/ Via Ferrata NE Italy + Dolomites

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kenr - on 29 Aug 2014
Got out and did VF Cesco Tomaselli which goes to the summit of the south Fanisspitze (of "Punta Fanes Sud"). I liked a lot for the interesting moves ir permits with both hands + feet directly on the rock. Also for
* the fun cable-aided descent
* the spectacular setting among other dramatic peaks.
* doing the approach + return as an excellent loop hike.
* option of combining with other VF routes nearby.
* option of using mechanical lift between Falzarego pass and Piccolo Lagazuoi peak.

Climbing "free" directly on rock: I felt the difficulty (except one short sequence near the start) is around Euro 5c. For me the most interesting climbing is the sustained dihedral not far from the summit. A little below that is an overhanging bulge, I'd say at least 5b. The bottom section has some 5a moves. But there's a long easier section (including some hiking) in between.

Note that I used a special Skylotec Skyrider VF kit, a sort of auto-belay system (like rope-solo) that works on some steel cables (instead of on rope). So I was well-protected (like following on rope-belayed climbing). But using a normal Via Ferrata kit would _not_ provide good protection if a climber fell on one of many of the moves on this route.

The hardest short section just after the start I didn't get free during my main climbing -- after like three tries I just grabbed the cable for aid.

Then after completing the climb and the fun cable descent I revisited that hard section and found a possible way to do if "free" (without grabbing the cable or its support for aid). Seems like it requires a move of at least Euro 6b, and likely want to be using shoes suitable for using slopy polished footholds while feeling high for some sort of usable hand-holds.

VF Tomaselli is usually thought to be one of the harder Dolomites via ferrata routes even _with_ grabbing the cable for aid.

I'll do that one again.

kenr - on 29 Aug 2014
The hiking loop is nice -- could be enjoyed by someone in your party who did not want to do the VF Tomaselli route. It follows marked trails starting from the south and going around tne Lagazuoi Grande ridge and over the Forcella Grande (GPS lat long approx N46.5428 E12.0173), which is very near the start of VF Tomaselli.

I've done it twice in the anti-clockwise direction, going out around the east side over Forcella Travenanzes and Forcella Gasser, and returning around the west side of the Lagazuoi Grande. I know three ways to access the start/finish from the south from the Falzarego Pass: (a) the Lagazuoi lift; (b) trail 402; and (c) the Lagazuoi tunnels.

kenr - on 29 Aug 2014
Some more detail about VF Cesco Tomaselli:
GPS latitude longitude approximate:
* bottom of VF Tomaselli ascent: (N46.5437 E12.0174)
* summit of Punta Fames Sud (2980m): (N46.5461 E12.0185)
. . . (not far from top of cable ascent route)
* bottom of cable descent route: (N46.5463 E12.0198)

* top station of Lagazuoi lift: (N46.5276 E12.0090)
* parking by bottom station of lift: (N46.5195 E12.0085)

total climbing distance with significant moves at difficult Euro 4a or higher (not including hiking or easy scrambing in between):
about 250 meters.

cable descent distance: about 160 meters.

kenr - on 29 Aug 2014
I also did another route with some cable-protection called "Luigi Veronesi" which sort of connects with VF Tomaselli.

I did not like it much ...
Mostly traversing across a steep mountainside with lots of loose rock -- but with great views, and some points of significant exposure. My feeling is that I can get enough of that (with less work) on the west side of the loop hike around the Lagazuoi Grande ridge.

There are two different starts to Luigi Veronesi from the south: (a) One is to traverse north from (or across?) the midst of the VF Tomaselli ascent route. (b) The other is to traverse north about 150-250 meters (across a steep loose slope) from the bottom of the VF Tomaselli _descent_ route (by Forcella dei Quaire), then pass through a tunnel from the east side to the west side (to reach the Veronesi traverse along the west side of the ridge).

The seoond way is not easy to find in a year with lots of snow, I guess perhaps because need to do lots more down then up.

My suggestion is that if I really need to experience the Veronesi route again with somebody, I would do this:
1) climb the first steep section of VF Tomaselli
2) do the rising hiking / easy scrambling diagonal traverse of VF Tomaselli toward the north, includind a long section with no cable.
3) Where VF Tomaselli has a cable going directly up the face, continue rising traverse roughly NW -- perhaps marked by some old steel cable anchors (but no cable).
4) Then some horizontal traverse N with ups + downs.
5) About 300 meters after leaving VF Tomaselli, find the west entrance of the tunnel.
6) Pass through the tunnel to its east end, take a quick look, then return through tunnel back to its west end.
7) Continue along Luige Veronesi with gentle ups and downs - first W then NW - until get tired of it.
8) Turn around and go back SE to the tunnel entrance, then continue SE past that back to rejoin VF Tomaselli.
9) Finish VF Tomaselli.

There is an alternate start to the west (non-tunnel) side of Veronesi which avoids the steep start of VF Tomaselli, but that climbs a steep loose slope (and might not be easy to find the bottom start).

Not my thing. But if you know somebody who's into hiking (carefully) across steep loose rock with occasional cable protection, there it is.


Toerag - on 30 Aug 2014
In reply to kenr:

Thanks for the info Ken - will be really useful for someone in the future (hopefully me, I've not done those ).
kenr - on 30 Aug 2014
In reply to Toerag:
If you're interested in the "free" climbing grade of various VF routes, there was a UKC Forums thread around Sept 2010.

I have many detailed comments on VF routes linked from this page:

I'm not the only one who loves VF Tomaselli. With the ongoing moist weather pattern, I was glad to get a shot at it my first full day here.


kenr - on 04 Sep 2014

Brenta group ... Couple days ago visited this mountain group separate from the rest of the Dolomites - (see on map https://goo.gl/maps/hu2Et ).
Wonderful day out in the mountains, with great scenery and a wide variety of climbing and hiking.

* VF Bocchete Alte + VF Olivia Detassis + VF SOSAT
* climbed Cima Valesinella (3114m) and Cima Sella (2917m)
* huts Tuckett + Alimonta

Would gladly do it again next year exactly the same.
Key points:
* completed the famous Bocchette Alte traverse in a single day car to car.
* avoided the steep snowfield on W side of Tuckett pass.
* did lots of enjoyable climbing with hands + feet directly on the rock (rather than steel cable or rungs).
* took some pleasure in overtaking many other parties.
* the two peaks had nice summits, interesting non-difficult climbing.
* hiking approach + descent was "friendly" on rather well-designed trail 317.
* the two huts were very nice modern. I'd gladly sleep in either if I'd had a good weather window for a second day, but worth visiting just for the view and snack.

* Brenta group sometimes has different weather, since it's farther west from the main Dolomites.
. . I noticed the weather models showed less moisture toward the west for that day - (an important option given the ongoing weather patterns around the Alps + Dolomites). And indeed I had blue sky all day while I could look east and see gray clouds hovering over the main Dolomites.

Next I'll try to post some more details about the VF routes and climbing the peaks.

Post edited at 12:00
kenr - on 04 Sep 2014

Via Ferrata Bocchete Alte in the Brenta group I found to be a wonderful outing:
* interesting VF-climbing situations (notably the ladders)
* also the choice to do some of it as fun climbing with hands + feet directly on the rock
* sections on snow (? perhaps frozen hard slippery ?)
* big views
* exposure plenty
* some easy hiking
* chatting with other parties
* optional side trip to climb (with no fixed protection or aid) to a summit.

I started before dawn from the Rifugio Vallesinella parking (lat long approx N46.2063 E10.8521) - SE from the resort city of Madonna di Campiglio. Rather narrow asphalt road into the big parking lot (fee). Lots of cars there even mid-week; I assume it fills up on weekends.

Hiking trail 317 up to Rifugio Tuckett hut was well-designed and well-maintained: easy for me to hike up with poles, then easy for me to run back down with poles. Helped make it do-able in a single day car-to-car.

Arrived Tuckett hut at breakfast, had a little snack. Great view up at the snowfield and the Cima Sella and Cima Brenta peaks. Talked with a guy checking the fit of his crampons. Both this and Alimonta hut nice + modern, would gladly sleep there if I had a weather window for more than a single day.

Hiking E above the hut, I decided to turn left and take trail 315, which avoids the steep-ish snowfield which might be icy in the morning -- since I had not packed crampons or ice axe with me on this trip. Two other advantages of (longer) trail 315 are that it took me more directly to the N side of the Cima Sella peak for the easiest climbing route to its summit. And afterward I could enjoy the (most interesting part?) of the VF Benini traverse, the S end going down to the Tuckett pass.
. (actually I still had to travel on snow to reach the col at N side of Cima Sella, and again later in the day at the bottom of VF Olivia Detassis, but those sections are not as steep as W side of Tuckett pass).

From the Tuckett pass (N46.1852 E10.9010) - (see on Google Maps https://goo.gl/maps/umpZV )
some fun scrambling (optionally) directly on rock, then traversing. Some cairns just 20 meters N from the metal sign for the "Garbari" ledge are supposed to mark the bottom of the climbing routes to the summits Cima Vallesinella and Cima Brenta (2nd highest in the Brenta). Cima V had straightforward route, interesting climbing, to a pointy summit with great view. Cima B is longer, more complicated, likely some more difficult climbing moves (but I didn't try it this time).

Next on VF Bocchete Alte an interesing traverse section on which I did hang onto the cable, perhaps the most difficult (non-ladder) via ferrata moves. Then some more narrow traversing, then lots of easy (and plenty spectacular) hiking.

Down some cables and ladders and then I went around S side of something and then climbed the most vertical on _ladders_ I ever did in an hour (or a day). Glad I was going in the downward direction (how almost all parties do it), though I guess some climber might want to try it upward.

Then a short side-trip up to Rifugio Alimonta, worthwhile for a great view as well as nice snack. Heading down again, I could have gone directly back to the parking (by way of Rifugio Brentei), but instead I decided to try another via ferrata traverse.

So I did VF SOSAT from S to N with lots of varied and pretty hiking, as well as some short but rather exposed VF sections. Which brought me back to Rifugio Tuckett for a very welcome snack -- which energized me for a rapid descent back to the parking.

Post edited at 14:32
kenr - on 04 Sep 2014

Climbing to a summit ...
I've heard that the Bocchete Alte route was originally constructed by climbers to provide access to routes to the dramatic summits of the Brenta group. Only later did it become more popular as a "tourist" traverse without thought of climbing any summit. So while there's lot of hardware on the traverse, there are (unlike the rest of the Dolomites) no steel cables or ladders or rungs on the climbing routes to an adjoining summit.

Two climb-able summits along VF Bocchete Alte are:
. * Cima Vallesinella
. * Cima Brenta - (I have not done this one yet)
and I found it easy to add another a little past its north end ...
. * Cima Sella

Cima Vallesinella (altitude 3114m) - (lat long approx N46.1804 E10.9016)
Starting point is on VF Bocchete Alta at some cairns just 20 meters N from the metal sign for the "Garbari" ledge. I climbed the SE face in a straightforward way, up from the trail, trending slightly right with some cairns (ignoring other cairns leading left), follow a gully, but often climbing to its right side, just keep going up to narrow-ish summit with great view of Cima Brenta.

Rock fairly good considering it's the Dolomites (so of course some loose stuff). Some interesting thoughtful moves, difficulty up to around Euro 3a.
.(about +120 vertical meters up from traverse route).

Cima Brenta (3151m) - (N46.1795 E10.8996) ... (see on map: https://goo.gl/maps/lXegh )
Actually I intended to climb this one, but I misunderstood where it was. The tricky part I missed is that the starting point from the VF Bocchete Alte traverse is roughly E from the summit of Cima B, and the traverse overall follows a N-S line -- but at that start point the traverse is temporarily going NE-SW. So the starting point is not actually on Cima Brenta, but on the SE face of Cima Vallesinella. Afterward it seems obvious that I had to go toward the left (with some cairns) first SW then W then NW around Cima V -- to reach a narrow bridge between Cima V and the NE side of Cima B. At least one modern source says that with the receding of the glaciers and snowfields, this bridge has gotten more difficult and exposed than it used to be.

Well I did not see all this until I reached the summit of Cima V. So I then decided that it would be smarter to get on with finishing the traverse (as yet unknown to me) and getting back to the car.
I'd be glad for some better beta for next time.

Cima Sella (2917m) - (N46.1871 E10.9022)
Actually this peak is about 200 meters N away from the start of VF Bocchete Alte. Its easiest climbing route is reached instead from VF Benini (which I reached by taking trail 315 up from Rifugio Tuckett). I heard that the easiest route was up its N face, and that worked for me. I started near the col (N46.1884 E10.9025) on its N side, and climbed SW then S from there.

Three or four short interesting climbing sections (diffculty up to around Euro 3a), with hiking on loose stuff in between.
.(about +125 vertical meters up from col on N side).
Not as good a climb as Cima V, but I felt worthwhile as an overall side trip together with the hiking/scrambling on upper section of trail 315, the section of VF Benini on (non-steep) snow. and fun down-climbing of VF Benini cables and ladders to get S to Bocca del Tuckett pass.
Post edited at 15:33
kenr - on 05 Sep 2014
Via Ferrata SOSAT -- I did it N to S at the end of the day. Mostly hiking, but interesting + pretty. At least one section with option for some climbing moves with hands + feet directly on rock. One intimidating near-vertical downward section with rungs instead of a ladder, about the only place the whole day when I was very conscious that I was glad I had my harness on so I could to clip myself in to the cable protection.

latitude longitude approx ...
* S end of VF SOSAT route (junction w trail 323) - (N46.1768 E10.8860)
* N end of VF SOSAT route (junction w trail E up from Rfg Tuckett - (N46.1912 E10.8883)

I think SOSAT would make a nice shorter single-day loop from the Rifugio Vallesinella parking, visiting the Brentei and Tuckett huts -- and I'd include the side-trip up to Rifugio Alimonta for the nice view (and snack).

Alimonta view reminds that accessing VF Bocchete Alte or VF Bocchete Centrale from the W side near there does require crossing a snowfield. If use VF O Detassis then the snow is not so steep (but the ladders are strenuous if going in the uphill direction). The more southerly route 323 takes on a larger and steeper snowfield, so might have a greater requirement for crampons or ice axe.

Anyway it would be interesting to start in there and explore further south on VF Bocchete Centrale and perhaps climb the Cima Tosi (highest summit in the Brenta group) -- I guess I'd save that for good weather window of at least two days.


Toerag - on 08 Sep 2014
In reply to kenr:

I can tell you that the snowfield above alimonta is a nightmare first thing in the morning without crampons! We were reduced to hands and knees, and slivers of rock as 'snow daggers' . And then we missed the turnoff to the Bochette and ended up right at the top of the snowfield. One of our party refused to retrace our steps, so we went down the new VF Spellini and along the O Orsi path/VF to the Bocca del Tuckett. The path was pretty dodgy - one couloir had obviously had a lot fall down it and the path was virtually demolished/washed away, and further on there was a steep snow patch above an unknown drop. It's not much of a 'bad weather alternative' to the bochette, that's for sure! Tuckett snowfield is fine in the afternoon when it's slushy, I suspect the Alimonta one is as well. People has obviously glissaded it creating two 'ski tracks' which were consequently frozen up first thing in the morning.

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