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Dolomites Via Ferrata September 2018

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

. . . (before unexpectedly shifting to Switzerland) . . .
I had a fun time with Sharon around the Dolomites.
Best weather I've had there on a visit. Got to do several great long high-mountain routes (in addition to some fun sport-climbing and supporting Sharon's road-cycling).

Routes I got to do yet again:
* VF Cesare Piazzetta on Piz Boe.
* VF Cesco Tomaselli from Lagazuoi (First time I rode up the lift, to fit this climb in while Sharon was road-cycling).
* VF Punta Anna on Tofana di Mezzo (also known as VF G Olivieri)
* VF Sci Club 18 (not a big-mountain route, but a fun "sport" via ferrata).

New for me were:
* VF Lipella on Tofana di Rozes . (Lots of people were talking about it, so I got to try it. It is indeed a long mountain VF adventure for the Dolomites).
* VF Nuvolau : only short easy VF sections, but overall a fun spectacular outing (with some extra scrambling exploration on the side).

* VF Stella Alpina on Monte Agner was my big challenge for this trip.

I had heard intimidating things about it . . .
? Hardest big mountain VF in the Dolomites ? Far away from other VF routes ? Not well protected? Lift access not running consistently ? Monte Agner famous for the longest big-wall climbs Grade VI in the Dolomites ?

So I put lots of planning and preparation into Monte Agner. Slept the night before up at a hut to give myself lots of hours for it. Chose the day with the most stable weather.

Short answer: Yet another difficult Dolomites route with sustained interesting climbing in its main VF part (but on less polished rock).
Then the serious climbing is over but it's still long ways to the top of the mountain (or even to reach the descent route), with lots on steep loose rock all along the way. A bit more cable-protected scrambling near the summit (nice but not brilliant). Then it's a long long ways back down with lots on steep loose rock on the descent (I took VF Canalone). Since the lift was not operating, my approach hike had included a +2000 vertical feet boring slog up ski trails (though afterward it was quick + easy to jog down them).

So I guess now my remaining "long more difficult" big-mountain VF route is Tissi on Monte Civetta. Or I really should climb the VF to the top of Marmolata sometime, even if it's not "more difficult".


kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,356
VF Stella Alpina : Monte Agner
. . . Mt Agner (elev 2872m / 9420 ft) is the big peak in the east half of the Pala group.
. . . . . GPS latitude longitude approx (N46.2764 E11.9528) : (46.2764, 11.9528)
. . . Famous among rock climbers for having the tallest wall of the Dolomites, with several Grade VI routes.
. . . . . (but the Agner VF routes are nowhere near that).

"Testpiece" reputation as big-mountain VF . . .
. * length of sustained steep climbing - (? not well protected ?).
. * length of commitment - (long ways up to reach the descent route).
. * total vertical to the summit - (since the ski lift almost never operates in summer any more).

I chose the most stable weather day. Hiked up the evening before and slept at the Rifugio Scarpa hut. Started around sunrise, soon reached the VF, made it through that. Then the long slog across and up to Bivouac Biasin, where I met some others who had climbed up VF Cannalone. Scrambled up to the summit by the normal W ridge finish. Descended VF Cannalone back to the hut, had a snack and picked my overnight stuff. Jogged down obvious trails back to parking below the village.

My take:
* main VF climbing section was rather interesting and varied on fairly sound limestone, mostly unpolished.
. . . (I climbed it all "free" with hands+feet directly on the rock, clipping cable only for Protection).
. . . . . (call it 5.9 maybe 5.9+, with lots of fun thoughtful 5.6-5.8 sequences.
. . . (Protection seemed no worse than most other VF routes: not better than PG-13).
. . . (I used special VF kit Skylotec Skyrider - works like top-rope-solo self-belay on steel cable.
. . . . . So it was well-protected for me.
. . . . . I'd guess it could be pretty scary to climb the harder sections "free" with only a normal VF kit).

* Lots of steep loose rock + slippery dirt + grass above to reach Bivouac Biasin + descent routes.
. . . (Not when wet).
. . . (Perhaps some of these sections are what people mean by "not well protected"?).
. . . (Once you've made it through all that, might as well tag the summit).

* Summit scramble has some easy VF sections, W ridge is only mildly arete-like.
 . . . (Decently fun, worthwhile as an add-on, but not brilliant).

* Descent of VF Canalone had lots of steep loose rock + dirt, not much VF.
. . . (Shorter than the Normal route, which I bet also has lots of loose + slippery stuff).
. . . (VF climbing sections not all easy, some interesting moves, but not sustained).
. . . (Might be a good route to the summit for athletic non-climbers).

* Rifugio Scarpa-Gurekian  hut is modern and rather nice.
. . . (Big view above tree-line, but the approach route is mostly boring down in the trees).
. . . (Employees drive their high-clearance passenger vehicles up to it).
kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,356

VF Stella Alpine : more . . .

Also called "Klettersteig Edelweiss".

print guidebooks:
* Via Ferratas of the Italian Dolomites: volume 2 : by John Fletcher + Graham Smith (Cicerone)
. . . (pretty helpful for this route, except for parking).
* Klettersteigführer Dolomiten-Südtirol-Gardasee : by Axel Jentzsch-Rabik, Andreas Jentzsch, Dieter Wissekal (AlpinVerlag)
. . . (much key info is in numeric/symbolic form for those who don't read much German, and there is an English-language overview for this route).

Difficulty as VF (assuming full use of fixed hardware for Aid):
. . Austrian AlpinVerlag : C/D on scale of A to F (where F is Extrem).
. . UK Cicerone : 5 on scale of 1 to 5.

* vertical of VF main climbing part : +300 meters
* length of serious climbing : 370 meters

To Bivouac from Frassene village overnight parking:
* vertical uphill : +1580 meters
. . . (perhaps +100 meters less if park above village).
* horizontal distance : 6.2 km

Monte Agner summit from Frassene village overnight parking:
* vertical uphill : +1800 meters
. . . (perhaps +100 meters less if park above village).
* horizontal distance : 6.7 km

waypoints (approx):
. - - [ See track on this Map ] - - .
* Parking legal overnight below Frassene village : (N46.2529 E11.9841) : (elev 1085 m)
* Parking near end of narrow asphalt road above village : (N46.2532 E11.9787) : (1170 m)
* Parking along dirt/gravel section before reach closure gate : (N46.2551 E11.9796) : (1190 m)
* Rifugio Scarpa-Gurekian hut : (N46.2597 E11.9612) : (elev 1735m)
. . . (with ski lift top station below just a bit NE, it it ever operates in summer).
* Junction of trails : (N46.2634 E11.9559)
. . . Normal route goes off R (NE?).
* Junction of trails : (N46.2656 E11.9550)
. . . Approach to VF Canalone bears R (N).
* VF short low section : (N46.2664 E11.9546)
* VF Stella Alpina main bottom start : (N46.2673 E11.9539)
* VF Stella Alpina top of serious climbing : (N46.2669 E11.9530)
* Bivouac Giancarlo Biasin : (N46.2747 E11.9512) . (elev 2655m)
. . . meet descent routes: VF Canalone or Normal route.
* Monte Agner summit : (N46.2764 E11.9528)

descent of VF Canalone . . .
. - - [ See track on this Map ] - - .
. . . (lots of steep loose rock + slippery dirt, so Not when wet).
* Junction of trails : (N46.2730 E11.9534)
. . . Normal route continues down Left-ward (E?).
. . . Access to descent of VF Canalone goes down R (S then SE).
* VF Canalone bottom of main cable sections : (N46.2683 E11.9549)
. . . (Just below from here requires crossing some snow, could be dangerous when very cold or very warm).
overall . . .
* the climbing is rather good (at least doing it in "free" style).
. . . (If only could just stop after this main climbing).
. . . (Be nice if the ski lift were operating so the approach slog wasn't so long).

* the ratio of fun sound rock to labor + unpleasant steep looseness seems a bit low, even if stop at Bivouac.

* likely need to be psyched by the concept of tagging this commanding peak with the famous big-wall routes.

. . . (or figure out how to descend the VF Stella Alpina route? Perhaps bring a short rope for rappel/abseil of the steep tricky sections? Only on an uncrowded day).

I'd suggest if want a long outing with a better "ratio", on a famous big Dolomites peak away from the Cortina - Corvara area, with lots of fun (less-difficult) climbing + scrambling, first try VF Alleghesi on Monte Civetta. Or for a longer adventure maybe consider going up VF Tissi and down VF Alleghesi.

Of course for similar difficulty + interesting climbing (but polished rock), with less steep loose stuff on approach + descent (not to mention a mechanical lift that operates in summer), there is VF Cesco Tomaselli.


Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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