After a break of at least 5 years, we have returned to the Dolmonites to indulge in one of war's few positive achievements, the Via Ferrata. Started in World War I as a way to get troops up into the high mountain ridges to defend their countries, Via Ferrata means "Iron Way". These mountain paths use cables, pegs, ladders, bridges, tunnels, and sometimes even ziplines to go up and over cliffs and otherwise impossible terrain. Via Ferratas are now built around the world, but remain concentrated in the Alps. The old war routes are maintained and new routes are still being designed and installed. Best of all, the routes are free! Although some do require the use of a cable car to get up to them, therefore saving the legs...
|The route: up the waterfall in the right valley,descent on the left. Simples.|
Wearing a helmet, harness, gloves, and special via ferrata landyards, we arrived at the start of the cables, which were just a few minutes from our car. No wonder the route was popular! The line of climbers was already clambering up the side of the waterfall, but once on the route, everyone went mostly at the same pace and it didn't feel crowded.
The waterfall was coming down off of the Sella Massif, the heart of the Italian Dolomites. We had wonderful weather and the views were absolutely stunning. Slowly climbing the 700 vertical meters of the via ferrata gave us time to enjoy the views, and gasp as each new range came into view.
The climb got steadily more difficult (perhaps we were more tired), concluding with a vertical ladder and then a bridge across a deep, narrow chasm. Pisciadu Hut was waiting at the top, offering refreshing beverages to the steady stream of climbers. The gorgeous backdrop of a mountain lake and further high summits set off the hut perfectly, and we got to enjoy snatches of song from a large group of men worshiping at the lakeside.
The shortest descent back to our car was reputed to be very steep and not so nice, according to a family of Brits resting at the top. So we took a longer route home, dropping us into a scree valley home to a few mountain goats. A steep descent opened up into the valley and multiple gentle routes choices; Rob and I walked back to the car, and Sarah took the path to the campground. Once again the rain held off until we were all back in the tent.
A busy route but well worth the crowds. The scenery was absolutely stunning.
|Our campground is down there somewhere....|
|Rob leads the way|