Thursday, September 10th
Intro to Ferrate
The next morning saw us again treated to a display of hospitality by Meg and Graham, with a tasty breakfast of eggs, tea, cereal, and toast. Although the forecast was somewhat unsettled, the panoramic view out the window was promising.
Pale di S. Lucano
Today was the day that we would be introducing Asmir and Miriam to their first via ferrata. I spent a bit of time poring over my maps and thinking about what would be most appropriate as an intro ferrata while still trying to incorporate something that was scenic and which was new to myself and Jenn.
I'd been leaning towards returning to the Sesto Dolomites, and even though that likely meant Jenn and I would repeat at least one ferrata, overall it seemed like the best choice. We planned to stay overnight at a rifugio, with a ferrata on the day leading to the rifugio, and one on the day after staying at the rifugio.
After saying our good-byes (and thanks) to Meg and Graham, we headed into Agordo for a quick bit of shopping at the local grocery store for some hiking grub. After that, it was time for the scenic drive across the dolomites to our destination. We crossed over beautiful Passo Giau (where we contemplated doing a quick intro ferrata, but soon realized we didn't really have the time), through Cortina D'Ampezzo, up over Passo Tre Croci, to Lake Misurina, and up the exceedingly steep and twisty 20-Euro tollroad to the Rifugio Auronzo and the western edge of the Sesto Dolomites. Over the course of the day we had tried calling the Rifugio Locatelli (our destination rifugio for the night) with no luck. Was anyone there?
Asmir is Ready!
We parked the car at the highest lot at the end of the road (same as last time we were here), and kitted up to go. It was cloudy and cool, although it wasn't raining and the clouds were high enough such that they did not obscure any of the views. Which, by the way, are fantastic from here!
We started off on the main trail towards Rifugio Lavaredo, a nice, wide path with lots of day-strollers and family hikers. The trail is almost horizontal, traversing along under the southern flanks of the famous towers of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo (Drei Zinnen).
Climbers on the C. Piccola
We could see the tiny dots of climbers on the Cima Piccola, one of the three towers, as we hiked by.
Soon we passed the Rifugio Lavaredo, and then climbed a slope leading up to the Passo Lavaredo, separating the Tre Cimi from the mountain group in which our Asmir and Miriam's intro ferrata was located. The ferrata we were taking them on was the De Luca / Innerkofler route, a ferrata that was built in World War I as part of the fighting between Italian and Austrian forces.
This ferrata has the right level of difficulty and is not too long, offers many interesting historical points (of which Asmir was interested), and is extremely scenic. And, even though Jenn and I had done this route before, we did not climb to the actual summit of the mountain (Monte Paterno) upon which it runs, and so this time, we planned on doing that.
At the start of the ferrata, we put on our ferrata gear and gave a basic overview of what to do and not to do. We then started off on the ferrata, which is marked at this end by a dark tunnel entrance and an old wartime embossed stone sign.
The short tunnel section gave way to a section of easy ledge ferrata, which gave Asmir and Miram time to get used to clipping and unclipping on the wire and to the dropoffs. The route followed ledges along the face of a steep ridge, in view of the Tre Cime. The route then crossed over to the other side of the ridge, with several wartime dugouts and lookout / sniper posts, of which the most famous is the one with the round hole and perfect view of the Tre Cime.
We continued along, now mostly on a ledge cut into the stone of the mountain, and down to a gully of loose rock and scree. A reasonably worn path tightly switchbacks up this scree, back up to where the steep vertical rock of the mountain re-emerges.
From here, we introduced Asmir and Miriam to their first bit of vertical (as opposed to horizontally-traversing) ferrata, as we started up the last steep bit to the summit of Monte Paterno (this section Jenn and I skipped due to bad weather the last time we were here). It was a fun but very short section of ferrata, with great blocky rock and a decent amount of exposure. Both Asmir and Miriam handed it beautifully, with no problems whatsoever.
Hiking to the next section
Soon the protection ended, and we had some moderately exposed ledges and a bit of scrambling to get to the top (also handled with no problem by Asmir and Miriam). At the summit of Monte Paterno were a few markers and items, including the requisite summit cross (this time with a wood-carved Jesus head). The view from the summit of the peak is magnificent, with a direct-on view of the Tre Cime (it's probably the best land-based view you can get of it, actually).
On the opposite side, far below, we could see the red roof of our destination rifugio, the Rifugio Locatelli. Using Jenn's cellphone, we tried calling again from the summit, and again, no answer. How were we supposed to reserve our private room if we couldn't talk to anyone?