canyon exploring with Michele Angileri

Vallone Pratolungo

The sides of Roveto valley are steep karst mountains without any surface water. 600-700 m ASL is the upper limit for tillable ground: above there are rocks, beech forests and mountain meadows. Shepherding and logging are much less common today than in the past here, so these wild mountains are also solitary. A few of the mountain paths have been included in hiking routes, while many others, ignored by hikers, are doomed to slowly being canceled by vegetation and time.

Vallone Pratolungo develops in such a solitary part of Valle Roveto. Seen from afar, the Vallone and its slopes look relatively sweet and accessible. In reality, the Vallone is a universe made of vertical rocks and unexpected ledges, a harsh and absolutely majestic environment that offers a very long and demanding descent.

Name Vallone Pratolungo
Area Abruzzo, Valle del Liri
Nearest village Ridotti
Elevation loss 680 m
Length 1300 m
Highest cascade 60 m
Rock Limestone
Shuttle Partial, with 4WD vehicles
Explored by Upper part: Michele Angileri, Paolo Bracale, Giorgio Ecker, Patricia Mallia, Carlo Scappaticci; September 6th 2020
Lower part: Michele Angileri, Carlo Scappaticci; September 11th 2021


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I remember ...

It was Carlo Scappaticci who noticed Vallone Pratolungo. Carlo says he noticed especially the "Window" with which the valley emerges from the walls of the mountain during one of his first hikes, in youth. A few decades later, the preparation of the "Cammino Rovetano" gives him the opportunity to notice it again, and since in the meantime he has met myself, he talks to me about it as a place of possible canyoning interest, to be evaluated.
A couple of years go by before I can find the time and opportunity to take a look, and ... yeah, wow, it's interesting. It is not a fossil valley (like others in Valle Roveto) and the rare floods that run through it are sufficient to keep clean the forms of erosion carved on the compact limestone. The Window is well visible from the village, and that must be the tallest fall.

Interesting, yes, but also decidedly challenging due to the great difference in height and the long access hike. It requires a long day and a well-motivated team. It took 2-3 years to get all of this. With Giorgio, Paolo and Patricia, Carlo and I enter a majestic scenery of white rock and vegetation, down a continuous sequence of dryfalls that seems never-ending. But it gets late and we have to realize that a full day might not be long enough for that canyon. I had put a possible escape track on my GPS, made by examining Google Earth, so we go out. I begins as a quite easy walk, but very soon the rocks get more difficult, the debris more unstable, the slopes steeper, the ledges smaller, the bush denser and there are even walls that did not appear on Google images, forcing us to find detours.

Once at the car, we leave with the desire to return as soon as possible to complete the exploration, but we must first understand how to do it, since today's escape route is not recommended as an access route. And so a year passes: commitments, health problems, bad weather, heat, ... we never manage to find a good day for everyone (especially for Carlo, the one with the most messed up life).
But if in a full year we have not succeeded it is wise to stop trying and go with the ones who can, the first suitable day.

Photos and video by Michele Angileri, Giorgio Ecker, Carlo Scappaticci

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