Hiking Monte Grigna: Description
The Grigna is part of a mountain massif rising up from the eastern branch of Lake Como and extending from the towns of Lecco to Bellano. The massif, which separates Lake Como from the Valsassina has two distinct peaks: the Grigna Settentrionale (North Grigna) and the Grigna Meridionale (South Grigna). The Grigna Settentrionale (also known as just Grigna or Grignone) reaches 2,410 metres/7,907 ft above sea level. The Grigna Meridionale (also known as Grignetta) is a slightly lower at 2,177 metres/7,142 ft.
Level of Difficulty
Despite their modest elevations relative to larger mountains in the Alps, these mountains offer alpine hikers, and even serious mountain climbers, a high altitude mountain hiking/climbing experience due to their steep and rugged calcareous rock formations which are reminiscent of the Italian Dolomites. Lesser peaks on the massive include Monte S. Martino and Pizzo della Pieve.
The routes outlined below are safe if you do not stray from the route and use common sense and maintain respect for the mountain. They are suitable for anyone that enjoys a long mountain hike, however, a certain degree of fitness, sure-footedness, and freedom from vertigo are necessary. Hiking shoes or boots should be worn. A few spots, such as the final approach to the summit, are quite steep and in some places exposed. In these cases there are chains attached to the mountain that provide additional safety and leverage (see the photos). It is a good idea to carry a cell phone for safety; they work almost to the summit. There is a phone in the rifugio on the summit.
At the summit of the Grigna Settentrionale you will find the Rifugio Brioschi. The word "rifugio" literally means "refuge". A rifugio in Italy is usually a rustic mountain shelter or rest stop that often includes sleeping facilities, typically bunk beds in a large communal room.
Open 365 days of the year, the Rifugio Brioschi is literally perched on the summit of the mountain. It is the perfect rest stop for lunch, dinner, and even a night's sleep for those wishing to extend their hike onward or simply experience a night on the top of a mountain. If the weather is right, the sun setting behind the arc of the European alps creates a mountain sunset view from the Grigna that you will never forget.
If you want to sleep at Rifugio Brioshi it is a good idea to call ahead and reserve a spot. There are a few "rooms" that are made up of three or so bunks, so if it is not crowded, or you are a small group, you may be able to get a little room that offers some privacy. There are no shower facilities - except for access to a large container of rain water that you could use to wash yourself down a bit. There are public washrooms, the conditions of which seem to vary from visit to visit. If you need to use the washroom in the middle of the night you will need a flashlight, always a handy thing to keep in your pack anyway.
Remember that even in the middle of the summer, it can get quite cold at the top of the Grigna. It would not be unusual to experience night time temperatures well below 10 degrees celsius even when on the lake the day time highs are above 30 degrees celsius. If you venture up in early summer or fall, the cold is obviously more pronounced. For this reason, if you are sleeping over you should bring something like a windbreaker and warm fleece - in the fall or early summer maybe even hat and mits. For sleeping, the rifugio provides thick wool blankets that should keep you warm. There is a wood stove in the main room, which I've seen fired up in middle of summer, but it does not really heat the bedrooms which are upstairs.
For more information and recommended routes go to Griante.com.