Wednesday, July 18
The Hard Easy Ferrata
An oval on the world
The day to move on had arrived. Although it had been most pleasant
having a 'home base' in Riva del Garda, where we had been spending our
time exploring places and ferrate in the 'Piccoli Dolomiti', we now
wanted to move on to the 'main dolomites' and tackle bigger, more alpine
routes (and to get to someplace cooler - the heat of yesterday's hike
was fresh in our minds).
Before leaving the Riva del Garda area, we decided to fit in one more
little ferrata. A short but high-graded ferrata called the 'Sentiero
Attrezzato Rio Sallagoni'. It was rated at the next-to-highest
difficulty rating (a grade 4) in the fletcher/smith guidebook, and I
figured that it would be a good progression from the grade-2 and grade-3
ferrata we completed over the previous two days. The short nature of it meant we
could explore a harder route in an introductory sort of manner. Plus
we should be able to fit it into the morning and then still have time to
drive into the higher dolomites later in the day.
Entrance to Riva's old center
After a stop at the grocery store to stock up on snacks for the next few
days, we drove up the Sarche river valley a short ways, to a spot near
the town of Drena. Here, we parked one of the cars in a trailhead
parking lot a few kilometres below the town. Normally this route is
done as a loop, but seeing as we had two vehicles, we then shuttled a
second vehicle to the top, in the parking lot just above the old
'Castello di Drena' (Castle of Drena), where the ferrata route ends.
start of the sallagoni route
Returning back to the lower parking lot, we gathered up our gear and
started off, passing several ferrata climbers who appeared to have just
finished the route. We hiked on the flat and slightly downhill past
groves of grape trees, for about 15 minutes.
It was a hot and humid day in the valley bottom again, and we
hoped that the confines of a narrow gorge would provide some relief.
Sure enough, as we turned left past a junction and encountered the
entrance to the Rio Sallagoni gorge, a refreshing stream of cool air was
Daryl explores the depths
The gorge is quite narrow - almost slot-canyon like. The walls were
worn to a smooth, gray finish. To one side, on the left, the ferrata
immediately started up, following a bold diagonal line up and across a
completely smooth stretch of wall. With only a wire, this would no doubt be
challenging. However, the route was extensively stempled.
Before heading up, Daryl did a little spelunking in the deep, wet
narrows. We held back and let him explore for us, and he returned in
short order, having been blocked by a big dryfall.
There isn't too much to say our climb of the route. The line of it is
bold, as mentioned earlier, but the stemples made it very simple.
Stand on a stemple, clip over, shuffle over to the next stemple, repeat.
The route follows a rising traverse, following the left wall of the
Gorge, then switching over to the right side at a very narrow spot. In
places, the ferrata isn't even that high up - only a few metres above
the bottom of the Gorge.
After a short while climbing in the pleasant and cool gorge, we emerged
into a wide area where all sorts of lush, green plants grew. The
combination of these plants and the towering walls on each side
contributed to an isolated 'lost-word' sort of effect.
The ferrata basically ended at this point. Daryl and Pu tried out an
optional wire bridge that was set up between the walls a little farther
We were waiting for the kick in the pants that would make this qualify
as a grade-4 ferrata, but this never happened. The route continued up,
with a brief wire here or there, but mostly just on a steep path. I
personally do not think this route qualifies as a grade 4. I'd give it
a 2. Graham (one of the guidebook's authors) explained to me that when the route was being evaluated, one of the participants was short enough that she could not reach the wire while standing on the stemples, and so it was much harder for her. For most people, though, this is an easy route.
(Note: grading system is from our Fletcher/Smith ferrata guidebook).
Nearing the top of the route, we headed left at a point where the trail
splits off to some private land, and then climbed some steep trail up
towards the Castle, which we could now see looming above us. As we
ascended out of the gorge, the hot weather of the wider world
At the end of the route (which only took us about 2 hours), we decided
to explore the old Castle Drena, the highlight of which was a
self-guided tour of the old lookout tower.
Interactive Trackmap & Photo Points - Rio Sallagoni Ferrata - Click map to expand
Elevations over distance and time
Climbing Log for Rio Sallagoni Route
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain:
Total Elevation Loss:
* : +/- 75 feet
If you'd like to read more about the Rio Sallagoni Ferrata, please click here
to go to my dedicated Via Ferrata page's route description.
Here's a few more pictures from our exploration of the Castle. Very neat tower!
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