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via ferrata NorthEast Italy / Dolomites 2016

Original Post
kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 11,837

what's here in this thread below:

  • VF Alleghesi on Mt Civetta (famous big climbing peak in southern Dolomites).
  • VF Sci Club 18 by Cortina d'Ampezzo.
  • (not a VF) ... Trad climb: SouthEast arete ("Jori") on Punta Fiames by Cortina.
  • VF Cacciatore + VF Dino Buzzati in Pala group in southern Dolomites.
  • (explore parking + approach for) VF Stella Alpina on Mt Agner (famous for long hard routes) in Pala group.
  • (? indoor climbing in village of Cencenighe, southern Dolomites ?) (? or around Cortina ?)
  • VF Rio Secco in Adige valley (SW away from Dolomites toward Arco).

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.
kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 11,837
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 ...
  • days with threat of bad weather in the afternoon.
  • the day after (or before) my legs have been pounded by a long descent from a climb.
  • whenever I haven't climbed it in a while, because trying to do the sequences "free" is so interesting.


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.
kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 11,837

. (not a via ferrata, rather a multi-pitch Trad climb)
. . (Posted here because the automated MountainProject forum software
. . . will not allow me to start a separate thread for non-VF Dolomites climbs).

I don't do many multi-pitch climbs in the Dolomites, mainly because I enjoy climbing the Via Ferrata routes "free" with hands and feet directly on the rock -- and that way I don't spend half my time (or more) waiting while my partner climbs. Also I do enjoy a lot (with Sharon) the single-pitch sport and Top-Rope climbing -- so that burns up a lot of my days.

But what's really special about the Dolomites is all these peaks that look so dramatic. And some exciting mix Trad-with-pitons routes (somehow avoiding most of the notorious bad rock of which those peaks are mainly composed, with the good rock hopefully not too polished).

So a couple days ago I was glad to get out on one of the moderate classics ...

Punta Fiames, SouthEast Arete (or Via Jori, Spigolo Jori, or South arete)
It's in the Pomagagnon group about 2.5 miles north from the city of Cortina d'Ampezzo
-> see (roughly) on this Map

Very worthwhile adventure (gets better and better toward the top).

  • the upper half actually stays fairly close to the dramatic arete.
  • lower half is under a giant feels-like-overhanging wall hundreds of feet above -- so even though the climbing and features are themselves not as exciting, already it has an intimidating "feel" (contrasted with the view over the pleasant valley below).
  • Variety of interesting thoughtful climbing - (the old-fashion "alpine-style" sequences which are creative but not necessarily fun, are rather short).
  • Difficulty tougher than the guidebooks say. Supposed to be mountain difficulty V, which is supposed to be equivalent to Euro sport 5a or USA 5.7 -- so I was thinking I would climb it in my approach shoes. Well maybe if you climb those alpine-style moves and Dolomite rock all the time ... but for me felt more like 5.8+ (and I'm not the only one who thinks so, e.g. see on CampToCamp)
  • Length about 1300 feet (400 meters), 15 pitches. Not sure if that includes a significant 4th/3rd class section in the approach.
  • Belay stations are mostly big single bolts with rings. Some fixed prot between belays, but also need normal Trad rack (but not much use for big cams).
  • Approach is tricky and not short (typically more than 1.5 hours), which keeps the crowds (and the polish) low. We were alone the whole day. On a top-ranked classic route.
  • Descent was not hard -- we went down the obvious wide scree gully E + SE from summit. Luckily the scree was in condition for soft but secure down-hiking.

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).

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 11,837
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.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 11,837
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:

  • bottom station of the chairlift is on the NW side of (above) the main road at (lat long approx N46.2535 E11.9830).
. . . (? What days this lift runs outside of ski season I do not know.
. . . . It looked pretty overgrown when I was there mid-September).

  • some VF guidebooks say to park at the chairlift, but I did not see any clearly legal parking there.
  • I did not find any clearly legal parking on any street above (on the NW side) of the main road.
  • the closest parking to the chairlift that looked legal to me was on the SE side of the main road at (N46.2536 E11.9837).
  • the most explicitly-designated legal parking lot, least likely to run afoul of some festival or special government event, is below (SE side of) the main road at (N46.2529 E11.9841).

Route to approach the hut Rifugio Scarpa (N46.2597 E11.9612)
. . (which is on the way to the VF Stella Alpina) ...

  • the route goes on streets of the village of Fressene up to (N46.2528 E11.9785), then leaves the village and heads generally NW or WNW toward the hut.
  • the street to reach that exit point goes through waypoint (N46.2542 E11.9823).
  • the shortest way to reach that point from the two parking spots mentioned above is to cross the main road onto the narrow street named "via Foch" at (N46.2538 E11.9832), WNW up that, then continue roughly straight up steep grass WNW to hit the street at the point mentioned above. Then turn Left onto that street and go gentle SSW about 750 ft (225m), then curve Right and go up WNW about 650 ft (200m) to the exit point, and from there bear right.

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.
kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 11,837
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.

  • I climbed it "free" (with hands + feet on the rock, not grabbing the cable or using steel rungs or other fixed aid) except for five moves.
. . . (With the extra protection of my special Skylotec Skyrider VF kit. If I'd been
. . . . using a normal VF kit, I would have been afraid to try some sections "free" with consequences of falling).

  • Lots of thoughtful moves in the 5.7-5.9 range. At least as interesting as VF Sci Club 18 - (sven though the length of climbing is less, the "density" of interesting sequences is higher).
  • Much of the rock is polished, both by flowing water, and by climbers' feet.
  • Some of the holds were "manufactured".
  • I also down-climbed the route, but using maximum Aid: grabbing the cable and stepping on rungs and cable anchor posts. Going down it made me more aware of the exposure and steepness. And I couldn't believe I'd actually climbed up those sections "free".
  • short approach, nice for a half day.
  • there's an escape from the gorge, about half-way up the climbing sections.
  • steep descent trail.
  • water flowing? None this day. Too bad because the atmosphere is even more special with water in the gorge. But sometimes in springtime this VF is closed because of too much water (from melting snow on the peaks high above),

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.

Walter Galli · · Sint Maarten · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 1,956

About pictures?

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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