Climb mount Etna - The great summit crossing

For the most exigent climbers, a side to side trek of volcano Etna across the summit

Climb mount Etna - The great summit crossing


The most complete and intense trek on volcano Etna, side to side trek across the summit, climb Mount Etna from the South path and a long downhill on volcanic ash and lava flows to the North path, having the satisfaction to have reached the summit of the highest active volcano in Europe at over 3300 meters above sea level. 

If you ever wondered if you could climb a volcano and peer into the crater then the answer is yes, it can be done depending on the state of activity. Mount Etna is a perfect adventure playgrounds but it must be approached following a series of precautions as this is serious nature you are dealing with.


Etna tour highlights

  • Hike to Mount Etna summit craters on a 15 km trail, reaching the 3300 mt altitude
  • Etna's most complete hiking trail, tailor-made to take you from south to the north side
  • Walk on the edge of the active craters of Etna, across fumaroles and sulfur
  • Etna guided tours in english, official alpine volcanologist guide (live guide)



Hike Mount Etna - Summit Crossing Guidelines

Climb Mount Etna on this side to side hike across the summit require a good health state and you must not have any physical problems preventing you from taking part at this expedition, that runs in an active volcanic area, uneven routes and variable altitudes.

Even in summer time, sometime Mount Etna shows remains of snow, be sure to bring a few warm layers in case a sudden drop in temperature takes hold as you scale the mountain path. Although the temperature may vary, the sun is almost always brightly present in the sky, so remember to bring along plenty of water to keep you hydrated and some sun lotion.

Proper shoes are required for undertaking a climb on Etna. You will need appropriate footwear that can provide you balance on the fluctuating terrain of the mountain trails. Whether you’re carefully walking upon sharps lava pebbles or balancing alongside barren craters, you should wear sturdy hiking boots to carry you on your way.


Mount Etna summit route

Climb Mount Etna this side to side trek is a challenging excursion in an active volcanic environment, Novice Walkers should not attempt, only adults over 16 years old can take part at this tour, we do only small groups of max 12 participants. Etna guided tours, with experienced qualified Mountain Leaders that speaks perfectly more than one language.


We will reach the sky resort at the South side of Mount Etna, where you will be equipped with helmets and hiking poles. We will be reaching the 2900 meters of altitude (9,500 feet) by cablecar and 4x4 buses Unimog.

From here the hike begins throughout the most recents lava flows leading to the summit of Mt Etna, an amazing hike in a dangerous volcanic environment getting up to the actives craters of Etna caratterized by huge fumaroles and sulfuric ground.


Etna is the highest mountain in Sicily, at an altitude set around 3330 meters, the path starts with an easy approach that lead up to the base of the active craters, after which the route become more strenuous, by hillwalking standards. It is around 3 km to the crater rim with ~400 m of vertical gain, under normal conditions the ascension takes about 1h30 minutes. Much of the trail surface is composed of loose volcanic soil, which making hiking a bit more difficult. As you climb up to the upper slopes, you may find that the Oxygen level gets thinner resulting in running out of breath easily, nausea, and headaches. Take a rest when you need to, drink water, and take deep breaths as it’s harder to breathe at high altitudes.


Etna's volcanic Gases - Hazards and Safety

The walk and time spent around the active craters rim will be decided by the guide who is the only responsible about the safety of the group. As well as producing water vapour, volcanoes produce toxic gases which can irritate the eyes, throat, and lungs. The main gases found on volcanoes are Carbon Dioxide, Sulpher Dioxide, Hydrogen Sulphide, Hydrochloric Acid, and Hydrogen. If you have no gas mask present, it might be a good idea to bring with you a bandana to filter part of the large concentration of gases presents.

You will be given an helmet to wear while you are on the summit area, in order to protect your self in case of sudden and unpredictable explosions who can create falling debris usual from Strombolian eruptions typical from volcanoes like Etna and Stromboli.

There are 4 large craters at the summit of Etna. Depending of the incessant gas emission, the geodynamic conditions of the volcano and the weather, the guide will adapt the visit of the active craters ensuring your safety.

It is always exciting to see the enormous eruptive vents and the great panorama of Sicily and the Mediterranean sea from the highest Mountain on the Island.


After the visit of the summit area, walked on the edge of these wide craters, we begins the descent towards the north side, the way down to 1800 meters altitude, it is around 11 km with ~1500 m of vertical loss. Walking on volcanic ash fields and lapilli, until "Piano delle Concazze", a large plateau with a unique look, to reach the Volcanic Observatory at 2800 mt, where a lunch break is scheduled.

We continue the downhill trough a track leading to the northern ski resorts, Piano Provenzana. From where we will witness the long lava flow made by the eruption of 2002/03, finishing line of the excursion.


Picnic lunch on volcanic ground

A picnic lunch is planned and will take place along the way, if you have not been able to prearrange a picnic lunch, we will make a stop in order to let you get some of the traditional Sicilian products, followed by our guide, who will advise you on the various local products.


In winter all excursions may vary on timetable and schedule following the weather and snow covers conditions

Climb mount Etna - The great summit crossing Statistics


Etna Summit Crossing Trail

  • Distance : approximately 14 km - 8.7 mi
  • Ascent : 400 m
  • Descent : 1500 m
  • Time : about 6 hours
  • Difficulty : Challenging


Essential Gear and Clothing

  • Hiking boots
  • Rucksack
  • Waterproof jacket (with hood) - all cars will be equipped of light raincoats jackets
  • Waterproof over trousers
  • Trekking poles - all cars will be equipped
  • General trekking trousers
  • Caving helmet - all cars will be equipped
  • Gloves or mitts
  • Spare layer e.g. fleece top
  • Food & Drink


Meeting point

  • At your hotel between Catane and Taormina - Please give us the full address and name of the Hotel/accommodation
  • 07h45 at Bar Très Joli, Via Aldo Moro, 39, 95029 Viagrande CT
  • More pick-up places: quote on demand


The weather on Mt Etna is often unpredictable you should always be aware that weather conditions on Mountains can change rapidly and often for the worst. A good day at sea level is no guarantee of good weather on the mountain.

The journey require a particular attention, because of the specific volcanic area that it will be approached, subjected to constant gaseous exhalations and composed by an inconsistent soil and unstable rocks. The itinerary can be modified in different ways or interrupted, depending on weather conditions, emission of toxic gases and geodynamics of the volcano, the guide, who's in charge of your safety, will be the only one deciding and taking unquestionable decisions.

The excursion will be carried out according to the limits enforced by the surveillance in charge. We suggest not to use contact lens, because volcanic gases and ash can cause unpleasant irritations. For the achievement of the expedition and its overcome, you must be sure of your health state and, perhaps would it be better to let us know any doubt in advance, in order to reduce and avoid any sort of useless risk.

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