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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).
Aparthotel Englo-Vacanze
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.
courtesy DBoyd
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 encountered.
Sarco valley below
Nearing the narrow gorge
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.
courtesy PChen
Equipment time
Daryl heads off
Cavelike
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.
courtesy DBoyd
Like a slot
Switching walls
Always smiling!
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 upstream.
A bit of the tropics
Wire-bridge fun
Wire bridge fun
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).
Very lost-world
Nearing the castle
Arriving at the castle
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 re-enveloped us.
Castle Drena
Exploring the castle
Castle Drena
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
Start Time: 12:26PM
End Time: 2:57PM
Duration: 2h31m
Distance: 1.73 km (1.08 mi)
Average Speed: 0.7 km/hr (0.4 mph)
Start Elevation: 766ft (233m) *
Max Elevation: 1429ft (436m) *
Min Elevation: 627ft (191m) *
End Elevation: 1261ft (384m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain: 719ft (219m) *
Total Elevation Loss: 158ft (48m) *
 
 
* : +/- 75 feet
Elevation Graph
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!
Scenic tower
Castle walls
A view of Drena
courtesy PChen
The Cistern
Jenn on top
Jenn on top
courtesy PChen
View from the top
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