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Cortina D'Ampezzo
To date, we'd been focusing on what I consider to be the main central area of the dolomites, where most ferrata are located. I hadn't spent much time in the eastern reaches of the dolomites, towards austria, and so I located what looked like an interesting outing in an eastern area. I also wanted to try a ferrata where we spent an overnight at a mountain hut, aka rifugio. Anyhow, I selected a route in the area near the town of Auronzo, and we made our way in that direction. Unfortunately, by the time we got near the start of the route, the weather had changed and it had become dark and rainy, punctuated at times by thunder and lightning. I could sense the enthusiasm for this outing slipping away, and, as the weather continued to deteriorate, we decided to head back west and try our luck another day.
Hotel Meuble Myriam
We made for Cortina D'Ampezzo, the central city of the Dolomites, and by the time we got there, the weather showed marked signs of improvement. We decided to return to our "lucky" hotel from the last dolomites trip: The hotel Meuble Myriam, a wonderful little couple-run place on the outskirts of town. We even ended up getting the very same room where Markus made his infamous "I've locked the keys in the car" statement. Having switched from the camping to the hotel lifestyle for the evening, we decided to head into town for a nice dinner.
Mezzo Cristallo
We decided to stay local and try a relatively easy ferrata close by: the via ferrata of the Cristallo. The Cristallo is a prominent cluster of peaks just to the east of Cortina. The route was graded "2", so not very hard, but it looked to be exciting and airy. We didn't have to hike at all to start climbing. There is a set of chairlifts that take you to the rifugio that is located right at the start of the ferrata.
Rickety old ski lift
The first chairlift was pleasant enough; the second chairlift was more exciting. The "cars" were old space-age-ish looking brightly colored pods that could barely fit two people. It looked about 50 or more years old. Jenn and I squeezed into one and Brian into another, and we were very slowly winched up to the top station at the rifugio Lorenzi, at almost 10,000 feet. We went inside for a hot tea, and we could see directly outside the window a bunch of climbers starting on our ferrata route. It looked cold out, with clouds streaming over the ragged ridge leading up to the summit.
Armchair Ferrata-ists
After our hot tea, we stepped out onto the deck of the rifugio and clipped in to the first of the wires leading up the ridge to the summit of the middle cristallo (the destination of this particular ferrata). The route was airy, but never technically very difficult. We soon caught up to the group we had seen through the window. They turned out to be a british group, most of which had not been on a ferrata before. They were exceedingly slow, and we spent quite a long time doing nothing behind them. Fortunately, at a short break in the protection, we were able to get around them.
Swirling Mists
Cold on Deck
Slow Brits!!
It took us about 3 or so hours from the rifugio to the top of the middle Cristallo. The summit had a fancy cross and a big cairn. The day was high overcast at this point, with good views underneath a roughly 10,500 foot cloud deck. Cortina was laid out before our feet as if seen from an airplane.
courtesy BConnell
Wild, defiant towers
Magnificent Ridge
Overhang Hold
courtesy BConnell
Jenn nears the top
Brian on Mezzo Cima
Jenn at summit cross
On the way back down, we actually took a few exposed but unprotected shortcuts, such was the only moderate level of technical difficulty. Not having the slow brits in front of us (they had turned around on the way up, and so were already back down), we were able to descend quickly back to the rifugio.
Andrew on Summit
Brian and Cortina
Descent to the hut
Before heading back down the chairlifts to the car, we decided to quickly climb up to the famous bridge on the Ivano Dibona ferrata. The Ivano Dibona ferrata is another ferrata that has an end at this rifugio / chairlift station. It is a well-known an easy climbing route, and has lots of interesting wartime artifacts, along with the longest ferrata bridge in the dolomites. In fact, this bridge was used in the not-so-accurate climbing movie 'Cliffhanger', with Sylvester Stallone.
courtesy BConnell
Cliffhanger Bridge
Andrew and Brian on bridge
Dolomite frames Dolomite
Jenn stayed behind at a good vantage point while Brian and I climbed a short ways along the Ivano Dibona climbing path up to where the bridge is encountered. The pictures above tell the story!

With the bridge tagged, we climbed back to the chairlift top station and descended back down to the car.
Catching a return ride
(If you are interesting in seeing a hugely more in-depth set of pictures of our visit to the Dolomites, click here.) Otherwise, to keep reading this narrative, select the 'next page' button below.
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[ Italy 2005 trip home page | The main trip report | Family | Monte Cervialto | Herculaneum & Vesuvius | Palace of Caserta | Amalfi & Capri | Abruzzo & Monte Amaro | Rome | Tuscany | Venice | The Biennale | Via Ferrata-ing in the dolomites | Climbing in the Ortles | Gottfried's Adventures | Maps, Graphs & GPS Data ]

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