Via Ferrata delle
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Fletcher/Smith Rating: 4B
Hofler/Werner Rating: E
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The via ferrata delle trincee (or, way of the trenches), is a very nice combination of challenging (although short) ferrata sections, super-excellent scenery, and is of interesting historical significance. Well worth the effort, and, according to me, it is not quite as hard as its difficulty ratings would let you believe.
The via ferrata delle trincee runs mostly along the crest of the Padon ridge, a ragged spine of dark volcanic rock just to the north of the Marmolada. Although you can reach it from the north, I found that parking the car at the Passo di Fedaia and hiking up 699 worked extremely well and wasn't that much of a hike up (see annotated topo map above).
Jenn and Brian and Volcanic Boulders
Once up near the ski buildings and the Padon rifugio, take a turn to the west below the cliffs of the ridge and walk along the scenic 'geologic trail of Arabba' (or, the 'sentiero geologico Arabba', in italian). The wonderful grassy path takes you through neat volcanic boulder fields and gives you excellent views over to the glaciated north side of the Marmolada. Taking this route also allows you to do a nice loop outing.
Profile Trincee Ferrata start
As you approach the western end (the start point for you) of the ferrata delle trincee, you can look up and see its very jagged ridge in profile, including the rickety-looking bridge section. Looks exciting and impressive from here!
Profile Trincee Ferrata start, closeup
First Pitch of Trincee Ferrata
The route starts of hard. In fact, the hardest climbing of the entire ferrata is the first 30 minutes or so. The rock, although not dolomite, is solid; it appears to be some sort of volcanic-ish conglomerate. Quite good to climb on, really. The climbing leads up very steeply and with a fair bit of exposure, to a fantastic, very airy knife edge. The ferrata runs right along the crest of this knife edge - very scenic and airy situation! Good protection, though, so no worries.
After the knife edge section is the bridge section. The bridge may look rickety but it is seems sturdy enough - after the steep and airy climbing of what you've just done, I don't think this will seem too bad. The route winds its way along the ridgecrest, wider here than back when it was a knife edge, but still somewhat airy. In short order you climb steeply downwards to a small pass in the ridge, where it becomes obvious you could have bypassed this section entirely by simply walking up to this point (but of course then you'd have missed all that exciting climbing!).
End of first steep section
Andrew and Jenn and Ruins
Crossing the notch, the ferrata re-starts and soon heads past some historic World-War I fortifications, around and down a few corners, and then ends. From here you are back to more steep, grassy trail walking, staying below the cliffs but in general following the ridgeline.
Sign pointing to last section
After a fair bit of trail walking below and along the crest of the [now-less-jagged] ridge (there are a few signs to help you along this section, so look for them), you start to come to an area with old World-war-I galleries dug into the rock. Not much ferrata along this section, just mostly hiking. Soon the route enters one of these galleries and traverses through inside a section of the ridge - you'll need a headlamp or flashlight for this part.
Brian and Jenn in the dark