Start of the climbing
The south ridge is the shortest and most direct approach to Penna di Lucchio
. It is, however, a very exposed route, as it balances right above the high east face of the mountain's south summit. The route stays about a metre to the left the ridge for most of its length but in the central section it gets closer in several places. These spots can be circumvented by bushwhacking through the undergrowth west of the ridge but a steep bushwhack it is.
The route is of medium difficulty, as the rock is neatly structured and resembles a large steep staircase. You will need your hands for most part of the route but climbing is reduced to a few places on top of the ridge. To the north of the south summit the route gets easier and less exposed, as the top of the mountain is plateau-like with a big summit meadow.
Looking down on the trailhead at Zato
The main page details the itinerary to the trailheads at Lucchio in the north and Pontito in the south. Both villages are connected by a potholed dirt road, along which the first part of the ascent runs.
The top of the route
- Start altitude: 600m (Lucchio), 800m (Pontito)
- Summit altitude: 1176m
- Prevailing exposure: East
- Type: Steep exposed Scramble
- Protection: None
Effort: 800m (Lucchio), 600m (Pontito)
Power: 3 - Very steep
Psyche: 4 - Very exposed
Difficulty: 3 - UIAA I with Short UIAA II sections
Orientation: 1 - Marked and easy
Regardless, whether you start at Zato above Lucchio or Madonna delle Grazie above Pontito you need to reach the saddle called Croce a Veglia. Since both villages are connected by a dirt road which runs across this saddle, the first part of the route is easy to find and achieve. From Madonna delle Grazie it is about 1km, from Zato about 1.5km plus an additional 200m of altitude.
From the saddle follow another dirt road which circumvents Monte Granaio on its south-western side. (There is a path across the summit which, however, is pretty hard to find. This path head on to Monte Lischeta, from where an unmarked ridge traverse returns to the dirt road.) Ignore a road which turns off to the left to Casa Nancini, a farm which is plainly visible. Instead take the right road and head on northwards to a second saddle. Here again a road turns off to the left but head on straight. You'll reach the outlet of a gas pipeline, where from the right the path across Monte Granaio and Monte Lischeta joins.
Head north- and downwards from the saddle, diving into a dark oak and beech forest. The road winds towards a third saddle, this time Le Calcinaie, the col between Monte Lischeta and Penna di Lucchio. At a switchback in the road the normal and south ridge routes to Penna di Lucchio separate with the former also being the access route to Monte Memoriante.
Folow the sign "Penna di Lucchio diretto" and a ledge awaits you which takes you up a ramp towards the south ridge of the mountain. It winds twice before you reach the ridge about 50m from its base at the col. The east face, however,, already drops for 100m in this place giving you a indication of the things to come.
Orientation now becomes very easy - simply follow the ridge. Red and white marks indicate the easiest path. The ridge turns very steep with the abyss to the right, a steep slope to the left. The limestone blocks form a sort of giant staiircase so that for most of the time climbing remains easy. In its upper part, before it reaches the south summit, the ridge narrows to a knife-edge. However, thanks to a big ledge on the right side, the east face retreats and exposure gets less. A few steps along this curved knife-edge and you are on the south summit.
The Appennino main ridge as seen during the ascent
The east face retreats even more and a short stroll leads you to the central summit. If you step down the slops a bit to the east you'll have a nice view of the village of Lucchio, perched like a bird's nest on a ledge above the Lima Valley.
Essential GearHiking gear is enough.