/ via ferrata northern Italy 2017

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kenr - on 16 Sep 2017

I'm out enjoying Via Ferrata routes while waiting for (delayed) my long-time climbing partner to arrive in Italy. Given the recent weather, I've so far been avoiding the Dolomites proper (can see fresh snow in non-high locations looking out my window right now). Finding some rather good stuff (and some less good) in other regions like Lecco and Aosta.

So thought I'd share some of it, and see if that stimulates some new ideas for me to try.

. . . ? or are there some VF routes in the Dolomites (other than Lagazuoi Tunnels) which I should _not_ be deterred from attempting by the mere presence of Snow?

Post edited at 17:12
John Clinch (Ampthill) - on 16 Sep 2017
In reply to kenr:

How high is the snow? We did a couple round Cortina that toped out at 2144m and 1839m is that low enough to help?

Michielli Strobel (VF3B)

Ettore Bovero (VF3B)
MFB - on 16 Sep 2017
In reply to John Clinch (Ampthill):

They appear clear of snow if the webcam is live
Post edited at 19:36
kenr - on 16 Sep 2017
In reply to John Clinch (Ampthill):
> How high is the snow? We did a couple round Cortina that toped out at 2144m and 1839m
> Michielli Strobel (VF3B)

Thanks -- I like the idea of VF Strobel, because as you say, Not too high. And the route looks interesting.

Also I like that it's generally W-facing -- for the cooler weather now.

And one guidebook suggesting that it doesn't have so much "protection" -- so maybe the hardware won't get on the way of my climbing "free" finding hand-holds and foot-holds directly on the rock.

Drawback is that the descriptions I've seen mention a long _scree_ descent (perhaps N-facing?) -- not something I try to include in my outings.

Post edited at 19:55
MFB - on 16 Sep 2017
In reply to kenr:

Pretty straightforward descent, most the way small stone, good for quick descent, last 100m is a bit eroded and needs a bit more care
kenr - on 16 Sep 2017

Yesterday I climbed VF Rino Pisetta, popular (and warmer) near Arco -- usually thought to be the most difficult VF within two hours driving from Arco. See detailed English-language description:
Key for me was "style" of climbing.

I had climbed it before seven years ago and felt it was plenty strenuous -- little installed hardware other than the cable -- very satisfying achievement for me to get to the top using "normal" VF style grabbing the cable, and often gratefully stepping on one of the cable-to-rock attachment steel posts as a secure foothold.

Though I was already interested in trying to climb via ferrata routes in "free" style, I was sure this was not the route for it -- and said so publicly on a UKClimbing forum thread a couple years later.

Then yesterday I showed up with the idea of seeing if I could now climb at least a few sections "free" -- making moves with hands and feet directly on the rock, using the cable and fixed hardware for Protection only, not aid.

My car was the only one at Parking, and I assumed I'd be alone on the route (so didn't bring my helmet). But somehow a party of 4 and another of 2 German-speakers arrived at the bottom of the cable within minutes. With no helmet I knew I'd better go first, and hope to stay above other climbers for at least a few minutes. I told them I might be slower because trying to not grab the cable, but of course I would allow them to overtake. And so I set off up the steep first pitch, feeling for hand-holds (a bit polished), with an audience of 6.

To my surprise I made it to the top of that first section without grabbing the cable. And kept going, somehow working out solutions to tricky crux sequences, and dis-entangling my VF lanyards from each other and the wrong side of the cable after making a clip in a hurry. Somehow neither of the two parties caught me.

To my great surprise, I made it to the top of the mountain without using cable or fixed hardware to aid any of my climbing moves. I did fall once, then used better body position and smoother motion to get it the second time. I was glad to be wearing real rock shoes, La Sportiva Katana Lace.

Surprising that it did not seem difficult for me to find most of the handholds and footholds. How could I have missed them seven years ago?
I've had lots of experience on limestone since them -- just didn't guess how _much_ difference that would make.

Critical Success Factor for me was using the special Skylotec Skyrider VF kit, which usually keeps the distance of a fall fairly short (unlike a normal VF kit which lets you fall all the way down to the to the next lower cable-to-rock attachment post, plus a meter or two below that). Almost like climbing with a Leader belaying me from above with a rope.

Lots of fun interesting sequences -- inspires me to keep looking for "free" sequences on other VF routes.

Post edited at 20:55
Jenny C on 17 Sep 2017
In reply to kenr:
VF Strobel - looks from the map like from the top you can follow paths down to Ospitale and totally avoid the scree decent and from there bus back to Fiames.
For the climbing one of my favourites VFs, lots of contact with the rock and soft for the grade with lots of sort chimeys which suit my climbing style.

Regarding what is snow free to into Cortina and ask at the mountain guides office, we have always found them really helpful for advice and suggestions especially once they know what you've already done so have an idea of your ability.
John Clinch (Ampthill) - on 17 Sep 2017
In reply to kenr:

The descent isn't that bad from Strobel
syv_k - on 17 Sep 2017
In reply to kenr:

> Surprising that it did not seem difficult for me to find most of the handholds and footholds. How could I have missed them seven years ago?

It has been recabled and the route has changed slightly. I set out to do it a few years ago, when it had just reopened, and tried to reach the start from a shortcut path from above. Unfortunately the footprints and the paint splashes led to the old start, which wasn't there any more, and after an hour or so wandering round the side of a mountain with a couple of Germans in a similar predicament, we gave up. Still on the list.

kenr - on 18 Sep 2017
Fennberg klettersteig . (also called Via Ferrata Favogna)
. . . GPS lat long approx (N46.2575 E11.2036) - W above Adige river valley
. . . . . .North of city of Trento and South of city of Bozen / Bolzano.
. . . Goes up to the village of Fennberg, which seemed mostly German-language.

Yesterday got out on this VF route . . .
Mostly a steep hiking trail with a big view over the big Adige river valley (rather pretty with orchards and vineyards). Generally tries to avoid steep rock. Has several ladders and sections with lots of metal rungs, where the steep rock is not avoidable (which is in the lower part). More loose broken rock than some VF routes, but similar to others.

Allows a bike/car shuttle to avoid the descent (or shorten the descent). Without setting up a shuttle, there's no advantage to choosing this route.

If looking for interesting climbing, whether Free or by fixed Aid, this route is not it.
I did try climbing in "free" style, got all but the highest ladder -- but much of where I succeeded the ladders got in the way (also some vegetation) of climbing moves, and were cumbersome for protecting. Some nice cable-protected scrambling a bit above the ladders.

One steep section with steel rungs / stemples did not have any cable to clip for protection. So for protection instead I clipped some of the rungs.

Descent trail #3 from high village of Fennberg down to valley town of Margreid is a single-lane road, much of it rather steep. Some dirt/sand/gravel, then lower part asphalt. Easy to run down if accustomed to going down steep. But then if did not spot a bicycle (or car) in the town or partway up the asphalt road which is the lower descent route, still need to walk or run 3.9 km / 2.5 miles S to get back to Parking.

I think if Sharon wanted to do this as an uphill-only hike, I'd do the main lower climbing section together with her, up to the nice viewpoint around (N46.2591 E11.2042) . (elev ~ 550m). I would then down-climb the lower section (with its ladders) back to bottom Parking, while Sharon continued hiking + scrambling to the top. Then I'd drive the car north and up around to the high village of Fennberg, and wait for Sharon to arrive around (N46.2701 E11.1922) where the VF trail meets the end of an asphalt road. She would then get a ride back down to the valley.

* Approach hike uphill +110 vertical meters.
* Length of "real" climbing, something vaguely around 200 meters / 600 feet.
* Total uphill +900 vertical meters.

GPS useful waypoints:
* Parking . (N46.2565 E11.2042) . (elevation approx 220m)
* VF bottom start of cable . (N46.2575 E11.2036) . (elev ~ 330m)
* VF top of main climbing at viewpoint, start of long hiking . (N46.2591 E11.2042) . (elev ~ 550m)
* short high VF section start . (N46.2618 E11.1993)
* short high VF section finish . (N46.2620 E11.1994)
* bench w view at top of steep hiking . (N46.2633 E11.1990) . (elev ~ 1055m)
* meet asphalt road near high village of Fennberg . (N46.2701 E11.1922) . (elev ~ 1115m)
* sign for Trail #3 down to valley town of Margreid . (N46.2725 E11.1891)
* central roundabout with water of valley town of Margreid . (N46.2874 E11.2098) . (elev ~ 240m)

Toerag - on 18 Sep 2017
In reply to kenr:

Well done on the Pisetta - perhaps you found it easier as you were taking your time and actually looking for the holds? Being a cable hauler myself I pretty much don't really look for them unless I'm stuck in traffic, in which case I start taking my time and climbing 'properly'. Classic route for this is Brigata Tridentina, the holds are really interesting and excellent which actually makes it a better experience.
Anyhow, VF Bovero and Strobel - I can't remember which is which, but the descent for the easterly one of the two is towards Cortina facing SE. I remember a big scree gully, but it wasn't horrible or troublesome. The Western VF had a path descent on the eastern side above the road.
If you're still around Arco, do the VF Rio Sallagoni at night - all the creepy crawlies come out. You won't manage it 'free' and there's not much 'climbing' on it, but it is fun and doesn't take too long. If you do it during the day I guess your walking buddy could walk up and visit the castle?
kenr - on 18 Sep 2017
In reply to Toerag:
Had not thought of doing Rio Sallagoni at _night_ -- What an idea -- Thanks.
. . . (and having done it three times in daylight, I agree there's no way to do any significant percentage of it "free", but who cares, it's such an amazing space).

VF Michielli Strobel - descent:
It hit me that I actually have done that scree descent, after doing a multi-pitch climbing route on the Punta Fiames -- and
Yes ... I recall that it was not so bad. So now I have no objection to trying VF Strobel.

Post edited at 16:40
kenr - on 18 Sep 2017
? VF Sandro Pertini ?

Unexpected sunshine this morning. So I dug some info out of my German-language guidebooks, and this one looked promising,

Drove to the parking, noticed that the VF was not shown on any of the maps posted near the trailhead.

Started hiking up, ran into a sign in three languages that said that VF Sandro Pertini had been closed and removed.
Oh well.

It was located NE from the town of Wolkenstein / Selva Gardena.

So I went back to the car and stared at the guidebooks some more, and decided to drive up toward the Sella Pass and . . .

kenr - on 18 Sep 2017

VF Pössnecker klettersteig -- over 100 years old
. . GPS lat long approx (N46.5153 E11.7797) on the W side of the Sella group, NE from the Sella Pass.

Started up the VF climbing in "free" style through the hardest section (as rated for VF-aid-style climbing) ... up to the first ladder (about 75 vertical meters). But I knew I wouldn't have time for the normal descent, and the sun was long gone, and my fingers were really cold from contact with the rock, so I decided to stop. Went back down the cable, now using maximum Aid, to the bottom. It started snowing a little on my back to the Parking, and within an hour later it was raining.

* lots of moves in free rock-climbing style around difficulty 5.5 (as far as I got).
* not the most fun climbing ... lots of holds slopy, some polish (well, after a hundred years !?)
. . . . which made me feel like I'd only do it again if adding the full high-mountain hiking loop.
* significant loose / broken rock, especially in the gully above the first steep section and just below the first ladder.
* not well protected: using a normal VF kit, lots of places where if you fall you will hit something and get hurt.
* cable compatible with special Skylotec Skyrider VF kit, so it was well-protected for me climbing.
* no rubber bumpers on the cable-to-rock attachment posts.
* cable tight between attachment posts most of the time: much easier to use for Aid, but in case of a fall the carabiner impacts directly on the rigid steel attachment post.
* approach straightforward and easy.
* descent route is long and circuitous hike which finishes to a different much lower point on road, take a shuttle bus back up to parking.

Approach: Parking at Sella Pass. Trail 649 starts from a little bit on NW side of pass, goes (nice wide) NE about 1.3 km to VF bottom.
. . . warning: Parking for the very popular multi-pitch routes on the three Sella Towers is also at the Sella Pass. But those roped climbing routes are nowhere near the VF, and the approach is completely different (starts from the SE side of the pass).

Climb: Steep and sustained from 20 feet off the ground. Cable seemed a little thicker than on some other Dolomites VF routes, so easier to grab for Aid. After the initial steep section, the route goes up a narrow (loose) steep gully, with no cable. It did have a couple of steel rungs for Aid (which I did not use), though I did clip them for protection. Then I reached the ladder, which I did use for Aid, but then stopped.

Descent: I did not do the normal route. Usually I do not plan to down-climb a VF because it's impolite to other climbers. This time there were no other climbers. I found that the tightness of the cable made it feel not so difficult to go downward, hanging out on the cable "batman" style made my feet work well on the rock footholds (and there are also steel posts for feet in this most difficult VF section).

GPS useful waypoints:
* Parking by trailhead (N46.5086 E11.7667) . (elev ~ 2215m) - a tiny ways on the W side of the Sella Pass.
* VF bottom start (N46.5153 E11.7797) . (elev ~ 2300m).
Post edited at 16:52
kenr - on 22 Sep 2017
VF Burrone di Mezzocorona / Tullio Giovanelli
. . GPS latitude longitude approx (N46.2298 E11.0979) . NW from Mezzocorona
. . on the Adige river valley between Trento + Bozen/Bolzano, 35 km from Arco.

Sharon and I did this route (second time) yesterday afternoon.
. . (because in the mountains the day before, we saw fresh snow down to below 2000m altitude).

* remarkable gorge hiking

* remarkable mist waterfall

* not much VF climbing: several somewhat-interesting ladders or ladder-like rungs, and some hand-rails in steep hiking/scrambling sections.

* lots of additional effort and time required to get to and from the remarkable gorge + waterfall - (see Statistics below).

* low variation / "variante" (trail 505A) is just a long ladder alongside waterfall w pool at bottom

* mechanical lift ("funivia") for descent - (but check schedule of the day for gaps).

* funivia lift bottom station is 3 km flat from trailhead Parking

* well-marked Approach and Return-to-funivia routes.

Trail 505 up left NW 125m to junction. For Variante go Left on 505A (NW then N flat 70m, then up NE 30m, then climb ladders, and horizontal R to rejoin main route). To go direct to the main gorge route, bear Right on 505, then up 125m N - NE - N to junction (N46.2288 E11.0966). Cable horizontal to left is top return from Variante, so instead take non-cable trail up steep Right. Up and up generally NE 130m with many switchbacks and some cable hand-rails, then a short ladder and reach bottom start of the main gorge route with cable going up into dark passage.

Start following cable under roof into the dark passage with high walls on both sides, and (usually) some water flowing. Down a short ladder, across the water stream and up steep rungs (crux of this route), soon traverse a ways right. Next long uphill walk inside the gorge, perhaps getting feet wet, or some scrambly moves to avoid getting feet wet (hiking poles will likely help step across some water). Emerge from dark passage onto steep scree/talus.

From here on overall idea is to follow the water, and in detail follow red paint marks. So after a ways up on the scree/talus, get off it to left to follow the water. After a ways reach a very high waterfall accompanied by mist. Up more with some scrambling and metal rungs and steel cable to grab. Then a ladder, and a little more scrambing to the end of the cable.

We did it by hiking up and overall SE to the top station of the mechanical lift ("funivia") which at the low SE side of the little village of Monte di Mezzocorona, rode that down into the NW side of city of Mezzocorona, then Ken ran 3 km W + NW back to trailhead Parking and retrieved the car, while Sharon had a snack.

Apparently there is also a way to walk down to the trailhead parking, but we didn't try that.

Follow trail with red+white paint marking about 350m ESE at first up a gully, then cross a dirt road, more up, then horizontal. Next 250m SW including a short ways on dirt road, then 130m SE to meet (N46.2306 E11.1033) a better-maintained dirt/gravel road. Right (S) on this past building (Bait dei Manzi) to a junction with the trail 506. Continue on road (now trail 506) SE 800m with yet more uphill. Then curve L + R + L and come to first house of the village of Monte. Next E 130m to fork and trail junction. Bear slightly R (ESE) 300m up through some houses past a park, finally turn R (S) down 100m to the top station of the funivia lift.

We had to wait a while for the next operation of the lift, then we rode down this, and at the bottom station pay 5 Euro each. Then walk S 170m down the rather steep (40 vertical meters) street to roundabout with gelato shop and coffee shop - where Sharon waited while Ken retrieved the car.

* effort of Approach to main gorge: +240m uphill
. . . . over 1.0 km distance (less if do not take low Variation)
* effort climbing+hiking in main gorge ... uphill +250 vertical meters
. . . . over roughly 600m horizontal distance
* length of "real" VF climbing: less than 100m including low Variation
* effort of finishing to Funivia top station +220m uphill over 4 km distance.
* total effort ... uphill +710 vertical meters over 9 km distance

GPS useful waypoints:
* Parking trailhead. (N46.2269 E11.0973) .
* bottom of ladders low Variante. (N46.2287 E11.0963) .
* top of low Variation rejoin main route. (N46.2288 E11.0966) .
* VF main gorge bottom start. (N46.2298 E11.0979) .
* mist waterfall. (N46.2323 E11.1004) .
* top of VF cable. (N46.2336 E11.1006) .
* trail crosses first forest road. (N46.2334 E11.1021) .
* meet "final" dirt forest road by Bait di Mazdi. (N46.2306 E11.1033) .
* jct trail 506. (N46.2296 E11.1030) .
* funivia lift top station at SE side of village Monte di Mezzocorona. (N46.2241 E11.1232) .
* funivia lift bottom station in city of Mezzocorona. (N46.2183 E11.1184) .

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