canyon exploring with Michele Angileri

Tavolara - Argentino

The Argentino valley may be the wildest place in the Apennines, a place of beauty and exceptional features. The ground is rough and rocky since low altitude, with very few tillable portions. The mountains rise right next to the Tyrrhenian Sea, forming a tall barrier at around 1600 m (with peaks that reach 2000 m) that stops the western humid air creating an environment rich in water throughout the year, and snowed in winter. They are called the Orsomarso Range.
Thanks to the abundance of water the Orsomarso forests are lush and indomitable, ubiquitous. The complex and convoluted topography and the thick forests make almost impossible for you to understand where you are. The vegetation also takes little to erase the signs of human activity: so almost nothing remains of the paths of the last century lumberjacks, and even less remains of medieval hamlets or shepherds' cabins ...

The beautiful village of Orsomarso, with its houses perched around singular rocky peaks, marks the beginning of this territory. River Argentino is the road bringing you into this extraordinary scenery of rocks, forests and water, one of the treasures of Pollino National Park, a must-see. You can come here as a tourist, walking with your family along the beautiful path aside the river, or as a hiker, playing to get lost in the forests that cover the sides of the valley, trying to follow the remains of an ancient and forgotten path, or as a river hiker, going up the Argentino till it enters a gorge and beyond, as far as you can.
Or you can do as a canyoneer, reaching the beeches forests high on the mountain and then going down along one of the two creeks that join together to make the Argentino.
And if cascades and pools are what we are looking for, you simply have to choose the Tavolara creek!

The descent of Argentino canyon from Tavolara is a long, extraordinary, tiring and superb canyoning trail.

Name Tavolara - Argentino
Area Calabria
Nearest village Orsomarso
Elevation loss 600 m
Length 3350 m
Highest cascade 30 m
Rock Limestone, schist
Shuttle Needed, with 4WD vehicles
Explored by First complete canyoning descent from Tavolara: Michele Angileri, Consuele Marano; august 9 2016


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I remember ...

One of the most challenging and rewarding routes of the very first years of my canyoning experience was the Argentino Gorge. In the second half of the eighties I did it several times, bottom-up, as it was customary for us: neither I nor my improvised canyoning partners knew how to use ropes and harnesses, and we had no wetsuit, waterproof kegs, shoes with non-slip soles, ... Without specific gear some points were particularly challenging, but we were young and tough.

The first time we continued beyond the Cat's Gap, aup the Rossale creek till the cartway coming from Novacco plain. Then we went down along the cartway, walking and running for more than 20 km ...
Yes, we were young and tough!

Once I had learned rope techniques I put myself in technical canyons exploring. I returned in Argentino valley to explore some tributary canyons (you can see them in this website) or to take a walk with my family on the easy and beautiful path aside the river.
One day I realized I never had been in Fiumarella di Tavolara, which is on of the two branches of upper Argentino ... Satellite pictures and topographic maps were making me suspect that it have waterfalls and gorges ... I searched the internet for informations, and asked to hikers, ... and yes, what I found was confirming my suspicions.
It took some years, however, for right opportunity to come.

I went through Tavolara creek, at last! and there were falls and pools and gorges ... and even an old bolt (with no hanger) on the edge of the highest fall, as evidence that someone had rappeled the fall many years before, or at least had tried.
It's a matter of "history": despite the need to get wet and climb in exposed locations difficult to protect the Argentino was lived from the beginning as a route for hikers. In all probability the first complete canyoning descent was ours: in Fiumarella di Tavolara we had to place a few bolts to be able to come down, and without them we would have to avoid parts of the canyon (in non-trivial way).

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