South side normal route

South side normal route

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 42.47938°N / 13.56065°E
Additional Information Route Type: Hiking
Seasons Season: Summer, Fall
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Difficulty: EE (for Expert Hikers)
Sign the Climber's Log

Overview: the easiest route to the harder mountain of the whole Apennines

The south side normal route is the easiest route to climb (or descend from) Corno Piccolo: it traverses from east to west the wild south side, a steep and broken slope, furrowed by several couloirs and terraces.

It’s a marked trail (3D) for expert hikers: it starts from Vallone dei Ginepri, few meters below Sella dei Due Corni saddle, and leads to the west ridge, near the summit of Prima Spalla. From there you can reach Corno Piccolo summit in a few minutes.

The south side normal route was climbed down by Enrico Abbate and Giovanni Acitelli, during the first ascent of Corno Piccolo (18th of september 1887): they come from the north side, so they did at the same time the first climb and the first traverse of the mountain.

Best season to climb: early summer-autumn.

Corno Piccolo south side: the normal routeClick to enlarge


Corno Piccolo mapClick to enlarge
Since the shorter approach to this route is from Prati di Tivo, on Gran Sasso north side, you can hike up this route both starting from north and from south side (Campo Imperatore): I'll describe both the approaches.

A) Coming from Gran Sasso north side (Prati di Tivo), you have to reach La Madonnina dell’Arapietra by chairlift; if the chairlift is closed or you don’t want to use it, you can drive the road on the left of the Prati di Tivo main square: it leads to the Sella di Cima Alta saddle (3,5Km); from there, following the wide and scenic Arapietra ridge, in about 1h you reach La Madonnina (2028m, 1h).
From La Madonnina, take the trail nr. 3 to Franchetti hut (2477m, 1h), then continue walk up until you reach Sella dei Due Corni saddle (2547m, 20min, 1h 20min from La Madonnina, 2h 20min if you started from Sella di Cima Alta).

B) Coming from Gran Sasso south side (Campo Imperatore Hotel, 2120m), follow the trail (nr. 3) that reaches the pass of Sella di Monte Aquila (2335 m, about 40min), crossing at half coast the slopes of Monte Portella, then walk up the scree slope (quite steep) descending from Sella del Brecciaio (2506m, 1h); from there DON’T TAKE THE TRAIL TO VIA FERRATA BRIZIO (because of its dangerousness, it’s not mantained and closed), but continue walking on the trail nr.3, crossing Conca degli Invalidi bowl, above the west side of Corno Grande, until you reach Passo del Cannone (2679m, 1h); from Passo del Cannone, descend a steep slope of rock and gravels (some passages equipped with fixed ropes, dangerous with snow), bearing on your left, until you reach Sella dei Due Corni (2547m, 30min, 3h 10min from Campo Imperatore Hotel).

From Sella dei Due Corni, either you come from A) or B) approach, walk down the path toward Vallone dei Ginepri, leave on your right the start of Via Ferrata Danesi and, after few meters, you meet the start of the Normal Route (about 2400m, 15 min from Sella dei Due Corni)

Route Description

Descending from Corno Piccolo south sideDescending on narrow ledges, along cliffs and screes
From Vallone dei Ginepri, following the painted marks, walk up on scree slopes and ledges, crossing on the left; climb some easy rocks and gravels slopes, until you reach a notch: from there walk down to a ledge, traverse up and down on screes and easy rocks, then climb up a narrow gully; pass under an embedded stone (very narrow passage), climb up the last stretch of the couloir and exit on the west ridge: on your left, the Prima Spalla summit; on you right, Corno Piccolo main summit. Take the tracks on your right, rise up some not steep slabs, and in a few minutes get the summit (2655m, 1h 15min from Vallone dei Ginepri).

Since many climbers can use this route to descend from Corno Piccolo main summit or from Prima Spalla summit, I’ll describe also the descent:
From the summit of Corno Piccolo, walk down the west ridge, toward Prima Spalla; few meters before you reach the summit of Prima Spalla take the narrow couloir on your left (south) and descend it, following the several paint marks, until you reach sentiero Ventricini, on the bottom of Vallone dei Ginepri (about 1h from Corno Piccolo summit, 45min from Prima Spalla summit)

Essential Gear

A pair of good mountain-shoes

Punta dei DuePunta dei Due

Guide, maps, external links

Punta dei DuePunta dei Due, one of the most daring pinnacles of Corno Piccolo south side

Best guides:
L. Grazzini, P. Abbate, “Gran Sasso d’Italia”, Cai-Tci, 1992
S. Ardito, “A piedi sul Gran Sasso”, Iter, 1992
S. Ardito, “A Piedi in Abruzzo” vol. 1, Iter, 1996
A. Alesi, M. Calibani, A. Palermi, “Gran Sasso – Le più belle escursioni”, SER, 1996

Best map:
“Gran Sasso d’Italia. La carta dei sentieri”, edited by Cai-L’Aquila (scale 1:25.000)

Weather conditions:
Meteo bulletin Meteomont: Abruzian Apennines

Corno Piccolo view from north (Prati di Tivo)



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