An interesting via ferrata which is predominantly a linear traverse (albeit with a good amount of ascent to start) as opposed to the usual up and down. The conglomerate rock also provides a welcome change to the more usual dolomite. Add in some First World War tunnels, a cannon and a rustic rifugio at the end and you have a very different and pleasant day! The via ferrata develops in three distinct sections and can be cut short if required. The Padon ridge on which it is situated does keep the snow until late in the season, and parties should prepare accordingly. It is worth checking the current condition with the Guides Office if you are planning on making an ascent early in the season.
The initial section of wire provides the crux on the route; after that the difficulties ease, although there is a considerable amount of down-climbing. The views over the Fedaia Pass, Lago di Fedaia and the Marmolada (3343m) are superb.
Note - If you're planning on doing the entire route a headtorch is required for the tunnels at the end.
Approach - There are three possible starts to this route. Two are located on the Pordoi Pass which is easily accessible from Corvara, Canazei or any of the towns located near to the Sella group. The third gains the Padon ridge from the Fedaia Pass which can be approached from either Malga Ciapela or Canazei.
Starting from Arabba.
This is the usual, shortest and recommended approach via the Arabba Portavescovo cable car, which takes you to Rifugio Luigi Gorza. The cable car runs from early July to early September but it is always worth checking with the local tourist information offices to check because opening dates/times vary from season to season. Beware: like virtually everything in Italy, the cable car closes at lunchtime. It is worth getting a return ticket as you can do a circuit and then get the cable car back down.
If the cable car isn't running, it is possible to walk up from Arabba on path 698. However it is better to drive to the top of the Pordoi Pass and walk in from there (see below).
Starting from the top of the Pordoi Pass. This is a scenically beautiful but long approach (allow two and a half hours) contouring in from the top of the pass. There isn't much height gain to be had but the approach is long. Park in the large car park at the top of the pass opposite the Sass Pordoi cable car. Follow path 601 along the Padon Ridge following signs for the 'Viel del Pan' until you reach Rifugio Luigi Gorza and the top of the Arabba cable car described above.
Starting from Rifugio Castiglioni alla Marmolada. Park at the northwest end of the Lago di Fedaia reservoir near the dam wall. Follow path 698 steeply uphill to Rifugio Luigi Gorza which you reach in just under an hour.
From Rifugio Luigi Gorza head east, following the path that contours under the ridge until the via ferrata is signed off left. Follow the path uphill, zig-zagging through boulders to the start of the route.
VF - The initial section of wire is quite steep and rather challenging but thereafter things get easier. Continue following the wire, crossing a photogenic bridge with spectacular views back down to Arabba. The wire then begins to drop back down to a large open col. This is the end of the first section and escape is possible here (simply follow the path leading underneath the ridge back to the start of the route). At this point there is also short but worthwhile extension equipped in 2018. Follow the sign for 'Sasso dell'eremita' to reach the taut wires of the new section. The variant gains the summit of a small tower and offers excellent views and some exposed, vertical climbing. A separate descent route leads back to the main route.
To continue, follow the well-marked path up towards some old First World War ruins. The wire traverses past these on a series of ledges and goes round the back of the ridge where some exposed down-climbing is to be found. This brings you to the end of the second section of wire with a well-trodden path traversing a steep grassy slope. Again it is possible to escape here following the path that leads under the south side of the ridge back to the cable car. Many parties choose to go back here as this is the end of the climbing difficulties, however it is worth continuing if you have the time as the next section takes you through an interesting set of First World War tunnels that are well worth a look - a head torch is essential for this section.
Follow the path leading across the grassy slope heading towards the next obvious section of ridge curving around to the left. Shortly after you pick up the wire again as it traverses along the south side on the continuing ridge. Continue following it past a bricked-up tunnel until the path takes you over onto the north side of the ridge. Enter the first of a series of tunnels following the red waymarks (keep an eye out as they are often hard to spot in the dark). Continue following the path past short sections of wire and finally into a long tunnel system that again is well marked. After leaving this you will come across a large cannon from the war and Rifugio Padon where the route ends.
Descent - To return follow the 'Sentiero Geologico Arabba' path back around the south side of the Padon ridge to the cable car station and Rifugio Luigi Gorza. Alternatively, if you have walked up from Arabba, take the 699 down the winter ski piste back to the town © Rockfax
UKC Logbook Description
of ascent, 300m of VF. A fascinating route along a ridge that was used as trenches by the Italians in WWI, thus the name. The first section of the route is the hardest and the route includes a very rickety bridge and some long tunnels
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