|Mountain(s) / Location:
Exner Tower, Sella Group
Fletcher/Smith Rating: 3B
Hofler/Werner Rating: D
[ Show on Satellite Locator Map ]
(note: this route is also known as the Pisciadu Climbing Path)
This was my first... I guess you could call it, 'serious', ferrata. And it was noticeably more difficult than the ones I had done up to this point (1s and 2s on the Fletcher/Smith scale, As to Cs on the Hofler/Werner scale). The climbing portion is long and very steep. There is a lot of continuous exposure. But if you have some stamina and can manage lots of exposure, you should be able to manage this. The protection is perfect everywhere, and you are not forced to make any exposed unprotected moves.
The ferrata climbs a wall on the north flank of the Sella Massif, up to the plateau/shelf that runs around partway up the Massif. Apparently this is one of the older ferrate, and has been in use for many decades. This is not a ferrata with a long approach. You will be at the first wire ropes within 20 minutes of leaving the start. Highly worthwhile!
Annotated Topographic Map
The trail I took leaves from the parking lot at the fifth hairpin (eastern side) from the top of Gardena Pass. See the topographic map image above for more details.
From the parking lot, a trail leads eastward (and is marked to indicate the Ferrata as well). Soon you will reach a few warning and commemorative plaques, and then the first bit of ferrata is reached. It goes straight up a featureless slab, but is equipped with a very sturdy set of steel rungs sunk into the rock for almost every step. Technically not difficult at all. Higher up there are a few metal aids that could be tricky when wet, but overall this first section is fairly easy.
Start of the Pisciadu Climbing Path
First Ferrata section, Pisciadu Climbing Path
Bob on the initial section of ferrata, Pisciadu climbing path
Surmounting this, the route returns to a trail for a while, winding between some massive boulders and rock walls. A junction is reached, where you will bear left, and soon another junction is reached, where you will bear right. In each case the signs should indicate the direction to the ferrata.
Very soon the start of the main ferrata section is reached. From here, the wire is almost continous for 1.3 km straight up, and as well there is almost continuous big exposure! But it is a lot of fun as well. Unfortunately for us we climbed it as a big snowstorm started and even then it was still fun. It would have been wonderful if we could have seen all of the views as well.
Markus, on the initial section of ferrata on the pisciadu climbing path.
Start of big ferrata section, Pisciadu climbing path.
Climbing past waterfall, Pisciadu Climbing Path
The protection is perfect, and the rock very solid, with no loose stuff, and handholds and footholds everywhere. Soon the high thin Pisciadu waterfall can be seen above. Here the ropes briefly stop and there is a small area where you can take a break. This is the only rest-spot on this entire section of climb.
Steep, Long, Exposed Ferrata
Andrew climbing, Pisciadu Climbing path
Upper part of upper ferrata, Pisciadu Climbing Path
From there, the route continues up vertically past the waterfall, then up into a more sloped (but still very steep area). There is a bailout point in this section that leads to a steep trail up to the plateau/shelf. However, the Ferrata continues beyond this, which leads up vertically again to the left. The climbing gets distincly harder and requires more effort in this final section, which includes a somewhat awkward ladder and a neat little suspension bridge that spans a deep cleft. Soon after the bridge, there is a bit more ferrata climbing and then the route ends, with an easy path that winds up towards the Pisciadu hut.
Climber Memorial, Pisciadu Climbing Path
Ladder, Pisciadu Climbing Path