Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Dolomites - Via Ferrata Fun!

A couple of years ago we planned to visit Italy, circumstances meant we had to wait. Our chance had finally come we were off for a week in the Dolomites and a week by Lake Garda... we could not wait.
The summit of Monte Paterno

We had a great flight with Lufthansa from Heathrow to Munich. Our adventure started with the collection of a hire car which we drove to our apartment in the village of Pozalle near Pieve Di Cadore.

It was wonderful to get closer to Misurina, Amanda and myself recollected happy memories of an earlier trip to Misurina. It was quite late in the day, the view of the Sorapiss above Misurina was beautiful.

The traffic was busy through the Cadore region we arrived late in the evening after a drive up the steep roads of Pozalle we struggled to find our apartment. I gave Nicoletta a call on the mobile and using her excellent English she guided us to our lodge... hooray we had arrived. The morning greeted us with splendid views of this wonderful place.

Nicoletta recommended a visit to Caralte adventure park it was a quick journey from our lodge. All we had to do was to bocome familiar with the 3D maze of valleys. The park is run by families from the local villages, there is a wonderful community spirit. It was time to practice our skills on the high wires!

This particular zip wire was entertaining it wasn't very steep, on my turn I got to the end and forgot to grab hold..... instead a slid back to the middle again. I had to pull my way back to the start and try again. There are lots of zip wires at this park. The Italians called it flying, it sounds much more fun than calling it a zip wire.

Not far from the Caralte adventure park was a small crag (the crag is actually on the same road) it's in an area where there are courts for tennis 5-aside football etc... We were excited to find the climbing area and couldn't resist a play.

Keisha cruised this piece of rock Amanda decided to have a laugh and pretend to push me up the crag ... pretend honest!

 On a further exploration we visited Lago di Cadore. Climbing areas are marked on the map (see the list of maps we used at the end) one of these was at the dam foot near Pieve di Cadore. After negotiating a series of windy single track tunnels we arrived at the dam foot, we had arrived at diaga di pieve di cadore vie d'arrampicata. As well as a climbing wall, there were holds on the dam wall and also a via ferrata.

Keisha as normal could nor resist the temptation of cart wheels, hand stands, back hand springs, back walkovers... happy days.

It was good to travel to Misurina we used the landrover service to take us up the track to the Rifugio Monte Piana. Our plan was a trek over Monte Piana, Monte Piano and to go vi Lago di Landro to the hotel Tre Cime. We wanted to try the Heeresbergf├╝hrersteig Via Ferrata on  Monte Piano. Our route is partially illustrated by the map below.

We had fine views of Monte Cristallo in the distance and across the valley, a fantastic mountain to attempt with excellent via Ferrata including awesome suspension bridges.

 The first via ferrata on Monte Piano was very easy we all wanted more challenges. As we crossed over to Monte Piana locating the start of the via ferrata down to Lago di Landro was not straightforward. I stopped to look at the map and explained to Keisha and Louis that we needed to workout which way to go to get to the start. Keisha and Louis came to the rescue they studied various notices pinned around the very popular mountain area. As it turned out there was ample sign posts. Well this mountain is a very popular museum. Hugely interesting and sobering to think of the people that fought up here in all conditions.

Looking over the edge we could see the path zig-zagging away in the distance, the dolomites are so precipitous that it was difficult to work out where to go. However we followed the path faithfully and enjoyed the route down.

We found a section of via ferrata it looked as though it went directly to the summit of Monte Piana, we made good progress up there and enjoyed the first via ferrata of our trip.

Looking back up the via Ferrata on Monte Piana.

One afternoon we returned to the adventure park at Caralte the evening meeting was at the crag Diego, Nicoletta and friends form the adventure park organise a climbing session for the youngsters. They were all so encouraging we had a great time climbing routes of varying difficulty. Even I had a go, fun, fun!

Keisha appeared to handle some of the routes quite well and attempted some of the harder routes. In the sequence below she made it neatly over rather a steep overhung part of the crag.

Keisha was relieved and happy to climb that route.

Diego kindly loaned a climbing rope and quick draws we now had the possibility of attempting some of the many bolted climbing areas. There is an excellent roadside crag and via ferrata near Vallesella we visited this area one morning before the weather was forecast to break. This crag was hot we climbed quite close to the middle of the day nevertheless it offered a great selection of via ferrata's and climbs with a good range of difficulty. Sensibly ?? We started with the trickiest ferrata. That was quite tricky for me but a lightweight like Keisha breezed up. Louis was still having problems clipping we tried one of the easier routes good practice for all of us. There was an excellent Tibetan  bridge, place quite high up and offering a good sense of exposure. We later found out that this was another project that Diego had been involved with.

As usual we couldn't resist the delights of the Caralte adventure park. This time Keisha and Louis wanted to try the zorb ball's. As normal Keisha and Louis were practicing their tricking moves on the trampoline.

The weather was looking promising and we took advantage. With an early start we headed for Cortina d'Ampezzo. Our objective to attempt monte Cristallo and the Cresta Bianca with fantastic suspension bridges. To make this a practicality we would start from the Capanna Rio Gere and use the ski lift to gain some height. We  arrived very early pleased to have beaten the crowds (this is a very busy popular area). Unfortunately both of the ski lifts had been close apparently there had been a number of incidents forcing the closure.

We quickly changed our plans and headed to Misurina (which wasn't far) to attempt the  Sentiero De Luca / Innerkofler and climb the Monte Paterno. We had lost all our time and now stuck in queues driving up on the toll road to the Refugio Auronzo it was quite frustrating we arrived at the refuge a huge car park at the foot of the beautiful tres Cime. We joined the masses and embarked on our adventure up Monte Paterno.

We walked on a main path from Refugio Auronzo to, Refugio Laverado and then the Locatelli hut from here we could start our via ferrata. Keisha, Louis and myself were encouraged to move quicker by a man in front wearing what appeared to be underpants. They were probably quite comfortable. We focussed more on the Tres Cime rather than the underpants.

I never tire of the Tres Cime and I must say that after our climbing with Nicoletta/Diego and the Caralte climbing gang we were all somewhat fired up!

The we elected to walk on the higher  path approaching the Locatelli hut, this would bring us out at the Frankenfurter a curiously shaped pinnacle near the start of our route.
We had a quick sandwich and geared near the start of the route and over looking the Locatelli hut. For this route head torches are essential. On one part we saw a dog in a rucksack!

The route proceeds up the ridge through some short tunnels, up stairways, there were "gallery windows" from which from which we could peer down at the mass of people on the path below.
As we started up one of the steeper sections there were quite a few queues there were still quite a few people up here. The photo above shows the entrance to one of the main tunnels. It was long dark, steep, refreshingly cold and good to exit back out onto the mountain proper.

At the Gammscharte we had completed the main ascent along the ridge from this point the final ascent on to the summit commenced. This is the point we would descend to to start our descent back to the Laverado and Auronzo hut.
The picture above shows people descending rather a steep path, this was the correct way to proceed. However that path near the tunnels shown in the pictured offered an interesting (and much longer alternative).

We enjoyed some good moments on the summit lumps of chocolate, enjoying the view. Even enjoying some singing. A party of 3 men brought there music out and proceeded to sing, it added to a very happy atmosphere.

The descent path looked quite steep and screey but proceeding with some care it wasn't to bad at all. There were cables on all the exposed parts and it was certainly an impressive traverse around the body of Monte Paterno.

There were some more smaller tunnels as we headed back to the start. We were still amazed by the Tres Cime expressing a desire to climb it! This was an excellent mountain day it's worth doing even with the crowds. It's best to turn up early. The via Ferrata is very fair and is thoroughly recommended.

For our final via ferrata day we returned to the Cortina area, this time the challenge was to attempt the Tofana Di Rozes. We drove through Cortina and found a road which lead to Ristorante Pietofana. From here a chair lift to refugio Aosta and then onto Refugio Pomedes. Guidebooks recommend that the best starting point for Tofana Di Rozes is the Dibona hut. After our day out I realised that this was indeed possibly the case, it appears that a short drive on a single track road off the SS48 leads to the Dibona refuge. Trip advisor reports positively about this refuge.

One of the ski lifts to the refugio Pomedes had broken so we walked the final part up to the refuge. At 1:25000 the scale of the tabacco maps make it not straightforward to judge the time taken to walk/scramble climb different sections. Although it was nice hot and sunny there was a lot of cloud on many of the summits looking like it was not clear any time soon. Looking around we made a quick change of plan. 

We would attempt the Punta Anna Via Ferrata which leads to the highest Tofana di Mezzo.

Refugio Pomedes
After very easy scrambling over the initial slops andmany comments from Keisha saying "Are we there yet?" We arrived at the steep start to the Punta Anna Via Ferrata. The guidebooks indicated that this was not particularly easy and required a good degree of competence. The guide book was spot on. A small party lead by guide cruised in front of us and I began to wonder if I was being responsible and if this really was a good idea. I explained to Keisha and Louis about the nature of the route and explained the various options. To be fair they are great climbers it was not such an irresponsible decision, let the adventure commence.
Looking back to refugio Pomedes

Monks Hood
We made fantastic progress up this steep ferrata which took us to some great positions on the rock. One of the dangerous points was an abundance of Monks hood, which is highly poisonous.

We arrived at the top of the Punta Anna in good style we even caught a party on a particularly steep and exposed section. We had so much fun on this route even  on one particularly steep part where Louis managed to wrap the via ferrata clips around the cable at this point I had to intervene and hang myself off this overhanging bit to sort Louis out. Funny how Louis managed to choose what appeared to be the trickiest bit.
Given the time and the cloud cover we decided to descend and return to the refugio Pomedes given that we had already had such a great time this was a good move.

The descent turned out to be great fun, as we left the final section of via Ferrata  Keisha and Louis quickly discovered the delights of a nice long scree run.

At the lower point of the scree slope near the old refuge Cantore we had a competition to see who had the most stones in their boots. They both had turned into a couple of wild savages needing taming... perhaps the most difficult challenge of the day.

The descent continued along the main path to the refugio Dibona but we used the sentiero Astaldi to return to the refugio Pomedes. There were many strange colours and textures along this older section of via Ferrata.

We took both ski tows to return to the ristorante Pietofana

A climber enjoying the superb exposure on Punta Anna
A climber enjoying the superb exposure on Punta Anna
Diego lent us an excellent climbing there are some wonderful climbing areas, a particular area recommended was the cinque torre  (five towers area) with excellent climbs at many grades. Other links to climbing areas are listed below. A recommended guide book is the Falesie a Cortina d'Ampezzo. Ediz. italiana, inglese, tedesca (Multilingual) Paperback – 2016 by Thaler M (Author), see the reference links below.

Nicolletta and Diego were both most hospitable on our final evening they provided a bottle of wine and home made Tiramisu... delicious. They suggested the idea of weekend climbing using cheaper flights and suggetsing that orrizonimontani may collect from Treviso this certainly sounds like a tantalising possibility. ( Re. venice-treviso with Ryan competitively costed flights for a weekend trip to dolimiti with orizzontimontani).

After climbing and via Ferratering here I'm fired up with my old passion for climbing. However as I'm writing this an unintended consequence is a rediscovered enthusiasm for my solar work too

General Links

Mountain guides in the Cadore region

Some useful blogs with very handy information for via Ferratering

Climbing Guide (Diego lent us this climbing guide looks exceedingly informative)

Climbing areas from this book


Via ferrata Guide

Via Ferratas of the Italian Dolomites: Vol 1 (Cicerone Guides)
Via Ferratas of the Italian Dolomites: Vol 2 (Cicerone Guides)
Via Ferrata: Scrambles in the Dolomites - Horst Hoffler and Hoefler

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