Ken Roberts - - Climbing

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Sharon + Ken around Cortina + Dolomites, Italy

08sept

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We did some bicycling and climbing based around Cortina d'Ampezzo. Here's the climbing:

climb via ferrata Innerkoffler / Deluca on Paternkofel / Monte Paterno

see photos | where on map

Nice excuse for pretty hiking from the Rifugio Auronzo around the east side of Tre Cimes di Lavaredo. Much of the climbing was in the dark up steep wooden stairs inside a tunnel. It was only short sections that I felt cable protection was needed for climbing outside on the rock. Some of the rock sections were good, but higher up some loose and dirty.

It was foggy and moist near the summit, so we did not do the short via ferrata up to the summit, and took the shorter way back toward Rifugio Lavaredo: descended the south gully, then climbed a little over Passportenscharte pass, then a ledge traverse on W side of Passportenkofel with some VF cable sections in some nice settings, finished with short cramped tunnel, and walk down to Paternsattel pass. Then it started raining (which confirmed our decision to keep it shorter), so we had lunch inside the Rifugio Lavaredo, then hiked back in the rain to parking by Rifugio Auronzo. 

climb via ferrata Marino Bianchi on Monte Cristallo

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Deserves its high reputation, we'd do it again. Lots of climbing on rock (very few ladders), interesting climbing, interesting route. We were in the clouds all day, so didn’t see many big views -- but the rock close by was interesting enough.

We parked at Rio Gere, took the lifts up to the top by Rifugio Lorenzi. The climb goes roughly east from there along the ridge up to Cima di Mezzo (3154m). Not many other parties, because it was mid-week in "shoulder" season. We let some other parties pass us.

Although the guidebook difficulty rating was 2, I thought there was one move sequence which was harder than 2. I did almost all the moves (except the ladders) purely on the rock, using the cable only for protection. I felt the American rock climbing difficulty for the rock moves would be mostly class 3, a little 4, and one move of low class 5.

Change since the guidebook: The top section now has a separate descent route -- which is easier than the climbing up route. (Ascending the descent route avoids the hardest climbing moves, but also some of the most interesting climbing.)

I also did the start of via ferrata Ivano Dibona as far as the summit of Cristallo d’Ampezzo (3008m). I felt it was not worthwhile to add after climbing Mariano Bianchi - (though perhaps the entire Ivano Dibona might still be worth doing as a separate climb). I felt the climbing up was straightforward, mostly class 3, perhaps one class 4 move near summit. But the separate descent route near the summit felt harder, solid class 4, perhaps lower 5 -- if I were bringing climbers without good experience, I'd want to have a rope to belay them going down.

climb via ferrata Piz da Lech in the Sella group

Ken climbed this one a few days after Sharon flew home. See photos | map

see also 2011 report

Interesting rock climbing moves, overall harder than the moves on other via ferrata climbs I've done. Pretty sustained steep. Much more climbing than on vf Vallon which is nearby. I liked the summit views.

I felt it was not well protected -- in the sense that the cable anchors tended to be placed above the tricky rock moves -- so I didn't get to clip above the next cable-to-rock anchor until after I made the hard move -- and while I was actually making the move I was exposed to a substantial fall. My feeling was that it was at best PG-rated compared with my experience leading pure rock climbs in North America.

I noticed that several other parties were using a rope for the first climber to belay the other following climbers -- seemed like I was not the only one who was concerned about the consequences of falling on this climb. I'd be willing to climb it again, but I'd bring a rope to belay anyone else with me who was not a strong experienced climber who was ready to take on the risk of a substantial fall.

My style is to try to make all my climbing moves with my hands and feet only on the rock, not grabbing the cable -- so perhaps it was scarier for me than for people who climbed grabbing the cable.

One guidebook said the cables on this climb were thinner than normal for via ferrata in Italy, but to me the cable thickness looked about the same as on other climbs -- so perhaps the cables were replaced since that guidebook was last updated.

I thought the descent was mostly OK, not just pure steep scree.

climb via ferrata Brigata Tridentina in the Sella group

Ken climbed this one a few days after Sharon flew home.  See photos | map

see also 2011 report

Great climb. Lotsa variety. Very spectacular. Much more climbing than other vf routes I've done so far in the Dolomites (more the size of the Alpspitze which Sharon + I did in Germany, but the Alpspitze was not as hard in difficulty of moves).

Difficulty of pure rock climbing moves (using cable only for protection) mostly American class 3-4. Also some steeper moves with steel rungs and ladders near the top, and at some steep ladders lower points (one or two with overhanging start to get onto ladder). I felt the climbing moves were mostly pretty well protected compared with my experience leading pure rock climbs in North America.

The steeper more strenuous moves near the top could be avoided by leaving the climb earlier and taking a path up to the hut, but I missed seeing the path -- so if you think you need that option, be sure to look carefully.

Rifugio F Cavazza al Pisciadu hut at the top was nice, I would definitely plan on getting a snack there -- but I was also glad I brought some food and water for along the way before getting to hut.

main drawback is the long descent. I went down the Val Setus. At first cable-protected on rock, and I kinda enjoyed "batmanning" down,  hanging out on the cable. Then a long ways walking down on scree - (unless I'd recently had lots of practice of steep downhill walking, I would bring collapsable hiking poles to help absorb the impacts)

Note that I did it in late season, but this is mostly north-facing, so in late spring / early summer it might have lots of ice and snow -- so I'd consider bringing ice axe and crampons next time.

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