Col dei Bos
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Fletcher/Smith Rating: 3B
Hofler/Werner Rating: -
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The Via Ferrata al Col dei Bos (aka VF degli Alpini) is a straightforward mid-grade ferrata route not far west of Cortina D'Ampezzo. It is situated quite close to highway 48, and its easy access combined with modest overall distance (less than 4km total trip distance) make it ideal for a good half-day ferrata climb.
This ferrata route is fairly new, apparently having been created in the 2000s by the Italian military for training purposes (and probably why the route is also commonly known as the VF degli Alpini). The route is also open to the public, and it attracts that public in great numbers - especially on nice weekend days in the summer, when than can be queueing.
Strobel Parking Lot
There are several trails that start from SR48 that can be used to access the start of the ferrata. The easiest and shortest access point, though, is from the parking lot next to the Strobel cafe and grille, located approximately one kilometre east of the height of land (Passo Falzarego) along SR48. There is ample parking here.
At the northern boundary of the parking lot, a signed path leads up towards the Torri del Falzarego, which (appropriately) tower above you. The signs are un-numbered, but still indicate the way to your destination. Note that the sign is marked "Via Ferrata degli Alpini" and not "VF al Col dei Bos".
After 15 minutes of uphill walking through open Larch forest, one arrives at a junction with a flat east-west trail. The signs for the VF degli Alpini / VF al col dei Bos indicate that you turn right.
A couple of minutes' worth of walking along flat trail (actually an old military road) brings you to the ruins of the World War I army hospital for the 5th brigade of the Italian Alpini mountain troops. The ruins are fairly extensive and interesting.
The ruins of the old hospital are also where you get your first full-on view of the Col dei Bos - a stocky pyramid of solid rock rising straight ahead. The ferrata climbs the face of this big formation.
Immediately beyond the old hospital ruins, another trail sign points the way to the start of the ferrata (marked "Ferrata degli Alpini"). A smaller footpath branches off to the left and heads diagonally across and up a sometimes grassy, sometimes bouldery slope. With the exception of one semi-switchback, the path heads directly for the base of the mass of the Col dei Bos and the start of the ferrata. Very likely you'll be able to see other climbers milling about at the start. The total distance from the sign to the ferrata start is perhaps 200 metres.
Start of VF degli Alpini
The ferrata starts off boldly, climbing straight up a rib of rock that has been somewhat worn smooth by climber traffic. There are very few climbing aids other than the wire. It almost feels like a grade 4 off of the start.
Starting off steep
After about ten metres of strenuous climbing, the wire turns and climbs more diagonally, and the difficulty quickly lessens. What follows are a series of short, steep sections followed by easier stretches. There is an occasional single stemple or peg here and there, but for the most part, the climbing is all on the rock.
The protection itself is completely first-rate, with tightly-fixed wires and modern shock-absorber cones at each attachment point.
A combination of easy ramps and small steep sections (a couple of which are fairly exposed) continue as the route winds its way up the broad nose of the Col dei Bos. After climbing up about 230 vertical metres of elevation, the wires end atop a small craggy bump. A bit of earthy path leads from the bump to the next section of the main wall, and the wires resume.
At this point, you are almost done. A final section of perhaps 70 metres of wire allow you to climb up to the edge of a broad, grassy area, which marks the end of the ferrata. Some distance away there is a final cliff band, atop which is the the summit of the Col dei Bos, but the ferrata does not climb this final cliff.
The way down is quite straightforward. Turn left (northward) and follow an earthy path that leads across grassy slopes, skirting the cliffs which drop off to the left. The path will traverse for a bit, then lead into a col made of distinctively red earth. At the low point in this col, another footpath (unsigned) turns left, heading down into a steep gully. The footpath is quite well defined and switchbacked, and will lead you down in short order to rejoin the approach path right next to the old hospital ruins. Along the descent, you can look up to your left and see the route you just climbed highlighted against the skyline.
Once at the old hospital ruins, it is a simple matter to retrace your steps back west along the old military road, then down the un-numbered trail to the Strobel parking lot.
Interactive trackmap with photo points - VF al Col dei Bos - click map to view
VF Col dei Bos - Climb Data
* : +/- 75 feet
Quick Reference Ferrate Route Index
rating from the newer Cicerone Guide by Fletcher and Smith
(**) Difficulty rating from older Cicerone Guide by Hofler/Werner
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