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Descend the greatest Canyons of the Alps with a Cicerone Guidebook

Cover of Canyoning in the Alps
9 Nov 2012
21.0 x 14.8 x 2.6cm
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Canyoning in the Alps

Northern Italy and Ticino

by Simon Flower
Book published by Cicerone Press

A guidebook to the best canyoning descents in the alps of northern Italy and Ticino (Switzerland), with additional routes in Austria, Slovenia and the Valais Alps. Routes are split into seven separate grades, for beginners through to experts. Includes comprehensive information on equipment, hazards and techniques.

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Size: 21.0 x 14.8 x 2.6cm
Weight: 830g

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The Alps rank high among the world's foremost destinations for canyoning. This book brings together 90 of the most celebrated descents in the Alpine regions of northern Italy and Ticino in Switzerland. Divided into five areas, the descents described in the guide present a huge variety of terrain, rock and styles of canyoning. Route difficulty is split into seven grades, from easier canyons suited to beginners, through to the strongest aquatic and technical challenges, which demand experienced rope skills, physical fitness and a calm head for high water. 

The Alps are home to some of the most extraordinary geological creations in the world, and the range's canyons are no exception, from limestone to granite-gneiss aquaparks. Sights to tempt any canyoner await; from the art-deco sweep of water-carved rock, to knife-thin chasms reaching overhead, to serene blue pools cradled in a natural ampitheatre.

The guide introduces routes in Val d'Ossola, Ticino, Lake Como and the Belluno Dolomites through to canyons in Austria and Slovenia. There is information on Alpine geology and the history of Canyoning, as well as details on access and accommodation in each area, advice on technique, risks, preparation and necessary equipment. It is an indispensable companion to any canyoner looking for an exhilarating adventure in the Alps.  

  • detailed maps, photography and topos of all 90 descents
  • advice on equipment, hazards and techniques specific to canyoning
  • practical advice on planning a canyoning trip to each region
  • background information on the areas covered in Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia

  • Activities
  • Seasons
    In general, the summer months (mid-July to mid-September) are the best time for canyoning in the Alps and Ticino.
  • Centres
    Domodossola (Val d'Ossola); Bellinzona, Biasca, Maggia (Ticino); Colico and the northern lake shore (Lake Como); Belluno (Belluno and Friuli Dolomites); Tolmezzo (Carnia and the Julian Alps)
  • Difficulty
    All routes are graded for difficulty. Although there are canyons of all grades, many routes are aquatic and technical, requiring good abseiling skills, physical fitness and a head for high water. A good wetsuit is essential, and a hand-bolting kit gives peace-of-mind in case anchors are damaged.
  • Must See
    The superb granite-gneiss aqua-parks of north-west Italy and Ticino, including Rasiga, Lodrino and Val Bodegno, along with the classic limestone canyons of the Dolomites and north-east Italy, including Grigno, Val Zemola and Rio Simon.

Corrections to the 2012 printing

Route 6 (Mondelli 3)
The 'return' part of the description has been displaced into route 7.
Routes 28/29 (Pontirone) and 54 (Grigno)
The access maps have been rotated to fit the page, but not the north arrows
Route 84A (Alba)
The final few sentences are missing:
It is not worth doing unless meeting a more experienced team doing Rio Tralba. It consists of four
pitches, rigged out of the water. Allow 2h for the descent. Max pitch 18m.
Route 85 (Rio Simon)
Path 428 referred to in the access description and marked on the map, should be path 424.
The Dolomites intro map
The campsite symbol should be by Cimolais not Claut.
Routes 5&6: Mondelli
It seems a dam is sadly imminent, and is rumoured to be in construction midway through lower part (April 2016). It will supposedly capture around 75% of the flow.
Route 9: Rio d'Alba
The canyon has been re-equipped as far as the final 250m pitch (July 2013).
Route 11: Isorno Finale
The canyon has been re-equipped with AIC rigging (2012).
Route 41&42: Mengasca and Casenda
A ticket is needed to use the roads that access the upper parking areas for these canyons. It is available from a machine outside the "Commune di Samolaco", located on the main road (the SP2) through the village of Era. The ticket costs €3.50 and is valid for two days.
Route 46: Bondasca
There was a significant landslide upstream of the canyon in 2012. This has damaged anchors and rendered the canyon rather gravelly. Most importantly it has created problems for the dam. You need to ring before descending (058 319 62 11). The canyoning was still forbidden during summer 2014.
Route 49: Cormor
Cormor is again possible after a period of closure (May 2016). Over the past few years there have been a couple of similar instances, and it would be worth checking the AIC forum pages before visiting.
Route 52: Esino Inf
Canyon not currently recommended due to branches & logs thrown in from above (May 2016).
Route 65: Tovanella
The canyon was re-bolted in July 2013.
Route 78&79: Vinadia
Access/escape via the tunnel for the dam mid-descent is no longer possible (as of 2016).
Route 82: Leale Inferiore
The canyon has been re-bolted to AIC standards (2013).
The access path is now out of bounds to the public. Another path has been devised, but this apparently lands upstream from the old access point, and therefore leads to some laborious-going in the river bed. See the AIC forum for details.


Map of areas covered   


Canyoning – a brief history   
Geology of the Alps (for canyoners)   
Weather and when to go   
Getting there   
Getting around   
Waymarking, access routes and maps   
The risks of canyoning   
Canyoning rope techniques   
Equipment and clothing   
Cameras and photography   
Canyon safety – precautions and pre-trip preparations   
Mountain rescue, local healthcare and insurance   
Canyon etiquette   
Using this guide   
Key facts   

Val d’Ossola    

Route 1     Massaschluct   
Route 2     Gondo   
Route 3     Rasiga Superiore   
Route 3a   Rasiga Inferiore    
Route 4     Variola Superiore   
Route 5     Mondelli 2   
Route 5a   Mondelli 1    
Route 6     Mondelli 3   
Route 7     Bianca   
Route 7a    Segnara   
Route 8      Toce   
Route 9      Rio d’Alba   
Route 10    Antolina   
Route 11    Isorno Finale   
Route 12    Antoliva   
Route 13    Ogliana di Quarata   
Route 13a  Menta Inferiore    
Route 14    Ogliana di Beura – Parte Finale   
Route 15    Marona   


Route 16    Serenello   
Route 17    Bignasco
Route 18    Sponde   
Route 19    Giumaglio   
Route 20    Salto   
Route 21    Val di Gei Inferiore   
Route 22    Val Grande Inferiore   
Route 23    Loco Inferiore   
Route 24    Ticinetto Inferiore    
Route 25    Barougia   
Route 26    Malvaglia Inferiore   
Route 27    Combra   
Route 28    Pontirone Superiore   
Route 29    Pontirone Inferiore   
Route 30    Iragna Superiore   
Route 31    Iragna Inferiore   
Route 32    Lodrino Intermedio   
Route 33    Lodrino Inferiore   
Route 34    Osogna Intermedio   
Route 34a  Osogna Superiore   
Route 35    Osogna Inferiore   
Route 36    Cresciano Superiore   
Route 37    Cresciano Inferiore   

Lake Como   

Route 38    Bodengo 2    
Route 38a  Bodengo 1    
Route 39    Bodengo 3    
Route 40    Pilotera   
Route 41    Mengasca   
Route 42    Casenda   
Route 43    Bares   
Route 44    Borgo
Route 45    Perlana Inferiore   
Route 46    Bondasca   
Route 46a  Drögh Grand    
Route 47    Lesina   
Route 48    Ferro   
Route 49    Cormor   
Route 50    Valle di Scerscen   
Route 51    Val Brutta   
Route 52    Esino Inferiore   
Route 53    Boazzo   

The Belluno and Friuli Dolomites   

Route 54    Grigno    
Route 55    La Soffia    
Route 56    Forti   
Route 57    Pisson   
Route 58    Clusa Superiore   
Route 59    Clusa Inferiore   
Route 60    Mus Inferiore   
Route 60a  Mus Superiore    
Route 61    Fogarè Superiore   
Route 62    Fogarè Inferiore   
Route 63    Maor    
Route 64    Maggiore    
Route 65    Tovanella   
Route 66    Zemola    
Route 67    Pezzeda   
Route 68    Ciorosolin    
Route 69    Torrente Chiadola    
Route 70    Ciolesan    
Route 71    Alba-Molassa   

Carnia and the Julian Alps   

Route 72    Lower Rötenbach   
Route 72a  Upper Rötenbach   
Route 73    Frauenbach   
Route 74    Novarza   
Route 75    Lumiei   
Route 76    Rio Negro   
Route 77    Viellia   
Route 78    Picchionis   
Route 79    Chiantione   
Route 80    La Foce Inferiore   
Route 81    Cosa   
Route 82    Leale Inferiore   
Route 83    Lavarie   
Route 84    Tralba Inferiore   
Route 84a  Alba   
Route 85    Simon Inferiore   
Route 85a  Simon Superiore   
Route 86    Cuestis
Route 87    Rio Nero Superiore   
Route 88    Rio Nero Inferiore   
Route 89    Brussine   
Route 90    Mlinarica   

Appendix A    Canyon summary table   
Appendix B    Further information and resources    
Appendix C    Campsites    
Appendix D    Tourist information offices    
Appendix E    Glossary of technical terms   
Appendix F    First descents    

Route Index           
Route Planner   

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