Dolomites 2012! – Part 2

In Trip Reports by Howie SchwartzLeave a Comment

Evening light on the Fanes and Tofana Groups featuring 3 of our classic via ferratas 

Wynne and Jill on Day 1
“Can we please stop somewhere?” asked Kellie in a shaky voice as we drove up the pass on day 1 of our week long via ferrata mega tour in the Italian Dolomites. The trailhead was around 5 minutes away, but Heidi the taxi driver pulled over promptly, which was good because it turned out that Kellie was very suddenly and violently suffering some acute gastroenteritis of unknown origin picked up on her travels. It was fortunate that Taylor, (see Dolomites Part 1) stayed with us to join this via ferrata trip because he taught us the verb “bullfrogging” and because he had very fast reflexes when Kellie needed to quickly exit the van for another round on the way up to the pass. It was clear that she wasn’t going to join us on our adventure that day so Heidi took her back down to town while Jill, Wynne, Taylor, and I went up for an excellent warm-up day on the Ferrata Tridentina, a beautiful route that ascends a steep cliff alongside an alpine waterfall. During a nice lunch at the top at the Pisciadu Hut we learned that Kellie had a much different adventure that day. Her illness got worse on the way down and she took a ride in a helicopter to a nearby hospital. Fortunately she got much better quickly but the doctors kept her overnight to make sure her health was ok. She was given the go ahead by the doc to join us the next day. We were all very concerned but it is amazing that she was able to be so active less than 24 hours after being hospitalized, a testimony to her spirit and fortitude, as well as the modern Western medical system. We met her at the end of day 2 at the Lagazuoi Hut. On our way to meet her we hiked a scenic trail to the steep and technical Ferrata Tomaselli. We hiked past WWI ruins to the Lagazuoi Hut where we met Kellie and enjoyed a fantastic dinner and an epic sunset all together.
Wynne, Jill, & Taylor on Ferrata Tridentina
Via Ferratas (iron paths) are manufactured routes through the mountains equipped on steep and exposed walls with steel cables and anchors. With special equipment we can clip to the cables and keep ourselves attached to the mountainside. Most of the via ferrata in the Dolomites follow historic routes used by the Italian and Austrian militaries back in WWI. They have been modernized and maintained for the mountain adventurers that these routes now attract. Via ferratas are often incredibly scenic and can be long and physical, requiring several hours of activity. Moving on a via ferrata route feels like cross between steep hiking and rock climbing. The moves can be steep and sometimes difficult for the average hiker, but there is always the equivalent of a ladder rung where foot and hand holds are needed. Such an amazing way to tour the mountains!

Typical Dolomites snack stop
On this trip we planned to take on 6 classic via ferrata routes and a climb of Mt. Antelao in a week as we toured across the Dolomites. This was planned ambitiously and optimistically. Surprisingly, we had perfect sunny weather for every day! Although various physical and medical ailments conspired to drive us off our itinerary and impede our enjoyment, this group remained outstandingly flexible, strong, and high spirited. In addition to members of our team summitting Antelao, Tofana di Rozes, & Tofana di Mezzo, we also collectively managed to enjoy the following classic ferratas:

  •         Tridentina
  •         Tomaselli
  •         Lipella
  •         Pomedes
  •         Berti
  •         & Dibona

An awesome team!
This is in addition to a day spent by 4 of us to check out the town of Cortina for some great food and window shopping. We enjoyed spectacular sunsets and sunrises, incredible local food, cappuccinos galore, and more chocolate than any person should ingest in a week. We saw sheep, goats, and chamois. Tons of moving history in the mountains. The only raindrops we felt the whole week were a few minutes after reaching our destination on the last day as we sat down to one last cappuccino and torte together. This group was so easygoing and hilarious and I really enjoyed everyone’s company – many great laughs! Thanks Taylor, Jill, Wynne, and Kellie for a most memorable and incredible tour of the Dolomites 2012!

More photos:
SMG Guide Lyra Pierotti on the Ferrata Berti
Taylor on the Ferrata Olivieri

Jill approaches Ferrata Tomaselli
WWI bunker on Lagazuoi
Approach to the Ferrata Lipella
Ferrata Lipella starts in a war tunnel for 300 vertical meters
Kellie & Wynne take on the cables of the Ferrata Lipella
Beautiful day on Ferrata Pomedes
The sun deck near the summit of Tofana di Mezzo
Taking a break on a hike down to Cortina
Approach to the historic San Marco hut. Mt. Antelao behind
Jill high on the N ridge of Antelao, 2nd highest peak in the Dolomites
Sheep on the approach to Ferrata Berti
Civilized approach to the Lorenzi Hut
Lunch break at the shelter on Ferrata Dibona
WWI ruins on the ridge of Ferrata Dibona
The start of Ferrata Dibona
Jill in the balcony at the finish at Ospitale!

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