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canyon exploring with Michele Angileri

Fosso della Solagna

At the border between Lazio and Abruzzo rise Laga Mounts. They are made of layers of sandstone 1000 meters thick, placed on marl layers. All layers immerse at east, so the western part of Laga (in Lazio) is much steeper and rocky than the rest. All mountaintops rise above 2000 meters (the highest is about 2500 meters). Winter climate is very cold and snowy in Laga mounts.

Laga mounts are rich in water, because it rains enough, but also because sandstone doesn't allow water to go undergroud. There are a lot of streams, and a lot magnificent waterfalls. In winter they are suitable for ice-climbing (in fact this is the southest place in Italy where doing ice-climbing). In summer the hardest streams are an ideal canyoning terrain with unusual features, long accessess, low water temperature (due to the height above sea level) and the presence of snow fields and tunnels till the beginning of summer.

The landscape in Laga mounts is really great!

One of the best canyoning trails in Laga mounts. A complete experience of what the word "canyoning" means in this special place.

Name Fosso della Solagna
Area Lazio, Monti della Laga
Nearest village Amatrice (Rieti)
Entrance altitude (above sea level) 1900 m
Exit altitude (above sea level) 1550 m
Length 1 km
Longest rappel 50 m
Rock Sandstone
Rating4 (summer, autumn)
Shuttle No
Explored by Giuseppe Antonini, Paola Santinelli; november 16th 2002
Michele Angileri, Andrea Pucci, Matteo Santoprete; november 19th 2006


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I remember ...

The goal of canyon exploring is not limited to topography. There's more to learn, to reveal about a canyon than the sequence of pools and rappels and narrows and so. Even the word canyon for us canyoneers has not the meaning people usually give it.

Two words tell us what's the focus in canyon exploring (as in mountain exploring): where (the place) and how (the way). We go though canyons for the emotions they give, and emotions change if the way, the actions change. We receive emotions by the caress of falling or flowing water, by the landscape opening in sequence step by step, rappel by rappel, bend by bend. Looking a waterfall from aside is not being inside the waterfall. Sometimes is harder to be aside the waterfall than being inside, but it's a completely different thing, however.

Canyoning is a game with free rules that anyone may adapt to himself. The rules I gave to myself many years ago stated that the places for canyoning had to be hidden and otherwise unaccessible.
One day I was exploring a stream in the Abruzzo mountains: steep, a long sequence of sunny waterfalls and pools. Its first part was a bit tight, but soon the canyon opened while becoming more vertical. From that point every waterfall could be avoided by exiting the stream and re-entering at the bottom of waterfall. It was out of my rules, it was not "canyoning", so I stopped the descent and turned back to my car.
Years passed, and my thoughts about the meaning of the word "canyoning" changed together with my canyoning rules. One day I realized that I might have made a mistake in that Abruzzo stream. I had to return there. I had to know if I could be able to give a meaning to the descent of that stream. So I descended the stream completely, without avoiding any waterfall, and I knew a different stream, really interesting and wonderful! And it was the same stream I descended years before, but it was also a different one. The place was the same, but a "canyon" for us canyoneers isn't merely a place, it's made also by a way to go.

Why am I telling this? you noticed that I mention two teams of explorers of Fosso della Solagna. The first exploration was made by Giuseppe "Pino" Antonini and Paola Santinelli in 2002. They climbed the valley bottom-up, avoiding water, using no protection in climbing 30 meters rock walls and steep slopes of sandstone and grass, where one mistake may mean death. They are really good climbers. They returned back by downclimbing the same walls and slopes. First way, first place.
4 years after the second team, I, Andrea and Matteo, without any information about the canyon, doing a classic top-down canyoning descent under the flow, wearing wetsuits, placing a lot of anchors (there was no anchor at all). Second way, second place.

And from these two different explorations are born two very different pictures of Fosso della Solagna, so different that you could swear they cannot refer to the same place! Pino tells of a beautiful hard hiking trail: nothing to do with canyoning. I tell (together with Andrea and Matteo) that Fosso della Solagna is among the most beautiful canyoning descents in central Italy.
This confirms what I am telling here: a canyon for us canyoneers is made from the where and the how. If you change the how you will obtain a different canyon, as if it was a truly different place.

I guess most canyoneers will choose the usual top-down canyoning descent, the one explored by me, Andrea and Matteo.

Photographs in this website show ultralight ropes (6 mm ropes made of high tenacity fibers). Read multimedia book Ultralight ropes canyoning technique to learn how to use them.

Copyright © 2002- Michele Angileri. All rights reserved.