/ Via Ferrata holidays?

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Kemics - on 29 Dec 2013
Im planning on doing a via ferrata with my dad this summer.

My dad is fairly strong/active but has no climbing experience. But loves hiking. I'm currently thinking of going to the dolomites because just looking at photos, it looks the most exciting!

I'm thinking I could take a short length of 8.5 mm rope or something so I could quickly rig a top rope for him if a section looks tricky.

I've been googling trying to find information, but there doesn't seem to be much out there. Either everything is in French or it's a commercial site for via ferrata guides. Do you need to pay for guides or access? or is it possible to just do it independently (looking at just the amount of metal work they must be very expensive to set up!)

I was wondering if anyone could recommend a good website, guidebook or simply ideas for where to go?

Andrew Lodge - on 29 Dec 2013
In reply to Kemics:

No access charges, just turn up and clip yourself on! You can hire a guide if you wish but they aren't cheap, alternatively buy a guidebook and start with easy ones, Cicerone do really good guides to the Dolomites.

You obviously need the proper kit but it can be hired in almost all of the local towns, do not think you can make do with a couple of slings, these is no shock absorbing in them.

You can top rope a short section if required, the guides do this with their clients on occasions.

Worth a look at Colletts holidays, they have various locations in the Dolomites and whilst they are not super cheap you can arrive and leave any day so are not tied to doing a full week. Also they will give advice about routes and the general area.
robandian - on 30 Dec 2013
In reply to Kemics:

Colletts is the way to go in the Dolomites = accommodation tricky to find so you can stay in a Colletts place (same price as finding your own) and either use them or not.We did both and definitely recommend using them for some days to show you where best routes are and guide if needed.
JLS on 30 Dec 2013
In reply to Kemics:

Towns around the Sella mountain group like Arabba, Corvara or Selva give a good base.

The last few times I've hired an apartment in Colfosco (next to Corvara).

Anyone I've known to do the Collette's holiday thing has had no complaint.

It can be done with public transport but hire car (not cheap) makes the logistics a good bit easier.
Nic M - on 30 Dec 2013
In reply to Kemics:

I had a good fortnight in Bourg D'Oisans in France a couple of years ago. You can get a free mini-guide from the tourist information office, there are plenty of VF to keep you entertained. I think google should provide you with some information on the VF in the area too.

hms - on 30 Dec 2013
Another vote for Colletts and the Dolomites. We could pick and choose our days so did 4 VFs, the first 3 with their staff, the last on our own. The staff were brilliant - very encouraging. V friendly atmosphere in the chalet accommodation, and the food was amazing - superb 3 course meal every night with the whole chalet around a big table, sharing stories of what everyone had been up to that day. One of the best holidays I've ever been on.

davidbeynon on 30 Dec 2013
In reply to Kemics:

Dolomites are a good choice generally. The cicerone guides are slightly out of date, but close enough to being definitive to be worth having, but aren't necessarily the easiest for planning.

There's a great trilingual guide to the Cortina area that I can strongly recommend. It's a good place to base yourself too, if a tad pricy.


Another option worth considering is the Julian Alps of Slovenia. It's very similar to the Dolomites, though hills are slightly slightly lower.

It features a good hut network, lots of high level walking and some great VF routes. Down sides are that it is significantly harder to get hold of good information, VF is thinner on the ground than in the Dolomites so it would be more walking oriented and they put sour cream on their pizzas.

To help you make your mind up...

Some pics from a trip to Cortina last year with my wife, who had never done VF before:

And some pics from Slovenia. Sadly mostly walking, as the weather had a habit of crapping out every time I went near a cable:
Kemics - on 30 Dec 2013
Brilliant! Thanks for the advice guys, it's greatly appreciated.

Unfortunately my dad is a bit of a hippy and I don't think he could manage a villa holiday/or anything organised. I'll check out that cicerone guide book

I think I'll buy the gear as the kits only costs 70 quid and i can't imagine it'll be much cheaper to rent for a week

I think I'm going to go for the Dolomites because I think the historical aspect sounds really interesting, seeing the old ww1 trenches etc ... And it looks beautiful

Is camping an option or does everyone stay in apartments?

Wendy14 on 30 Dec 2013
In reply to Kemics:

I have been into europe for via ferrata with my dad for last 6 years. My dad had had very little climbing experience the first year but is fitter and stronger than me.

We started with going to Lake Garda. My favourite area too. My parents drove out and i flew to them. We camped whilst my parents were in their touring caravan. Hardest bit about camping is getting gear out there if u fly.

We found there r plenty of day routes near lake garda where other places routes were longer. We used the cicerone guide and it is fab but check website for updates before you go as they post closures etc on there.

We started with a route called cimi capi. Its graded 2A, we found it was similar to a grade 1 scramble with exposed spots but a cable runs along it. Its quite a long walk in but you passloads of wartime trenches etc.

I carry a short rope just incase but (touch wood) iv never used it.

Sorry for the essay but if you need anymore info feel free to email me.
Wendy14 on 30 Dec 2013
In reply to Kemics:

Oh yea and simmond via ferrata kit is about £40 in decathlon and we have never had any issues with it.
hedgepig - on 30 Dec 2013
In reply to Kemics:

Do get your own gear. I did hire kit in the dolomites, and only on the third swap did the krabs work properly, and you really don't know who has already stretched the nylon bits. The type with a y-loop through a mini figure of 8 are simple and cheap enough to buy, but I did not find them for sale in shops, you have to buy on the internet. I have a Petzl setup.
davidbeynon on 30 Dec 2013
In reply to Kemics:

Camping is fine. In my experience sites have reasonable facilities, but can be a bit rocky/hard so take good tent pegs.
kenr - on 31 Dec 2013
Really the best region nowadays is Austria -- building interesting modern routes to attract German tourist spending -- (while the Dolomites have gotten complacent). For those looking for alpine VF routes, the Dachstein (around Ramsau) are pretty amazing. And there's lots of newly-constructed interesting low-altitude valley routes.

And the more complete and accurate and modern-design guidebooks (for those who can read some German) are by AlpinVerlag. They have guides for both the Dolomites/Garda region and for Austria.

There's another German publisher with a good guidebook for the rest of Italy (including Como / Lecco region).

Toerag - on 01 Jan 2014
In reply to Kemics:

The Dolly routes are what I call 'old skool' VF - mostly walking with relatively little climbing. Your old man will love them, and they have the benefit of WW1 historical interest and awesome scenery. A lot of the 'new skool' French-style VF are akin to sport climbing, and often hidden deep in gorges with no views. If you go to Arco you have the ones close by there to do when the weather's bad higher up, and it's only an hour or so's drive up to the Brenta. The important thing is snow and ice - aim for the end of august/start of september or you'll find old snow and ice will be a problem on high routes like the Bochette Alte. This is an excellent site http://alavigne.net/Outdoors/FeatureReports/ViaFerrata/
Toerag - on 01 Jan 2014
In reply to davidbeynon:

Which route has the waterfall? do you go behind it?

Looks like you had a fab time!
digby - on 02 Jan 2014
JLS on 02 Jan 2014
In reply to Kemics:

>"Is camping an option or does everyone stay in apartments?"

Plenty people still camp.


Carolyn - on 02 Jan 2014
In reply to Kemics:

Yes, camping is fine. Driving out there from the UK is also an option if you have the time, which makes taking all the kit easy.

davidbeynon on 02 Jan 2014
In reply to Toerag:

The route is called the "Giovanni Barbera" and you do indeed go behind the waterfall

If I remember rightly it's a pretty easy one, at grade 1a or 2a I think. We picked it because the weather was rotten that day and it had a valley approach. It turned out to be a good call as it was really good fun.

I assume it's in the cicerone guides, but I think I followed the directions in the Cortina book I mentioned above.
Chris the Tall - on 02 Jan 2014
In reply to Kemics:

Plug for my own article http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=86

Personally I'd recommend going with Colletts, at least for your first visit. They may be organized, but in a good way, if you know what I mean.

You can hire kit, but check to see if it would be cheaper to buy. Don't try to improvise with slings etc - make sure you understand how it works.

Start easy, gain confidence in technique and get used to the exposure before trying the harder stuff.

It is a great way to get into some fabulous situations in some big mountains.
robhorton - on 02 Jan 2014
This book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Via-ferrata-fran%C3%A7aises-Bernard-Ranc/dp/2741704112 is quite good if you're thinking of going to France. It is in French but isn't too hard to figure out and has lots of nice pictures.

We drove out and camped near Briançon last summer, there was plenty to do for a week or so. We went there rather the Dolomites because it's a bit easier to drive to and we can speak some French but no Italian or German.

We were doing routes up to PD+ - some were pretty exposed but nothing technically hard. Some were pretty remote and we didn't see many other people - I would suggest taking a short rope and a few prussics / slings etc which will give you a few options if you do want to set up a top rope or retreat from anything.
Toerag - on 02 Jan 2014
In reply to davidbeynon:

Thanks Dave, most appreciated !
hang_about - on 02 Jan 2014
In reply to Kemics:
As everyone has said - get the Cicerone guides. Be prepared to get up early to avoid the queues. I'd recommend getting gear with triggers for the carabiners (makes things much quicker and more pleasant) and wear helmets- there's a lot of loose rock.

Some of the longer routes are quite serious undertakings so do the shorter stuff first to get acclimatised. You can start on grade 3s as long as you are OK with heights. It's great fun!
When in the summer are you going? It gets very busy in August so it's best to stay off the honeypot routes. Early there can be snow problems. Check the weather forecasts as well. It's not a good idea to be hooked up to a long steel cable when a lightning storm hits.
Post edited at 14:01

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