|Mountain(s) / Location:
Pale di San Martino Group
Fletcher/Smith Rating: 1A
Hofler/Werner Rating: -
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The Via Ferrata Camillo Depaoli is one of the easier ways to climb into the jagged peaks at the southern tip of the Pale di San Martino group of the Dolomites. Starting off not far from the town of Fiera di Premiero, It begins as a farm-road route, then transitions to a traversing forest path below steep cliffs. Eventually the route finds a relative weakness in the cliffs and climbs up on ferrata wire, never difficult or especially exposed. The total time on actual ferrata is fairly small - perhaps a hundred metres or so.
The approach and climb of the VF Camillo Depaoli is along #734 - a 6+ kilometre trail that climbs to a point just below the Rifugio Velo della Madonna. Trail 734 starts in the forested slopes north of the town of Fiera di Premiero, and is accessible via small paved farm roads. There are parking areas here and there, and there may be time and seasonal restrictions regarding when you can park (usually marked on signs) - although it is not clear how strongly these regulations are enforced. You can look at the trackmap to see precisely where I chose to park when I did this route.
Once you have attained trail 734, it is a simple matter of walking uphill and north along a well-defined trail. After the farm roads and meadows of the southern slopes, the trail begins a traverse below the towering walls of Cimerlo, mostly staying in the trees, but occasionally crossing open gullies and runs of scree.
After about 1.5 km or so of northerly traversing, a sign is reached. This sign marks a sharp right-hand turn in the trail (and there is also a faint un-marked path leading left down into the valley at this point). From here, trail 734 climbs steeply up towards treeline and to the alpine terrain beyond.
After climbing up through increasingly patchy forest and interesting crags, 734 arrives at treeline. There are now excellent views back down into the Val Cismon below. Above you stands a high, blank wall of rock. However, the VF (Sentiero Attrezzato) Camillo Depaoli does not climb this formidable-looking obstacle. Instead, the trail veers left, angling over and up towards easier climbing terrain.
Ever-more dramatic terrain
Another hundred metres' worth of elevation gain and fifteen more minutes of time brings you to the start of the VF wires, prominently marked by a big red metal Via Ferrata sign and the waymark for trail 734 painted on the bedrock.
The climbing starts off easy and stays easy, on new and solidly-placed wire. Additionally, there are stemples and small ladders whenever the terrain gets the least bit steep. The wire is more of a convenient handrail than a necessity. There are some unprotected sections, but these are not particularly exposed. Where there is scrambling or climbing, it is mostly in a closed-in gully with minimal exposure.
Twenty or perhaps twenty-five minutes of easy climbing brings one to the top of the ferrata, where a small bit of grassy ridgecrest is reached. From here trail 734 curves sharply eastward into a high alpine valley, traversing towards its head, where the dramatic towers of the Sass Maor and Cima della Madonna pierce the sky. At the foot of the Cima lies the rifugio Velo della Madonna, situated atop a rock buttress.
Trail 734 does not actually reach the rifugio. Instead it ends at a well-marked junction about fifteen minutes' walk below it.
Rifugio Velo della Madonna
Interactive trackmap with photo points -Trail 734 / VF Camillo Depaoli - click map to view
VF Camillo Depaoli - Climb Data (ascent only)
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain:
Total Elevation Loss:
* : +/- 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