cookieless, no-ads, no threats canyon exploring with
Michele Angileri


On the northern bastion of the Gran Sasso, which develops from the big wall of Corno Grande to the great wall of Monte Camicia there is a high concentration of canyoning routes, mostly long and demanding. This happens because we are the highest mountain range of the Apennines, a steep and rocky crag that rises 2000 m above the surrounding land, stopping the cold Balkan winds and collecting large amounts of snow, which supply the abundant perennial springs giving life to numerous waterways. In short, we are in an environment with exceptional features.

Among the rivers that originate from the ramparts of the Gran Sasso there is the Ruzzo, who was born in the area between Brancastello and Prena Mounts. His numerous and abundant sources have been picked up in the '30s with the construction of the extraordinary Ruzzo Aqueduct, that captures not only the springs but also the water flowing through the very steep canyons that make up the upper part of the Ruzzo. Amonge these the most impressive canyon in called Fossaceca (which means Blind Pit).

Since the 90s, the Fossaceca is known as the most popular and frequented canyon of Gran Sasso. In spite of the water takings the gorge has perennial water, and maybe the lower Fossaceca would not be feasible if there were no takings, because the flow-rate would be too large!. The approach trail is not particularly long or strenuous like other ones in Gran Sasso. Moreover one of the aqueduct service paths provides a convenient way out that allows you to descend only one half of the canyon (in fact most canyoneers limit their descent to upper Fossaceca, exiting by the aqueduct service path). And the waterfalls of Fossaceca are not very high, and offer nice views on the hills of Abruzzo despite their being at the bottom of a narrow gorge.

In conclusion: the Fossaceca is a very special canyoning route and this is the reason why it has become a classic of canyoning in Central Italy.

Name Fossaceca
Area Abruzzo, Gran Sasso
Nearest village Isola del Gran Sasso d'Italia
Elevation loss 520 m
Length 1300 m
Highest cascade 32 m
Rock Limestone
Shuttle No
Explored by Upper canyon: G. Cicconi, C. Di Cecco, M. Iannuccelli; 9 settembre 1990
Lower canyon: G. Antonini, P. Grillantini; 28 agosto 1994


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I remember ...

When canyoning in Central Italy began to spread (in the second half of the 90s), those who aspired to be or feel "strong" started going down the few-known canyons of Gran Sasso and then told ... They told of the fearsome Fossaceca, where "all the water falls on your head" (!!), a canyon requiring "considerable commitment, suitable only to very skilled teams," and they meant that it was much more difficult than the canyons that I, Michele, used to explore.
But I had explored several challenging canyons yet (and easy gorges too, of course), bolting each waterfalls by hand, and I knew well the difference between repeating a bolted canyoning route and descending an unknown unbolted canyon. So these allusions really made me smile, but since I've always had respect for my neighbors' self-esteem needs, I showed myself like I was agreeing. Besides, any talk would have been useless: everyone must understand certain things by themselves, no words colud have them understand.
So over the years I continued to go wherever my curiosity led me, quite indifferent to the "extreme". And because I like every canyon I said to myself, "I'll go to Fossaceca too, sooner or later".

In the meanwhile, however, even the "extreme" was moving elsewhere: it was no longer home in Fossaceca! "Extreme" moves by its nature to a place that has been seen by few, because if many people had seen it then it's not "extreme"!
So many years later when I happened to Fossaceca this had long since ceased to be "extreme", and I could see for myself that it was not, in fact it had never been (except for the explorers).
But for me that a route is easy or not is not an issue. I do not like those who talk about an easy canyon from the pedestal of their "canyoning curriculum" almost apologizing for having "lowered" themselves to such an easy descent.
I simply say: Fossaceca is beautiful.

Copyright © 2002- Michele Angileri. All rights reserved.