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Italy 2017 Via Ferrata + scrambles

Original Post
kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,356

Looks like I'm going to be spending the next few day dodging the weather back and forth between NW + NE + N Central Italy, and perhaps the Italian-speaking canton Ticino of Switerland.

Today got out on the Resegone ridge -- E above Lecco, the city at the SE corner of Lake Como in central north Italy.

VF Franco Silvano (N45.8565 E9.4672) was my main climbing thing for the day.
My reactions:
* lots of interesting climbing moves "free" with hands and feet directly on positive-hold-rich limestone.
* spectacular setting up a sub-ridge to the high peak of the main ridge, overlooking lakes and other cliffs + hills.
* classic Italy summit -- big cross on summit, with
* hut nearby serving snacks + drinks
* special feature of Lakes region VF (versus Dolomites VF): steel chain for aid + protection instead of steel cable.
. . . (easier to grab for aid, more cumbersome to clip for protection.
* Aid always available if might need it, but not always good Protection in case of an actual fall.

* too much approach and hiking descent for not enough climbing. =
. . I think not more than +100 vertical meters of climbing for approach of +480 vertical meters
. . over 2.5 km distance from top station of funivia / lift. Longer return distance on not-so-nice trails.
* too much loose + broken limestone on the trails (esp above treeline), so it's hard to go fast on descent.
* tricky navigation from top of "funivia" lift: start by going downhill to a pass, then instead of up the other side, even more downhill below that pass, before starting the main hike up.
* descent trickiness 1: When a trail sign says "Funivia", that means the Parking at the bottom of the lift. To get back to the top station of the mechanical lift, look for "Piani d'Erna".
* descent trickiness 2: The most obvious trail down from the hut near the summit goes way off around in the wrong direction. Might eventually get you back to the Parking, but not to the top of the lift to ride down. So make sure you know what trail number you need to take and find the early turn for that if needed for that.

. . . I suspect that nearby (more difficult) VF which offers better "payoff" of climbing versus approach + hiking descent is VF Gamma II / Ferrata del Resegone (N45.8585 E9.4605) -- but I haven't tried that one yet - - > but now see below. Looking like say +100 vertical meters over 1.5 km distance from top of funivia / lift, to get perhaps as much as +400m vertical of climbing. Then 2.2 km return to lift top station.
. . . Could reach this by first doing VF Gamma I starting from Parking approach to around (N45.8600 E9.4392) up ridge to top of Pizzo d'Erna around (N45.8626 E9.4465) a bit SE from top station of lift.

I also did VF Carlo Villa -- bottom (N45.8634 E9.4593) / top at notch in main ridge (N45.8630 E9.4647) . (1735m), whose main use is as a descent and whose main advantage is shorter distance and less vertical. Otherwise it's just a steep hike/scramble on dirt + loose broken limestone with some harder moves with chain available to grab for aid.

Some useful waypoints ...
* Parking at bottom station of mechanical lift - "funivia" . (N45.8625 E9.4275) . (elevation approx 585m)
* top station of mechanical lift - "Piani d'Erna" . (N45.8646 E9.4477) . (elev ~ 1325m)
* pass that you first walk down to from lift top station - "Bocca d'Erna" . (N45.8663 E9.4503) . (elev ~ 1305m)
. . . from here go down right (SE) on trail 5 for a ways, if want to reach VF bottom.
* down trail 5 to meet trail 1 at . (N45.8603 E9.4578) . (elev ~ 1240m) . low point on approach
* approach for other VF Gamma II leaves main trail 1+5 at . (N45.8585 E9.4605) . (elev ~ 1330m)
* at (N45.8558 E9.4643) turn Left from trail going SE, and head up another trail E then NE.
* bottom of chain for VF Franco Silvano . (N45.8565 E9.4672) . (elev ~ 1700m)
* mid-escape from VF . (N45.8569 E9.4673)
* top of chain for VF Franco Silvano (N45.8578 E9.4684) . (elev ~ 1795m)
* big cross on summit of high point of Resegone ridge . (N45.8584 E9.4688) . (elev ~1830m)
* hut Rifugio Azzoni (N45.8583 E9.4695) . short ways E below summit.
* notch at top of VF Carlo Villa descent route (N45.8630 E9.4647) . (elev ~ 1735m)

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,356

Via Ferrata del 30° Trentennale O S A
. . . west across the lake from the city of Lecco
. . . bottom GPS latitude longitude approx (N45.8539 E9.3403)
. . . top (N45.8541 E9.3390) which is roughly the summit of the Corno Rat (906m)

What's good ...
* Lots of interesting moves on featured limestone in the 5.4-5.6 range (with qualification).
* It's a "climber's" via ferrata. Inserted "horizontal" Aid hardware is minimal.
. . . Expected to find and make creative use of rock holds where available.
* Nice hiking trails and rock-cobble roads for approach and quick descent. Efficient.
* option to continue higher with scrambling and a little climbing to bigger views and a hut for snack.

Not so good ...
* Not well-protected. Using a normal VF kit the normal way on this route, there's lots of sequences where if you actually take a fall, you're going to get hurt.
. . . like R rating . . . like helicopter evacuation, like weeks in the hospital, then rehab, etc.
. . . So be real careful with finding the hand + foot placements, and don't blow a move.
* Holds more polished than some other VF (because on other VF routes, most users put their feet
. . . or hands on hardware instead of rock, or position their feet differently on rock if grabbing the cable).
* Too much "vertical" hardware: Both chain and cable, serving pretty much the same purposes,
. . . roughly equally badly -- instead of having the chain do a good job of offering Aid, and cable offering Protection.

Special characteristics of the "interesting moves": A good number of them rely on using 4-inch-wide steel "foot-pedals" protruding from the rock in strategic places. Sometimes helps to grab one with your hand. But I felt at least half of the moves could be done (at 5.6 or less) "free" with hands + feet directly on rock, clipping the hardware only for protection. On many VF routes I try to avoid using the horizontal fixed hardware, but on this one I started enjoying the climbing more when I just gave in and just used the Aid hardware where available.

Protection? The hazard of taking a long-ish fall before getting caught by one of the cable anchors is actually present on many VF routes in Italy (maybe other countries). But on other routes usually I've found that by using the Aid hardware more, I could make the difficulty of climbing easy enough so the danger didn't worry me. But a number of sections on this one made me feel I needed to use all the hardware just to keep the difficulty in the 5.4-5.6 range. And hauling on the chain wasn't so comforting, because it was much thinner than the other chains I've seen in the Italy Lakes region. Combine that with some polish on some of the limestone holds. The way for the designers to solve it would be to put more rock anchor post connections on the steel cable (not the chain). Some ways for climbers to solve it are: Have a stronger climber lead up first and belay the followers with short rope from above, or use a special Skylotec Skyrider VF kit.

... edit ...
Some other protection methods that occurred to me a few days later . . .
* My usual trick is to clip a carabiner of my VF kit to some fixed aid hardware (like a rung / stemple) other than the cable or chain. But most of the non-chain Aid on this 30° Trentennale route is in the form of a 4-inch wide horizontal plate with a connecting thin stem into the rock, and of course it's placed so there's no space available on the stem between rock and the plate, so (unlike a steel rung) cannot clip a carabiner to it. But . . .
* If bring a couple of normal shoulder-length slings (prefer old-fashioned nylon over Dyneema for handling fall-impact shock), could hitch the sling around the 4-inch plate, and clip a carabiner of my VF kit to that sling.
* A new trick (which I used next day on another Lakes region VF route with a chain) was to hook the nose of a carabiner of my VF kit into a link of the chain (only the nose because the hole in the chain-link was too narrow to fit the full VF kit carabiner in the normal way) -- and hope the nose would not pop loose if I fell on it. Problem with this 30° Trentennale route here is that the chain is so thin, cannot get even the nose of the carabiner into one of the chain-link holes. But . . .
* If bring along some kind of thinner hook designed just right (say like a FiFi hook?), might be thin enough to fit into small chain-link hole, but strong enough to hold a fall (a short fall because I hooked it into the chain above me). Perhaps bring several different hook designs, find one that fits into a chain-link hole, but "snugly" so it takes a little bit of wiggle to get it out. Of course also need make sure any sling or cord used to connect a special hook to the climber's VF kit or harness is strong enough and elastic enough to withstand the fall-impact.
Anyway, I'm not desperately relying on some strange protection method, because next I will know that I have climbed every move on the route successfully before.

GPS - some useful waypoints:
* on the  way driving to parking -- to avoid narrow streets . (N45.8422 E9.3524)
* Parking (not many spaces) . (N45.8503 E9.3515)
* trailhead kiosk (called "San Tomaso") . No parking permitted . (N45.8524 E9.3506)
* junction trail 3 + trail 5 . (N45.8494 E9.3421)
* junction trail 5 + VF access . (N45.8530 E9.3419)
* bottom of VF chain + cable . (N45.8539 E9.3404)
* top of VF chain + cable (near summit of Corno Rat) . (N45.8541 E9.3391)
* meet marked trail above top . (N45.8549 E9.3384)

Higher above this route can continue NW hiking + scrambling (with a little climbing and a little VF support) up to a much higher summit (N45.8611 E9.3325) with a big cross, the Corno Orientale (east and lowest summit of the Corni di Canzo peaks). This is called "Sentiero Attrezzatto del 30° Trentennale O S A", which is completely separate with a very different character from the main lower route. But perhaps it is the most interesting route up to that higher summit with bigger views -- and can continue over and farther NW to a hut Rifugio S E V (N45.8644 E9.3275) with sometimes (perhaps in season or on weekends) might offer food and drink -- or anyway access to a nice trail for descent.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,356

Got out today and did two rather interesting routes above the East side of lake and city of Lecco:
. . VF Gamma 1 - al Pizzo d'Erna . (N45.8599 E9.4389)
. . VF Gamma 2 - al Dente del Resegone (or VF Carlo Mauri) . (N45.8587 E9.4604) 

. . . . (You might guess that they sort of connect ... but No, not really).

The German-language guidebook I have gives Gamma 1 a difficulty rating of C (on scale of A to E) and Gamma 2 D/E.

Gamma 1 had something like 15 ladders on it (which I found boring) and lots of class 3+4 in between which was sufficiently interesting but not outstanding. And several exciting sequences which I could climb "free" at around 5.4-5.6.

Gamma 2 had lots of exciting sequences in the 5.4-5.8 range, and no ladders. But multiple sections of class 3-4 scrambing and one long section of walking to the next harder climbing section. Might have been the most exciting VF route I've ever done.

VF Gamma 1 - al Pizzo d'Erna :
. . bottom start . (N45.8599 E9.4389)
. . high point with big cross (after third major climbing part) . (N45.8620 E9.4446) 

Good things ...
* Lots of fun interesting moves on hold-rich limestone (not much polished).
* Short simple approach.
* Shorter + simpler descent to top station of "funivia" / mechanical lift.
* Decently long amount of climbing.
* Big views from top.
* Outside of the ladders, I was able to climb it all "free" except one sequence of three moves.
. . . "Free" meaning climbing moves with hands and feet in direct contact with the rock,
. . . . clipping the chain only for Protection, not Aid.
* Some exciting sequences "free" around  5.4-5.6 (but much more were class 3+4).
* With the final 4.5 ladders I was able to climb the rock alongside "free", often more difficult than other rock sections.
. . .  I guess some moves more like 5.7-5.8.
. . . Tricky to use the various ladder hardware for protection without accidentally taking Aid.
. . . So rather time-consuming, yet also rather satisfying to successfully manage all the complexity.
* Protected mostly by chain instead cable.
* Quality of protection mostly OK, but sometimes required some cleverness to protect some harder sequences from the consequences of an actual fall.
. . . (Designers could have installed more cable-to-rock anchors, and better placed for Protection instead of Aid).

Not so good:
* Too many ladders. Route could be made better be installing more interesting hardware fixtures on the steeper sections as alternative Variations to the ladders.

Descent: From the big cross, walk NE about 320m to the developed area (with snack bars) around the top station of the mechanical lift / "funivia". Quickest way back is to ride down the lift -- can purchase ticket at the top station (6 Euros in 2017). Walking down also works, though I don't know the best way. My best guess is start by walking NE 300m down to the pass Bocca d'Erna (N45.8663 E9.4503), then figure out which of the numbered hiking trails to follow - (likely it will work to take one toward Rifugio Stoppani).

Useful waypoints:
* Parking at bottom station of mechanical lift - "funivia" . (N45.8625 E9.4275) . (elevation approx 600m)
* trailhead kiosk at SE side of parking . (N45.8626 E9.4281) . (elev 603m)
. . . Although the sign here says "Versasio", it's called "funivia" on many trail-junction signs.
* trail meets asphalt road . (N45.8634 E9.4303) - go R / SE on road
* asphalt road ends at gate . (N45.8606 E9.4326) - continue SE on wide cobble path
* turn L off cobble path . (N45.8587 E9.4369) . NE toward VF
* bottom of VF first section of chain . (N45.8599 E9.4389) . (elev ~ 750m)
* Pizzo d'Erna with big cross (above top of VF) . (N45.8620 E9.4447) . (elev 1355m)
* top station of mechanical lift - "Piani d'Erna" . (N45.8646 E9.4477) . (elev ~ 1325m)

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,356

VF Gamma 2 - al Dente del Resegone :
. . bottom of VF start . GPS latitude longitude approx (N45.8599 E9.4389) . (elevation approx 1360m)
. . top of VF at Dente del Resegone on the main ridge . (N45.8615 E9.4642) . (elev ~ 1805m)
. . Lots more detail - and link to GPS track - on this Route page.

Good things ...
* Lots of fun interesting moves in variety of situations on hold-rich limestone (not much polished).
* Non-long approach from top station of "funivia" / mechanical lift.
* Non-long descent on trail #10 back to top station of "funivia" / mechanical lift.
. . . or option to go to summit hut for snack.
* Rather long amount of climbing (though with many breaks between sections).
* Big and interesting views up + down + around, both along the way and from the top.
* Lots of interesting sequences in the 5.4-5.8 range, including several "three dimensional" outdoor situations.
* I was able to climb it all "free" except for less than ten moves, a couple moves in the hardest crux sequence,
. . then a couple of moves each in three sequences in the final major climbing section up to the top.
. . . "Free" meaning climbing moves with hands and feet in direct contact with the rock,
. . . . clipping the chain only for Protection, not Aid.
* No ladders.

Other things ...
* Protected by chain (with medium-size lonks) instead cable.
* Quality of protection mostly OK, but only because I figured out a clever way
. . . to use the chain for closer intermediate catch-point -- to protect some harder sequences
. . . from the consequences of an actual fall.
. . . . (Designers could have installed more cable-to-rock anchors, and better placed for Protection instead of Aid).
* Pretty committing once get about 20% into the route.
* Most of the way cannot see the End, hard to guess how much more climbing needed.

Approach: What worked for me was to start by the top station of the mechanical lift, called "Piani d'Erna", which is most easily reached by purchasing a round-trip ticket and riding up on the "funivia" lift. Or could reach this point by first climbing up VF Gamma 1. Then follow the waypoints given below. The point to turn left off from the main trail #1 is marked with a sign, and comes about 70m East after a cross standing on the trail, just after trail #1 curves sharp left to go E (after having gone SSE for a long way).

Descent: What I did which worked well was to go down W about 120m to meet the main ridge trail #10, then N (left) 200m to a notch, then W (left) on trail #10 down steep about 500m (with some short sections with a chain to grab). Then trail curves right NW for about 800m with some rugged ups and downs to a wide grassy slope, then down this W to the pass Bocca d'Erna (N45.8663 E9.4503), then uphill 300m on road SW then S to snack bar, then turn sharp right NNW to top station of mechanical lift "funivia" - (If did not purchase round-trip return ticket earlier, can still purchase one-way-down ticket at the top station, 6 Euros in 2017).
. . . warning: the word "funivia" on most hiking trail-junction signs means the bottom station of the mechanical lift, where you parked your car. To get back to the top station of the mechanical lift, look for "Piani d'Erna".

Useful waypoints . . .
* Parking at bottom station of mechanical lift - "funivia" . (N45.8625 E9.4275) . (elevation approx 585m)
* top station of mechanical lift - "Piani d'Erna" . (N45.8646 E9.4477) . (elev ~ 1325m)
* pass that you first walk NE down to from lift top station - "Bocca d'Erna" . (N45.8663 E9.4503) . (elev ~ 1305m)
. . . from here go down right (SE) on trail 5 for a ways, if want to reach VF bottom.
* down trail 5 to meet trail 1 at . (N45.8603 E9.4578) . (elev ~ 1240m) . low point on approach
* turn Left off main trail 1+5 to scramble up to VF Gamma II . (N45.8585 E9.4605) . (elev ~ 1330m)
* bottom of first chain section VF Gamma II . (N45.8599 E9.4389) . (elev ~ 1360m)
* Dente del Resegone - top of VF Gamma II . (N45.8615 E9.4642) . (elev ~ 1805m)
* notch at top of trail 10 descent route (sometimes called "VF Carlo Villa") . (N45.8630 E9.4647) . (elev ~ 1735m)

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,356

Grignetta / Grigna Meridionale
. . prominent peak (N45.9219 E9.3908) . (elev ~ 2125m) N from city of Lecco.

The VF routes are mainly hiking trails with some chains and hand-rail cables, and one steep ladder. Also there is a popular non-VF route Cresta Segantini.

Lots of loose rock around, and holds on the short sections I tried to cliimb "free" tended to slope the wrong way. 

Parking "Alte Vie delle Grigne" (N45.9107 E9.3921) . (elev ~ 1425m) above Piani Resinelli -> take Via Locatelli (turn R just before the church).

Start on (unmarked) trail #8 "Direttissima di Grignetta", N then NW. The trail goes right next to dramatic towers, with great views over the big lake. Its name is a joke I guess -- it's anything but "direct". Lots of ups and downs, and goes mainly sideways across the W slope of the mountain. The broken loose rock pieces made it un-fun to walk on. First chain/cable around (N45.9161 E9.3878), a short ways farther to the steep ladder then some chains. 

A ways farther there's a choice between the low version of #8 which goes toward Col Garibaldi (N45.9222 E9.3799) . (elev 1824m) for a lower start on the chains of VF Cecilia, and with the Rifugio Rosalba hut a short ways W below it. I took the high version of #8 Direttissima to around Col Valsecchi (N45.9220 E9.3841) . (elev ~ 1875?), which is a start point for VF Val Scarettone (which starts by traversing NE), or for the upper part of VF Cecilia (trail #10), or for the popular non-VF route "Cresta Segantini", low 5th class following a ridge, some bolts in place help support rope-belay. Supposed to be an oasis of sound rock. I tried a bit at the start ... holds seemed to slope the wrong way ... getting late in the day with fogginess. So I quit that.

Instead started up VF Cecilia / trail #10, East then SE. It had some chains, it wandered side-to-side a lot, the rock was not good, and red-paint markings for guidance between the chained sections were rather faded and difficult to find. So I gave up on that and just went back S to Parking on trail #8.


kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,356

VF Nito Staich (Oropa Biella)
. . GPS latitude longitude approx (N45.6309 E7.9619) - above the Sanctuary of Oropa, in
. . the province of Biella, in the Piemonte region NE from cities of Ivrea and Torino.

Did this one this afternoon, turned out to have some interesting sequences climbing "free" in the 5.8-5.9 range on rather sound gneiss rock. With lots of positive holds, so nice gneiss. Also a bunch of other sequences in the 5.1-5.7 range climbable "free", with hands and feet directly on the rock, using the fixed hardward only for Protection, not Aid. There were about three separate sequences and a couple of other single moves where I needed to use Aid, so the percentage of "free" for me was pretty high).

If you find you like this rock, there are some bolted routes for roped climbing on this same rock.

More VF routes nearby: supposed to be two or three of similar difficulty and quality, but much higher farther from Parking. So usually people ride the mechanical lift / "funivia" to do those - (unlike VF Nito Staich which is well below the top station of the lift). But the lift does not run very many days outside of peak summer vacation time. So perhaps could do this VF along the way hiking up to the hut to sleep, then do other higher VF routes the next day.

Length of total climbing 5th or 4th class, estimate around 125-140 meters / 420-460 feet.
Total uphill work from Trailhead +350 vertical meters - (from low large parking +385m).
Total round-trip distance from Trailhead 3.8 km - (from low large parking 5 km).

Protection perhaps the best I've seen on any VF route (i.e. protection in case the climber actually falls --  which is not what most VF guidebooks and websites mean by "protected").

There were lots of steel rungs / stemples which I found unnecessary for Aid -- but often I found it nice to be able to clip one for protection so I wouldn't fall so far if I failed on one of the more difficult "free" move attempts. Only a couple of times that I remember was a rung in the way of a rock hold I wanted to use.

The cable-to-rock-attachment posts had a shape that would make it easy for a Leader giving a rope belay from above to provide Directional protection in situations where the route went sideways.

Approach straightforward non-long (effort +200 vertical meters over 1.3 km distance from trailhead). Descent a little tricky to follow at a couple points, overall good (2.3 km distance).

GPS useful waypoints:
* main Parking by "adventure park" with mechanical lift, W above Sanctuary of Oropa buildings . (N45.6291 E7.9762) . (elev ~ 1205m)
* trailhead with smaller higher Parking : (N45.6314 E7.9765) . (elev ~ 1240m)
* VF approach scramble leaves trail #13 at (N45.6300 E7.9618) . (elev ~1390m)
* bottom of VF cable - low part (N45.6309 E7.9619) . (elev ~ 1440m)
* top of low part VF . (N45.6318 E7.9617) . (elev ~ 1550m) . with escape to Left
* bottom of high part VF . (N45.6320 E7.9616) . (elev ~ 1565m)
* top of high part of VF . (N45.6321 E7.9614) . (elev ~ 1590m)
* descent route key point up high . (N45.6333 E7.9585)
* descent route meet trail 14A . (N45.6312 E7.9577)
* descent route meet trail 13 . (N45.6303 E7.9588) 

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,356

Monte Emilius (Aosta)
. . locally prominent 3559m / 11673ft peak (N45.6789 E7.3847) east from the Pila ski resort on south side of city of Aosta in NW Italy.
. . The VF route is on the NW and W->E traverse of summit ridge, so might be the highest "real" VF route on Europe.
. . Long ways up from trailhead. +1765 uphill to top and another +115m on return for total of +1880m / 6165ft vertical
. . . with more distance than we expect in Europe: over 18.6km / 11.5 miles round-trip.

I tried to climb this today, but high up around 2900m ran into more wind than I expected (and no sun). So I turned back just below the start of the VF. I was well-trained for the uphill and distance of the approach, well-acclimatized to altitude, wore more clothing than any previous climb on this trip -- but not enough more.

Clearly you have to want this VF badly to feel the approach labor (and driving) are worth it. There's the possibility of an overnight stop to split the approach labor. But the bivouac shelter near the bottom of the VF route is just a metal can with some bunks inside. (Perhaps there's a hut within range? not sure what it's season might be -- some people recommend sleeping at the hut Rifugio Arbolle, which is not that close to the route). There was a ski lift operating, but it's not located to provide much help with getting to base of VF route (though might help to get to Rifugio Arbolle).

Access is from the Pila ski resort. Main public parking (N45.6878 E7.3107) . (elev ~ 1800m) to access the approach trails, is a bit below the top of the ski resort access road (before the road goes under sustained concrete). Arguably the "real" trailhead is a tiny bit higher at (N45.6878 E7.3113), but perhaps the asphalt road leading to it is marked "private".

Key first approach objective is Colle Plan Fenetre (N45.6914 E7.3385) . (2235m).
There's three ways to get there:

(a) Start on trail 14 and 19A (gentler) -- at first S about 700m, next ENE 700m, and E 150m to join wide grassy ski run (N45.6856 E7.3217). Next up SSE 500m then gentle NE 400m up to the main hiking trail junction (N45.6824 E7.3281) northeast from upper part of ski trails and lifts. Then follow trail 16 + 20A NorthEast to trail 20 NE, long gentle to Colle Plan Fenetre.
- - > Nice if your goal is to save your leg strength for the VF because has lots of gentle sections, but otherwise longer and slower.

(b) Start on trail 16 - (recommended on the trail signs) -- after only 50m S from end of asphalt road, turn sharp Left (trail number painted on rock) and go NE 150m and E about 200m. Next up steep 150m SW, then curve Left and find your way roughly SE up 400m to meet trails 14 + 19A somewhere around (N45.6854 E7.3183). Next roughly E about 250m to join wide grassy ski run (N45.6856 E7.3217). Next up SSE 500m then gentle NE 400m up to the main hiking trail junction (N45.6824 E7.3281) northeast from upper part of ski trails and lifts. Then follow trail 16 + 20A NorthEast to trail 20 NE, long gentle to Colle Plan Fenetre.
- - > This has all its steep stuff in the first half, then a long gentle traverse to the Colle.

(c) Start on trail 141 NE toward Ermitage St Grat - (recommended in one VF guidebook) -- but before reaching that turn off onto some other trail (I'm not sure which?) up to the Colle.
- - > Opposite of previous option, since start with long gentle, then second half up steep to Colle.

From Colle Plan Fenetre, steep down S then SE to trail junction (N45.6799 E7.3433) . (elev ~2125m). Here trail 14 goes roughly S (and in opposite direction will be the return trail of descent route from summit of Monte Emilius).

Trail 16 goes E at first cross creek and short ups+downs, then up sustained steep, then gentle for a ways, then sustained steep up final slope to the tiny bivouac shelter "Bivacco Federico Zullo" (N45.6826 E7.3679) . (elev 2907m) at the pass at the base of the Monte Emilius NW ridge which has the first part of the VF route.

That final slope has several erosion gullies. The main herd path goes to the Left (N) side of most of the deepest of those, but higher up there are two sections of the zig-zags that are badly washed out, and at least two others that are mildly washed out. Another way is to just hike up in one of the deep erosion gullies, which if dry has lots of stable medium-size stones that work like stair-steps.

warning: Only try the lower sustained steep slope or final sustained steep slope when definitely dry.

That's as far as I got today.


The idea of the VF route is to climb from near the bivouac shelter up the NW ridge up near the (lower) W summit (N45.6790 E7.3746) then traverse to the (higher) E summit (N45.6789 E7.3847).

 Descent route is _supposed_ to be at first down S ridge to Passo Tre Cappucini (N45.6736 E7.3865) . (elev ~ 3210m). Then WSW past Lago Gelato and W to Lago Arbolle (N45.6661 E7.3465) with a hut Rifugio Arbolle nearby. Then roughly N -- soon down a steep section -- to meet trail 16 and the approach route.


kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,356

VF del Gorbeillon (Valtournenche)
. . GPS latitude longitude approx (N45.8764 E7.6189) . (elevation approx 1640m)
. . W above town of Valtournenche in province of Aosta, a ways N of Torino, and S of the Matterhorn.

* Lots of interesting thoughtful "free" rock-climbing sequences in a variety of rock situations, including two sustained face sections around 5.9.
* One of the very best VF routes for free rock-climbing.
* total "real" climbing Length roughly around 165 meters / 540 feet.
* well Protected (in case a climber actually falls).
* abundant fixed Aid hardware, mostly in the form of rungs / stemples, also some loops of cable to grab.
* Straightforward approach hike.
* Nice descent route with cable protection / aid in the steeper parts.

Free rock-climbing: Lots in the 5.4-5.7 difficulty range, some in 5.8-5.10. I climbed all of it "free" except for two short overhanging sequences (one of those might go free around 5.11-12). I felt well Protected climbing "free", because of the over-abundance of fixed Aid, so I would clip at least one of the leashes of my VF kit to Aid hardward (usually a rung), while the other was clipped to the cable. Somehow the abundant Aid rungs did not much get in the way of my free climbing moves.

Some of the small face holds dirty or mossy: Recommend bring a nut-pick tool (or screwdriver?) to clean them. Might also want to wear rock shoes. I climbed it in my best and tightest approach shoes -- and the two sustained face sequences felt like some 5.10 -- but I'm guessing that if I'd been wearing rock shoes, would have felt less difficult.

Approach: Follow good trail, at first up diagonal left, then a long horizontal traverse with some ups and downs. See signs for Via Ferrata, follow them up through talus, with some of it moved and arranged to form nice steps.
. . (effort about +120 vertical meters uphill over 0.6 km distance).

Descent: Follow cable down steep NorthEast, then some hiking down, then another cable section down SouthWest, finally a long mostly-horizontal trail SW back to bottom start of VF cable.

GPS useful waypoints:
* Parking - trailhead . (N45.8801 E7.6220) . (elev ~ 1530m)
* Bottom start of VF cable . (N45.8764 E7.6189) . (elev ~ 1640m)
* Top of climbing . (N45.8770 E7.6180) . (elev ~ 1785m)

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,356

* lots of fun and thoughtful moves "free" rock-climbing style.
* also popular done in the usual VF Aid style (difficulty E on scale of A to E or F)
* about a well Protected as a mostly-less-than-vertical VF route this hard can be (with minimal rungs / stemples for aid).
* straightforward Approach hike, very well signed.
* easy  (but longer) Descent option.
* also two options for bike or car shuttle for Descent.
* rock mostly sound, though with the usual loose little stuff that gathers on ledges -- and maybe a couple of handholds felt a bit wobbly.

I climbed this Via Ferrata "free" today. Seven years ago I was rather happy to make it up with full use of the fixed Aid. It's regarded as the hardest VF within two hours driving from Arco, with a VF rating of E on the VF difficulty scale from A to E (which has been extended to F). Back then several sections looked impossible to do without grabbing the steel cable and stepping on some the anchor posts connecting the cable to the rock. I might have believed I could climb some of the moves free -- and that's all I hoped for when I arrived this morning. 

I've had a lot of experience on limestone since then. And this time I wore my La Sportiva Katana Lace rock-climbing shoes (instead of approach shoes). And instead of a normal VF kit, I was using the Skylotec Skyrider, which if used properely prevents taking a fall of any signifiicant distance.
. . Those lacking a Skyrider might want to arrange to get belayed from above with a rope tended by a partner (mountain guide?) who climbed the harder sections (likely using Aid from fixed hardware) ahead of you.

I'd say maybe a couple of 5.10a moves, and good number of 5.8-5.9 in the harder sections. Also fun 5.4-5.7 stuff. But also sections of 3rd class in between the harder stuff, and the percentage seemed to rise closer to the top, until the final section was mostly a long uphill hike. Some of the rock was polished, but not a major factor (expect for the wide-ish crack that might have been one of the 5.10s due to its polish). I did take one fall, very short on a traverse when my foot blew off a slopy hold. Got back on and worked my body position better and got it the second time. There were some big pockets that to me did not look like normal limestone holds, so maybe they were chipped into the rock? I avoided some of them, used some others, at most five. So if that implies that I did not climb it all truly "free", then I accept that -- since today I wasn't expecting to come even close on most of the harder sequences. Anyway lots of fun climbing.

Comparing "free" style climbing with other NE Italy / Dolomites routes: Perhaps "VF Sci Club 18" more sustained interesting with wider variety of rock situations, but more loose rock and less scenic. Perhaps "VF Cesco Tomaselli" not as much variety of rock situations, but the long dihedral is rather good free, and bigger scenery on (much longer) approach.

Approach: First up a little, then long gentle E, then up a ways, then NE and some zig-zags roughly NNW, finally SW to bottom start of cable.

Climb: Lower half mixes straight-up sections with traverse horizontal left or diagonal up left. Upper half has a long uphill walk generally W before reaching summit ridge.

Descent: Wide dirt trail down from summit bench overall NNW but with some big zig-zags, to meet asphalt road. Sign for "Sarche" indicates go R (NNE) on road (though there are rumors of a short steep difficult trail toward the L). Soon about 300m meet R turn with sign for "Sarche". Or continue another 130m farther (and up a little) to a three-way fork and take R fork down (roughly E) to meet another road. Go R down this, overall ESE but with many zig-zags, to meet main highway just W of Castel Toblino at the shore of the lake. If did not spot a bike (or car) here (or at the Sport-climbing crags up the steep asphalt road), finish by run/walk alongside highway west for a mile flat, back to Parking. . . (If truly lazy about the descent, could advance spot a bike or car high in village of Ranzo. Drive car up by way of village of Lon. But that's a lot of extra driving / set-up time just to avoid 460 vertical meters of easy downhill).

* Length of "real" climbing, my guess around 310 meters / 1000 feet.
* effort of Approach: +305 vertical meters of uphill over 1.3 km distance - (with good marking of turns).
* effort of Descent: easiest (longer) way was 5.5 km downhill to the main road, then 1.6 km flat back to the parking. Various possible bike or car shuttles to shorten this. And there's supposed to be one of more steeper shorter trails. But since it was starting to rain and I'm good at running, I decided to stick with the single-lane gravel roads.
* Total uphill from Parking to summit bench around +705 vertical meters.

GPS useful waypoints:
* Parking in town of Sarche . (N46.0476 E10.9510) . (elev ~ 265m) - at W end of indoor "bocce" playing hall.
* bottom start of VF cable . (N46.0527 E10.9521) . (elev ~ 570m)
* summit bench . (N46.0527 E10.9485) . (elev ~ 970m)
* water near below summit . (N46.0572 E10.9448)
* descent trail meets asphalt road . (N46.0596 E10.9419) . (elev ~ 720m) by village of Ranzo.
* top of trail 613 with sign for "Sarche" . (N46.0619 E10.9440) -- not  checked by us.
* turn R at 3-way fork (N46.0630 E10.9447) to start descent to main highway near Castel Toblino.
* Sport-climbing crags along steep asphalt road . (N46.0598 E10.9638)
* meet main road . (N46.0563 E10.9655) - just W from Castel Toblino.
. . . about 1.6 km / 1.0 mile W alongside main highway flat to get back to Parking.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,356

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.

Did this one today . . .
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)

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,356

? 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 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,356

VF Mesules / 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).

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,356

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.

* 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.

* 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.

Approach: 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.

Climb: 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.

Descent: 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) .

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,356

VF Jubiläumssteig in Austria (VF = German "klettersteig")

. . GPS latitude longitude approx (N47.5560 E12.3153)

. . N above Ellmau in the Wilder Kaiser mountain group in the Kaisergebirge,

. . about 45 km north of the Italy-Austria border,

. . about 60 km ENE from city of Innsbruck, about 25 km from Rosenheim, Germany.

Easy cable-aided/protected VF route with some exposure and great views, and huts serving snacks and drinks near each end. One ladder. Many people do it without a Via Ferrata kit, using the cable mainly as a hand-rail.

Several other spectacular shorter hikes from the same parking or one or both of the same huts, if other members of the party don't want to try the VF.

Could also use the VF route to access higher hiking and scrambling. Obvious higher objective is the Ellmauer Tor pass . (N47.5659 E12.3213) . (elev 1981m) - (also a very popular ski mountaineering tour). Above E from that pass is the Hintere Goinger Halt peak (2192m). If reaching that seemed too easy, can continue over and up to the Vordere Goinger Halt peak (2242m).

Katrin and Gi and I did it in the counter-clockwise direction (NE -> SW), after first hiking up from Wochenbrunner Alm parking to the Gaudeamushütte ("Gaudeamus hut") (and Sharon joined us for that far), and used the VF to take us to the Gruttenhütte ("Grutten hut"). Doing it in the other (clockwise) direction allows taking the (not-so-difficult) ladder in the upward  direction, then a smoother downhill finish from the hut afterward.

GPS useful waypoints:

* Parking - hiking trailhead (and meals + drinks) Wochenbrunner Alm . (N47.5412 E12.3190) . (elev 1080m).

* quicker start on trail (dirt road) up to Gaudeamus hut ...

. . . from high N corner of parking . (N47.5422 E12.3191)

* Gaudeamus hut with snacks + drinks . (N47.5493 E12.3244)

* NE end of VF Jubilaeumsteig . (N47.5584 E12.3181)

. . . junction with trail from Gaudeamus hut up to Ellmauer Tor pass

* SW end of VF Jubilaeumsteig at Grunner hut . (N47.5538 E12.3111)

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,356

sport crag: Valle Gorduno area A - (south Switzerland)

. . Not Italy, but in the Italian-language Ticino canton of Switzerland,

. . and 50 km N from Como Italy.

. . GPS latitude longitude approx (N46.2214 E9.0123)

. . about 4 km N from city of Bellinzona, Switzerland

. . Not via ferrata, but about 5 km from a VF route.

Lots of climbs in the 4b - 6b range on granitic gneiss rock.

Today Sharon and I climbed on the low slab (N46.2212 E9.0126) S of the other two cliffs in area A.

Filidor Plaisir Sud guidebook is what we used.

Very interesting slab climbing on pretty rock with excellent friction.

Just a minute's walk from the Parking (N46.2210 E9.0120) with only a small number of spaces.

South-facing but shaded.

The road is asphalt as far as area A, but mostly rather narrow single-lane with pull-outs. So if meet another vehicle, might need to back up a long ways (uphill?). That along with the limited parking might suggest avoiding weekends and holidays.

Valle Gorduno Area B is supposed to be 4 km farther up the road.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,356

sport crag: Ponte Brolla - (south Switzerland)
. . Not in Italy, but in the Italian-speaking Ticino canton on Switzerland, and
. . . . 45 km NW from Como on the N border of Italy
. . GPS latitude longitude approx (N46.1890 E8.7518).
. . about 4 km NW from the city of Locarno, near the NE end of the giant
. . Lake Maggiore, about 25km W from the city of Bellinzona.

Sharon and I climbed first pitches of routes by left end of sector C (Filidor guidebook) of Castelliare area.
Fairly interesting easy + moderate slab climbing. Big area. Also with multi-pitch opportunities (if you like slab). Roughly South-facing.

Filidor Plaisir Sud guidebook is what we used.
. . (also there is a Versante Sud guidebook which includes Varese).
Difficulty grades assumed you have good footwork well-accustomed to this rock style.

Approach to Castelliare sectors: From the main road bridge at (N46.1863 E8.7532), go N 50m then curve Left (W) and immediately exit Right onto small road. Soon turn Right across railroad track and go NorthEast 250 meters to where bike trail turns Right, then N another 20m to Grotto America restaurant. See steep stairs up along left side of restaurant, and turn Left up those, about 50m W. Then trail gets gentle, roughly WSW for 150m, then scramble down a little, then up a little bearing right, then gentle on wide rocky trail alongside stone wall about 100m West. Then up right 20m NW to meet slab with bolts (N46.1884 E8.7516), which is the low part of sector B. Next up along base of slab ENE about 50m first on rock then dirt. NW another 20m then bear left (N) and scramble up to fixed rope. Up this to base of cliffs with bolts, which is the left end of the lower part of sector C, near the climbing route "Wim".

GPS useful waypoints:
* Parking low along main road . (N46.1867 E8.7511) .
* Parking high near trailhead . (N46.1890 E8.7551) .
* Trailhead stairs steep on L side of Grotto America . (N46.18916 E8.75476) .
* trail meets Left (W) end of low part of sector B on Castelliare . (N46.1884 E8.7516) .
* trail meets low part of sectors B + C . (N46.1887 E8.7523) . near route "Wim".

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,356

VF di Camoglieres - in Cuneo province of region Piemonte.
. . GPS latitude longitude approx (N44.5052 E7.1977).
. . 30 km WNW from city of Cuneo, 100 km WNW from Finale Ligure.

Did this very difficult via ferrata this afternoon. Very good "French style" route.

"French style" meaning lots of hardware (rungs and rigid hand-rails) other than the cable (which usually was not taut like often in the Dolomites).

"Very difficult" meaning several overhanging sections -- so I'd say there were several individual moves felt like 5.4 or 5.5 even with using all the fixed hardware for Aid. And steep sequences so sustained that I'd say it really ought to be rated 5.6 -- even assuming you hang to rest at some of the rock-to-cable attachment points.
Some of the sequences would get a VF-specific diffficulty rating of E (on a Eastern Alps / Dolomites scale of A to F), or "Trés Difficile (TD)" on the scale (F PD to TD ED) in the most popular VF guidebook for France.

* Dramatic rock situations and scenes.
* Sustained steep even overhanging climbing, with dramatic exposure.
* Exciting-design cable bridge.
* Short straightforward approach.
* Nice descent trail.
* Three mini-summits then one true summit, with good views.
* Arrangement of rungs mostly ladder-like - (so not up with the latest concept that moves on artificial holds can be designed to be interesting).
* Not much opportunity for "free" climbing moves with hands and feet directly on rock (which anyway often seemed unsound).

Protection (against actually falling):
* Not so good, if only clip the cable in the normal way using normal VF kit,
. . . . (which is typical of most VF routes).
* Well protected if also clip intermediate rungs.
* no rubber bumpers on cable-to-rock attachment posts.
* non-taut cable (so less chance of carabiner breaking by hitting cable-attachment post.
* pigtails on many attachment posts for directional protection of rope belay from Leader).

Driving -- narrow steep asphalt road NE to Parking, up from (N44.5001 E7.1924) on SP 422 road (about 15 km WNW from city of Dronero).
Hiking -- Follow the signs, about 350m up asphalt road SE than NNW to its end. Then 160m up trail NE then N to bottom start of cable + VF.

Climb: Three steep cable sections then walk up to a mini-summit. Down 50m N to junction with escape trail, next 100m NE first down some more, then up to the 4th steep cable section, finishing to a mini-summit -- then steep cable and rungs down to gentle spot with trail junction (another escape). Next follow sign "Ponte Sui Cavi" to see cables to right (SE) and down those a little to discover a cable bridge W to E. Crossing the bridge is cleverly designed to be unstable yet not out of control. Immediately meet the return / descent trail, but go up this 70 m N then NE then E and find the final steep cable section -- perhaps the most difficult. Then walk N 30m up following the cable to another mini-summit. Next ENE 110m down a little then up to another junction with the return / descent trail. Up this 100m first E to a great viewpoint then N to the summit of the Crocetta Soprana (elev 1410m).

Descent: Follow the signs. Mostly nice trail with a couple of steep or exposed sections with cable. Tends to go much E or S from the route of the approach and climb (except  at the points where it meets the approach or climb). 

GPS useful waypoints:
* Parking . (N44.5024 E7.1961) .
* end of asphalt road . (N44.5039 E7.1965) .
* bottom start of VF . (N44.5052 E7.1977) .
* first mini-summit . (N44.5056 E7.1968) .
* trail junction by W end of cable bridge . (N44.5071 E7.1979) .
* top of final VF steep cable section . (N44.5077 E7.1994) .
* third mini-summit . (N44.5080 E7.1992) .
* junction with return trail above top of VF . (N44.5084 E7.2004) .
* peak Crocetta Soprana . (N44.5084 E7.2013) . (elev 1410m).

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,356

VF dei Funs di Entracque (or "Ico Quaranta") - in Cuneo province of region Piemonte.
. . GPS latitude longitude approx (N44.2442 E7.4279).
. . 20 km SW from city of Cuneo, 85 km WNW from Finale Ligure.

Did this difficult via ferrata this afternoon. Pretty good "French style" route.

"French style" meaning lots of hardware (rungs and rigid hand-rails) other than the cable (which usually was not taut like often in the Dolomites).

"Difficult" meaning several overhanging sections -- so I'd say there were several individual moves felt like 5.3 or 5.4 even with using all the fixed hardware for Aid. And steep sequences so sustained that I'd say it really ought to be rated 5.5 -- even assuming you hang to rest at ome of the rock-to-cable attachment points.
At least one sequences would get a VF-specific diffficulty rating of D (on Eastern Alps / Dolomites scale of A to F), or "Difficile (D)" on the scale (F PD to TD ED) in the most popular VF guidebook for France. The harder right-hand Variation high on the first part would get a rating of E or D+ (on scale of A to F), or "Trés Difficile (TD)" the VF scale for France.

Not as much very steep strenuous climbing as "VF di Camoglieres", but perhaps  a bit more interesting moves.

* Some steep even overhanging climbing, some dramatic exposure.
* Straightforward approach on rather nice trail.
* Interesting descent with two VF down-climb sections and a ridge-crest section.
. . . . then a rather nice descent trail.
* Arrangement of rungs mostly ladder-like, sometimes with interesting use of vertical/diagonal rail,
. . . . and some interesting sideways moves.
. . . . (but not up with the latest concept that moves on artificial holds can be designed to be interesting).
* Not much opportunity for "free" climbing moves with hands and feet directly on rock (which anyway often seemed unsound).

warning: Much of the walking between VF cable sections on steep slopes slippery with dirt and leaves -- so perhaps this route is not a good choice with possible rain, or the day (or two) after rain.

Protection (against actually falling):
* Not so good, if only clip the cable in the normal way using normal VF kit,
. . . . (which is typical of most VF routes).
* Well protected if also clip intermediate rungs.
* no rubber bumpers on cable-to-rock attachment posts.
* non-taut cable (so less chance of carabiner breaking by hitting cable-attachment post.
* pigtails on many attachment posts for directional protection of rope belay from Leader).

Approach: Follow the signs. After about 1 km on forest road up roughly East, the forest road starts downward, curves right over bridge (SW) and meets another forest road. Key is to turn sharp Left here and go NE up another 1 km, then sharp turn S and soon see sign to leave main trail and head up left to bottom start of VF part 1.

Climb: Variation to R side high on first part of VF is more interesting. Long walk roughly SE 200m up steep + slippery (marked with light yellow paint) to start of second part. There is an escape trail to right (also steep and slippery) which meets the descent route at a trail sign which does not say it's the descent trail. First VF section of second part not so interesting. Then a short walk, then the next VF more interesting, then finishes with interesting traverse to a short easy bridge. Finally scramble/hike up to crest of ridge. Next walk about 220m first SE then S (marked with light yellow paint) to the highest summit around.

Descent: Follow the cable, with two steep VF down-climb sections with rungs. Second lower VF section more interesting because rungs sparse, so need to think about placement of feet on the rock. Remainder of descent trail is marked with light yellow paint -- except where it's not . . . 

warning:  Two points on descent where the wrong way is well-beaten and the right way is not well-marked:
1) just below the second lower VF down-climb on rungs, there is a well-beaten path to the right along base of cliff horizontal -- nice special space to walk or to picnic in shade. But the correct trail turns downward Left away from that.
2) Not far below that, meet a well-beaten horizontal trail with a signs at junction (and no sign for "ritorno"). Here just cross the horizontal trail and continue down.

GPS useful waypoints:
* Trailhead . (N44.2401 E7.4036) . Start from street in town of Entracque.
. . . . Parking 10m SW. Additional parking up farther SW about 160m.
* Junction of approach forest road with another road . (N44.2392 E7.4163)
. . . . Here turn sharp Left.
* Trail up to VF bottom start leaves forest road at . (N44.2436 E7.4274).
* VF part 1 bottom start . (N44.2442 E7.4279)
* VF part 1 top . (N44.2444 E7.4282)
* junction with escape trail between VF parts 1+2 . (N44.2432 E7.4301)
* VF part 2 bottom start . (N44.2430 E7.4303)
* easy bridge . (N44.2431 E7.4307) . near finish
* top end of upward cable, start of descent ("ritorno") trail  . (N44.2431 E7.4310)
. . . . with great viewpoint 30m NW.
* top summit of Funs di Entracque peak . (N44.2416 E7.4321).
* bottom of cable + down-climb VF sections of descent . (N44.2396 E7.4309)
. . . . Descent trail goes down Left from here - (not horizontal right under cliff).
* junction (N44.2392 E7.4302) of Descent trail with Escape trail from near bottom start of VF part 2.
. . . . Descent trail goes across + down from here, not horizontal left of right.
* Descent trail turns right NW + North (after going West) . (N44.2385 E7.4272).

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,356

VF degli Artisti - 13 km WNW from Finale Ligure
. . GPS latitude longitude approx (N44.2039 E8.1882).
. . 65 km W from Genova, 100 km NE from Nice, 120 km S from Torino.

Fun reddish (quartizite?) rock with big positive holds mostly on a long ridge with some short steep-ish sections.

A bit strange because it's like two different adjacent routes very close. One is a popular Via Ferrata with an over-abundance of steel rungs and handrails, with a steel cable sometimes for protection but often for navigation. Often given a VF difficulty rating of C or C/D on a VF-specific A to F scale. 

The "other" route is fun + interesting free climbing and scrambling with hands and feet directly on the rock, alongside the steel hardware, often clipping the rungs and handrails for protection of the more difficult moves. Difficulty much 3rd / 4th class, much low 5th class, some around 5.5-5.6, perhaps a couple sequences 5.8 and above if done in "free" style. Funny that the cable and rungs bypass a substantial portion of the fun scrambling and climbing.

Seemed to me that this rock could have been a great introduction of athletic hikers to finding and using the many big positive holds directly on the rock. But instead the designers decided to install an over-abundance of steel rungs and handrails, to render any searching for rock holds unnecessary. Maybe the designers wanted to prove they could build a "real" French-style Via Ferrata. But I'm not going to complain, because the abundance of rungs and handrails also offers so many opportunities for good protection of free moves alongside. Likely this is no accident, but only a few times did the hardware get in the way of necessary holds on the rock for free-climbing sequences. Sometimes seemed like the rungs had been placed on the section of face with the fewest positive holds, and right next to it was a section with many positive holds -- so excellent for clipping the fixed Aid hardware for protection just a short distance away from the fun free-climbing moves.

* Fairly long route.
* Straightforward approach hike.
* Easy-to-follow descent mostly on nice trail (but with some steep slippery sections with cable).
* Arrangement of rungs mostly ladder-like, so the normal VF aid climbing does not try to be interesting.
* Abundant opportunities for free climbing moves - (I used the fixed hardware for aid for only 7 moves in the whole route).
* Driving includes at least 0.8 km on single-lane dirt/gravel (much could be avoided by extra walking).

Protection (against actually falling):
* Not so good, if only clip the cable in the normal way using normal VF kit,
. . . . (which is typical of most VF routes).
* Well-protected if also clip intermediate rungs.
* no rubber bumpers on cable-to-rock attachment posts.
* non-taut cable (so less chance of carabiner breaking by hitting cable-attachment post.

GPS useful waypoints:
* Magliolo village on driving approach . (N44.1913 E8.2430) .
* Isallo village on driving approach . (N44.2040 E8.2210) .
. . . (Do not allow your GPS navigation app to avoid these two villages).
* Parking main trailhead, with map of trails + routes  . (N44.2071 E8.1935) .
* Turn R (W) off dirt road onto trail on Hiking approach . (N44.2045 E8.1920) .
* Bottom start of VF . (N44.2039 E8.1882) .
* Top of official VF route with register . (N44.2025 E8.1800) .
* Descent route top . (N44.2017 E8.1784) .
* descent route finishes long gentle traverse S, starts down steeper ESE . (N44.1989 E8.1835) .
* descent route turns sharp L to go gentle N . (N44.1979 E8.1878) .
* descent route meets main dirt/gravel road from Parking . (N44.2012 E8.1917) .

Rachel Maddow · · Los Angeles, Ca · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 45
kenr wrote:

These write-ups are amazing. Why am I just seeing them now? I spent a few weeks in Northern Italia last August and experienced quite a bit of thunderstorms. Who can complain, but it did narrow our climbing window to mornings as the storms seemed to roll through in the afternoon and night. Intense lightning storms were fun to watch. That was my second trip, but first VF experience. We just did Colodri in Arco. Heading back next summer and will definitely benefit from your notes! Thanks for sharing.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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