via ferrata NorthEast Italy / Dolomites 2016
what's here in this thread below:
VF Alleghesi on Civetta - [ see on Map ]
My second time - (different from the first).
Last year I grabbed the cable a lot -- and I found that I disliked descending the normal route.
This time I grabbed the cable not at all going up. And grabbed it every chance I got going down, because I descended the VF Alleghesi route -- which worked out great (because I'm well-practiced and confident descending routes that have a taut cable).
overall: It's a great adventure at a macro level, and Civetta is an big impressive + historic Dolomites peak. Even more of an adventure last year with fresh snow in the upper section. The climbing at a micro level is good enough 3rd + 4th class, but could be more varied (most of it is either gully or non-steep slab face). When the route does get onto the crest of the ridge, the climbing is not that striking.
Up-climbing: Started again from Palafavera (lat long N46.4006 E12.1013) - (NE from Civetta) - earlier than last time, and with a more favorable weather forecast. Which made me feel confident that I had time to try to work out the climbing moves "free": using the cable for protection only, not Aid. And try to use as little of any other fixed hardware as possible.
result: I climbed about 99.8% of it free (avoiding any other fixed hardware, not only the steel cable). What I did not climb free were some of the ladder + rungs sections.
I found that the non-ladder/rungs parts were mostly 3rd class, some 4th class (and some 2nd class) -- and say like a couple of low class 5 moves.
Seemed like say seven ladder/rungs sections. The majority were plainly unclimbable by me. But I did do one free at about 5.6 (fun). One or two more at 5.8-5.9 (not fun). Another one which I got all but the last move, which likely would have gone at 5.8-5.9, but I was afraid if I fell on it, I would hit some of the fixed hardware.
My advice: Don't bother trying to "free" the ladder/rung sections. Just accept that VF Alleghesi is about adventure with spaces on a big mountain, and doing lots of 3rd / 4th class climbing.
Down-climbing: Going back down VF Alleghesi was way more fun (and easier) (and quicker) then the normal route. Mainly because over the years I've gotten pretty good at descending by laybacking against the cable. And I find it pretty fun.
People without that experience and confidence might prefer a different choice for descent.
VF Sci Club 18 at Falloria lift [ see on Map ]
. (on the SE side of Cortina d'Ampezzo).
My third time. Still seems fresh and fun and challenging to climb mostly "free".
With the extra protection of my special Skylotec Skyrider VF kit.
. (with normal VF kit, I would have been afraid to try some sections "free" with consequences of falling).
Variety of thoughtful fun sequences in the 5.8-5.10 range. Quick approach, nice views over the city of Cortina.
I like VF Sci Club 18 for ...
P.S. Different idea I heard for how to arrange it: Get a mountain bike (and a lock). Start by riding the lift all the way up to the top, and leave the mountain bike locked there. Then ride the lift back down to mid-station. Climb the VF Sci Club 18 to finish at lift top-station. Unlock the mountain bike and ride (? I don't know by what route ?) it down to the bottom.
Not what I did.
. (not a via ferrata, rather a multi-pitch Trad climb)
A thought that kept recurring each time we encounted another next section while climbing: I can't believe the First Ascent was in 1909.
. . (Unfortunately I have not included details or GPS for the tricky Approach, because I don't feel that I have them accurately).
VF Cacciatore + VF Dino Buzzati
N->S traverse of peak Cimerol [ See on Map ]
I was looking for something non-long and less committing, since there was a forecast of afternoon showers. And I wanted to see the southern Pala group, so I tried this link-up, went up Cacciatore and down Buzzati (the direction recommended).
Going up Cacciatore turned out to be mostly a steep hike with some exposure and some scrambling sections -- but the views and situation were good enough.
Going down, the upper section of Buzzati was nice, and then the whole via ferrata section was well-designed (at least for going down). But then the rather steep hiking trail went on and on way too long for me. And getting back across to the Parking was a maze of forest roads and trails. Good thing I'd bought a detailed map the day before, but even so it was tricky.
Free Climbing: On the way up, two short sections "free" at low 5th class, but not so interesting. On my way down, I used the cable and other fixed hardware for Aid as much as possible, so I don't know how various sections of it might work (or not) climbing free.
So for me, not interesting enough to be worth the non-climbing non-fun time and effort.
Stella Alpina on Monte Agner -> See where on Map
I did not climb this one yet -- because what I've heard about it suggests that it has very sustained difficulty and not so well "protected" -- so I want everything going for me when I try it, and that hasn't come together.
Instead I checked out (on a rainy afternoon on my way driving back after another VF) the parking and initial approach, just in case I go for a pre-dawn start.
What I found by driving and walking around the village of Fressene:
. . . . It looked pretty overgrown when I was there mid-September).
Route to approach the hut Rifugio Scarpa (N46.2597 E11.9612)
. . (which is on the way to the VF Stella Alpina) ...
indoor climbing ... also that afternoon on the way driving back from another VF ...
I had heard there might by some indoor climbing in the village of
Cencenighe (between Agordo and Alleghe). Not as a separate gym, but part of a multi-sport building. I actually did find that multi-sport building at latitude longitude approx (N46.3520 E11.9711) by street "via Attilio Tissi".
The building is called "Palacence". Sign also says "centro polisportivo"
It was locked that afternoon. Couldn't see much in through the window. Looked like indoor tennis in one big room. Couldn't see any of the interior walls of that room, so don't know if some had climbing holds on them any more. Did not see any sign for what hours the building might be open (whether for tennis or for climbing, or anything).
Maybe post a question an an Italy climbing forum? Or ask at a Tourist Office?
Cortina d'Ampezzo ...
I heard that the famous mountain tourist city choose a site for it, and started to construct an indoor climbing gym, but the project ran into difficulties -- not sure how or when it might be completed.
So for now I've heard that the nearest indoor climbing to Cortina is in the town Toblach / Dobbiaco. In the same valley as Toblach, I remember a report around 2015 or 2016 of the opening of a big new gym in Bruneck / Brunico.
Elsewhere ... in big valley close on the NorthWest side of the Dolomites, there are substantial indoor climbing gyms in Bozen / Bolzano and in Brixen / Bressanone.
Also several rather nice outdoor sport climbing / top-rope crags ("klettergarten") offering a variety of easy+moderate+hard difficulty, at low altitude on the NW side. Unlike the easy sport crags in range of Cortina which are at higher altitude, so more likely to be wet.
So Sharon and I in recent years have shifted our base from near Cortina to near the NorthWest Dolomites, and been happy with the result. But we love the Cortina area, and likely would spend more time around there if a good indoor climbing gym opens.
VF Rio Secco in the Adige valley
one of the several very fun and interesting Via Ferrata routes outside the Dolomites -- southwest toward Arco and lake Garda.
- - > See where on Map < - -
I climbed it on a morning with a threat of rain. My third (or fourth?) time. Seemed just as fresh and wonderful as ever -- special setting inside a gorge.
. . . . using a normal VF kit, I would have been afraid to try some sections "free" with consequences of falling).
Parking: There's no officially marked spot. The obvious thing to do is to go into the restaurant across the road on the west side, ask if it's OK to park in their lot, or if they want you to pay.
Approach: Starts by chapel next to a bus stop (lat long approx N46.2174 E11.1537) on the East side of the main road. Soon gets into some rock-scrambling, then steep hiking on dirt trail.
Overall: For me the special setting and climbing situations of the gorge more than make up for the polished rock and manufactured holds.
. (though I suspect the "design strategy" of the holds is what enables the
. . difficulty level to be at a similar level, assuming 5.7-5.9 is what you want).
I bet I'll do it yet again.