Ken Roberts - - Climbing
VF Col Rodella -- new VF up in mountains
10sept - [ map ]
Rodella is in the Dolomites near the Sella pass between Canazei + Selva: labeled SELVA6 in the new edition of the Smith + Fletcher guidebook volume 1, difficulty rating 3A -- difficulty C in at least one of the German-language guidebooks. Key advantages for us were easy access from the Campitello lift, great views, and well-protected climbing on sound rock. Downside is that it's short.
"Col" in the name is to taken in the Italian sense of colle meaning a hill - (not the English meaning of a mountain pass.)
If they added a couple more metal holds in one or two places, it might be the best "starter" climb in the Dolomites - (It has roughly as much climbing as Cirspitze / Piz da Cir V nearby, but without the ugly descent gully).
There's one move that seemed a bit overhanging. We solved that by bringing a short rope and belay device, so I set up a belay off one of the anchor pegs and gave Sharon some tension on the rope to get thru that. There were a couple of other short steep sections, but for those she could substitute her climbing skill for strength, so she felt no need for a belay.
I found lots of places where I could climb "free" with my hands directly on the rock using the cable only for protection -- with some "slab" sections not yet polished. But since we stayed roped together the whole time (it was Sharon's first difficulty level 3 climb), I was focused much more on managing the rope and coordinating closely with her moves.
We were staying down in the beautiful wide Adige valley / Etschtal, and we drove over Passo Costalunga / Karerpass -- but returned by the main Val di Fassa road SS48 and found that it had new tunnels to bypass more of the villages, so much faster + easier than it used to be. We parked at the Campitello di Fassa bottom station for the Col Rodella lift -- GPS lat/long = approx (N46.4749 E11.7454).
Followed the Smith + Fletcher directions -- correct and helpful, except now it's much easier since the access trail has become well-trodden, and there was a ribbon flag marking a good place to put on our via ferrata equipment, around (N46.4945 E11.7487), though perhaps the actual climbing starts more like (N46.4946 E11.7487).
Climb finishes (N46.4954 E11.7482) at a terrace restaurant with big views in all directions. Sharon wanted to celebrate with a snack, but service was so slow that we gave up and just walked back down the obvious trail (a bit steep, but mostly smooth) to Refuge des Alpes (N46.4966 E11.7512), then an obvious level walk to the Col Rodella lift top station (N46.4955 E11.7513).
Then we had plenty of time for another via ferrata in the afternoon.
Sharon and I had a very fun time there on a weekend afternoon, my second time, and I hope more times to come. It's a special place -- popular with good reason -- still people starting out at 16:00 on a weekend afternoon.
Another advantage is that a nice wide asphalt road connects between the top and bottom, which offers creative possibilties for avoiding down-walking, which is hard on some people's knees + ankles. Andrew mentions using two cars. Another is a car and a bicycle. What we did is for Sharon to have a snack and read a book at a picnic table by the castle, while I ran down some trails back to the car, then drove up to retrieve her.
Note that it is not simple to follow the trails down -- don't count on making it without the careful description in the Fletcher + Smith guidebook (sorry I didn't have my GPS with me on the actual climb). Or you could walk/run down the road, but that would be much longer, unless with bicycle.
Difficulty of the climb is controversial: Fletcher + Smith vol 2 says its 4A, Andrew on this website says more like 2A. One of the German-language guidebooks says it's D (on a scale off A to E), another says it's only C.
My assessment from doing it twice and watching other people: It seemed like no problem to me. But soon after the start of the climb, Sharon and I were held up by a loud conversation in Italian. After five or ten minutes, a young woman appeared above and indicated she wanted to climb down in retreat (not so fun on the polished rock). So at least somebody thought there was some special difficulty in this route.
Since she had seen the photos and talked with me, Sharon had trained with special hanging exercises about twice a week for a month-and-a-half before our trip, so she was able to make it thru -- also figuring out some tricks for resting. Warning: If you're not tall it can be difficult to make a "cows tail" sling reach the cable in some critical places, so might be good to arrange to bring a special slightly longer resting sling for this route.
2nd Warning: There isn't much that a stronger partner can do to help, even if bring a rope. And it's not clear how to "rescue" a weaker climber if they ran out of strength and fell and was left hanging down below the cable.
Our plan (other than special training in advance) was that if Sharon didn't feel confident seeing the first steep traverse section (where the Italian woman was stopped), we would immediately give up and go try VF Colodri instead.
btw Sharon also found a strenuous move on the upper gorge section -- to get up onto a first rung kinda high off the ground. In this case perhaps a stronger partner could help by giving a "boost" (while standing with both feet in the water).
Parking: Lots of people have been using a different parking area which is a little closer to the bottom of the climb: GPS lat/long approx (N45.9716 E10.9336) -- though there's some other parking areas nearby a little further up the hill. Parking by the castle near the top - approx (N45.9704 E10.9402).
10sept - [ map ]
Another delightful gorge route, TRENT3 in the Fletcher + Smith vol 2 guidebook, difficulty 5B (difficulty rating D in the modern German guidebooks). Fun climb, seemed like everybody else out that Friday afternoon were locals enjoying it yet again (one of them without benefit of a via ferrata kit).
Lots of interesting "free" moves with hands + feet directly on the rock (if confident at 5b or 5c), using the cable only for protection, and avoiding many of the metal pegs. But also at least one substantial steep maybe overhanging section where I was surely hauling on the cable. Much of the rock is polished (I guess from the flow of water, if not the feet of climbers). But sometimes there are amazing holds in pockets or even "handles" in the rock. Fun to discover that on an overhanging traverse when at first sight it looked for sure like I would need to hang on the cable.
I'll gladly do it again. But next time I hope with some water flowing. Funny because the guidebooks rightly warn about the problem of too much water. But in early September there was no water (could it be that the Italian word "secco" means "dry"?) -- perhaps easier for free climbing, but would have magical with the sound of water flowing.
I recall the Fletcher + Smith guidebook warning about a couple of unprotected crossings of the creek -- so I brought a short rope. This time no issue for me, because no water. I guess with a substantial flow of water there would be the danger of slipping and getting swept downstream into a nasty collision with a rock or something. So perhaps in that case I could loop the rope around a cable anchor on one side of the creek, belay myself while crossing (with a belay device or Munter hitch), then after making it across safely, retrieve the rope by pulling on end.
The trail down is rather steep, and exposed in places with cables. Some might want to keep their via ferrata kit on.
Parking: There's a big lot by the restaurant (N46.2175 E11.1528) across the road from the approach trail. I assume that's privately owned. Seemed like lots of people (though not me) parked there -- I don't know if they asked the restaurant managers first, since I only saw them depart. In the past some have suggested parking in a "layby" across the road from the restaurant -- but now that's become nicely-designed bus stop. So I suggest coming prepared to have a snack at the restaurant before the climb and having enough Italian or German to ask if it's OK to park there -- or get more creative about finding another legal place to park.
10sept - [ map ]
see also recent trip report a year later
This route is on a 3000-meter mountain (Tofana de Mezzo near Cortina) at difficulty level 5 in the Smith - Fletcher guidebook volume 1 (CORT11), very helpful to me as usual, difficulty D in at least one of the German-language guidebooks.
I liked Punta Anna a lot -- focus on interesting moves directly on rock in a variety of interesting rock situations.
Lots more good details + photos about this one already on Andrew's website. I much liked Andrew's idea of taking the cable-car down, but I only had just arrived in Italy in a rush, and had not checked some critical details ahead. A late-night reconnoiter suggested that the chairlift up to Rfg Pomedes might not be operating this late in September, so instead I parked at Rfg Dibona.
Some good news: The lower part of the road up to Rfg Dibona is now paved. The bad news is that there's often a sharp 15cm drop-off from the edge of the asphalt to the ground -- so need to be very careful negotiating for space with oncoming vehicles. (Also note that when coming up from Cortina on the SS48, it's a Right turn at km 113.8, not a left.)
Warned about the length of the route, I started before dawn. Straightforward hike on trail 421 up to Rfg Pomedes -- took a break there -- seemed nice, would have been glad to take the lift up the afternoon before and spent the night there.
Wonderful climbing free directly on the rock (though I did grab the cable for aid on a couple of the moves). Then after the top of Punta Anna I started encountering snow. Lost the route once because the red paint marks were buried. My feet started getting wet from walking in the snow. As I reached the Torri Gianni wind gap, I was knee-deep in snow and my fingers were freezing from freeing the cable from underneath the snow. Crossing the gap looked a bit questionable with the loose slopes on both sides covered by fresh snow -- protection? by an old rope. And it was clear from watching for a couple of hours that the summit cable-car was not operating. Though I was eager to try the optional tower ascent and the exposed traverse just ahead, the thought of having to come back over the same gap just didn't work for me.
So I turned around and went back, found the "escape" trail marked toward Sentiero Olivieri, followed that down in mushy snow (hoping I would not slip and sprain an ankle) -- glad I wasn't doing it even later in the day. Then reached the actual Sentiero Olivieri route, mostly dry (though my feet were still plenty soaked) with some welcome cable sections, back to Rfg Pomedes, then trail 421 down to Rfg Dibona and my car.
A great route even without going to the summit. Hope to do it again -- though next time I'll first check what days the lifts are running -- (although it's an advantage for my style of free climbing with hands on rock for there to be fewer people so I can work out the moves without feeling rushed).
Some (approximate) latitude/longitude waypoints for GPS navigation:
10sept - [ map ]
Another route on 3000-meter mountain (Piz Boé by Passo Pordoi) at difficulty level 5 in the Smith - Fletcher guidebook volume 1 (ARAB1), difficulty D in at least one of the German-language guidebooks.
Though I did it in the afternoon after backing off from Punta Anna, this routes had a completely different character: Cesare Piazetta is a "sport" ferrata that somehow found its way into the high mountains, lots of cable-hauling in the hard part.
Starts near Passo Pordoi, on the road between Canazei and Arabba. South-facing, so I dared to hope I could do it despite the snow. Marmolada was plastered with bright white. On some north-facing slopes there was snow on the grass down to 2000m. Wonderful for the views that day.
My problem with this route is that the hard part is a "sport" climb, but most of the rest is easier, with lots of hiking below and above. If it's going to be a sport climb, then let's have lots of that (e.g. Rino Pisetta). If it's supposed to be a pretty mountain walk, then let's focus on that. On the other hand, big plus for me: Being able to take the lift back down.
This was my first climb with lots of cable-hauling. I tried to find some hand-holds, but most were sloping -- not positive enough for my level of free rock-climbing ability on such a steep wall. The upside was that I discovered how fast I could climb by grabbing the cable. Which turned out to be important, since I made it it to the top-station of the lift with only 15 minutes to spare.
The idea of Smith + Fletcher of parking near the mausoleum was excellent -- though a bit tricky to find the road. There is now marked parking specifically for the via ferrata before reaching the mausoleum. Then it's a significant hike up to the start of the VF.
Funny thing was when I arrived at the base of the wall, there was a party of about ten English-speakers preparing to start climbing. So I had a full audience for my first try at steep cable-hauling. When I reached the bridge I looked down and there were three of them still waiting to start.
The hut at the top of the peak was nice, the hike down and across the plateau was spectacular with fresh snow -- fortunately only patches were starting to re-freeze after the heat of the day. Sections well-trodden by hikers were getting slick.
Great mountain outing -- not sure I need to do the strenuous climbing again.
Some (approximate) latitude/longitude waypoints for GPS navigation:
10sept - [ map ]
This VF route is between Lake Garda and Trento, at technical difficulty 5 in the Fletcher + Smith volume 2 guidebook - (RIVA1), which was very helpful for me being able doing it, rated E in at least one of the German-language guidebooks
I liked it -- interesting climbing, good scenery. It was hard. I had the good fortune to join up with a couple visiting from Munich which made it even more fun.
The mountain it climbs looks pretty impressive, it's called either Dain Picol or Monte Garsole, around 970m.
Rino Pisetta has a new parking place: latitude/longitude = approx (N46.0475 E10.9513), south of the parking given in most guidebooks. If coming from the north on the SS45bis (from Trento), after passing by Castel Toblino and driving alongside the lake, enter the town of Sarche (go past the old parking spot) to the intersection with the SS237. The SS45bis goes left toward Riva del Garda and the SS237 goes right toward Tione and other places. Take the right, then immediately turn right into a driveway (sign for via ferrata parking) and go past some sort of school to some sort of indoor bocce place.
Of course the hiking approach to the VF climb has also changed. Here's how it worked for me: From the back of the parking, go right (northeast) a short ways flat, then turn left and go up + up. A little ways right find an obvious trail going up. This is not the way to the VF (I think it goes instead to some famous free rock climb). Instead traverse roughly level northeast, trail goes down a little, gets more overgrown, then meet an obvious track going up. Soon red-paint arrows -- this led us to the VF climb.
Difficulty: Using the Fletcher + Smith scale of difficulty 1-5, I had recently done Punta Anna (on Tofana) and Cesare Piazzeta (on Piz Boe), both rated difficulty 5. By comparison, I'd say that Rino Pisetta is 6+, based on the technical difficulty of the moves. It has moves and sections significantly more difficult than those high-mountain climbs, and more of those moves. Really I wouldn't recommend Rino Pisetta to anybody who doesn't have solid technical free rock-climbing experience.
Polished rock? Didn't seem like a significant factor in the difficulty of the route -- but both the Munich climbers and I used shoes with high-friction climbing rubber, and it was a dry sunny day.
Descent: Getting back down. Fletcher + Smith guidebook has a complicated description. At least one of the German-language guidebooks has a simpler description of a more direct route. When the two Munich climbers and I started down, seemed to me there were lots of options with unmarked trails. We reached a paved road on the outskirts of the village of Ranzo, with a sign for "Sarche". They had a detailed mountain bike map and decided to go back up a ways and look for the more direct route.
I instead continued roughly northeast on the paved road. Then saw a likely right turn toward the valley with a sign the said not Sarche. So I continued past some houses, expecting to find the sign for the correct turn for Sarche -- but even my simpler way wasn't simple. Then my road starting going up a little (had I missed the turn?). But then I saw a coarsely paved narrow road going down to the right, so I decided to try that. It went down and down, got steep in places, was marked for bikes. Came out by Castel Toblino (I think less than 2 km from my car). Then a nice path along the lake into the village of Sarche and my car. Since I trained for this trip by doing some distance running, it was pretty fast -- so I still had time for another via ferrata in the afternoon.
Later I heard from the Munich climbers that they did not found a good direct path, ended up coming down the longer way to the castle. So maybe it's worth having the detailed directions from Fletcher + Smith guidebook (though it sounded less direct than what was proposed in German-language guidebook). Or spot bike or second car at the parking for Castel Toblino (? or even up at the village of Ronza? I have no idea how to get there or what parking there is).
10sept - [ map ]
This VF route is between Lake Garda and Trento, at technical difficulty 5 in the Fletcher + Smith volume 2 guidebook (TRENT7) which was very helpful for me being able doing it, rated D/E in at least one of the German-language guidebooks.
I found this at least as hard as Rino Pisetta in technical difficulty of the moves, but didn't find the moves as interesting. But the views and setting make it a fine mountain outing - (and the same loop of the three Monte Bondone peaks can be done with a much easier via ferrata.)
Giulio Segata is on Monte Bondone, specifically on its middle peak, Doss d'Abramo (2140m). I parked near Viote around lat/long = (N46.0178 E11.0459), because that's where the access road was gated. I couldn't find signs for the 607 hiking trail in the uphill direction, so I headed up on a trail a bit farther west up to Bocca de Vaiona, which met the 607 trail later around 1820m -- pleasant enough even if a bit longer.
Via Ferrata starts by climbing up thru a steep tube in the rock, then more steep to a broad ledge which permits an escape. What comes next is harder. I felt one section was harder than Rino Pisetta because I found it more difficult to find footholds.
Then it finished up thru another rock tube, which oddly is equipped with lots of artificial pegs for footholds - (so then why didn't the designers put more pegs on the crux section?). Then I finished by descending the 636 trail, nice views going along a ridge on some pink stone. But then steep down into the valley which I did not enjoy on a slightly wet trail (which did not seem to have clear signs or easy to follow further north near its start). Next time I might do the loop of the three peaks in reverse so I could make a gentler descent on the 607, then around 1820m turn left to go further west on another gentler longer (numbered) trail that goes by way of the Bocca di Vaione. Advantages of this direction: (a) descent not so steep, (b) sequences the three peaks from low to high, (c) by saving Monte Cornetto until after the VF climb (if I did the hard VF next time -- if so, then I would descend the normal trail from Doss d'Abramo toward Cornetto), allows me to know if I have time for the side trip to the summit of the highest peak Cornetto.
10sept - [ map ]
This one is ROVER6 in the Fletcher + Smith guidebook second volume, difficulty 2C. In the AlpinVerlag.at guidebook it's B/C (on a scale of A to E).
Sharon and I didn't actually get to do it when we drove there, because it we didn't get hoped-for avoidance of the rain. Though much of the climb is protected from the rain by a giant natural "roof", not all the hard sections are sheltered.
Instead I checked out places to park and the approach hike. Here's what I remember . . .
driving + parking
Typically people get to the climb by taking the Avio exit from the autostrada A22, then west up the Valle dei Molini road. One possible parking place we saw on that road, about (N45.7478 E10.9143) was far below the climb -- not sure what the benefit of parking there would be, other than minimizing driving time and fuel. (Or possibly if someone in the party really hated down-walking, could drop them off here, then park the car (or leave a bicycle) up near the Passo for them to finish their day there -- but that's a lot of extra uphill work.)
Further up the Valle dei Molini road, we took a left turn onto a road toward Madonne della Neve, which started with some steep sharp switchback turns. It reaches a high point at Passo Pozza di Cola (? or is it "della Cola"?) around (N45.7585 E10.8958). There's a dirt road down roughly east from there which might lead to the trail between the top of the climb and Madonna della Neve. So that might be another place to park to minimize driving. Also it avoids driving the narrow-ish curvy road down toward Madonna della Neve. Problem is there's not many parking spaces around that Passo, but we did see more than one.
Soon southwest of the Passo around (N45.7542 E10.8928) we made a left turn to drive toward Madonna della Neve on a narrow-ish curvy road -- did not seem like it would be easy in some places to negotiate with an oncoming vehicle. Then we reached another junction around (N45.7390 E10.8872) where we turned left.
We immediately reached an intersection about (N45.7392 E10.8876) with a dirt road making a left turn roughly north, with a sign for Madonna della Neve. This road looked pretty narrow, so we decided not to try it. But some guidebooks seem to say that it leads to a parking area -- which could be a good idea, since legal parking was otherwise not so easy to find. But the road we were on continued wider on asphalt, while the left turn was narrow and dirt. So we never did check out the road or parking by Madonna della Neve, and instead checked out the paved road continuing east.
It curved around, and then the pavement ended around (N45.7375 E10.8880), after that it was dirt. So I think the way for me to minimize down-walking for Sharon would be to drop her off where the pavement ends, then drive back and park somewhere around the Passo Pozza di Cola, then walk/run down to meet her. If done early in the morning, that might reduce the chance of encountering an oncoming vehicle on that narrow-ish curvy section of road.
From the end of the paved road, I walked down routhly southeast, and soon reached a junction at about (N45.7365 E10.8896), which had a marker sign for trail 652. I turned left on that, walked down to junction with sign for the 661 and 652 trails at about (N45.7351 E10.8889). I passed by that by bearing Left -- trail 652 continued at first moderate, then down steep . . . to a junction with 685 around (N45.7432 E10.8975) I turned Left, soon steeper, to another junction, with no sign, around (N45.7450 E10.8978). Here I turned left and followed blue paint markings to a junction with sign at about (N45.7453 E10.8979).
Here I turned left onto a trail identified as 685, marked with red paint blazes. After this I followed the red-blazed marked trail, roughly NNE. It starts going down a little further, with a possible brief side trip west to see a waterfall. Then a long traverse a roughly the same level, then climbs up (with a little scrambling on rock), finally across a little sub-ridge and down on a dirty ledge under a giant roof to the base of the climb. The key things for this trail are (a) keep looking for red dots; (b) if you find yourself not seeing red paint blazes or doing something which seems pretty strenous -- then you've likely gotten off route. The correct path starts NNE, then NE, crosses a couple of creeks, finally N.
It reaches the bottom start of the climb at about (N45.7529 E10.9050).
Then I hiked back out the same way. I didn't try to find the top + finish of the climb.
10sept - [ map ]
This one is TRENT2 in the Fletcher + Smith guidebook second volume, difficulty 2B. In the AlpinVerlag.at guidebook it's C (on a scale of A to E).
I haven't actually done it. I mention it because it's another climb with the possibility of avoiding down-walking by means of a two-car shuttle or a car+bike shuttle. I did check out the top and bottom, and there's nice asphalt road, mostly wide, connecting pretty close to both ends.
GPS lat/long approx:
Car+Bike shuttle: Note that the road overall is pretty steep, and some sections are very steep. Since the main bicycle for Sharon + me is a tandem, that road seems too long and steep for us to ride down comfortably. For a single bike, make sure your brakes are in good order, perhaps stop partway down and check how hot the rims are getting (unless you have disc brakes).
Another idea is for me to hike down the trail while Sharon waits at the top with a snack and a book. But then it's still a long ways from the bottom of the trail to the VF parking -- better if I had a bike spotted in Magre / Maigre?
Still another idea is for me to down-climb the via ferrata to retreive the car, then drive up the road to pick up Sharon -- save her knees + ankles from the impact of down-walking.
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")
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escalade escalades steig steigen
via ferrata: klettersteig cable-protected