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Something about Colle dell'Orso


The climbing spot of Frosolone (IS) is one of the most important in Central and Southern Italy. It’s located at an altitude of about 1200 mt, on the slope of the Frosolone Mountain, in a location named “Morgia Quadra”. It’s composed by few dozens (about 30) of impressive monoliths (up to 20/30 m high) of very compact excellent limestone, named “Morgias”, immersed in an arid lunar landscape, of rare beauty. Thus the climbing is not along an unique rockwall, but around these monoliths (Morgias), scattered along a good path. This feature gives a feeling of freedom and loneliness and makes Colle dell’Orso a unique special place for climbing.

The holds are mainly pocket, jugs or slopes, never sharp. the climbing style is mainly on vertical or slightly overhanging wall, with tricky sequences of moves, requiring both endurance and footwork. that is the climbing in Frosolone is very technical, and sometimes bouldery and not continuous, and the routes are not easy to be onsighted.

The recommended seasons for climbing are the late springtime, the summer and the early autumn. In winter you can climb even if it’s a bit snowy, but only if it’s sunny and not windy.

In every season, pay attention to the wind: all the winds from West, if not weak, are very troublesome. In summer, though, a weak dry wind from West it’s fine, because gives you an excellent friction climbing.

Instead, the crag is always sheltered by the winds from North.

During the summer you must pay attention to the afternoon thunderstorms (mainly to the lightning!). As usual in mountain areas, in case of thunderstorms, run away.

The approachi is quite short (about 15 minutes), and the path is quite comfortable.

Please respect this unique beautiful environment, and don’t leave any trace of your passage.  


The grades of the routes in this guide are, with some adjustment, the same proposed by the first repeaters (that is, is quite severe). Though, for some routes (the less repeated, or the morphological ones) I put a different evaluation (the mine), beside the original.

I rated each Blocco (that is each monolyth) considering not only the number of the routes and their beauty,  but also the history of the routes and the numero of the hours in which such routes are in shadow during the summer.

I rated each route considering the rock quality, the length (as more is the length, as more is the rating), the historical importance, and even the uniqueness of some moves.

I specified the exposure of each route, and in which part of the day each route is in shadow in summer (because this feature depends not only by the exposure, but by the proximity of another monolith). It was not easy for me to qualify as unmissable only 30 routes among 330 (for reasons of space). there are a lot of routes that are unmissable too…


Frosolone is a small town with about 3000 inhabitants, located at an altitude of 900m, in Central Italy (in the province of Isernia), surrounded by green fields, ancient beech tree forests, small lakes, and creeks near which you can see herds of grazing cows, and even of wild horses. Thanks to such generous nature, the linchpin of the local economy is the excellent farm-based production of cheeses, cold meats and meat. There are black and white truffles, and a wide variety of mushrooms, precious items of the restaurant menus in Frosolone.

The historic town center can be reached by three old arched entrance: Porta S. Maria, Porta S. Pietro, Porta S. Angelo. It’s a medieval town with a network of winding streets which lead to small squares full of craft shops, old churches and monumental mansions almost all built in finely worked local stone.

The art of crafting iron has a centuries-old tradition in Frosolone: here for more than three centuries have been produced knives,  scissors, daggers, and a wide varierà of cutting tools. These are genuine hand-forged works of art, that you can find in the shops of Frosolone. You can visit the Museum of  “Ferri Taglienti” (that is cutting iron), recently restructured, to see some precious ancient old objects, very well-preserved. Each year, on August (from 11 to 13), there is the outstanding “Mostra del Mercato Nazionale delle Forbici e dei Coltelli” (National Exhibit of Knives and Scissors) e the “Festa della Forgiatura” (Forging Festival), that attract numerous visitors.

The first settlement of Frosolone was probably a village of an ancient italic population: the Sanniti. Its name was, probably, Fulsulae, and it was located near the top of the mountain, at 1200 m of altitude, in a place actually named “Le Civitelle". Here you can see the remains of the ancient Cyclopean Wall, which once protected the village. In 321 before Christ the Sanniti was defeated by the ancient Romans: all their villages were destroyed. Since then, probably, the survivors established themselves where now is located Frosolone.

The art of crafting iron, probably, was introduced by the Longobards during the V century ad. In the subsequent centuries, there manifactures focused mainly on the production of knives and scissors.

The location of Frosolone allows several outdoors activities: paragliding, hiking, horse riding,  mountain biking. However, climbing is the main outdoor activity.



Finally, I want to thank all those who have helped me to collect the historical information that I’ve scattered in this guide. Thanks to Luca Bevilacqua named “Bibo", Mauro Calibani, Paolo Caruso, Nicola Cosenza, Massimo Gambineri, Andrea Imbrosciano, Silvia and Sebastiano Labozzetta, Mati Logoreci, Gianluca Mazzacano, Fiorino Moretti, Riccardo Quaranta, Carmine and Pietro Radassao, Maurizio Riganelli. Thanks to Norma Mercuri for the support, and to Carmela Malomo for georeferncing.



From Bari: go toward Foggia, then continue to Campobasso. Once at Campobasso take the SP 160 Fondovalle del Rivolo and continue up to the end. Then take in sequence the SS 647 fondovalle del Biferno direction  Boiano/Isernia and continue up to the junction to Frosolone. Once at this junction follow the signs to Frosolone taking first the SP 42, then the SS618 up to Frosolone. Once at Frosolone,  exit from the town, following the signs to Sessano del Molise; once at a junction, in front of the St. Egidio Hermitage, turn right toward Sessano (not to the left to Colle dell’Orso!), and after about two km park near a shelter built of stone on the right side of the road. The walls are well visible on the right.


Both from Rome (that is, from the North) or from Naples (that is from the South) take the A1 highway and exit at S. Vittore and follow the signs to Isernia. The follow the signs to Sessano del Molise taking the SS650; once at Sessano, follow the signs to Frosolone taking a delightful mountain road. Continue up to a shelter built of stone, on the left side of the road, about 5 Km from Frosolone, and park here. The walls are well visible on the left.


From Salerno go toward Benevento, then follow the signs to Campobasso taking the SS87 up to the junction Bologna/Taranto/Foggia/Campobasso; once at this junction take the SS17 and immediately turn direction  Bologna/Taranto/Termoli taking first the SS647 Dir A Fondo Valle del Biferno then (immediately after) the SS647 Fondo Valle del Biferno up to the junction to Frosolone. Once at this junction follow the signs to Frosolone and take first the SP42, then the SS618 up to the town. Exit from Frosolone, direction Sessano del Molise; Once at the St. Egidio Hermitage, turn right toward Sessano (not left toward Colle dell’Orso!)  and continue for about two Km, up to a shelter built in stone, on the right. Park here. The walls are well visible on the right.


From Pescara take the highway Adriatica toward Bari and exit to Montenero di Bisaccia/Vasto Sud-San Salvo. Then follow the signs to Isernia, taking the SS650 up to the junction Civitanova S./Frosolone/Pietrabbondante/Duronia. Once at this junction follow the signs to Frosolone taking the SP Frosolone Civitanova, and continue for about 10 Km, up to Frosolone. Exit from Frosolone, direction Sessano del Molise; Once at the St. Egidio Hermitage, turn right toward Sessano (not left toward Colle dell’Orso!)  and continue for about two Km, up to a shelter built in stone, on the right. Park here. The walls are well visible on the right.