Start of the north face traverse
There are two routes to Monte Altissimo, of which the north-western one through Foce del Frate and Passo degli Uncini is the more difficult and more exciting one. It follows the north-west ridge of the mountain for most of the way and avoids the steepest section of the ridge by traversing the steep and exposed north face of the mountain. Generally, the route is very steep and you can managge to climb the 650m of elevation gain in two hours. However, thanks to the picturesque towers and gendarmes on the ridge, most hikers take their time.
The character of the route ranges from a steep scramble across loose ground through a dense beech forest at the start to an exposed rock-hopping ridge traverse with a steep face climb at the end. The final section returns to the ridge, where it turns into a balancing act above the huge south-west face of the mountain. The summit, however, turns out to be quite broad, almost plateau-like.
The route starts at the Ristorante le Gobbie on the road from Massa to Castelnuovo. The main page for the mountain details the itneraries.
- Start altitude: 1037m
- Summit altitude: 1589m
- Prevailing exposure: North and South
- Type: Steep exposed hike
- Protection: None
Power: 2 - Steep
Psyche: 3 - A lot of exposure on the ridge and during the north face traverse
Difficulty: 2 - Steep hike
Orientation: 3 - Easy up to the face traverse, there the correct path is hard to see and dangerous to lose
From the parking lot at Ristorante le Gobbie cross the road and follow the signpost "Monte Altissimo". The path heads down into a narrow valley, Canale di Grotta Giancona, which it follows for the first part. The path leads through a dense, dark forest and finally heads out onto a dirt road (old marble transport road). Turn left onto the road and immediately leave it to the right and head up a very steep slope. The ground is loose and the hike turns very strenuous. A few switchbacks finally take you up to a saddle, Foce del Frate.
To both sides of the saddle you can find leaning gendarmes which can be climbed for better views. Turn left and pass the gendarme on the left hand (eastern) side. You will pass several of these saddles, all with nice views towards the Tyrhenean Sea. Finally you'll reach Passo degli Uncini, where the west ridge of Monte Altissimo starts.
Turn onto the ridge and follow it towards the summit. the path switches sides frequently until you reach a small saddle, right before the steepest part of the ridge. Here the path turns left and leads into the north face of the mountain. The face turns steep and the path winds its way even more steeply upwards.
On the summit ridge
In the end it turns south towards the summit and returns to the west ridge of the mountain. The remainder is some rock-hopping balanced above the huge south-west face of Monte Altissimo.
Essential GearHiking gear is sufficient.