Ken Roberts - - Bicycling

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VF via ferrata France: Savoie

10aug-sept : see more current version

Plan du Bouc at Champagny-en-Vanoise

Both routes are very artificial (lots of steel rungs + foot "pedals" + hand-rails). Both have somewhat dirty rock (from grassy sections above and between the rock sections. On both routes I was able to find interesting climbing on rock by skipping the artificial holds. Main complaint is that I wish there was more of the serious climbing, and less of the steep hiking.

Don't do either route soon after a rain: get lots of mud  on soles of shoes.

Falaise traverse PD route doesn't have much real climbing: after a long steep approach hike, there's a little climbing, then a little more, than a long long traverse under intimidating cliffs, then a little climb to the junction. But what little climbing it has is somewhat interesting if skip most of the artificial holds. Better to use it as a descent route (but make sure you know how to find its upper end -- see below).

Arete AD route has an interesting section on a narrow arete. Some vertical sections with  rung steps. Interesting climbing on rock if skip many of the artificial holds. I was able to take some of the near-vertical sections "Italian" style: grabbing the cable and laybacking against it to press my feet against the rock for better friction (and mostly avoid using the artificial footholds). Too bad the interesting climbing couldn't have gone on longer.

option I like is to climb up the Arete route and go down the Falaise traverse route (skip the shared section above) -- approach trail is a steep descent: consider bringing hiking poles.

What I actually did was climb up the Arete route, then (missed finding the top of the Falaise-traverse route) up some of the shared section to a hiking trail, took that down toward the village, then  at a junction took an unmarked trail more directly down (steep descent: consider bringing hiking poles.) to a village closer to the Parking.

tricky point is that junction of the two VF routes is not marked, nor does the guidebook say how to identify it. If climbing up the falaise PD route, the tree is very obvious because the trail goes right over one of its routes. If climbing up the arete AD route, the junction is at a big tree to the side of an angled turn in the trail. The tree has a steel cable looped around it. If you reach a ladder, you've gone little too high (but you're close, since ladder can be seen from the route junction).

Seemed like two mistakes in the descriptive sign by the parking area as of August 2010. So let me say that, no matter what the sign seems to say, the Arete difficulty AD is on the left looking up from the parking lot, and the Falaise-traverse difficulty PD is to the right looking up. Also no matter what the sign says, the Arete VF climb has difficulty AD. Maybe somebody could argue that it's not as hard as some of the other AD climbs (e.g. les Bettieres), but there is no option to do the Arete and keep the difficulty as low as PD or PD+.

GPS Parking = (N45.45895 E6.72130) = (45.45895,6.72130)

cable length

I was noticing on all the climbs in France, that they tend to use more length of cable between each pair of adjacent anchor points. On steep terrain this seems safer in a fall, because the impact comes more on the cable (hanging below the anchor peg) than on the anchor peg itself -- therefore a little softer, and more what the self-belay carabiners are designer for: less likely to break the carabiner.

But on a horizontal traverse the problem with more cable length is that if you do fall, you fall farther below the route than if the cable were tigher between each pair of anchors. And there isn't much impact on the anchors on horizontal traverse anyway. I was noticing the problem of falling below the route on the Champagny ferrata because there's lots of traversing, including some "airy" sections were the fall is vertical or even a bit overhanging. I imagine if I fell I could somehow pull myself back up to the route, but it was not so obvious that a less-strong climber near their limit at difficulty PD, if they fell to hanging partly in the air below the route, could pull themselves back up.

Also generally with longer cable it's a bit more difficult to climb "Italian" style, holding onto the cable instead of the hand-holds and foot-holds. But of course that's why in France they provide artificial holds like rungs and foot "pedals" and hand rails -- so there's no need to pull on the cable. But one advantage of the "Italian" style (other than being more interesting climbing) is that it's a little faster because the hand holding on the cable also controls the two carabiners on the cable, so it's quicker to re-clip them when reach the next anchor, and less bother with them getting tangled with feet if hanging below. 

Cascade de la Fraiche at Pralognan-la-Vanoise

Exciting, intimidating/exposed, next to a noisy waterfall. Very artificial, with few opportunities to use "natural" holds (because they're weren't many). Some overhanging sections  (holds reasonably close together, so the arm-strenuous part was clipping the protection). I crossed the monkey bridge, and finished on the regular route. Climbing about as interesting as it could be given the artificiality (and fortunate lack of desire more the holds farther apart).

Climb starts a few switchbacks up the trail, above a little above a wooden bridge. Its top is also near wooden bridge -- after crossing bridge, descend wide hiking trail.

GPS Parking: various near (N45.37864 E6.72303) = (45.37864,6.72303)

les Bettieres at Peisey-Nancroix

Variety of interesting climbing situations, pleasant pretty setting with views of nearby peaks with snow remaining. Very artificial, but on the lower PD section I found opportunities to move on rock by skipping holds. Rock sometimes a bit dirty, but that didn't interfere with actually doing the climb.

AD section was pretty near vertical, and kind of sustained. Also just after the monkey bridge there was an short overhanging section going diagonally downward. Seemed a bit harder than some other AD, perhaps call it AD+.

Final D section  has an intimidating but short overhang (holds reasonably close together, so the arm-strenuous part was clipping the protection) -- then the shortest descent started with substantial section steep, steel-cable-protected + dirty, leading to a steep hiking trail down much longer the rest of the way. (I guess that cable-protected descent section could have been avoided by instead hiking up higher to reach the hiking trail coming down from the Refuge Mont Pourri, but that would have been much longer.) -- Steep descent: consider bringing hiking poles.

GPS Parking = (N45.51892 E6.80268) = (45.51892,6.80268)

P'tchi by Grotte Carret near St Jean d'Arvey

Very sustained vertical or slightly overhanging sections, including long traverses (so the amount of muscular work is much more than would be expected from the total vertical gain. Seemed to me it should be rated at least D, compared to the other VF climbs I've done in Savoie. Also I did not like that I was working so hard on the long traverse sections -- because if I'm working on a climb, I want to be moving upward, not sideways. The environment of the P'tchi climb is not so varied + interesting on those long traverses: most is on a vertical (or slightly overhanging) wall -- does not get into any "grotto", except perhaps a short section at the end. (Perhaps the other route gets into more interesting spaces). The traverses have lots of exposure, air under the feet, but after a while it seemed like just the same exposure to me.

There are two cable-protected routes which start near the Grotte Carret: The one to the right (east) is called "P'tchi" and officially rated AD+. The other to the left (west) is called "Grotte Carret" and rated ED. (One guidebook says there is also an easier route with a ladder and a cable-protected section west from Grotte Carret, closer to Croix du Nivolet, which they rate PD -- I suspect the two harder routes did not exist when the guidebook was written.)

P'tchi seemed to me to have sections as hard as the hard sections on Cascade de la Fraiche at Pralognan (often rated D), but much longer than Fraiche. It has no subsection as hard as the short D-rated section at the top of les Bettieres at Nancroix, but overall much more strenuous. And P'tchi is much more strenuous than the AD section of les Bettieres or the AD climb by Champagny-en-Vanoise.

The start is NNE from St Jean d'Arvey by way of Lovettaz (N45.59689 E5.96980), or roughly west from Col de la Doria, with higher parking (N45.61154 E5.99370) reached from Les Deserts. I started by hiking south from the second parking to Col de la Doria (N45.60673 E5.98921), then down west, then up roughly north with some zig-zagging to the bottom of the  VF climb around roughly (N45.60945 E5.97940).

A way to do it with less down-walking would be to spot a bicycle at the higher parking, then drive down to Lovettaz and hike up to the climb from parking there, then ride bike back down after the climb.

Roc du Vent near Beaufort

a.k.a. Rocher du Vent

Haven't done it, but I've heard some happy reports from those who have. Usually rated AD.

Roc du Vent near Beaufort

a.k.a. Rocher du Vent

Haven't done it, but I've heard some happy reports from those who have. Usually rated AD.

VF climbs - alternate names + references northeast Italy

10jly : see more current version

Many via ferrata climbs are in a German-language area of Italy called Südtirol, so the climbs and mountain peaks often have different German and Italian names, which makes it confusing to bring together helpful information from different maps and guidebooks. This list just tries to bring some of those together. (Some places might also have names in a third language, Ladin, but I leave it to someone else to tie in those.)

Of course the German names often go with the word "klettersteig" and the Italian names are together with the words "via ferrata" or "sentiero attrezzato" or something.

Often it's much easier to find a climb when you know what mountain group it's in, so I've include that in parentheses.

Of course the German names often are followed by the word "gruppe" (e.g. "Palagruppe", "Schiara-Gruppe") and the Italian names are often preceded by the word "gruppo" (e.g. "Gruppo delle Pale", "Gruppo di Fanes", "Gruppo del Sella") 

  • Günther-Messner-Steig | Gunter Messner path (Puez | Odle | Geisler)

  • Heiligkreuzkofel-steig + Zehner-Ferrata | Zehnerspitze | Monte Cavallo | Cima Dieci (Fanes)

  • Conturines-steig | Conturinesspitze | Piz de les Conturines | Tru Dolomieu (Fanes)

  • Sass Rigais  (Puez | Odle | Geisler)

  • Piz Duledes | Piz Duleda | Nives Schartensteig  (Puez | Odle | Geisler)

  • Oskar Schuster | Oscar Schuster | Plattkofel | Sass Piatto (Sasso Lungo | Langkofel)

  • Pössnecker | Pößnecker | Mesules (Sella | Selle)

  • Grosse Cirspitze | Grosse Tschierspitze | Gran Cir (Puez | Odle | Geisler)

  • Kleine Cirspitze | Tschierspitze V | Piz da Cir V (Puez | Odle | Geisler)

  • Pisciadu | Pisciadù | Brigata Tridentina (Sella | Selle)

  • Boeseekofel | Boèseekofel | Piz da Lech (Sella | Selle)

  • delle Trincee | d'Trincee | La Mesola (Marmolada)

  • Laurenzi | Molignon | Molignonkamm (Sciliar | Rosengarten)

  • Maximilian | Roterdspitze | Massimilliano | Grande Dente di Terrarosa (Sciliar | Rosengarten)

  • Masare | Masaré (Rosengarten | Catinaccio)

  • Rotwand | Roda de Vael (Rosengarten | Catinaccio)

  • Kesselkogel | Catinaccio d'Antermoia (Rosengarten | Catinaccio)

  • Marmolada West ridge | Westgrat | Punta Penia (Marmolada)

  • Col dei Bos | della Piramide (Fanes)

  • Hauptmann-Bilgeri-Steig | Monte Piano | Monte Piana Nord (Sextener | Sesto)

  • Leiternsteig | Toblinger Knoten | VF delle Scalette | Torre Toblino (Sextener | Sesto)

  • Feldkurat-Hosp-steig | Curato Militare Hosp (Sextener | Sesto)

  • Paternkofel | Monte Paterno | De Luca / Innerkofler (Sextener | Sesto)

  • Gamsscharte | Schartenweg | Forcella del Camoscio | Sentiero delle Forcella (Sextener | Sesto)


  • Favogna (near Mezzocorona) | Fennberg (Etschtal | Nonsberg)

  • San Martino di Castrozza | Pala | Gruppo Pale di San Martino | Palagruppe

  • Stella Alpina | Monte Agner (Pale | Pala)

  • Schiara group (near Belluno)

more . . .

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