As their name says, the Alpi Apuane, notwithstanding their not very important height – in facts the highest peak, Pisanino, doesn't reach the 2000 meters – are comparable to the Alps rather than the neighbouring Northern Apennines. In fact, they resemble much more to the alpine limestone peaks, than to the rounded mountains of the Apennines, in reason of their slender shapes and their impressive and steep walls. Pizzo d’Uccello is a mighty limestone peak situated in the Northern part of the range and, of course, it's the most famous mountain in the whole area, so that local climbers simply call it “the Pizzo”. This fact has far-off origins from the reputation of its North face with its 700 meters high trad routes and recently also from the glamour of the high quality limestone on its South side. The South face is not as vertical as the North one, but the rock is excellent and the routes are amazing. Moreover, the peak is also very popular amongst the scramblers, having an interesting Normal route and a long “Via Ferrata”. Pizzo d'Uccello is a complete and interesting mountain, offering different climbing experiences, both to trad climbers and modern ones and even to advanced hikers.
Situated along the Alpi Apuane main divide, Pizzo d’Uccello shows the shape of a three-faced pyramid with as many ridges: the NE ridge, named Capradossa Ridge, the SSE Ridge, along which the Normal route rises to the summit, and the longest ONO Ridge – about 2,5 kms.- named Nattapiana Ridge. The peak overlooks to the South the Vinca Valley and projects to the North a massive wall, the greatest of the whole Alpi Apuane.
Common road access to all climbing Areas
From the A15 Motorway (Parma – La Spezia) exit Aulla. From here follow the SS 63 towards Cerreto Pass, then Rometta, turn to right after Rometta, following SS 445 towards Gassano, Monzone and Equi Terme. Once taken SS 445, there are three differents ways to approach the various climbing areas:
- Road access to North Face and Via Ferrata Tordini-Galligani
From the SS 445 you must reach the small village of Ugliancaldo m. 743. From the main road there are different ways to get to Ugliancaldo; the shortest road starts from Monzone Stazione. In Ugliancaldo follow a quarry’s road rising along upper Solco di Equi and leading towards the face. Park the car where the road is closed by a bar.
- Road access to South Face
From the SS 445 in Gragnola take on the right-hand side the road to Monzone, Equi Terme and Vinca. Just before getting to Equi Terme, take on the right-hand side the road to Vinca Valley (brown road-signes), reaching Monzone and the picturesque village of Vinca mt. 808, situated below Pizzo d’Uccello SW side (30 minutes from the motorway exit).
- Road access to Orto di Donna and Normal Route
From SS 445 in Gragnola follow the main road towards Casola in Lunigiana and Minucciano m. 697; from here the road enters a tunnel. From the tunnel exit follow soon an ancient quarry’s road on the right-hand side, entering Orto di Donna and leading to Rifugio Guido Donegani m. 1150.
While the authors of Pizzo d’Uccello absolute first ascent are uncertain, the North Face was already well-known in 1883 to the British explorer Francis Fox Tuckett, but it expected the first climbing attempt until the year 1922. The first route realized on the N face was the “Genovesi Route” by a Genoese team in 1927. A most direct route on the central part of the face was realized in 1940 by N. Oppio and S. Colnaghi from Milano, covering a route previously but only partially climbed from the Ceragioli brothers: the Via Oppio is today the classic and finest one of the face.
Two faces, two different climbing’s ways…
Pizzo d’Uccello North face, the major one of Apuanian Alps, is a very steep and impressive 700 mts. high and 2000 mts. large face, with several trad climbing routes “Dolomites style”. Situated in a shady and secluded milieu, some of these routes can give to climbers a challenging experience, also due to the rock’s quality, not at all perfect. On the contrary South Face, even if less impressive and steep, shows an excellent and compact limestone: in the latest years we have seen to multiply several climbing routes rising along magnificent slabs – water’s drops style – and beautiful cracks.
North Face can enumerate at least 13 trad climbing routes, most of which have only a historic interest. The classic and normally frequented routes are:
Walking approach to North face
There are two ways to approach the North Face:
- From the Solco d'Equi quarry road starting from Ugliancaldo, when it is closed by a bar, park the car and follow the gravel road to the quarry, then the Siggioli path. Before getting to the Via Ferrata starting point, leave the path and head toward the North wall.
- From Rifugio Donegani at Orto di Donna follow the paved road to the quarries. After a bend, at the first fork take the path 187 to the right. Follow the path that goes up the hillside, reaching the Cresta di Capradossa. Start the descent along the Via Ferrata of Foce Siggioli, running for a long time. At the end of the Via Ferrata, follow the track heading to face.
- South Face routes
- Profumo di antico **** F6b (F5a obbl.), 250 m
- Bau Bau Boby ** F5c (F5a obbl.), 130 m
- Dove osano i peteri *** F5c (F5b obbl.), 210 m
- Francesca**** F6b+ (F6a obbl.), 110 m
- Accademiche idiozie**** F6b (F5c obbl.), 200 m
- Gonne con le donne*** F5c (F5a obbl.), 200 m - A classic route between the modern ones
- Heidy**** F6b (F5c obbl.), 350 m South Face’s great classic route
- Quando calienta il sol là nela placa**** F6c/A0 (F6a obbl.), 200 m
- Dinko*** F5c (F5b obbl.), 550 m
- Il bacio della donna ragno F6a, 70 m
- Heidy Superstar**** F6b (F6a obbl.), 550 m A beautiful long route
- Diedro Sud** F5a, 200 m An old classic and pleasant route
- Tiziana** F5a, 150 m
- Mistral**** F6b (F6a obbl.), 150 m
Walking approach to South face
- Left Buttress Entering the settlement of Vinca, take the asphalted road on the right and follow it as far as the road is no longer asphalted. Take the path to Capanna Garnerone, joining a quarry road. Now the path follows the quarry road for about 200 meters. Where the path diverges from the road, leave the path and turn sharply to the left, then go up the slopes on the right rib of a channel along traces, reaching a group of houses and a big cherry tree. After an area of boulders, traverse left crossing the path 175 and go up towards the Left Buttress easily recognisable by and obvious yellow square hole. Cairns. About 1 hour.
- Central Buttress Same approach as the previous point as far as the cherry tree. From here climb up directly along a channel, leading to a white wall dominated by a big roof.
- Right Buttress Same approach as the first point as far as the crossing with the path 175. From here head right up the meadows with rocky blocks, then up a scree towards the rocky triangle formed by a big corner.
Descent from the summit - Scrambling down the Normal route on the SSE ridge, reaching the Foce di Giovo
Pizzo d’Uccello SSE Ridge Normal Route, an easy and pleasant scramble
Once at Guido Donegani Hut take the path to Foce di Giovo (Giovo Saddle) mt. 1500. From here take on the right-hand side a path going up and down and crossing some little beechs’ woods and leading to a little saddle named Giovetto mt. 1497, situated below the peak’s upper pyramid. Rise along a slope, then leave on your right-hand side the trail to Capradossa Terrace and finally follow some pleasant and easy rocks leading to the S summit and to the main summit (1,15 hours from Giovo Saddle). Descent: along the same route.
Via Ferrata Tordini – Galligani to Foce Siggioli
From upper Solco d’Equi a trail leads to a 400 mts. high “via ferrata”, equipped in 1975 with iron’s ropes and cutted steps, rising along Capradossa buttress with exciting views on Pizzo d’Uccello North face and leading nearby Foce Siggioli mt. 1390, a saddle along Capradossa Ridge. From here a good trail leads to Giovetto Saddle, from where it’s possible to get on Pizzo d’Uccello summit along Normal Route.
Rifugio Guido Donegani at Orto di Donna 1150 m
No particular restrictions in climbing and hiking, even if all Apuanian Alps range is situated inside a natural park – "Alpi Apuane Natural Park" – established in 1985 to protected the milieu and mostly to try restricting the age-old activity of marble’s quarrying, which has heavily marked this magnificent but frail environment.
North Face: from May to October South face: Spring and Fall; very hot in summer
New "Toscana e Isola d'Elba - Falesie e vie moderne" - Mauro Franceschini, Fabrizio Recchia - Edizioni Versante Sud 2016
“Toscana e Isola d’Elba – Arrampicate moderne e sportive” by Mauro Franceschini e Fabrizio Recchia – Edizioni Versante Sud
“Alpi Apuane” by E. Montagna – A. Nerli – A. Sabbadini - Collana Guide dei Monti d’Italia CAI - TCI