Ascent of Etna on 2008-07-24

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Bob Packard
Date:Thursday, July 24, 2008
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Elevation:10902 ft / 3322 m

Ascent Trip Report

M. Etna (Mongibello), 3323m, P3323m

Map: Etna, 1:40k – 100m contours, part of A Piedi sull’Etna, a booklet in Italian describing 28 routes on Etna. This was bought in UK: nothing better found at N trailhead.

Stats: 1600mH, 12mi

Time: 24 July 2008, 6.5h ascent, 2.5h descent.

Start: 5mi NE of summit, Rifugio Citelli. Elev 1700m

Route: From Rif. Citelli, walk back W along road to first bend: trail heads SW: red paint on boulders. Steepish climbing on ash then fairly loose scoria, marked by stakes. At approx 1900m, stakes head S although a trail apparently continues straight up onto ridge. Reach route by any convenient route (we followed easy rocky gully), then follow ridge W over a minor bump, to Pizzi Deneri (Volcano observatory; trail passes N of summit), then 4x4 track descends to cindery saddle, heads W then joins jeep trail used by tourist trips bound for Bocca Nuova summit. Probably easiest to follow this jeep track to elev 3050m then climb steep sandy / cindery ground due S to saddle at N rim of NE crater. Highest point is on NW rim of NE crater.

Difficulties: main issue is acidic fumes billowing from NE crater. With a strong NW wind we had no difficulties, but had taken cheap gas masks (by 3M) which would have been needed in other circumstances. Unwisely, we took a fairly direct line from the Pizzi Deneri col, which traversed fairly awkward ground consisting of cinders overlying snow. Several times we broke through air pockets, which was annoying but apparently not dangerous. Hassle from professional tour guides was entirely absent on this route.

Triangulation point: none mapped nor found, neither on Etna nor Pizzi Deneri

Summit: small cairn at NW rim of NE crater, perched on slightly unstable-looking ground. Slightly lower cairn a few m to S is a fine viewpoint, as is lower summit set back from NE rim of crater, which we also visited. Numerous other lower summits visible, including the sulphur-stained Bocca Nuova which seems to be the main destination for guided tourist trips.

Notes: a very impressive summit, on the brink of a very active crater. At N edge of rim are several smoking crevices. In May 2008 a new vent opened up at 2800m on the E face of Etna. This was still issuing lava flowing down into Valle del Bove, and the smoke from this lava flow was a striking sight from the Pizzi Deneri ridge. Following our Musala climb the previous day, we had flown into Palermo airport mid morning, drove to the N trailhead (Piano Provenzana) then to the NE trailhead (Refugio Citelli). We then got a nice room at Refugio Regabo, 4 mi to the N. Next morning we left Rif Citelli at 05:45, passing the Pizzi Deneri observatory (boarded up and apparently unmanned, although on the way back we noted a Landrover visiting it briefly). We reached the summit at midday, visited the highest cairn briefly and the other two cairns more leisurely. Descent S to the jeep road was easy and rapid on sand and loose cinders. E of P Deneri, at approx 2350m, we made another rapid descent N on soft black sand towards M. Frumento, then climbed slightly to its col before descending easy ground NE towards Rif Citelli, reached at 3pm. The last few hundred metres distance involved some rough lava but overall this was a pleasant easy descent. We then drove to Messina and took the ferry across to San Giovanni, staying at the first hotel we found (Plaza Hotel), ready to climb the nearby Monte Montalto the next day.

There is a set of photographs on
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5981 ft / 1822 m
    Total Elevation Loss:5981 ft / 1822 m
    Round-Trip Distance:12 mi / 19.3 km
    Grade/Class:YDS 2
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Open Country
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:5653 ft / 1723 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 5325 ft / 1623 m; Extra: 328 ft / 99m
    Loss on way in:328 ft / 99 m
    Distance:6.5 mi / 10.5 km
    Route:From NE, Rifugio Citelli
    Start Trailhead:5mi NE of summit, Rifugio Citelli  5577 ft / 1699 m
    Time:6 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:5653 ft / 1723 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 5325 ft / 1623 m; Extra: 328 ft / 99m
    Gain on way out:328 ft / 99 m
    Distance:5.5 mi / 8.9 km
    Route:Rifugio Citelli
    End Trailhead:5mi NE of summit, Rifugio Citelli  5577 ft / 1699 m
    Time:2 Hours 30 Minutes

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