|Mountain(s) / Location:
Fletcher/Smith Rating: 2B
Hofler/Werner Rating: B
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The Ferrata Nord (more accurately called the Ferrata Nord al Croda Rossa di Sesto) is a climbing route that follows the northern ridgeline of one of the highest peaks of the Eastern Dolomites - the Croda Rossa of the Sesto Group. The ferrata is not particularly hard - in fact, I'd call it downright easy, despite its grade of "2B" on the Fletcher/Smith scale.
The normal, most straightforward way to reach this ferrata route is via a gondola from the nearby town of Moso (Moos). The Gondola takes you up to the Prati Croda Rossa, and from there a relatively short and easy trail brings you south, up the lower ridgeline, to the start of the ferrata. However, this is not the route described here. Instead, this page describes a much longer loop, starting from the Rifugio Berti. this longer loop is much more strenuous and challenging than the straightforward northern approach. Please take this into account as you read this (although the description of the ferrata part itself is the same regardless of which way you do it).
From the Rifugio Berti, take trail #101 as it leads behind the rifugio and up the Vallon Popera. An easy path through grassy slopes dotted with a few larch trees provides a pleasant, pastoral walk.
The scenery of the Vallon Popera becomes increasingly dramatic as you ascend, and soon an array of impressive walls and spires from a wide panorama ahead of you. The path continues to wind up through Vallon Popera, angling slightly left as it begins to make its way to the high alpine notch of Passo della Sentinella (which should eventually be visible high up, ahead).
A junction with trail 124 is reached, but you will stay on trail 101 as it ascends, now transitioning to steep scree slopes, towards the Passo. Eventually the path climbs steeply along the crest of a lateral moraine. Most vestiges of vegetation disappear as you ascend this stark alpine valley. Off to the left is a remnant pocket glacier.
The slope becomes quite steep as you approach the Passo della Sentinella, and there are some old and new wooden steps to aid you in your climb. Soon the Passo itself is reached, where you'll discover some extensive World War I ruins and memorials.
At the Passo, you are standing below the southern ridge of the Croda Rossa. In order to get to the northern ridge (and the Ferrata Nord), you must somehow get around the mountain to the other side. To that end, continue north and down the steep scree gully before you (marked discesa pericolosa on a sign). Trail 101 leads down this gully partway, before veering off to the left onto a scree-covered bench (Do not head all the way down the gully - it becomes steeper and less passable lower down).
From the scree-covered bench, head left. There is a small amount of unprotected sideways scrambling in a small rock gully. Once surmounted, you soon arrive at the start of ferrata wires that lead directly downhill (note: these are not the wires of the Ferrata Nord). Follow these wires (ie - climb down these wires), and they will lead you down to the base of the main gully below. The grade of ferrata climbing is roughly 2 at its maximum.
Crossing over to north ridge
From the base of the wires, you easily cross the big gully to the far side, where a sign and a fairly obvious diagonal ramp marks the next phase of your trek to the North Ridge. Follow the ramp north and up. Eventually the narrow ramp widens out into a large sloping scree field, and a distinctive path continues upwards, eventually intersecting with the crest of the North Ridge. At this point, you have arrived mid-way along the Ferrata Nord.
Away from Passo Sentinella
Intersection with VF Nord
Now that you are on the Ferrata Nord, turn right (south) and climb upwards towards the summit of the Croda Rossa, which is now visible above you. You'll notice that there is no wire here - and that's one of the notable features of the Ferrata Nord: there are long sections with no wire!
The route of the Ferrata Nord leads southward on a fairly obvious path marked with paint splotches, climbing up past several old ruins from WWI. There are several steepish sections that are unprotected, but the terrain is massively blocky and advantageously incut, so the required scrambling is very easy and very secure-feeling.
Finally, at about the 2860m / 9400' level, a final continuous section of ferrata starts. Although the terrain is now steeper, it is still of the ultra-blocky, ultra-positive variety, and the climbing difficulty is barely grade 2 level.
The easy ferrata soon ends, and you follow paint blotches and the signs of the passage of feet across a bit of unprotected slope. Ahead, the summit cross is soon seen.
Tunnels and fortifications, both of concrete and wood, are positioned here and there at strategic locations. Some preservation and restoration work has been recently done in and on them.
A large and elaborate wooden cross and crucifix mark the summit (well, it's not on the actual highpoint, but it is close). There is an excellent view in virtually all directions from this point, with precipitous drops to the north, south and east.