Monte Scala 1715 m is a rocky peak belonging to the Appennino Parmense Orientale, a chain located in the Eastern part of Parma province, running between Passo Cirone on the Western end and Passo Lagastrello on the Eastern one. From the main Apennine watershed, situated between Emilia-Romagna to the North and Tuscany to the South, some secondary buttresses branch off in the North direction. Monte Scala is located along one of these secondary ridges and precisely along the ridge starting from Monte Matto, on the main watershed, at first descending to Passo Fugicchia and then rising suddenly to create the massive rocky structure of Monte Scala. Being located North of the main Apennine watershed, Monte Scala is entirely included in the territories of the province of Parma.
Monte Scala acts as a watershed between the Valle di Badignana to the west and the Valle del Lago Scuro to the east and has a main summit (South summit) at an altitude of 1715 m, separated from the neighboring North summit 1707 m by a marked saddle: the Sella dello Scala 1698 m. To the West the mountain overlooks the Valle di Badignana with a wide rock face, half-carved by a deep gully, the Canalino della Scala, while towards the South East, above the Lago Scuro, it projects some small rocky strips of limited height. The most interesting of these is the Falesia del Lago Scuro, a crag equipped with single pitches. Toward the South we note a marked rocky prow, preceded by a small spire, the Gendarme della Scala. The rock of Monte Scala is the typical Apennine "macigno", a sandstone similar to the gres but much more wrinkled, characterized by technical slabs and sometimes more athletic walls.
From the point of view of hiking it is of interest the Via Normale rising from the South-East side and allowing to reach the top which, due to its particular position, offers unusual views of the surrounding mountains.
The closest town is Parma, a 200.000 inhabitants town located 110 km from Milano and 90 km from Bologna, while the closest villages are Corniglio and Bosco di Corniglio, both located on the Emilia-Romagna side. Coming from Milano or Bologna (A1 motorway) exit Parma main and take the SP 665 (Massese) towards Langhirano and Capoponte; at Capoponte traffic roundabout take the right exit, reaching Corniglio, Bosco di Corniglio and the locality named Cancelli, where you are at a road fork. Turn to left and take the gravel road running inside the beautiful Val Parma Forest getting after about 4,5 km. to a small parking lot near the forest road to the Badignana huts and after about 5 km. the locality named Lagoni, meaning Great Twin Lakes (65 km. from Parma).
From the Lagoni 1342 m, take the first path on the right (n. 711, signposts), which after skirting the right bank of the first lake (the lower), begins to rise, entering the beech forest. The path climbs up in the wood, then crosses a wooden bridge, reaching soon a junction, where you turn to right (path n. 715), leaving on the left the path to the Capanne del Lago Scuro. After a few minutes you reach the Lago Scuro 1527 m.
Ignore the left path n. 715 to Passo Fugicchia, cross the little stream and from the right shore of the lake continue along the marked trail (signpost "Monte Scala"), which is the Normal route uphill to the mountain. The path passes through the beech-wood, skirts some huge boulders and exit the wood. At a junction ignore the left branch and take the direct path rising up among the big boulders located at the base of the Falesia del Lago Scuro, well visible above. Reached the crag, skirt it in the left direction, following the trail that continues steeply up to Sella dello Scala, between the summit and the fore-summit. From here turn to left getting within a couple of minutes the summit of Monte Scala 1715 m, excellent panoramic point (50 minutes from Lagoni). 1 hour from Lagoni.
From the point of view of rock climbing, the West wall, the South ridge and the shorter South-East crag, named Falesia del Lago Scuro, are of particular interest.
Approach to the West wall
- To climb the routes of the left sector: from the bar near the forest road to the Capanne di Badignana (4.1 km from Cancelli, signposts, 1320 m). take the forest road CAI n. 719 and follow it for about 15 minutes, until a sharp turn to the right, flanked by a boulder, just beyond which you take a trail on the left in the beech forest (red arrow on a boulder) that turns into a mule track and after about 15 minutes exits the wood in open land near the characteristic Piana delle Antiche Pietre 1510 m, under the West Face of the Scala. From here to the steep stony ground that descends from the base of the recessed and narrow West gully in the middle of the wall you reach the start of the various routes. 50 minutes from the parking lot.
- To climb the routes of the right sector: they can be reached from Passo Fugicchia 1669 m, from where a track heads to the North along a ridge and then descends shortly on the Badignana side to skirt the West wall. To Passo Fugicchia: from Lagoni 1342 m follow the path 711 and then 715 to Lago Scuro and Passo Fugicchia. 45 minutes.
Beautiful mountain crag about 25 meters high, located at an altitude of 1670 meters in a beautiful position overlooking the Lago Scuro. There are 19 single pitches with difficulty from the 3a to the 6c, offering a pleasant and safe climbing on solid and rough sandstone, thanks to the ideal exposure and the excellent equipment. The climbing style is essentially technical and of movement. The single pitches are fully equipped with 10 mm stainless steel fix. Closed loop anchors. Variable length from 20 to 25 meters.
From the point of view of the ice climbing the West face in its winter look offers a couple of interesting itineraries:
- Via Rampini-Saccani to the Canalino della Scala, an interesting and technical Scottish-style ice climbing
- the most affordable but always rewarding Canale dell'Angelo
Monte Scala is located inside Parco Nazionale Appennino Tosco-Emiliano, established in the year 1997. Fires are strictly forbidden and the whole fauna and flora is protected. Don’t disturb fauna and other mountaineering and hikers’ peacefulness with every kind of noise.
The area, usually as far as 1.600 m. of altitude, is covered by a dense magnificent forest, perfectly preserved through several years of massive deforestation (in the beginning of the twentieth century), due to mountain people’s poverty situation in that period. Due to the great difference between the winter climate – snowy and cold – and the summer climate – relatively warm – the arboreal species grown up in this environment have developed a good adaptation to both the climatic extremes.
The autochthonous beech (Fagus Sylvatica) is the original and largest specie in the area. We can find a lot of wonderful specimen which can reach heights of 20-30 mts, with characteristic straight trunks. Evergreen conifers as White Firs (Abies Alba) where added later as the result of forestation’s work. Rocks, forests and climate create a landscape similar to the north Scandinavian one. The climate is a sub-continental one, so we have cold and snowing winter and summer not too hot due to the sea influence and wind action.
Rock climbing - The best period goes from the end of May to October
Ice climbing - The best period goes from middle December to the end of March
Scrambling and hiking - It’s possible to hike all year round on Monte Scala; winter ascents require the essential gear as crampons and an ice-axe
"ArrampicaParma - climbing, bouldering & mountaineering" - Alberto Rampini and Silvia Mazzani Pareti Edizioni 2011 (II updated edition)
"Appennino Ligure e Tosco-Emiliano" - M. Salvo, D. Canossini - Guida dei Monti d'Italia
“Alto Appennino Parmense Est” Map 1:50.000 (CAI-Regione Emilia-Romagna)