Thursday, July  19, 2018
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Via Ferrata
Franco Gadotti


Mountain(s) / Location:
Cima Dodici/Sass Aut, Valacia Group
Maximum Height:
2637 m / 8651 ft
Fletcher/Smith Rating: 2C  
Hofler/Werner Rating:   C  
[ Show on Satellite Locator Map ]
This ferrata explores a relatively quiet group of peaks that border the Val di Fassa. Along with the desirable quality of solitude, the route has lots of variety and is very scenic.

This Ferrate sections are split into 3 parts. Overall, the entire route has few steep bits here and there, and a few airy bits here and there, but mostly it is straight forward and relatively easy technically. The ferrata is split up into distinct sections with fairly long stretches of regular hiking in between.
Ferrata - Locator Map
Ferrata - detailed topo map
View from campground
The trail to the ferrata starts on the opposite side of the road from the vidor campground (trail #615) (see topo map). The trail winds through a pine forest for a long while, with the amazingly sheer rock towers of the valacia group rearing up through the early morning mists. Eventually the trail breaks out of the trees and into the steeply walled treeless valley between the peaks of the valacia massif. Here, perched on the edge of a large dropoff, is a brightly colored bivouac - empty (in October, when we went). It would be nice to camp out here in this small, wild and high valley.
One of the Vallacia Towers
Looking towards the Rosengarten
the Zeni bivouac
Shortly after the bivouac is reached, the first segment of the Via Ferrata is reached. It immediately become fairly steep, with stemples (iron rods) pounded into the rock as footholds in some of the more vertical sections. The route winds higher and higher, with more and more grandiose views to the north becoming visible. The strange straight walled sella massif is an interesting item on the northern skyline - and I've heard there are some nice Ferrata there....
start of the ferrata
ferrata warning plaque
stemples near the start of the ferrata
There are again a few vertical sections of ferrata along here, but they are well protected, the rock is very sound, and many holds abound. Between sections that are protected, a very steep grassy path switches back and forth up a narrow ravine.
view to the NE
view north to the Sella Group
view northeast to the Marmolada
a trickier section of the ferrata
from cima undici, looking straight down on campground
summit of cima undici
Eventually the route reaches the top of the ravine. At this point most of the climbing for the day is done. Ahead the summit of Cima undici (incorrectly labeled dodeci on the topo) looks fairly rounded and broad. The other sides not visible from this point, however, are extremely vertical and extremely high. Upon reaching the summit we are greeted with a superb view of the quaint town of Pozza di Fasso down below.

The Rosengarten group is very prominent across the valley to the northwest. That group is much more frequented for its hiking, climbing, and ferrata routes. Over here, it is pretty quiet.

North and literally straight down is a bird's eye view of our campground - my friend Brian and I can even spot our tent and car.
looking towards Marmolada
the town of Vigo di Fassa
the next stage : the climb to Sass Aut
The next phase of the route traverses from the summit of Cima undici to the summit of Sass Aut. the first part looks pretty straightforward - a nice easy path through springy grasses. The second parts looks much more formidable. As seen from the summit of Cima undici, a wild-looking cliff rises to the summit of Sass Aut. (look at the annotated picture above - Sections in yellow denote regular trail, and sections in red indicate via ferrata portions).
ascending Sass Aut
ascending Sass Aut
looking back from summit of Sass Aut
Although it looks difficult from the summit of cima undici, closer inspection reveals that, although very airy, it isn't nearly that bad. Donning our helmets, harness and ferrata lanyards, we make our way up - and it turns out to be remarkably easy and very well protected throughout.
looking towards the Rosengarten Group
looking east
Brian on summit of Sass Aut, Rosengarten in bkg
The summit of Sass Aut turns is a wonderful gentle grassy plateau with fantastic views - everywhere one looks there is a different and fabulous view. This would be an awesome place to camp (don't know if that is allowed), or to play a game of high altitude soccer, or volleyball, golf.... just make sure you don't ever go out of bounds, because this is a very steep sided plateau (as you will see in later pictures). As well, the mid October weather was perfect - nice, calm winds, maybe 20 degrees C. Also, it is about this time that we notice that we haven't seen a single soul all day. Icing on the cake....

From the summit of Sass Aut the route drops steeply off to the south. The route (ferrata section) down from Sass Aut is in a steep cleft that is about 10 metres wide at most. Partway down this cleft the ferrata winds through a neat cave, with a few vertical sections inside the cave thrown in for good measure. All is well-protected, and soon the bottom of the cleft and the end of the day's via ferrata sections. What remains is a long (but very scenic) hike, first to the highest summit of the day (punta della valacia) and then a long circuitous route back to the campground.
Andrew on summit of Sass Aut
Ferrata descent from Sass Aut - through tunnel
Near summit of Punta della Valacia
looking back over route
Summit, punta della Valacia
looking back over Sass Aut


Quick Reference Ferrate Route Index

(*) Difficulty rating from the newer Cicerone Guide by Fletcher and Smith
(**) Difficulty rating from older Cicerone Guide by Hofler/Werner

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