Mountain guide Giampaolo Betta presents three ski mountaineering routes in the Apuan Alps: Carcaraia to Monte Tambura, Monte Sagro and Canale delle Rose on Monte Pisanino.
The Apuan Alps are a small mountain range in northern Tuscany in Italy. It runs parallel to the neighboring Apennines and is separated by a single, wide valley called Garfagnana. On the other side, to the southwest and at the foot of these peaks, is a narrow strip of densely populated land called Versilia which then gives way to the Tyrrhenian Sea.
The contrast between the Apuan Alps and the neighboring Apennines is striking. The two chains are clearly visible from the Lunigiana (the wide valley with the Magra river): to the east the Apennines resemble an imposing bastion where no peak stands out particularly, while to the west the Apuan Alps are a constellation of sharp and severe peaks, each with a distinctive shape and personality.
Composed mainly of compact rock (the famous white marble which contributed to make them famous and which is also at the origin of the continuous and incessant exploitation of the quarries) in summer the Apuan Alps lend themselves to pleasant climbs, in particular on the excellent limestone of the lower summits. However, it is in winter that these mountains transform into something quite unique: their proximity to the sea means that very wet snow sticks to the rock, even at unthinkable angles, thus creating mixed routes that have no no parallel in terms of commitment, continuity and beauty.
As these mountains are generally very steep and rocky, they are more suitable for mountaineering than ski mountaineering. Aside from a handful of classic ski tours, ski mountaineering in the Apuan Alps is decidedly ‘downhill’ and to reach the peaks, crampons are often used much more than skis and sealskins.
The views are quite unique and you certainly won’t be disappointed. It’s weird, after spending two days on a cold, shady face, or having climbed a northern ravine with skis strapped to your backpack, to suddenly be up there on a knife-edge ridge overlooking the Mediterranean Sea to soak up the warmth of two suns, one in the sky and the other in the sea, before skiing down to the sea to smell the scent of thyme and myrtle. More than once, especially in March, I took a little dip in the sea after skiing from Monte Sagro …
HOW TO GET THERE
From Parma: follow the A15 motorway towards La Spezia
From Genoa: follow the A12 motorway towards Livorno
From Firenze: follow the A11 motorway towards Viareggio
From Rome: follow the Aurelia national road to Rosignano then take the A12 motorway towards Genoa
by Giampaolo Betta, High Mountain Guide