Via Ferrata degli
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Fletcher/Smith Rating: 4C
Hofler/Werner Rating: E
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This is a long and strenuous route. It is not super-hard technically, but it is committing - it is a very alpine / mountaineering style of route. The route climbs almost 5,500 feet (1650m) and tops out on the summit of the 5th highest peak in the Dolomites: Monte Civetta. Then, it is a non-trivial down-scramble / down-climb to get back down to hiking territory again. If done in one day, this is a very long route. If broken up into two days (with a stay overnight at a Rifugio), it is still pretty strenuous.
This is the same route that is describe in 'AGORD1' in the fletcher/smith guidebook.
Elevation profile over Distance
The route described here starts and ends in the town of Alleghe. The 2-stage Alleghe chairlift is used to quickly reach a point near Col dei Baldi, a point 2,500 feet higher than the start point in Alleghe. If you wish, it is possible to hike up trails, but that would make this route much longer and much more strenuous.
From the top Chairlift station, the route follows trail 561 down into the Col itself. From there, trail 556 heads steeply up a flank of Cima Coldai (lots of multiple trail braids here but all lead up to the main trail), arriving at the scenically located Rifugio Coldai at about 7,000 feet (2140m). As you round the corner towards Rif Coldai, you can see the summit ridge of the Civetta, still very far above you.
Behind the Rifugio, the trail forks, and you want the left-hand route - trail #557. The trail has good footing and traverses southwards, scenically following along below the towers of the Civetta's northern sub-peaks. There are little bits of scrambling here and there along the trail, but nothing difficult. To your left is the massive square bulk of Monte Pelmo.
Junction behind the rifugio
After a kilometre and a half or so of walking, you start to get a good view of the entire route, from the bottom of the east-facing rib upon which the lower portion of the ferrata climbs, and the upper portion of the Civetta's north ridge, leading all the way to the summit. It is an impressive sight, and you wll definitely realize that this is a big route!
Route of the Ferrata Alleghesi
The trail eventually rises into completely non-vegetated terrain, and becomes a bit rougher in spots. At a boulder-filled col below the little sub-peak of the Schinal del Bech, there is a trail junction with a large red 'Fta. Alleghesi' painted on a boulder. This is where you turn off of trail 557, and start on the trail leading to the start of the ferrata. (Since you are travelling south, the trail you want forks right at this point).
It is a about a 400-metre walk along the trail to the start of the Ferrata. While the lower route looks fantastically bold from a distance, it is actually not too technically difficult nor especially exposed. Any difficult rock sections have plenty of stemples, pegs or even ladders, and the route takes advantages of clefts and gullies to shield you from any big exposure. The protection is sound throughout.
At several points along the climb of the west-facing ridge there are fairly large ledges where the wire temporarily ends and where you can take a break.
Looking down on the start
Andrew on Ferr. Alleghesi