To prepare for our hiking trip to Chile in a couple of months my boyfriend and I decided to go to the mountains every weekend. Not just mountains, but high altitude. We live in the beautiful region of Abruzzo and have enough mountain peaks to satisfy any aficionado. So we headed to Gran Sasso (2,912 meters above sea level), the highest peak in the Apennines.
Below one of its main summits, Corno Grande, is “Il Calderone”, one of Europe’s southernmost glaciers. With global warming in full swing the glacier is disappearing slowly and some scientists say it might not survive past 2020.
We started from the Prati di Tivo side. On Sunday this route is quite popular with a dozen of people going up and down. The path was still covered with some patches of snow and clouds hovered low. But the moment we reached the mountain refuge Franchetti at 2433 metres the sky cleared and we spent a while drinking tea, admiring the breathtaking views and watching climbers nearby defying gravity. Luca, who runs the refuge, is from Rome and passionately loves the mountains. So does his big fluffy dog Chicco. A few years ago, when Luca took over the refuge management, he and his friends brought up on their backs almost 5 tons of building materials and food. Talking about being fit!!
There are different paths leading to the Corno Grande, some of them are more difficult than others. The one we did is medium difficulty level. If you are a fit mountaineer go for the challenging “La Via Direttissima”.
The hike takes about 5 hours there and back and only possible from mid-June. You can stay at the Franchetti refuge overnight (€43 per person including breakfast and dinner) and continue on to Campo Imperatore.