After a day of rain, we were now treated to 3 stellar days of sunshine and high pressure. Jim and I amused ourselves during the bad weather by driving down to see Verona and Lake Garda, where it wasn't raining and was in fact sunny. Adrian and Andy had stayed back in the mountains and attempted another hike, resulting in a soaking even more cold and horrible than our previous one! They are tougher than I will ever be, living in the UK.
We rearranged a night's stay in a high mountain refugio due to the weather, then set off to San Martino for a via ferrata which was highly rated by a local mountain guide. A cable car up from town saved us a significant amount of hiking up to the approach, although we felt a little conspicuous...all the other people were wearing pants and the four of us shivered in our shorts and light sweaters.
The hike up to the start of the Ferrata was in the shade, but we were soon removing those sweaters anyway. It was going to be an amazing day. Adrian shot off ahead as usual and the rest of us started breathing hard on the approach to keep up with him! A vertical cliff towered above us and we knew we would soon be flies on the wall. The Via Ferrata cabling looked really new, was in great shape, and snaked its way around the rocks, through gullies and was fun without being too exposed. Jim would later pronounce this one his favorite of the trip.
I choose to be the caboose in the chain this time, and took my time on the route. Although it is possible to haul oneself up by gripping the metal cables and walking up, otherwise known as "wire-hanging", the rock on this route was really amazing. I wanted to get the feel of the rock and use the natural holds in the stone. Jim, Adrian and Andy disappeared above me as I slowly picked my way up the route, choosing my hand and footholds carefully. There was just the faintest color on the good holds from the passage of many hands over time, but the rock wasn't getting slick or worn down. With just the sound of the mountains in my ears, I made my way upwards.
Voices returned and the cliff ended abruptly at a jagged plateau. Ahead of us was an emergency shelter, I looked inside to find 9 bunk beds crammed in 3 high, stacked with blankets and tiny mattresses. Nobody would need it today, and we sat outside in the sunshine to each sandwiches we had packed for ourselves that morning.
The descent route wasn't nearly as nice. It was a gully/glacier/scree slope which was about as steep as it could be. A few pockets of snow remained in early September, and I could only imagine that for much of the summer season, crampons and an ice axe would be necessary on this section.
Trails in the high, rocky Dolomites are never easy, smooth, direct, or flat. Near the bottom of the scree, we contoured around, climbed some more, got a little bothered by our path along sheer cliffs, and finally reached our second rest stop of the day, a gigantic refugio just down the hill from another cable car. We had some well earned beers before heading up to the cable car building. Cramming into the tram with 40 people and 4 dogs was surely better than killing our knees zigzagging down the trails we could see out the window!
Via Ferrata Bolver Lugli (translate from Italian)
|Our route is up this cliff face somewhere!|
|Adrian and I happy to make it to the summit!|
|Can you spot the tram building?|
|There is a trail around the side of this rocks....somewhere!|
|View of our mountain from the bottom of the cable car|