We were very near the top. Above the knife-edged arete, the wire climbs straight up a steeply-angled flat wall. It had lots of big exposure, but had all sorts of really big holds, too. It was a matter of a few minutes before we popped out at the top of Punta Sud. We had completed the Tomaselli Route.
We had done the route quickly, managing to finish at shortly after 10:20am: one hour and twenty minutes after starting. The clear sky of the morning had started to accumulate big cumulus clouds, but so far nothing too threatening was to be seen. Pu was still a fair ways below, having chosen to try and climb more on the actual rock (and therefore was not able to make as high of a climb rate as myself and Jenn), but eventually he too clambered onto the crest of the Punta Anna.
We sat down for a short celebratory snack atop Punta Sud, and took in the panorama around us. This was an excellent spot to have a look at the Tofane Group to our east. More distant views to other major groups were somewhat obscured by clouds.
It was now time to get moving again. Our climbing for the day was not nearly complete: the descent route involved what essentially was another full-fledged ferrata, and a stout medium-grade one at that! Graded a '3' in the Fletcher-Smith guidebook, the descent route led us down a broad but quite steep eastern flank of the Punta Sud. The rock was solid and well-supplied with holds, but there were many short sections along the way that required a bit of tricky foot placement (i.e. steep enough that you had to lean back to be able to properly place your feet). One steep chimney section in particular was tricky to downclimb (although there were some stemples here to aid passage). The whole downclimb is reasonably exposed throughout its length. And much like the Tomaselli Ferrata, the cabling and tensioning seemed new and tight throughout.
The descent ferrata ends at a dirt and scree filled notch along the ridge leading east from Punta Sud. We un-geared-up here and waited twenty minutes or so for Pu (who again had chosen not to try and downclimb as quickly as possible).
We now had to try and find our way down the steep dirt-and-scree gully that led down from the notch. There was a discernable set of paths etched into the slope, so we chose one and carefully downclimbed it, trying not to create too many little dirt and stone avalanches as we went.
Towards the bottom of the gully we were in was one section of fairly steep snow. We could probably have made a go of it, but without proper mountaineering axes, that may have been asking for trouble. So, we instead went a little off-route and scrambled over into the next gully to the west. It was perhaps a little steeper and rockier, but it had no steep snowfield, so we chose that instead. After some careful controlled down-scrambling, we were back on the access path, and following this soon led us to a junction with path 20-b just below and east of Forcella Grande.
With all technical difficulties behind us, we started down path 20-b, grateful now for a nice, easy tread to follow (after climbing down that loose crud in the gullies earlier). The path traversed on a nicely descending grade to the south. Looking up behind us revealed a most impressive view of the thing we had just climbed: Punta Sud. And from this angle, it appeared as a towering monument of clean dolomite rising impressively into the sky.
The gathering clouds never did coalesce into rain, hail, or thunder, so my preoccupation with weather (and with speedy climbs) was for naught. On the plus side, it was still early in the day, and we had lots of time to complete our hike and drive to our destination for the night. So, all was well.
We followed our pleasant path over a minor pass and into another basin, across which it crossed mostly on the level to another pass: the Forcella Travananzes. Here we met up with other more major passes, and we could also see down to Passo Falzarego, where our car was located. And, after having seen basically no one on our climb (except for a single guy after we had completed climbing), there were now hikers scattered everywhere.
Mountain Flowers, Path 402
A sunny mountain walk on pleasant path 402 and on grassy ski slopes brought us back to Passo Falzarego and to the end of our mountain adventures for this trip. In celebration, we headed over to one of Passo Falzarego's bars and bought ourselves a few treats, which we then ate while relaxing on benches out front.
Interactive Trackmap - Via Ferrata Tomaselli
Hike Data Display - Climb of Via Ferrata Tomaselli
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain:
Total Elevation Loss:
* : +/- 75 feet
At this point, we were more-or-less done with the 'vacationing' of our trip. The important thing at this point was to make sure we got back to Zurich by the end of the next day - and in time for our early morning departure flight the day after.
Back in Bologna, in addition to booking a night at the Lagazuoi rifugio, I had also taken the opportunity to book a spot in a hotel partway between the Dolomites and our departure city of Zurich. For this, I chose a reasonably sized city that was along our path of travel, and that was not in Switzerland (lodging and in general everything is a fair bit more expensive in Switzerland than in Italy). This city was the city of Merano, located partway up the Val Venosta (one of the main tributary valleys that feeds the main valley of the Adige River). The city is only an hour or so from the Swiss Border.
Our drive from the Dolomites to the Merano area was scenic and involved lots of great twisty-road driving, although the congestion and traffic on the roads was horrible. The 'Maratona dles Dolomites', or the Dolomites Marathon, was being held this weekend. It is a well-known single-day cycling race in the Dolomites, and today was the Friday before the race. There were aspiring cyclists practicing everywhere, many of them already wearing Maratona jerseys.
Once out of the congestion in the mountains, we finished the rest of the distance to Merano on high-speed Autostrada, arriving around 5 or 6pm at the hotel Tiess-Weisses Roessl. Lots of esses. It is located in a satellite town of Merano, up against some steeply-rising forested hills. It was a nice enough place with a definite Germanic feel, and our room was quite spacious - in fact, it had two completely separate rooms and a 2-room bathroom. The only downside - no air conditioning. And it was a hot 35-degree celcius day out. The room's air was quite warm and a bit stuffy, and the hotel had no fans that could supply to us. It was gonna be a hot night's sleep!
Leaving the windows of our hotel room open, we headed into the city of Merano in order to let things cool off a bit and to get a bite of dinner. We were clearly transitioning into Germanic culture, and tonight was probably the last place we could find an Italian restaurant. After a bit of strolling about, we chose an appropriate-looking pizzeria and enjoyed a very nice dinner.
We returned to a still-too-hot hotel room for our final night's sleep in Italy.