a car, two options are the shuttle bus from Corte
() and (especially off-season) taxi
from Corte, which costs about 30 EUR.
One of the most beautiful valleys of Corsica
is some 15km of cascades, waterfalls and rock pools. You can reach it from RN 193
. Between Tattone
(south) and Vivario
(north) a narrow little side road RD23
heads east into Manganello Valley
. The trailhead is at the very end of this road at Canaglia
In 1971 the Parque Naturel de la Corse
was established. It comprises 2500 square km, mainly in the centre of the island and Monte Rotondo
is part of it. The usual restrictions apply. Camping is only allowed besides the huts along GR20
, in this case Refuge de Petra Piana
. You will have to pay a fee at the refuge. Also, the parking lot at Bergeries de Grotelle requires a fee.
It's getting more and more easy to find accomodation on Corsica. However, most of the hotels or holiday apartments as well as campgrounds are located on the coasts. In the villages along RN 193
you'll find occasional inns and hostels and at Corte and Vizzavona there are hotels. Camping is only allowed near the huts and bergeries along the GR20 trekking trail and the rules are enforced by rangers.
Clouds sweeping across Monte Rotondo
Weather quickly changes on Corsica, especially in the mountains and even more especially near the passes through which fierce winds blow almost every day. Quite often a perfect morning will turn into fog around noontime but settle to calm weather in the late afternoon. Temperatures on the mountains are often less than what you would expect when starting from the valleys or the coast.
Maps & Books
- Monte d'Oro, Monte Rrotondo
1 : 25.000
Carte de Randonnée 4251 OT
There are quite naturally quite a number of guidebooks, most of them in French. I found the following as good as could be expected:
- Corsica (Corse / Korsika)
ISBN: 978-3-7633-4819-0 (English)
ISBN: 978-3-7633-4907-4 (French)
ISBN: 978-3-7633-4280-8 (German)