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Sunday, July 22nd
The Via Ferrata degli Alleghesi
Albergo Edora
I had wanted to try a ferrata in the Civetta group for some time now. All of the ferrata routes in this group are of a high grade, and now that we'd done some harder high-mountain ferrate, I felt were ready for this sort of challenge.

I picked the via ferrata delle alleghesi (or, 'the via ferrata of the people of alleghe'). It was a long and high route, and made its way to the top of the Civetta itself - the dolomite's fifth highest peak. We called and reserved four spots in the Rifugio Torrani, a tiny mountain-hut built into the side of Civetta not far below its summit. In this way, we could break the climb into two chunks - the climb up, and then the climb down and back the next day. Then we'd call Graham and arrange for a delicious dinner in Agordo!

We arose to yet another fine sunny day in the dolomites. Now, let me pause for a moment and count... this was now our eighth in a row of perfect (albeit hot in the lowlands) weather.
Chairlift at Alleghe
Our start point for the Via Ferrata Alleghesi was a chairlift system that started in the small town of Alleghe, about 20 minutes drive upvalley from Agordo. Alleghe is a pretty little town, nestled next to a scenic mountain lake that is only a little over 200 years old. It was formed in 1771, when a massive rockslide came down from a nearby peak and dammed the valley, burying several small villages, and creating the lake. The existing site of Alleghe, around the shore of this new lake, was built up over the next two hundred years. There is little evidence of the slide today, save for a slabby area of open rock high on the wooded flank of Mount Spitz.
Over the town
Parking our cars in the parking lot of the chairlift facility, we were quickly whisked up over the buildings of the town to the mountain country just north of the Civetta massif. We could see the famous northwest face of the Civetta - the so-called 'pareta delle parete' or 'wall of walls': 6,000 metres long and over 1,200 metres high (4,000+ feet), the biggest rock face in the Dolomites. I knew that part of our route, the last bit before the summit, followed the crest of the ridge which topped this wall, and I hoped that we'd get the clear weather needed to see down it from the top.
courtesy PChen
Civetta's big wall
Chairlift Chat
Heading up to hike start
The second leg of the lift system dropped us off on a knoll of land not far from col dei Baldi, a small pass just to the north of the Civetta group. It was wonderful mid-level mountain scenery here, with undulating terrain containing patches of forest interspersed with mountain meadows. Further away on all sides were dramatic craggy peaks rising steeply out of the more gentle landscape below.
Scenery glides by
The walk starts
Heading to Coldai
We headed on a good trail down into the little col, and then back up, making our way into the Civetta group. Being a beautiful Sunday in the summer, there were many hikers about, and we were constantly winding our way around clumps of hikers and parents with kids. After a short but steep climb, we arrived at the scenically located rifugio Coldai (this was a place we had considering staying at, but it was booked solid, and I could now see why - the place was swarming!).
Civetta's ridge
Rifugio Coldai
Junction behind the rifugio
After stopping for a quick break at the rifugio, we headed around back and continued our journey. The trail split, and we took the left-hand fork. We noticed that the vast majority of the hikers we had been hiking alongside were either staying at the rifugio or taking the right-hand fork. This was good news for us, because it probably meant that our climb would not be excessively clogged with people.

The trail traversed southwards underneath the Civetta Massif, gradually rising out of the world of grass and trees and into the world of shattered rock and tall towers. Ahead of us, we could now see the full sweep of our route - and a grand sweep it was, too. Implacable ramparts of white-grey dolomite rose in solid-looking buttresses to a high ridge, which crested with a rounded hump near the top - the summit of Civetta. It looked long. It looked high.
557 and M. Pelmo
Route of the Ferrata Alleghesi
Hiking along 557
It was both of those, we knew. We noticed that today, unlike other days, there seemed to be more moisture in the air. Although the summit looked clear, we could see wisps of clouds starting to form. I recommended that we quicken our pace, since in the event of serious cloud build-up, we could be looking at an afternoon rain event or even a thunderstorm.
Torre di Valgrande
After an hour and bit of traversing along on mostly easy trail, we reached the junction with the side trail off to the ferrata Alleghesi. We could see the dots of climbers on the steep and imposing ridge above us, and they looked tiny indeed. We had, after all, about 3,000 feet to gain in the short horizontal distance of about 800 metres! There was nothing for it but to put the head down and go for it, right?
courtesy PChen
Ferrata Junction
Apprehensive more about the weather than the climb, we approached the base of the first wires, and donned our gear. Again, not wasting much time, we started off, climbing relatively easy rock and encountering new-looking and solid ferrata.
courtesy PChen
Hmm... I'm going where?
Over the next two and a half hours, we climbed the steep, rounded buttress, putting almost 2,000 feet under our belts. The climbing turned out to be quite a bit less difficult than I had expected. It was definitely easier than our last ferrata, the via ferrata Bolver Luigi in the Pale, even though the route was graded at the same difficulty.
courtesy DBoyd
The wires start
Pegs n' Stemples
Andrew on Ferr. Alleghesi
The route exploited ledges and gullies in the buttress, greatly lessening the feeling of exposure, and steep sections were usually aided by an excessive number of stemples and, in places, ladders. The clouds continued to gather about us, although there were still amazing views that rolled by now and then, and we had as yet experienced no rain.
courtesy DBoyd
Daryl from above
Jenn on the route
Break on a ledge
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