/ Via Ferrata Dolomites conditions 2012

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kenr - on 05 Sep 2012
I'm planning to visit the Dolomites later next week, so I'm wondering about the current condition of some of the higher-altitude VF routes.
I'm especially interested in
* Constantini
* Mt Agner
* Civetta
* Tomaselli
* Brenta group

(There was lots of snow above altitude 2000 meters in France, so I was wondering if something similar had happened in the Dolomites)

Thanks a lot for reports -- or suggestions on where to look.

Ken
tomhaegler - on 05 Sep 2012
Hey Ken

I think you have to call the closest Mountain Huts (CAI)to get the most reliable info.

I always check webcams to get e first impression: http://www.webcamdolomiti.it/

I always climb in the Dolomites in September - there can be a thin layer of snow one day...and gone the next day. I woudn't worry...
BruceM - on 05 Sep 2012
In reply to kenr:

Tomaselli or anything near Tofana will be fine as you can see here. No snow at all:

http://cortina.dolomiti.org/index.cfm/foto-video/Webcam/

The others?
RobbieT - on 05 Sep 2012
In reply to kenr:
There was a little snow a couple of days back at around 3000metres but it just looked like a dusting.

I've not been up on Civetta or Tomaselli myself but I know people have recently and it's been ok.
We've had quite a bit of rain the past week, hopefully that'll start clearing up soon.
Definite drop in temperature too! 32c just over a week ago!! Now down to 15c.
Erstwhile on 05 Sep 2012
In reply to kenr:
I was up in the Brenta a week and there was no snow at all, not even where you would normally find it in August, because of the exceptionally dry winter last year combined with roasting summer heat. It did snow up high (+2500m) a bit over the last few days, but I'm pretty sure that will be gone as soon as it warms up again, which is forecast for Friday onwards with perfect high pressure weather over the weekend. How long it will last remains to be seen, but I guess you can be optimistic.
kenr - on 05 Sep 2012
Thanks for those most helpful reports + links to webcams. I'll try to accelerate my arrival there to do more.

Not high altitude, but definite word on whether the VF Monte Albano near Lago di Garda / Arco has been re-opened?
(last time I visited there I found it was closed for safety maintenance)

Ken
Erstwhile on 05 Sep 2012
In reply to kenr:

"La ferrata rimane chiusa dal 31.01.2011 (ordinanza n 14 Sindaco di Mori - TN) per lavori di sistemazione. Rimarrà inibita agli escursionisti fino ad ultimazione dell'opera. "

As far as I know it is still "closed" because nobody can agree who should pay for the work. However, I am fairly sure I remember my pal telling me he did it recently. This is Italy after all so a closed sign just means a slight swerve as you approach along the path. Perhaps you could carry a short piece of rope and some slings in case any sections of cable are missing (although I doubt it).

I remember doing the Bondone ferrata when it was closed a few years ago, whiche was a bit more serious. There had been a fire on the face above the approach path and there was stonefall like the north face of the Eiger. You had to run from one sheltered point to the next between volleys of rock fall - very exciting. As far as I know the Albano thing just has a few frayed cables and wobbly stanchions. However, I can't guarantee any of this, so at your own risk.
kenr - on 06 Sep 2012
In reply to Erstwhile:
> As far as I know it is still "closed" because nobody can
> agree who should pay for the work ...
> ... As far as I know the Albano thing just has a few frayed
> cables and wobbly stanchions.

Thanks for that perspective.
Seems like this is the "next phase" of via ferrata development. After great energy for the initial construction, not so easy to work up the energy (or find the money) for ongoing maintenance.
Unless the tourist office perceives it as important for selling hotel rooms, or the lift-operation company wants to sell tickets.

Ken
Erstwhile on 06 Sep 2012
In reply to kenr:
> (In reply to Erstwhile)
> [...]
>
> Seems like this is the "next phase" of via ferrata development. After great energy for the initial construction, not so easy to work up the energy (or find the money) for ongoing maintenance.

Exactly, and one of the main reasons that there should be much hesitation about constructing them in the first place.

The same applies to cable lifts. North of Arco, in the forest below the Paganella, you still find enormous lengths of steel cable from the dismantled cable car. Nobody could agree who should pay to remove it, and so there it lies 35 years later.

Orgsm on 06 Sep 2012
In reply to kenr:

Civetta was fine today
kenr - on 19 Sep 2012
Thanks a lot for all the encouragement about conditions for mountain routes in the Dolomites. At last I got to do the route Gianni Costantini, in the Moiazza/Civetta group. Goes to 2878 meters, often said to be the biggest via ferrata in the Dolomites.
. . (Also got to lead my first multi-pitch rock climb in the Dolomites, the South rib of the Sass di Stria / Hexenstein).

Yet another substantial snowstorm in the eastern Alps last Thursday. My partner Gi was sceptical about doing anything high, even more sceptical after driving down from Germany over the Brenner pass and seeing so much snow along the way. So our first afternoon we started with VF Rio Secco, low in the Adige river, some interesting moves with hands + feet directly on the (polished) rock in the interesting space of a narrow gorge.

Afterward we drove east up over the Karer pass, where we could look out into the heart of the Dolomites. Saw very little snow there. Even though if we looked north there were large expanses of white plainly visible even on the south faces of the mountains along the Austria-Italy frontier.
Gi's suggestion is that the ground surface is much warmer (? especially this year ?) farther south, so the new snow melts quickly.

So the next day we confirmed this by climbing around Passo Falzarego, and on Monday we drove south past Civetta (even its north side had very little snow) to Agordo near the route Costantini -- which we both thought was pretty great - (report to follow).

Ken
John Gillott - on 19 Sep 2012
In reply to kenr:

>
> Gi's suggestion is that the ground surface is much warmer (? especially this year ?) farther south, so the new snow melts quickly.
>
Isn't the more likely explanation that the snow came from the North and the West so less fell to the East and the South? The Dolomites are drier in general than many other parts of The Alps.
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kenr - on 19 Sep 2012
VF Gianni Constantini report

I found it's a great via ferrata for those who want to do a long route with a wide variety of mountain situations and many many opportunities to climb with hands + feet directly on the rock (much it of good quality).
We both had a great time on it.

* Often said to be the biggest VF route in the Dolomites -- I assume in terms of vertical meters cable-protected. (Not in terms of most VF climbing at hardest difficulty, since surely Rino Pisetta ranks higher on that.)

* Installed equipment well-designed and currently in excellent condition, with non-cable-protected sections well-marked with orange paint dots.

* Parking is at Passo Duran (latitude/longitude approx: N46.3240 E12.0956). northeast from Agordo (which is to the southeast of most of the mountain VF routes in the Dolomites.)

* easy walk from parking up to the modern hut Rifugio Carestiato, where we made a leisurely stop for coffee on the way up, and snack + drink on the way down.

* short well-marked approach hike to start of cable, out behind the hut. Note that with the re-routing of trail 554, the approach to the VF is now not from 554, instead directly from the hut. (But the return on the descent still uses the re-routed trail 554).

* I was surprised how much climbing (much of it fun + interesting) I was able to do with my hands directly on the rock, and how few times I grabbed the cable for aid.

* there's a long-ish hiking section in the middle of the VF route, which gets a little boring. But actually that's no more hiking than many VF routes have before reaching the bottom, so proportional to the very large scale of the route, I don't see it as a big deal.

* the most difficult section up to the first peak (Masenade, 2737m) is an overhanging traverse, and surely is strenuous, but fairly short, and with good footholds offered.

* there's another difficult traverse going for (and returning from) the second higher peak (Moiazza Sud, 2878m), which does not have footholds in the rock, but it's shorter. Also a direct-straight-up stenuous section finishing with a slight overhang (but not required to be repeated on descent, if take the "normal" Angel's ledge descent route.

* the traverse northeast along the ridge from the first summit (Masenade) toward the second summit (Moiazza) at first looked boring, but turned out to be interesting.

* Do not do the "normal" descent to the west if it's wet or snowy.
(There's an alternate descent east from Forcella Masenade).

* The "normal" descent by Bivouac Ghedini to the west and then south is pretty interesting compared with lots of other VF routes. Lots of descending while grabbing on the cable, which I think is fun. Much of the non-cable sections of the trail well-designed so that while the overall terrain was steep, the steps down on the trail were mostly not super-steep. Of course there were some loose gravelly sections, like any real mountain descent. Finally trail 554 back to the hut was pretty pleasant.
The main "problem" with the descent is that it's long.

* If start from the hut soon after the sun hits the hut, we found we stayed mostly in shade for a long ways up the route.

* Name: careful with pronunciation + spelling of the "Costantini" name: only two of letter "n"

Ken
_____________________________________________
more of my via ferrata reports at:
www.roberts-1.com/c/v/e/#via_ferrata_climbs

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