Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

August 14, 2012

Via Ferrata (Via della Trincee): Dolomites

This would be our 8th day in a row of hiking and climbing, so all of our legs were dragging a little bit.  But it was the last day in the Dolomites before returning to Venice so we determined to make the best of it.   It's always hard to look at a guidebook description and compare routes, but with our third via ferrata of the week, we really saved the best for last.  This one was in the guidebook (Via Ferratas of the Dolomites, Vol. 1) as ARABBA 2.

Save the legs strategy #1:  Take the cable car up.  And up, and up, and up.  At the top station, we were already looking over the Lake di Fedaia with the Marmolada glacier in the background, easily at a higher elevation than we had been all week.

Save the legs strategy #2:  Tackle the hardest climbing first.  Luckily the via ferrata route did that for this this time...after just 15 minutes of hiking up we were already at the start of the cables.  It did seem to go straight up for a while, but the book had warned us that this was just at the start.  So we rose vertically and quickly for a few meters, then found ourselves clambering along a knife ridge, with views down both valleys, of lakes and glaciers and lovely swirling clouds.

Save the legs strategy #3: Skip a section.  The cables were arranged in three parts, where it was possible to enter and leave the ferrata from the parallel hiking trail.  Sarah headed around to the second section and met us there.   Unfortunately she missed a nice bit of ferrata aside from the steep start, so perhaps she'll get to come back to this one someday.

The first section included quite a bit of downclimbing, a rickety bridge, and monumentous drops to the north.  The fog swirled in and out, giving us uncommon views of the air beneath our feet.  I lent Rob my GoPro video camera, and he was entranced by it for a few hours, resulting in the best bits of video we captured during the trip.  See the finished video here   That might be why we have less real photos of this one, we were distracted by video equipment.  :)

The second section, Sarah back with us, had a bunch of falling apart wooden and brick structures from the wars.  Well, there really wasn't much left of them but rotten beams, and a lot more downclimbing.  It was a short section, really. 

The third section was more knife ridge stuff, very cool, with a couple of tunnels including one with lots of side trails and sniper holes.  It looked a rather wet dreary place to camp out, but it was probably better for the soldiers than being outside in the winter.

Save the legs strategy #4:  Find a shortcut back to the start.   After exiting the tunnels at the end of the ferrata, the trail had us winding down and around to the trail in the lower valley.  I determined that we could go back through the tunnels a ways and then take a steep goat trail back to where we had started.  This certainly saved us some time and effort, although Rob had a few stumbles on the narrow trail with butt meeting grass. Luckily no injuries except loss of face...doubly lucky my video camera wasn't on at the time!

It is possible to walk down the hill, but the cable car was just so enticing, and fast!    Although the other two ferratas had taken us slightly longer than the guidebook predicted, this one was quite a bit fast than we expected.    Good for us, as it allowed us to reluctantly wave goodbye to the mountains and head down to Venice for a last day of sunshine and heat.

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