canyon exploring with Michele Angileri

Cascata del Montacchione

The Alfina Plateau is a flood basalt plateau situated between river Paglia and Lake Bolsena. It hosts wide tilled grounds and oak woods, a few farmhouses, a couple of nice villages and castles like Torre Alfina and San Quirico. It is, in short, a green relaxing italian landscape.
The plateau has 500 m elevation, that is 350 m above river Paglia. It hosts little seasonal creeks. Once at the edge of plateau the creeks jump down from basalt walls, then go down steep across tuff and basalt terrain, to join to river Paglia.
Unfortunately most of the creeks are not interesting to canyoning.

Montacchione waterfall plummets from the edge of the Alfina plateau facing the hill of Orvieto. It is quite known by the locals, which go there to admire its beauty with a relatively simple walk. The hike to Montacchione fall is recommended in the rainy seasons, when the water jet is vigorous: it is certainly a beautiful piece of nature in a place already enchanting for the landscape and history.

For enthusiasts who want to rappel the cascade things are far less easy: the bush around is dense and thorny, basalt is particularly sharp and the rocks that make up the waterfall seem to have the intention to come down as soon as you touch them.

Name Cascata del Montacchione
Area Umbria
Nearest village Orvieto
Elevation loss 60 m
Length 180 m
Highest cascade 45 m
Rock Basalt
Rating6
Shuttle No
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What you find in the detailed description

I remember ...

I could never forget that descent. An area of villas, farmlands, Etruscan tombs and Mediterranean bush with beautiful view on Orvieto stronghold. A tall waterfall, whose height is not a surprise because you knew it, you expected it like for all the creeks that reach the border of Alfina plateau. You did not expect, however, that particular basalt full of holes: you've never seen it before, it is surely tough, it looks sharp, must be careful. But this is your sport, this is what you do since 30 years to have fun, get excited, surprised, relaxed, tired, to rest, recharge yourself, dream ... You've done it so many times, you know how to do it, you have all the tools and gear you need and even more.
There's a ring of rope around the tree on the edge of waterfall, but using it means to rappel under the jet: rock is slippery and the jet might hide unstable stones, so you better anchor rope on another tree instead. Andrea is the first to abseil. The rope recovers well. It's your turn. You change the contact point between rope and rock, you check rope for nicks: rope is intact, as usual. All is perfect, so you can abseil, now.

And then, further down, something unimaginable happens, that in a moment blows away the certainties that underpin the "normality" of this sport. Suddenly your equipment becomes completely useless and you are alone with the fall and gravity force. You have less than a moment to prepare for the worst, the unspeakable ... Only instinct can guide you, and there is no time to wonder if it will do that well ...

A few moments and it's all done. You get up off the ground and check if you are healthy. You are, more or less you are, amazingly and thankfully you are. Your certainties however are broken, destroyed. You don't understand how this could have happened. You realize there is something important, vital, that you don't know: no one ever told you that, maybe no one knows that yet. But without that knowledge you cannot continue doing this dangerous sport you chose many years ago.
Perhaps it is time to turn the page, to close with canyoning. Perhaps defying the fate for 30 years is enough, it's more than what a person a bit wiser than you would have done.

But before deciding whether to say "that's enough" I want to understand, investigate, I want to try to acquire that knowledge I miss ... Perhaps even for this dangerous activity the recipe is the same, the one that applies to all human activities: more caution and less trust, more doubts and fewer certainties, more science and less physical, more head and less heart.

What I like most of the canyoning and life is to discover new things. Here there is something new to discover: I can not withdraw, I would not be me.

Then I will decide.

Copyright © 2002- Michele Angileri. All rights reserved.