|Monte Pisanino traverse
CW from Orto di Donna
|Estimated net time||4½-5½ hours|
|Difficulty||This mountain requires some experience with steep scrambling. One point requires some climbing moves. Most of the north ridge offers exposure.|
|Drinking water||No access to running water.|
|GSM coverage||Coverage during ascent and at the summit. A bit mixed for the descent, but mostly coverage (July 2008).|
|Parking||Room for many cars at trail head.|
|Start height||1065 metres|
|Vertical metres||1000 metres for the roundtrip|
|Trip distance||7.1 km|
|Route photo||Stay centre of the ridge along the north ridge except the short climb.|
Assume starting point is Lucca. Drive north on road s12, direction Modena, to Chifenti. Turn left here towards Castelnuovo. In Castelnuovo turn left just before the bridge, following signs for Camporgiano, and continue to Piazza al Serchio. Just after Piazza al Serchio turn left towards Minucciano and drive for 9.1 km. Then turn left towards "Orto di Donna", and 400 metres later again turn left towards "Orto di Donna". Drive 4.5 km until you get to "Refugio Alpino val Serenaia". Find parking here, just before the building.
Start hiking by walking across the small field, to the foot of Monte Pisanino, and then walk uphill just left of a small gully leading to the west ridge of Monte Pisanino. There are several traces of paths leading up to the ridge, but nothing is marked, and the paths are very vague. When you get onto the ridge you follow it up to a point where you are at the base of the north ridge leading up to the summit. The ridge up to this point will require some use of hands in the steepest places, but is not technically difficult by any means.
The north ridge is relatively narrow, and in some places you walk with one foot on either side of the ridge. At one point you will have to make some proper climbing moves, having to climb a short and steep section. This section is like a very steep gully, so the level of exposure is very limited. Also, there are very good hand-holds here. After this point the rest of the route to the summit is trivial.
From the summit you continue south, traversing the summit ridge (the ridge here is wider than the north ridge). Then you zigzag your way down a gully, following the path marked by blue colour, until you get to a ridge. From this ridge you continue on the path descending gently on the east side of the ridge, all the way to where the path forks. From here you should follow path "178", which will bring you up to a pass and then down a gully going west. From here stay on path "178" all the way down through the forest and back to the car.
This route can also be hiked in the opposite direction, but is is likely to be slightly more difficult going down the north ridge than it is coming up this way.
23. July 2008
I left Lucca early this Wednesday morning in order to avoid the worst traffic. At 09:10 I was ready to start hiking, after a relatively long drive on narrow roads.
When I got to the refuge in Orto di Donna I couldn't find any signs for Monte Pisanino so I went inside to ask. The young woman wasn't very fluent in English, but her wish to help was genuine, and with a typical mix of English, Italian and gesticulation she managed to explain to me where to start, what route to follow, and that the route was both steep and narrow. I thanked her, and went back to the car with a small sense of uncertainty about the route I had planned.
I walked across the field and started on my way up towards the west ridge. I found a number of vague paths, but I assume at least most of them were made by the local sheep. When I got as far left (north) as I should in order to follow the west ridge, I had to use my hands in a number of places, but there was no difficulty involved. At the point where the west ridge ends, and the ascent continues along the north ridge, I was blessed with a fantastic view of a huge mountain area, and a very narrow and steep ridge towards the summit.
Walking along the first part of the north ridge offers exposure, but it is relatively flat so it allows walking. As I got further along I saw that I would get to a point where something considerably more advanced than walking would be required. After having studied the ridge and found that the only possible way to the summit was by following the ridge I put the thought about the difficult section to the side, and decided to worry about it when I was facing the potential problem.
When I got to the steep section I was immediately convinced that this was something I could take on. As it was, it turned out this steep section offered very good hand holds, and at no point did I feel uncomfortable. After having passed this section the rest of the ridge to the summit was plain sailing.
At the summit I enjoyed my packed lunch, and the splendid views. A few minutes after arriving at the summit I saw two other hikers arriving from south. When they got across to the summit I carefully asked them if they spoke English; they did. I assume it was father and son (the son in his twenties). My inquiry about the ascent route towards south was well answered, and according to their knowledge much easier than the north ridge.
My descent was pretty uneventful, but quite a bit longer than the ascent, and I was starting to feel the toll of a bright shining sun. It was therefore quite enjoyable to get into the forest for the last section of the hike. Then back to the car and another 90 minutes of Italian behaviour on the narrow roads!