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canyon exploring with Michele Angileri

Fosso di Terelle

The big tall shape of Monte Cairo rises solitary above the valley of river Liri, higher than the surrounding mounts. South-western side (the one over Liri valley) is simple and steep, but the other parts of the mountain are really complex, featuring karst plateaus, valleys covered with forests, lower tops and big deep dolines looking like holes.

In karst areas water flows in the underground: that's why streams in Monte Cairo are usually dry. In fact some valleys have water flowing no more, since millenniums I guess. However in Monte Cairo there are also a couple of nice canyons. The longest one borders the whole north-western side of the mountain: it's the canyon of river Melfa. In wet seasons kayakers go through it, finding rapids and narrows featuring large flow-rate.
On the opposite side of the mountain we find canyon of Fosso di Terelle, an interesting nice long canyoning trail featuring cascades and narrows, with no flow at all. Though many years have passed since it was discovered, though it has the right features to be appreciated, still very few people know it or have gone through it.

Name Fosso di Terelle
Area Lazio, Ciociaria
Nearest village Belmonte Castello
Entrance altitude (above sea level) 650 m
Exit altitude (above sea level) 300 m
Length 2 km
Longest rappel 38 m
Rock limestone
Shuttle Advisable.
Explored by Michele Angileri, Tullio Dobosz, Gianluca Pietrangeli; may 12 1994


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I remember ...

Fosso di Terelle opens in a karst area. So it usually have no water flowing, because water is captured to the underground. It can have water flowing only in case of very heavy showers or during very wet seasons, when water saturates the ways to the underground.

Weather forecasts for sunday told of "sunny morning; little showers may happen in the afternoon". It could be dangerous to be in a wet canyon, but we felt safe in Fosso di Terelle, also because it has many escape possibilities.
But rain came unannounced, while we were in an engaged part having no escape on its sides. And it was much more than a shower! Tons of water were falling down. We found a good place to stay and wait shower to end, a few meters over the bed. We sat, covered by our emergency canvas.
5 minutes, 10, 15, 20 minutes and still shower had no intention to slow, nor to stop. I began to worry: that was very much water, maybe enough to saturate the ways to the underground and to start a devastative flash-flood. I stared trying to hear the flood rumbling down towards us, ready to stand up and run to a higher place.

Shower ended in 35 minutes. All water got to the underground and we had no flash-flood to face. The sky turned blue and we continued our descent through the canyon. All had been perfect, all had been ok.
But what would it happen if shower had gone on for some minutes more?

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.