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Walking on Etna - Guided Ascent

An easy grade walk with one of the Alpine guides to the 'bottoniera' eruption in June 2008

We'd learnt from our friends at Hotel Corsaro that the 'bottoniera' ('buttonhole') eruption to the North East of Etna's summit was being a little unpredictable... quiet periods of regular Strombolian activity were interspersed with quite violent volcanic explosions and ash emissions. Indeed, we'd observed these on the various Etna webcams including the Videobank webcam showing Etna Sud.

Exploring volcanoes is great, and something we want to continue to do for many years, so we figured that for day one we'd employ the services of a local guide to get the low-down on what areas were currently safe, and where to avoid. A quick call to Tom at Volcano Discovery, and a local guide was arranged, the cost of which we were to share with a chap called Steve who was arriving at the hotel the same day as we were. Steve, we later learned, had booked his stay on the basis that we were going to be visiting Etna, and figured it was his best chance of seeing a volcanic eruption - a wise choice, it would seem.

The guided walk to the flank eruption at 2800m - early summer 2008

So the following morning, we all met up at the Etna Sud Alpine Guides hut, and set off for the day with Marco, our volcano guide. A cable car and jeep ride later, and we were traversing the East side of Etna towards the latest eruption. Marco was an excellent guide – knowledgeable, entertaining and patient enough to sit around whilst we filmed & photographed. For ourselves, I think it would be fair to say that we would have worked out the nature of the eruption and acted accordingly. It was on familiar terrain, and the episodic explosions were frequent enough that we got due warning as we approached the eruption, but it's better to be safe than sorry, and there's no real substitute for local knowledge. For our companion for the day, our volcano guide was invaluable.

We descended via the classic Montagnola route, home in time for tea and medals.


Filming the June 2008 flank eruption on Mount Etna from a safe distance

Filming the June 2008 flank eruption on Mount Etna from a safe distance
© Mat & Niki Adlam-Stiles, 2008