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Monte Lessini / Vicentini Alps
Fletcher/Smith Rating: 3B
Hofler/Werner Rating: -
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This ferrata is a relatively short and relatively moderate ferrata that climbs to a point close to the top of Cima Carega - the highest mountain in the Monte Lessini / Vicentine Alps. It's a good choice if you want something to climb that is close to the towns of Verona or Vicenza. It's close to the wine country of Valpolicella, Valpentana, and Soave -- so if you want mixing wineries and wires, this is also a good option.
The Monte Lessini / Vicentine Alps are lower and gentler than the higher dolomites, but still quite beautiful.
The Via Ferrata Campalani climbs one of the ridges that extends down from Cima Carega. There are a number of good rifugios very close to the ferrata: One near the trailhead, two partway up on the way to the ferrata, and one directly above the ferrata, near the summit of Cima Carega. They are, respectively, Rifugio Revolto, Rifugio Passo Pertica, Rifugio Scalorbi, and Rifugio Fraccaroli.
To get to the start of the hike up to the Via Ferrata Campalani, you must drive up one of the provincial highways (SP10 or SP17), then take a smaller highway several kilometres further north to Giazza. Giazza is a very picturesque out-of-the-way place, surrounded by the steep wooded sides of the Val D'Illasi, and with probably not a lot of foreign tourist activity.
The trailhead for the climb up to the ferrata is still a fair distance away. You must drive north through the town and continue up a narrow but paved road (eventually this road is called the Via Boscangrove). The road leads up (still fully paved) through thick forest in many switchbacks, until it ends at a gate. This is the start of walking (and there's good parking here, too).
The road becomes gravelled immediately after the gate. It's an old military road that is now used as an arterial trail up into the mountains, and for vehicles used to service the rifugios above.
The walk up the old military road is easy and straightforward (the elevation here is appr. 1300m / 4300 feet) . There are some switchbacks while the road ascends through forest, and these switchbacks can be avoided if desired by using short lengths of trail that short-cut them. The road emerges out of the trees for good at about 1450m / 4800 feet and, shortly thereafter, arrives at the Passo Pertica (and the Rifugio Passo Pertica).
The route to the ferrata continues along the old military road, which gradually traverses up the north-west side of the Val D'Illasi. You get a good view up-valley along this entire stretch, but you can't yet see up towards Cima Carega or the ferrata. The road runs through a few tunnels and switchbacks a few times before arriving at the next pass, the Passo Pelagatta.
Strictly speaking, the path you want to take, the E5 path, branches off a little before you reach the pass. However, the Passo Pelagatta is a good place to stop for a rest (the Rifugio Scalorbi is very close by) and take survey of where you have to go next, so you may want to push on along the road for a few more metres to the pass and take a break there. Looking north, you can see the terrain rising higher and becoming more alpine. The location of the ferrata can now be seen from here - it is located on a relatively distinctive triangular section of vertical cliff (there aren't many vertical cliffs visible to the north from here, so this should be relatively easy to spot. If in doubt, look at the annotated picture).
View from Passo Pelegatta
Re-tracing your steps back down along the road for a few metres, you encounter the E5 Path. Take this, heading up the valley that comes down from the north. At about 1900 metres / 6230 feet, you'll come to a faint side-path that angles off to the left, and which has a crudely painted 'ferrata' indicator on a boulder on the ground. Take this faint path.
Faint ferrata access path
The faint path climbs up fairly directly towards the triangular cliff you saw earlier, but then overshoots it a bit as it angles diagonally up the slope. The path then reaches a somewhat confusing point where it splits off, with one path curving back to the left and one continuing straight on. There's no signage here, and what you want to do is curve back to the left, angling up and onto a sloping shoulder that heads towards the base of the cliffs above you. This will lead you in short order to the ferrata plaques and the start of the protection.
Looking down, access path
Initial climbing, ferrata Campalani
You'll notice that the first stretch of protection is not actually wire, as is typical on most ferratas, but is instead chain. This route has several sections like this with chains, and, although a little looser than solid wire, is quite manageable and is still usable with decently-sized carabiners.
The other thing you'll notice is that the first little stretch of ferrata is quite steep - perhaps even a touch overhanging. This isn't what most of the route is like, however, and things get easier just a few metres further up.
Above the steep initial climb, the ferrata does some airy traversing to the right on easily-climbed rock, then heads up diagonally for a bit. The second steep section of the ferrata is then reached -- again, chain-protected -- a narrow and steep chimney. You may get a bit jammed if you don't take care to not get sucked into climbing too deeply within it.
Above the chimney, the ferrata climbs mostly very easy and not very steep (by ferrata climbing standards) terrain. It is still protected, though, because there is still a fair bit of exposure. A route book is encountered along this section.
Passo Pelagatta From Above
Above the route book, there's more easy climbing and the grade continues to ease, to the point where the route climbs through clumps of latschen and other vegetation. The wire then stops, and the remainder of the route is now a hike.
You are now on the fairly narrow crest of the ridgeline that comes down from Cima Carega. A reasonably well-defined path leads directly up to the crest and then follows it. It's a little bit airy, but the footing is good. Simply keep following the crest of the ridge northwards. Eventually you till top out at a highpoint, where there is an excellent view of the summit of Cima Carega itself, and, a little down and to the left, the Rifugio Fraccaroli, perched astride another narrow ridgeline.
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