Early a.m. Arrival in Catania, Hike to Etna Same Day Possible
Replies: 13 - Last Post: Aug 30, 2012 5:11 AM Last Post By: JonMW
Aug 15, 2012 11:18 AM
Early a.m. Arrival in Catania, Hike to Etna Same Day PossibleI'm wondering about the logistics of taking a night train from Naples to Catania and setting off for Etna on the same day, planning to sleep somewhere near the summit (I believe there is an alpine refugio).
Would anyone happen to know the bus schedule from Catania to the Etna trailhead and approx. how long it would take to get to the refugio?
Aug 16, 2012 5:48 AM
1A few thoughts, in no particular order: If you are not used to sleeping on trains, you won't get much sleep on a night train, and walking on Etna is surprisingly demanding if you are not used to thinner air.
Access to the summit zone (above 3000 metres) may be forbidden depending on volcanic activity - I think this the case right now. And while access is open, you should not walk in that area without a guide.
You may also need extra warm clothing due to the height. I think it is possible to rent parkas and other stuff from Etna guides or at the Etna Nord and Sud ski stations.
Stromboli is accessible via ferry and hydrofoil from Naples, would that be a suitable alternative for you?
Aug 16, 2012 6:13 AM
2Thanks for the reply.
This isn't til November so I'm hoping the summit is open. The reason I was asking now was because I was looking at train tickets and wanted to get the best deal possible. Clothes and any necessary gear I'll have covered.
In a case of premature posting, I eventually found the bus schedule from Catania to Refugio Sapienza. Leaves once a day at 8:15 am and returns 4:45 pm so it wouldn't work with the 8:22 am train arrival. No worries, I can spend the day in Catania and go the next day, maybe just go light and try for the summit in one go, 1400 m elevation gain should be doable in one day.
Aug 16, 2012 6:41 AM
3To save time during the ascent (bear in mind the shorter daylight hours), you could always use the ski cableway and potentially also the offroad buses up to Torre del Filosofo - that's what the guides often do, unless they do the long ascent via the Valle del Bove ridge.
On the way back down, do have a look though at the smaller craters next to the Rifugio.
If you want to join a tour with a guide, I can recommend this guy (he speaks English, his contact details are at the bottom of the page - very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about volcanos).
Aug 16, 2012 1:08 PM
Aug 17, 2012 3:47 AM
5I'm sorry, I don't have first-hand experience of the rifugii, apart from having coffee at the Rifugio Sapienza. I found a list on this website containing no working rifugio much above 2000 metres.
If it is the Torre del Filosofo rifugio you're thinking of, do a google image search - since an eruption in 2003 (I think), the edge of the roof is all you see of it. There is a little hut close by which the guides and their groups use for sheltering/warming up, but I don't think it is open over night.
Aug 21, 2012 1:20 AM
6OK, Plan A doesn't look doable.
Plan B and C are to sleep in my tent or try for the summit as a day trip using the Catania-Sapienza bus.
Are either of those options viable?
Aug 21, 2012 12:54 PM
7Option B may be potentially possible of the weather is ok and you are prepared for cold conditions; it can snow as early as October on Etna, and mistral winds can arrive almost any time of year. I did my walk on Etna on a mistral day, and while we head over 20°C at sea level (and incredible visibility), temperatures near the summit were below zero - we had ice forming in the drinks bottles in our backpacks.
Option C could work out if you use the cable car / bus combination to skip the boring bits and do a relatively short hike, but talk to somebody at the Catania tourist office or an Etna guide to make sure. It seems tight, also considering short daylight hours. And I repeat my strong recommendation not to walk into the summit zone without a guide.
Maybe you could stay somewhere along the access road, in Nicolosi, for instance, and try to hitch a lift up before the bus? Or try to get to one of the lower Rifigios on day one, stay over night, and walk on on the next day?
Aug 22, 2012 2:55 AM
8So much for summiting. Message below from Catania tourism office.
"at the moment you can climb and reach the altitude of 2900 m a.s.l. (Torre del filosofo on the southern slope, and Piano delle COncazze2845 m a.s.l. on the NE slope), the summit area is closed to the tourists because the volcano is going to erupt nextly.
Aug 23, 2012 12:55 AM
9Well, that's what I said in my first post. The website of the guy I linked in post #3 will have an update if the ban is lifted (maybe you could use Google translate or similar to check).
What about Stromboli? The night excursions to watch volcanic activity sound spectacular (haven't been there myself, though).
Aug 23, 2012 7:08 AM
10Yes, but I though it would be a good idea to double check. I thought about Stromboli as someone told me you can camp out on one of the islands and view the glowing crater at night. Does sound pretty cool...
Aug 24, 2012 8:43 AM
11Maybe the summit area isn't closed after all (another email from same Catania office):
"...it is since the last 2 years that these restrinctions are going on. If you would like to climb the summit area, you could go, but if something will happen tourists will pay the costs of the rescue and then in front of the court. I do not know when the restrictions will end..."
Aug 26, 2012 7:37 AM
12I read this as a disclaimer - the ban is in place, they cannot physically prevent you from walking in the summit area if it is officially closed, but if something happens to you (say, you get injured or killed by some flying rock expelled from one of the craters), they are not liable, and any costs resulting from it are yours to pay.
Note that the ban means that any health or accident insurance you may have will become invalid if you access the zone all the same, and that the cost of mountain rescue can run into tens of thousands of Euro, and hospital treatment into hundreds of thousands.
So if you think you cannot afford joining a guide's tour, you definitely cannot afford walking into the banned zone on your own.
Aug 30, 2012 5:11 AM
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