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FATMAP difficulty grade
From Rifugio Balma (1885 m) 9 8 3 follow the dirt road for the Laghi della Brignola for a few dozen meters, up to Colletto Balma (1886 m).
On the wide saddle the road forks: the branch on the right leads towards the Sella Pogliola (trail sign F03) and the Passo delle Scalette (trail sign F03B), while the straight branch goes towards Laghi della Brignola (trail sign E09).
On the right branch, a few meters from the junction, the path to Monte Mondolè (trail sign F03) branches off to the left, which rises fairly steeply on the grassy ridges of Rocche Giardina , next to the terminal section of a ski lift.
Once at the plant cage there is another crossroads: the most obvious trace continues straight (signpost F03), while a second, less obvious, bends sharply to the right (signpost F06). The track on the right, which returns wider some tens of meters further upstream, will be used on the way back from the summit of Monte Mondolè . It is preferable to carry out the climb following the track that continues straight and that smoothes slightly, starting to go around Monte Mondolè 1 buttresses on the left. Soon the ascent resumes, with a very long traverse 10 : in the initial rather steep tract we ignore an obvious branch to the left and touch the ruins of a tiny gias; then follow a flat stretch and a new surge that leads to a panoramic meadow collection not mentioned 4 .
Here you neglect the front track and bend sharply to the right (north). The steep but wide south ridge of Monte Mondolè between stones and tufts of grass.
Just beyond the collection, a track on the right is ignored and it continues to rise, keeping substantially along the ridge, in this section in considerable slope.
The trail signs lead to some easy rocks, which can be overcome by helping yourself with your hands or go around to the left following a trail track. After this slightly more challenging stretch, the cross at the top of Monte Mondolè (2382 m, 1:25 - 1:40 hours from Rifugio Balma ) appears almost suddenly.
5 6 11 . In fact, there are two crosses at the top, and a statue of the Madonna has been present for some years.
And occasionally Tibetan prayer flags also make their appearance ... The descent takes place along the north-western ridge 7 .
The path (trail sign F01) descends along the ridge of a small and deep valley of karstic origin, at the bottom of which is the tiny Laghetto del Mondolè 2 .
You lose altitude rather quickly, between meadows and rhododendrons, almost reaching the base of the basin.
Here, very little evident, leave on the left the path for Colla Bauzano , Artesina (trail sign F01) and Passo delle Scalette (trail sign F03B) and keep the right (trail sign F06) on the most obvious path that bends towards the east.
After passing the track on the right that descends to the Laghetto del Mondolè 12 , a short ascent concludes the wide ring that actually leads below the vertical of the summit but at a decidedly lower altitude. The Laghetto del Mondolè and the ice cave The Laghetto del Mondolè is responsible for one of the explanations of the toponym Mondolè , which would indicate the "mountain of the lake".
In the past it seems that the Mondolè was however known as Monte della Barma , in reference to the cave that opens downstream from the pond.
Given the permanent exposure in the shade, the cave had been used in the past as an ice quarry, which was formed there and then preserved until late summer.
Even near the lake in fact, after the snowy winters, it is possible to find accumulations of snow until the beginning of summer, while the small body of water is one of the last to thaw in spring and one of the first to freeze in autumn. [Nel cuore delle Alpi Liguri, pp.237-239] [-] Continue downhill, crossing a patch of green alders, before arriving a few dozen meters upstream of the path traveled to the outward journey.
It is not reached, but it is held halfway up between the rhododendrons, on the left of a crest (be careful in case of slippery ground: the path is thin and a little exposed).
Go around the slender ridge and descend with a few hairpin bends between meadows and rhododendrons and return to the cable-way of the ski lift touched down.
From here, backwards, return to the Rifugio Balma (1885 m, 1:05 - 1:10 hours from Monte Mondolè ).