Torrione Cambi (2875 m) is the lowest of the four summits of Corno Grande and the less visited one. Its name was given to it after the tragic death of Mario Cambi in the winter of 1929. The original name was Torrione Centrale.
Torrione Cambi is placed between Vetta Centrale on east and Vetta Occidentale on west. Two narrow saddles separate Torrione Cambi from these two summits: Forchetta Gualerzi divides it from Vetta Centrale, Forchetta del Calderone from Vetta Occidentale.
It was first climbed 4th of october 1914 by Antonio Allievi and Vittorio Emanuele Gallina, with the guide Francesco Acitelli.
This awesome stocky tower offers several climbing route, both on its north-western side (bad rock) and on its south-western side (good slabs, 300m high).
I’ll describe the Normal Route (PD-, II+), which climbs the north-east face and the east ridge.
The best season to climb is summer. In the other seasons, the presence of snow makes the route considerably harder to climb!
click to enlarge the map
There are two starting points for Torrione Cambi:
1) Campo Imperatore (2120m, south), easy reachable from L’Aquila or Teramo with A24 highway, exit at Assergi. Then, follow the route s.s. 17bis to Campo Imperatore -at the crossing follow the signals to “Albergo Campo Imperatore”- (about 45Km from L’Aquila, 70Km from Teramo).
Campo Imperatore is also reachable by cableway from Fonte Cerreto (3Km from highway exit), but keep in mind the timetable (last course at 17.00). In winter, when the route is closed because of snow, the cableway is the only way to reach this starting point.
2) Prati di Tivo (1400m, north), reachable from L’Aquila or Teramo with A24 higway, exit at San Gabriele-Colledara, then take the route ss491 to Montorio al Vomano. When you reach Montorio, take the route ss80 until you reach the crossing to Pietracamela and Prati di Tivo: follow the indication and you reach it (about 70 Km from L’Aquila, 30Km from Teramo).
Approach and Route Description
On the Via Ferrata to Bafile Bivak
Fixed ropes on the Via Ferrata
A little edge...
A little but steep wall.
The route starts from Forchetta Gualerzi: it’s very short (15 min and 40 meters of elevation gain), but we can consider the approach to Forchetta Gualerzi , because of its difficulty, as part of the route itself.
You can reach Torrione Cambi from:
1) Campo Imperatore Hostel (2120 m). From there, follow the path (nr. 3) that reaches the pass of Sella di Monte Aquila (2335 m, about 40min), crossing at half coast the slopes of Monte Portella.
Livia exits on a little ridge on the route to Forchetta Gualerzi
Linda facing an amusing passage (II UIAA) on the route to Forchetta del Calderone
The most demanding (but not so hard...) passage of the route to Forchetta del Calderone
From there, leave Monte Aquila ridge on your right (east) and proceed toward Sella di Corno Grande and then climb to a big isolated stone called Sassone (2560 m, the last meters are a bit hard). From Sassone walk (north) a flat ridge until a cross (2620 m, junction with Direttissima Couloir, about 45 min from Sella di Monte Aquila, 1h 25min from Campo Imperatore ), then turn on your right (east), descending few meters toward Valle dell’Inferno, following the path to Bafile Bivak.
This path has a short stretch of via ferrata: it’s not difficult, but quite exposed in some spots, so keep attention, especially in case of verglass or ice: many people died on it!
After the last fixed ropes of via ferrata, the path reaches the great bowl under the Vetta Occidentale east face: cross it, until you get the last ramp to Bafile Bivak (about 2600 m); don’t climb towards it, but take the marked (white and red) couloir on your left (northwest) which leads to Forchetta del Calderone.
Rise up the couloir, partly walking on gravels, partly climbing some rocky steps (mostly I UIAA, some passages II UIAA). The most demanding passage is few minutes before you reach the saddle: a little wall (II UIAA) and a short ridge, easy but quite exposed (keep attention!).
After this passages, with an easy climb you reach the tight and beautiful Forchetta del Calderone (2780 m, about 2h from Sassone, 3h 20min from Campo Imperatore).
From there, you have to descend some meters towards Calderone Glacier, then go up to the big ledge that cross the north face of Torrione Cambi: walk on it with attention (the ledge drop on Calderone glacier with a fall of about 100 m, a slip there could be deadly!) and, after about 10min you reach the Gualerzi Route, coming from the Calderone Glacier.
Rise the Gualerzi Route (marked, red and yellow), climbing some quite demanding (II UIAA) rocky steps (it’s the most difficult part of the whole climb...), then reach the saddle of Forchetta Gualerzi (2840 m, about 30 min from Forchetta del Calderone, 3h 50min from Campo Imperatore).
2) Madonnina – Arapietra (2028 m). You can reach Madonnina from Prati di Tivo by chairlift; when the chairlift is closed, you can reach Sella di Cima Alta (1635m) by car (about 3,5 km from Prati di Tivo), and from there, walking on the scenic ridge of Arapietra, in about 1h to Madonnina.
From the arrival of the chairlift, get the path marked with nr. 3, that lead to Franchetti Hut (2433m, 1h 15m). From there, take the path to Sella dei Due Corni (2547 m) and Passo del Cannone: when you meet some iron cable, take the path (nr 3B) crossing on the left (east) and reach Calderone Glacier (2680 m, about 45 min from Franchetti Hut, 2hrs from Madonnina).
From Calderone Glacier take the path crossing the moraine on the left (toward Vetta Orientale), than follow the marks that lead to Gualerzi Route.
Climb the first half of the Gualerzi Route, passing by rocky steps (I-II UIAA) and gravelly small ledges (attention!), reaching the big ledge and the route from Campo Imperatore (about 2850 m, 25 min from Calderone Glacier, 2h 25min from Madonnina).
From there, the route is the same than from Campo Imperatore (see nr 1 of this section).
From Forchetta Gualerzi, don’t follow the marks that lead down and then rise on your left (they lead to Vetta Centrale), but climb on your right the east side of Torrione Cambi (not marked); with an easy and short climb (I UIAA) you reach the last step to the summit (the highest summit is on your right – north): with few more demanding passages (II+/III- UIAA, but only 4 meters long...) you are on the top of this aerial and lonely summit (the summitlog, a simple notebook, starts from the year 1985!).
It requires 15min from Forchetta Gualerzi, 2h 40min if you started from Madonnina/Prati di tivo, about 4h 10min if you started from Campo Imperatore.
Leo on the last meter to the summit: technically, it's the more demanding passage of the route (II+/III-) but it's very short...
The descent is from the same way.
If you come from Campo Imperatore, you can descend all the Gualerzi Route until Calderone Glacier, then, following the path nr 3, crossing Passo del Cannone (2679 m) and Sella del Brecciaio (2506 m) you can reach campo Imperatore (about 3h 30min from the summit)
If you come from Arapietra/Prati di Tivo, it takes to you about 2h 30min (attention to the chairlift timetable: the last run is at 17.00)
Here you can see some pictures showing the route from three different point of view.
The route seen from Campo Imperatore (south)
The route seen from Calderone Glacier's morain (north)
The route seen from above (Vetta Occidentale north ridge)
The more dangerous passage of the route (from Forch. Gualerzi to the big ledge): if you take with you hikers, it's better to pulldown them with a rope...
Helmet: it’s necessary. The route and the approach (both Gualerzi Route and Forchetta del Calderone Couloir) are rarely climbed, then there are many gravels and loose stones: it’s very difficult don’t move some rocks... If there are many people climbing over you (rare, but possible) the renounce to the climb could be the better thing to do.
Harness, rope, gear for belaying and rappelling: they aren’t necessary for mountaineers, but if you take with you hikers the rope can be useful, above all for the descent from Forchetta Gualerzi to the big ledge. This gears could be useful also to more experienced climbers in case of bad weather conditions (if wet, this rocks are very slippery): by necessity, there’s a belay (two pitons) few meters under Forchetta Gualerzi, on your left descending. Another belay is 5/10 meters under the point where Gualerzi Route meets the big ledge (two bolts).
Via ferrata kit could be useful if you start from Campo Imperatore.
Books, guides, maps, external links
L. Grazzini, P. Abbate, “Gran Sasso d’Italia”, Cai-Tci, 1992
S. Ardito, “A piedi sul Gran Sasso”, Iter, 1992
A. Alesi, M. Calibani, A. Palermi, “Gran Sasso – Le più belle escursioni”, SER, 1996
Best map is “Gran Sasso d’Italia. La carta dei sentieri”, edited by Cai-L’Aquila.