Campanili del Latemar
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Fletcher/Smith Rating: 2C
Hofler/Werner Rating: B
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This Via Ferrata is mostly horizontal in nature. That is, it traverses horizontally much more than it does vertically. Having said that, there is a fair bit of exposure at several places along it. The ferrata, like many, has stretches where protection is required, with bits of regular trail in between. Note: this is the very first ferrata I climbed, back in 2001.
Ferrata - detailed topo map
The ferrata is located in the quiet and less visited Latemar Group of summits. We visited here in October and saw 2 people the whole day . We started from the west side of the massif, and the hike was very nice - a big loop of about 20 or so kilometres, almost entirely above treeline, wandering in an about the rock towers of the Latemar. At most 2 kilometres of the route is actual Via Ferrata.
The locator map above shows the location of the Ferrata with respect to surrounding major towns (e.g. Bolzano). We started from near the town of Oberregen, which was completely dead in October (no inns or restaurants seemed to be open) - we ended up camping on an empty ski run near the start of the trail.
Lorraine in the "Rock Circus"
Signpost near the start of the Ferrata
The interior basin of the Latemar group.
From the start of the trail near one of the Oberregen ski lifts, we took a route which wound over and up to the Torre di Pisa (Tower of Pisa) hut (which was, you guessed it, closed). From there the route wanders over the magnificently wild and desolate interior basin of the Latemar (called the Valsordakessel). On the other side of the basin from the hut is located the start of the via Ferrata. Refer to the topo map (above) for complete details. Note that on the topo map a yellow line indicates a regular hiking route, and a red segment indicates a via ferrata section.
The towers of the Latemer
Before we got to the start of the ferrata, two fast moving hikers overtook us and started on the ferrata, but without any sort of protection (no helmet, harness, or any attachment to the ferrata). Given that this was our very first ferrata, we were a bit nervous about what to expect. Soon, however, we could see them high up on the first wire ropes holding on only with their hands.
n any case, the ferrata itself starts at the northern end of the series of towers called the 'towers of the Latemar', or 'Torri del Latemar'. It ascends a few 10s of metres and then traverses somewhat airily across a large face of rock. The scenery is superb.
On the first few metres of the ferrata
Still on the first part of the ferrata
Eventually the ferrata protection ends and a regular trail proceeds along the sloping west faces of the towers. Here and there the towers are separated by what appear to be dikes of softer intrusive rocks. Each of these dikes forms a small vertical dip and rise. Each of these are protected with ferrata sections.
Middle section of the ferrata
Lorraine near final section of ferrata
The last section of the via ferrata starts with a slightly overhanging ladder descent into a notch - interesting and a bit awkward. Ferrata sections then continue down to the bottom of the notch (which has an amazing view down the high east face of the towers).
From here a traverse across the notch brings you to the final section of the ferrata, up and around a broad tower and then steeply down to a nice wide grassy notch and a bright orange bivouac cabin. The ferrata is completely finished at this point.
These bivouacs are clean and tightly packed with 5 or 6 bunks, and in October, seemingly empty. If we had known about them, and whether or not they need to be booked (they don't seem to be from the look of it), it would have been very fun to have stayed overnight.
overview from other side of latemar towers
Lorraine on final bit of ferrata
Bivacco at end of ferrata
From the bivouac a non-ferrata trail leads back in the direction we came from, back over the eastern slopes of the towers - although at a lower elevation and not in technical terrain. The trail is actually quite nice, and in the late evening light the scene is quite striking (see picture to the right). Eventually we loop back to the start of the ferrata. From here we return to the start of our hike partially retracing our steps (refer to topo map above).
And so ends the day. So, in summary, a worthwhile intro to Vie Ferrate, although there is quite a bit of hiking to do before you actually get to the ferrata sections.
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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