Via Ferratas of the Italian Dolomites: Vol 2
Southern Dolomites, Brenta and Lake Garda area
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Guidebook to 77 via ferrata routes in the Italian Dolomites in the southern regions, Brenta and Garda. Part of a two-volume set of guides to the Dolomite via ferratas. There are graded routes covering 14 mountain groups including the Civetta, around Trento and the Adige valley, with guidance on the best base for each of the via ferrata routes.
- Mainly mid-June until the end of September in the higher mountains, avoiding August if you can! Lake Garda area can often be climbed year round.
- Bolzano, Valle di Primiero and San Martino di Castrozza, Agordino, Belluno, Bassano del Grappa, Vicenza, Brenta, Trento, Riva, Lake Garda, Rovereto.
- All grades of routes from straightforward short sections of 'protected walking' to serious and strenuous mountain expeditions involving high levels of exposure and commitment.
- Must See
- All the via ferratas described are great, but don't tackle something too hard too quickly.
This guide covers 77 via ferrata routes in the Italian Dolomites. As part of a two-volume set of guides to the Dolomite via ferratas, this volume includes the southern Dolomite regions, in 10 areas including those of Belluno, Brenta, Trento, Lake Garda, the 'Piccole Dolomites' and San Martino di Castrozza. As well as the detailed route descriptions, the guide includes maps, advice on how to climb via ferratas, information on the local area's history and geology, how to travel to and around the Dolomites and and the best places to stay.
Many via ferratas were originally built to aid the movements of alpine military units during the First World War, and now they represent one of the major attractions in the Dolomites. They are a range of protected routes, with fixed cables, ladders and even gorge-spanning bridges, which aid ascent to places normally reserved for expert rock climbers. In recent years, old wartime routes have been restored and many new routes added to give a network of routes around the whole Dolomite region. Some of the new ferratas are ‘sport routes’, often technically quite hard, as you will see from our assessment of the grades. Routes are regularly checked, maintained and waymarked by the Italian Alpine Club, CAI (Club Alpino Italiano).This the second of a two-volume set of guides to the via ferrata routes in the Italian Dolomites. Volume One focuses on the Northern, Central and Eastern Dolomites.
- 77 via ferrata routes grouped by 10 valley bases, with guidance on choosing the best base for attacking each of the routes
- all graded according to the authors’ own simple system that identifies both the 'difficulty' and 'seriousness' of a route
- ranges include the Pala di San Martino, the Civetta, the Schiara near Belluno, the Alpi Vicentine, the Brenta Dolomites and the hills surrounding Lago di Garda
Key to Diagrams
How to use this Guide
When to Go
Travel to the Dolomites
Map Availability and Place Names
What to Wear?
Accidents and Mountain Rescue
ROUTES AND BASES
Valle di Primiero and San Martino di Castrozza
Bassano del Grappa
Riva, Lake Garda
APPENDIX 1: Glossary of Mountain Terms
APPENDIX 2: Index of Routes in Grade Order
APPENDIX 3: Index of Routes by Mountain Group
APPENDIX 4: Mountain Rescue
APPENDIX 5: Useful Addresses
APPENDIX 6: Bibliography
Sheets: 14, 22, 15, 24
Sheets: (1:25,000) 626, 069; (1:50,000) 101, 96
Kompass Carta Escursionistica (1:25,000)
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While every effort is made by our authors to ensure the accuracy of guidebooks as they go to print, changes can occur during the lifetime of an edition. Revisions to this guide are listed below, so please check them as part of the planning of your trip. We also advise that you check information about such things as transport, accommodation and shops locally. Even rights of way can be altered over time. We are always grateful for information about any discrepancies between a guidebook and the facts on the ground, sent by email to [email protected] or by post to Cicerone, 2 Police Square, Milnthorpe LA7 7PY, United Kingdom.
Note on route closures
Anyone planning a trip to the Dolomites area should be aware that via ferrata routes are closed from time to time, either to repair damaged protection, or to assess the stability of areas of rock. It is always difficult to say with any certainty how long routes will remain closed, since it is necessary to arrange for funding for proper assessments of rock stability, and the works judged to be necessary to return the routes to a safe condition.
While these closures may be inconvenient for ferratists trying to plan trips, we should take comfort from the fact that the local sections of CAI, and the local authorities, are impressively vigilant in ensuring our safety.
Via Ferrata Lanyards update information – 28 September 2012
Via Ferratas Volume 1 on p35 and Volume 2 on p29 refer to the cessation of production of Petzl’s Scorpio via ferrata lanyard.
This update supplements the comments about safety equipment in both volumes of our guidebooks. We discuss the various types of lanyards (commonly referred to as ‘cowtails’) on the market, and refer to the EN Standard (as defined by the European Committee for Standardisation), and the, rather more demanding, UIAA standard. It goes without saying that you should only buy gear which complies with, at least, the EN standard. Also, whatever the cost of via ferrata equipment it really is false economy to buy 2nd hand gear, so we strongly advise against it.
In the latest (2012) edition of our books, we draw attention to a recent product recall by one of the leading manufacturers, Petzl, who experienced problems with their Scorpio model. We understand that Petzl have since resumed production of the Scorpio, and that the product recall they initiated resulted in some 30% of this type of lanyard being returned for inspection within 6 months of the recall announcement. We have not seen any information about the subsequent success of the recall scheme, but it is reasonable to assume that there are still a good many original Petzl Scorpios in use.
Petzl’s UK distributor stresses that if you own, or know someone who owns, a Scorpio via ferrata lanyard that has not been inspected, you should immediately stop using it, and contact the Petzl distributor in your country to have it inspected. This is advice we would wholeheartedly endorse!
However, during August 2012, another manufacturer (Edelrid) were forced to issue a product recall, following a fatality apparently resulting from equipment failure. As with the Petzl incident, the equipment concerned utilised the stitched webbing method to absorb the energy generated by a fall, rather than a metal KISA. Notably, the Edelrid lanyards which failed were hired: this underlines the importance of making a number of checks when relying on gear other than your own. You should ask about its age and history; check for obvious signs of wear and tear; and make sure it carries the label indicating compliance with the standards above.
The stitched webbing technique used in via ferrata kits now seems to represent the majority of systems on the market. Manufacturers, and compliance standards, indicate that these systems are just as safe as the original KISA based models. However, there is a more practical issue that if you are unlucky enough to experience a fall part-way up a via ferrata route, and your stitched webbing lanyard does what it’s designed to do, then you are, in a manner of speaking, left high and dry! This underlines the importance of advice to carry a safety rope, which would at least assist either a safe retreat, or the completion of the route. However, in our experience, only a small minority of ferratists carry such a rope, and then mainly on the hardest of routes, or when introducing a beginner or a youngster to the sport. So, perhaps the lesson to draw from the situation as it stands is that climbers who rely on a stitched webbing system should also pack a length of safety rope – just in case!
And remember, nothing lasts forever, and this goes for your VF kit too! Manufacturers advise on the maximum life (as well as care, maintenance and storage) of the kit they produce. So look after your kit and retire it when it reaches the recommended age - and certainly if it has ever had to hold a fall!
A final cautionary note; even the best VF kit is worthless if you don’t use it correctly! Make sure you know how to use your equipment properly before you start climbing!
For further reference to information on via ferrata set recalls, please see the following websites:
SMAR 12, page 86
The route has all new looking heavy duty cable through the entire route; this has replaced the thin cables mentioned in the book.
The “right hand course into the dwarf pine-covered slope” still exists but the thin cable on this right course is just a piece of rope.
Also “the less than new log” on the pegs is now an old board still providing footholds.
ROVER 4 page 293
It is possible that new cabling of the reopened route can be seen as a downgrade from 5 to 4 as in almost all steep sections there are foot and hand placements on metal rungs (ladders). However the route is still a serious undertaking and should not be taken lightly.
The Rientro Attrezzata route no longer exists, cables have been cut and the path is entirely overgrown. The descent is therefore Sentiero 675 to the left, walking down to the start of the route.
October 2015p161 VICEN 5This route has changed significantly. Read or download the new route description here.p290 ROVER 3Cabling, parking and path numbering have changed. Read or download the new route description here.
November 2013p48 BOLZ 3: Monte RoenThe signage is now much more subtle than the photo on p48. This photo will be updated when this book is reprinted.Also p48 paragraph 2; note that a lot of the cable is now loose.p178 BRENTA Lift SystemsBrenta routes 6, 7 and 8: Doss del Sabion uplift runs until mid September, not early Septemberp216 Trento North MapsThe highlighted banner heading should read “Trent 1,2,3 Kompass Wanderkarte 1:50000 Sheet 95” (not Sheet 96)p233 TRENT 6: SA Degasperi and p237 TRENT 7: VF SegataBoth these routes continue to be closed; we have no information to indicate when they will be reopened.p250 Sidebar top leftCamping Daino – although this is a good campsite there can be some noise disturbance from the nearby quarry and passing road traffic.p252 RIVA 2The descent (path 426) is now named Sentiero del Rampin, and the danger sign has been removed. It remains unpleasant, until reaching the good path lower down.p266 RIVA 7On the way up, the newish small building (after Capanna S. Barbara) is now a semi-ruined shell.
TRENT 7: VF Segata, M. Bondone
This is currently closed for maintenance, but there is no information to indicate how long this will take.
p266 (final paragraph) RIVA 7: Ferrata del Centenario SAT
Please note that 100 metres after Capanna S. Barbara you take the right turn to the ferrata, reached in a few minutes from here. Note, this is before Chiesetta S. Barbara which you reach via the left fork and which is on the return loop of path 404.
ROVER 3: M. Cornetto
This is closed following rockfall. Since there is apparently further unstable rock, it is difficult to say how long the closure will be in place. The route has a locally used name 'Vaio Stretto'.
ROVER 4: M. Albano
Closed due to rockfalls on site. Cables were cut in the beginning and in the end of the route. Community decided to close the route..
p109 AGORD 6: VF Canalone
The second sidebar can now be ignored, as the closure notice has been lifted.
p178 BREN 1
“Descent of Vedretta di Tucket to Rif. Tuckett” – New sidebar at the top left of the page: “New cabling from Vedretta di Tucket on Sentiero Dallagiacoma (315) down to Rif. Tuckett”
p187 BREN 5
New sidebar at the bottom of the page: “Note, at the end of the ferrata turn left up the glacier to the col which leads down to Rif. Pedrotti.”
Previous print runs
For revisions relevant to the 2008 print run of this guide, please click here.
For revisions relevant to the 2005 print run of this guide, please click here.
For revisions relevant to the 2003 print run of this guide, please click here.
'You could never accuse it of shying away from niche sports. In fact Cicerone Press appears to take pride in publishing books that only those already passionate about a specific sport or place are likely to buy.
This time, though, it’s appealing to a growing fraternity. Via ferratas, especially in the Italian Dolomites, are becoming increasingly popular as walkers push their personal limits in a different mountain playground. That, and the availability of cheap flights to airports feeding the Dolomites, have helped push via ferrata to the fore. For those who haven’t experienced the heart-pumping exhilaration of the via ferrata network, they are protected routes in rocky mountain ranges, using fixed cables, ladders and bridges. They allow the walker to access places usually reserved for rock climbers and provide a unique way to enjoy the breath-taking beauty and exposure of the mountains.
Until now the only decent guidebook has been Cicerone’s Scrambles in the Dolomites. This suffered from being out of date (first published in 1982) and translated from German (although this has also helped fill long hours in huts, as people gather round to laugh at the phraseology).
Smith and Fletcher’s version, covering the North, Central and East Dolomites, gains considerable points by originating in English. It has an excellent introduction with comprehensive information on equipment, weather, maps, accommodation options and so on. In fact, if I’d had this book prior to my first trip to the Dolomites I would have saved a fortune on phone calls to Italy.
They’ve also created a new two-stage grading system incorporating both difficulty of the route and seriousness of the mountain situation. Cross-referencing back to routes that I know, I’d say this is accurate and easy to follow.
The book includes 75 routes in a fairly tight geographical area, including Cortina, Marmolada and Val di Fassa. They’re well described with good colour photography and clear sketch maps. Some are straight-forward walking routes, others go up to the highest level of via ferrata. But the authors have opted to cluster the routes according to valley base rather than mountain groupings and have not referred to the mountain ranges in either text or maps. An index of mountain groups is some compensation but unless you have a local map in front of you, this isn’t much help. Given that there are two identical locator maps in the book showing numbered routes relative to each other, converting one of these to show mountain groups as well as towns would have made things easier to follow.
VOLUME TWO will complete the coverage of the Dolomites. It will include the famous Brenta group as well as the southern Dolomites, with the stunning Paia group being particularly well represented. Besides the honeypot via ferrata, this volume will break new ground in covering some of the short-duration, off-beat routes near Lake Garda. These are often real gems, and make this volume essential reading for walkers on a lake-based holiday who need a dose of adrenaline, stunning scenery and physical challenge.
(Judy Armstrong, TGO)
John Smith has been walking and climbing mountains around the world for around 30 years. He has a passion for the area and Via Ferratas, and this volume is the result of many enjoyable days in the Dolomites. Graham Fletcher started climbing over 30 years ago. After a busy professional career he took early retirement and has now returned to climbing, moving first to the west coast of Ireland, then to the Dolomites, and now back to the UK for the time being.View Guidebooks by Graham Fletcher
Although John has a great love of travel, walking and climbing mountains around the world, he moved to Leeds over 30 years ago and has a firmly rooted base in beautiful Wharfedale in Yorkshire.View Guidebooks by John Smith
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