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Thursday, July 26
Two from Lorenzi
Thursday was another bright, sunny day in the dolomites. We only had a few more days before our trip was over, and we sat down to discuss what it was we were going to do. I had originally envisioned spending the last few days of our trip with a high-altitude mountaineering excursion in the higher alps, complete with roped travel and glacier crossings. Daryl had generally not expressed interest in such an itinerary, and this was in fact one of the reasons we had rented two cars - so that he could go off and do his own sightseeing should we decide to go the mountaineering route at the end of the trip.

I was starting to change my mind about the mountaineering, however. When I saw the Marmolada the day before, I'd noticed that there was a paucity of snow and lots of exposed glacier, and I was unsure of our group's competence factor with extensive cramponing on bare, steep ice. Daryl had also caught wind of the existence of the Brenta Dolomites with all of it's ladders and ledges, and he thought that might be a cool place to spend our last few days. It was easier logistically, and in the back of my mind I realized it was more prudent, so I assented to this. We'd spend our last few days in the Brenta, and then it would be a relatively short drive from there back to Zurich, where we'd catch our flight home.

It was slightly too early to go to the Brenta, though, so we spent the morning looking for options in the Cortina area. We were quite enjoying the Italian mountain rifugio experience, and we wanted to spend more nights that way. I spent quite a bit of time calling around to different Rifugios, but unfortunately most were full-up. Finally, I tried the privately-owned Lorenzi rifugio, high up in the Cristallo group, and managed to get four beds.
Rio Gere Station
The Cristallo group are one of the high mountain groups that ring Cortina (the others being the Tofana Group and the Sorapis group). Jenn and I had been up in the Cristallo group before, climbing the short but spectacular Marino Bianchi route. The others hadn't been up there before, and there was in any case another ferrata leading off from the same point, and Jenn and I could explore that. Addtionally, we had lots of time, and today was meant as more of a relaxing interlude and an easy climbing day.
The Flower Pots
After braving busy mid-morning downtown Cortina for a grocery stop, we headed up towards the Passo Tre Croce on highway S48 and stopped at the Rio Gere chairlift, not far below the pass. To access the Rifugio Lorenzi and the Cristallo ferratas, one takes the two-stage Rio Gere chairlift system (either that or you climb a very tiring scree-path up a steep ski run).
The chairlift ride itself is part of the fun. The upper part is done in slow, creaky, tiny upright pods that can barely fit two people. They look like flowerpots!
Entrance to the Rifugio
We arrived at the top lift of the Rio Gere lift system just after noon. The Rifugio Lorenzi is just metres from the lift, and we went there first to check in.
courtesy PChen
The entrance
Our cute little four-bunk room had a dramatic view looking out east over the Rifugio's deck, to dramatic crags and to the small pocket glacier lying in a northern-facing cirque of the Cristallo.

From our window, we could also see the corner of the deck where the Ferrata Marino Bianchi starts, and the ridge it followed up to the summit of the Cima de Meso.

Up here at nearly 10,000 feet, it was quite cool. We had bought a bunch of soft drinks back at the grocery store in Cortina, and we placed them out on the windowsill of our second-floor window: a natural and secure fridge, so long as there weren't any earthquakes!
Room with a view
Daryl surveys the view
Ferrata from our window
After settling into our room, we pondered what do to next. Pu and Daryl were interested in exploring the Marino Bianchi ferrata, which was knew to them, and Jenn and I felt more inclined to explore the top part of the Ivano Dibona Ferrata, which also started from near the Rifugio, but headed in the opposite direction. We compromised by agreeing to do both. hmm... wait a sec... Is that compromise?
Cristallo Glacier
Start of CORT 5
Deck, Rifugio Lorenzi
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