Wednesday, July 25
Climbing a "Five"
Mighty Punta Anna
As I had mentioned earlier, I felt we were now ready for a ferrata route
of the highest grade, and I had picked out what I thought was a suitable
one in the nearby Tofana mountain range: the Via Ferrata Punta Anna / Gianni Aglio. We were now ready to tackle that
route: we had had a relatively easy day the day before, we were based in a
spot not far from the start of the route, and the unsettled weather of the
day before had given way to another perfect, clear, sunny day. All
Heading to Pomedes
For the sake of convenience and time, we decided to book another night at
Camping Olimpia so that we could leave our tents set up, and not have to
deal with finding another place to stay at the end of the day. We got up
early and prepared our food and gear; our intention was to be at the
lower chairlift leading up to the route as soon as it opened, so that we
could maximize the amount of time available to us on the cimbing route.
We had hard deadlines, since we were taking the cablecar down from the end
of the route. If we were late and missed that, we would have a huge
downclimb to make at the end of a long day.
Rather than descend into the busy little heart of Cortina D'Ampezzo (and
in doing so get caught up in its traffic), we took a quiet little forest
road that fortuitously led right from our campground to the access road
from our ascent chairlift (I believe this chairlift is called the
'pietofana' lift). We arrived at the chairlift station fifteen minutes
before it opened at 8:30am. Around us, several other groups of climbers
were also getting ready.
The Ferrata we climbed is called... well, it's called several different
things. In fact, it is really two ferrate climbed as one unit. The lower
part is called the Via Ferrata Punta Anna, or alternatively as the Via
Ferrata Giusseppe Olivieri. The upper part is called the via Ferrata
Gianni Aglio. Together, they form a grand traverse of the peaks, sub-
peaks and ridges of the southern part of the Tofana Group. The route
starts at the southern end of the Tofana Group and climbs higher and
higher, following the spine of the Tofana, until it tops out at the summit
of Tofana di Mezzo - the third highest peak in the dolomites.
Jenn enjoys the views
As we lazily let ourselves be carted up in the chairlift, we saw ahead of
us, in profile, a very steep ridge of rock. We were looking at this ridge
from the side: to the left, it rose steeply out of a valley, and on the
right, connected up with higher alpine terrain. This was the knife-edged
crest of the Punta Anna ridge - and the Punta Anna ferrata climbs right up
the crest of this ridge. It looked very, very airy!
Reaching the top of the two-lift system near the rifugio Pomedes, we
disembarked and got our gear together. There is very little approach to
be made if you take this lift, as it drops you off right under the soaring
cliffs of the Punta Anna ridge. It is only a fifteen minute hike to the
start of the wires.
There seemed to be a lot of people heading for this route, even though it
was a week day. I wondered what it was like on weekends in August!!
Once fully suited-up for ferrata climbing, we made our way up the short
scree-path to the start of the wires. A very handsome plaque proclaimed
this ferrata was in memorial of Giuseppe Olivieri.
Ferrata start plaque
The first wires
After letting a few faster climbers ahead of us (or at least we thought
they looked faster), we ourselves clipped on. The wire climbed up steeply
for a short bit, then headed left on a horizontal traverse to gain the
crest of the Punta Anna ridge.
The exposure even here was quite big - but
I think we were becoming acclimatized to it, because it didn't really seem
to bother any of us all that much. Instead, it felt exciting and
bold. Even though this was a top-grade route, I felt more at ease here
than I did before the beginning of the grade-4 route of the Bolver Luigi
back in the Pale group some days before. Experience and 'calibration to
the guidebook' were kicking in...
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