Tuesday, August 22, 2023

A Hike to Pizzo Tre Signori and Rifugio F.A.L.C.

Lago dell'Inferno looking north from just under the Bocchetta dell'InfernoDescending down the Valle dell'Inferno in early eveningThe Sphinx (La sfinge) of Tre Signore
Stambecco - Valle dell'InfernoView over Valle dell'Inferno mid morning with Ornica at the base of the valleyAt the peak of Tre Signore - a cable assist for the last 10-15 meters
Top row left: Lago dell'Inferno. 
Top row center: Valle dell'Inferno late afternoon.
Top row right: La sfinge (the Sphinx) rock formation.
Bottom row left: An alpine ibex.
Bottom row center: Valle dell'Inferno early mornnig.
Bottom row right: Near the peak of Pizzo Tre Signori.


Duration: 10.25 hours total (walking 5 hours, the rest of the time for breaks and lunch at rifugio)
Elevation: 1431 m (about 4,700 ft) gain
Length: 13.4 km
Location: Italy, Bergamo Province, Upper Val Brembana

We deviated from the 106 trail description on CAI site because (1) we started higher up than the trail description suggests, and (2) the description is just to reach the peak, but we went farther to Rifugio FALC.

(1) The trail description suggests parking in Ornica here (you need to buy a pass, e.g., we purchased it at Ristorante Ruffoni) and walking up. With a friend’s jeep we were able to go higher and cut off some of the less interesting hiking to start here, at the entrance to the road to Agriturismo Ferdy d’Alpe.

(2) After the peak of Tre Signori, we headed to Rifugio FALC on trail 42 and then headed back on a trail lower (closer to the lake).

While not a long hike, the altitude gain is significant. And the weather was hot making for a sweaty hike in the famed Valle dell’Inferno - its name says it all. On the way up, you cross paths with Sentiero 101. On our last hike, we walked part of this trail. See the post: Hiking Between Piani di Artavaggio and Piani di Bobbio.

Pizzo Tre Signori is a mountain in the Bergamasque Alps, in upper Val Brembana. The name Pizzo Tre Signori (Three Gentlemen) tells the story of the area when centuries ago it was the border point where the 3 powerful regions : Venice (now Bergamo province), Milan (now Lecco province) and Grigioni (now Sondrio province).  

I don't care for the obsession with reaching the peaks of mountains and prefer to walk by peaks and admire them from below. On this hike, I was ready to do just that. But we didn't. At the Bocchetta dell'Inferno (2306 m) after you finished climbing out of the valley, you can go the peak or continue to other destinations.

That said, the ascent of about 250 m (from the Bocchetta) goes pretty quickly and is a scramble but not particularly exposed. Translation: I could do it with a little trepidation and whining. The last 10 – 15 meters there is cord to hold on to because you are climbing a slab. You could easily scramble up it without it and come down on your back side too. In a word: doable.

One of the features of this hike is “la sfinge” or the sphinx. A rock formation that looks like, you guessed it, the sphinx. As you are climbing the Valle dell’Inferno is on your left. The formation is on the east side of Pizzo Tre Signori.

I was more stressed by some of the exposed (to me that is) parts going and coming to the Rifugio FALC. On that trail, a friend hiking with us saw me slightly panicking in one tricky part to find footing and hand holds and said: breath, pause, look for food/hand holds and then proceed. Was I that obviously nervous? I guess so.

Finally, a note about Rifugio FALC (2120 m), where the FALC is an acronym F.A.L.C. or Ferant Alpes Laetitiam Cordibus. This is roughly translated as "may the Alps bring joy to hearts". The FALC organization is about exposing people to the mountains and activities in the mountains.

At the rifugio, we enjoyed our exposure to the mountain cheese called maschèrpa, a type of ricotta cheese made with cow and goat milk. We had it over pasta and a friend slab of it with a side of polenta and mushrooms.

Flora and fauna

Marmots - Valle dell'InfernoMarmots - Valle dell'InfernoMid morning walking up the Valle dell'Inferno
Marmots (left and center) and marmot territory (right) in Valle dell'Inferno.

Stambecco - solo shot - Valle dell'InfernoStambecco - Valle dell'InfernoStambecco - Valle dell'Inferno
Alpine ibex (Capra ibex) near Pizzo Tre Signori.

[Asteraceae] Adenostyles alpina
[Asteraceae] Adenostyles alpina

[Asteraceae] Carlina acaulis
[Asteraceae] Carlina acaulis

[Celastraceae] Parnassia palustris
[Celastraceae] Parnassia palustris

[Ericaceae] Calluna vulgaris
[Ericaceae] Calluna vulgaris

[Getianaceae] Gentianella sp.
[Gentianaceae] Gentianella sp.

[Orobanchaceae] Eurphrasia sp.
[Orobanchaceae] Eurphrasia sp.

[Papaveraceae] Pseudofumaria lutea
[Papaveraceae] Pseudofumaria lutea

[Polygonaceae] Oxyria digyna
[Polygonaceae] Oxyria digyna

[Pteridaceae] Cryptogramma crispa
[Pteridaceae] Cryptogramma crispa

[Ranunculaceae] Aconitum lycoctonum[Ranunculaceae] Aconitum lycoctonum
[Ranunculaceae] Aconitum lycoctonum

[Ranunculaceae] Aconitum napellus
[Ranunculaceae] Aconitum napellus

[Ranunculaceae] Anemone seed head
[Ranunculaceae] Anemone seed head

[Rosaceae] Potentilla nitida
[Rosaceae] Potentilla nitida


At the peak of Tre Signore (2553 m)Bocchetta dell'Inferno looking southeastTrail from Rifugio FALC to Bocchetta dell'Inferno
Left: At the peak of Pizzo Tre Signori.
Center: The path heading to Bocchetta dell'Inferno.
Right: Path leading from Rifugio FALC to Bocchetta dell'Inferno.

Descending Tre Signore on its north side with Lago dell'Inferno in the distanceHeading to Bocchetta dell'Inferno from Rifugio FALCLago dell'Inferno looking north from just under the Bocchetta dell'Inferno
Left: Descending the north side of Pizzo Tre Signori with Lago dell'Inferno visible.
Center: The path heading from Rifugio FALC to Bocchetta dell'Inferno.
Right: From the north side of Bocchetta dell'Inferno, a view north over Lago dell'Inferno.

Rifugio FALC - fried maschèrpa cheese and polentRifugio FALC - pasta with maschêrpa cheeseRifugio FALC - sbrisolona with blueberry jam
Left: Rifugo FALC plate: maschèrpa cheese and polenta.
Center: Rifugio FALC plate: pasta with maschèrpa cheese and zucchini.
Right: Rifugio FALC dessert: sbrisolono with blueberry jam.

Rifugio FALC - windowsRifugio FALC at 2120 mLago dell'Inferno - with Rifugio FALC shown with arrow - view from Tre Signore
Left: Windows at Rifugio FALC.
Center: Approaching Rifugio FALC on trail 42.
Right: Rifugio FALC indicated with arrow.

The Sphinx (La sfinge) - Valle dell'InfernoThe Sphinx (La sfinge) - Valle dell'InfernoThe Sphinx (La sfinge) from belowStarting to hike up the Valle dell'Inferno
Left: Returning to Ornica and passing by the Sphinx rock formation.
Left center: The sphinx of Pizzo Tre Signori.
Right center: The sphinx from below.
Right: Walking up the Valle dell'Inferno mid morning.

Trail marker for 106 Valle dell'InfernoTrail marker for 106 Valle dell'InfernoTrail sign at Bocchetta dell'InfernoTrail sign near Rifugio FALC - crossroads
Left: Trail 106 marking on a rock.
Left center: Trail 106 marking on a tree.
Right center: Signage at Bochetta dell'Inferno.
Right: Signage near Rifugio FALC.

Valle dell'Inferno - Baita Predu (1850) - view southeastValle dell'Inferno - looking up toward Pizzo Tre SignoriView of Monte Pascaniella and La Spalla
Left: Valle dell'Inferno - Baita Predu (1850) - view southeast.
Center: Valle dell'Inferno - looking up toward Pizzo Tre Signori.
Right: View of Monte Pascaniella and La Spalla.

Valle dell'Inferno - mid morning wallking upValle dell'Inferno looking up to Pizzo Tre SignoriView of Pizzo Tre Signori from Ornica
Left: Valle dell'Inferno - mid morning walking up.
Center: Valle dell'Inferno looking up to Pizzo Tre Signori.
Right: View of Pizzo Tre Signori from Ornica.

The Sphinx (la sfinge) in Valle dell'Inferno
View of Tre Signore from Ornica

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