|Mountain(s) / Location:
Monte Rochetta / Piccoli Dolomiti
Fletcher/Smith Rating: 2A
Hofler/Werner Rating: -
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The Via Ferrata Fausto Susatti is a straightforward and trouble-free route, at the easy end of the VF difficulty spectrum. Located in the vicinity of Riva del Garda, it is a low-altitude outing that will often be free of snow except at the height of the winter season. Although there is some exposure along the route, it is never of the overwhelming variety. The actual length of the VF climbing is fairly short, too - perhaps forty minutes' worth at most. This is a good route if you want to gently introduce someone to the world of Via Ferrata.
The ferrata is located at the north end of Lake Garda, just a few kilometres south of the harder and steeper Via Ferrata Centenario
. Unlike that VF, though, there are no ladders on this route.
The Via Ferrata Susatti climbs Cima Capi - one of the lower peaks of the Rochetta Group. The group consists of a small cluster of ridges and peaks in the 900-1600m (3000-5000') range immediately west of the town of Riva del Garda. There are several different itineraries one can take to climb the Via Ferrata Susatti, either as a loop outing, a there-and-back outing, or a traverse outing. This report describes a traverse outing, starting from the little town of Biacesa immediately south of the group, and ending in the town of Riva del Garda. Total distance is less than 10 kilometers (6 miles), and the whole outing can be completed in about 5 hours.
The small mountain town of Biacesa is the start point of this route description. The town is located at about 500m of elevation (about 1700') in the Valle di Ledro, about a 15km or so drive from Riva along the SS240 highway. There is bus service to the town, as well as some public parking near the main highway that passes by the town. Make your way towards the Via dei Tolane - a street in the northeast corner of the town that leads upwards towards the wooded mountains above. You'll see several red-and-white SAT trail signs along the way. Follow the signs for path 417.
Bordered by low stone walls, the road ascends past picturesque farmyards, becoming narrower and rougher as it ascends. Follow the signs for trail 417 past Via di Cimara, and past another un-named junction (this junction does have SAT signs pointing towards 417). The junction after this has another cluster of trail signs. Here you will turn right, onto a small farmroad labeled as trail 470 - the "Senter dei Bech".
Soon after turning off onto 470, the small farmroad enters woods and narrows into a proper footpath. The path heads moderately up through the forest, with a few nice open bits, before reaching another major junction with many trail signs.
At this trail junction, you'll see your first indication of the Via Ferrata ("470 Via ferrata F. Susatti"). Bear right, following the sign. The trail now finishes ascending for a while, staying more or less on the level as it traverses around the southern flanks of the Rochetta Group. There are a few spots with nice views down into the Valle di Ledro and ahead to a slice of Lake Garda.
The trail, rough at times and smooth in other places, bends in and out of the alcoves and hollows of the thickly wooded mountainside. Eventually you reach a shady overhang of rock, into which is built some old concrete structures from World War I.
First good look at Lake Garda
The trail, now heading north, starts ascending again, and soon ends at a junction with trail 405. Trail 405 comes up from near the shore of Lake Garda (more specifically from a point along the Strada del Ponale cycle path, past this point, and continues upward to the start of the VF Susatti. Therefore at this point, you want to turn left and start following 405 uphill (side note: in the Fletcher/Smith guidebook, path 405 from below up to this point is marked as closed. It didn't appear to be closed when we did this climb in 2013, and in fact I'm pretty sure several of the other parties we saw that day came up from that direction. So, probably this path is now open again).
Junction with path 405
Heading uphill on path 405, the trail soon gives a good view of what you are about to attempt - the pointy pinnacle of Cima Capi. There are also many good open ledges giving very nice views up and down Lake Garda, and of Monte Baldo on the far side of the lake.
Increasingly better views
Another 20 minutes of hiking uphill brings you to the start of the Via Ferrata wire, right at a point where a cave is carved into the rock of the ridge. Up above, you can see some of the wire as it winds around over and near the blocky crest of the ridge. The ridge is mostly open rock, but has clumps of brushes and trees here and there. If there are other people on the route, you'll see them easily from here.
After suiting up with ferrata gear, the climbing starts. There's nothing strenuous here: the wires climb up over only moderately steep rock. The rock has excellent and obvious hand and foot holds, and is supplemented with stemples and pegs whenever there's even a slight bit of difficulty. I chose to climb on the rock without touching any of the artificial aids, and even so the climbing was quite easy.
The views of Lake Garda are increasingly excellent as you ascend. If it is a nice day, you'll likely be treated to the sight of a thousand little sailboats taking advantage of the Lake's windy conditions. The ridgecrest also affords some nice views back into Valle di Ledro and the little town of Biacesa - the starting point for this route - nestled in the valley bottom.