After inspecting the World War I remnants, we continued on to the summit cross, where we admired the large wooden crucifix sculpture and wrote in the summit log. Although we did get a few brief glimpses of sun and blue sky, we never really got any sort of good, clear views of the wider terrain, let alone the valley bottoms. Mostly we were just in cloud.
Just for curiosity's sake, we descended a short ways down the eastern ridgeline of the Croda Rossa. In just a few minutes we came to the top of the eastern variant of the Zandonella ferrata (the ferrata we had originally planned to use to climb up here). Here, too, was a ferrata closure warning notice - although this one was in much better shape than the one at the bottom. In any case, in our minds, this only solidified the correctness of the choice we'd made earlier in the day.
Checking out the precipice
So, with a general lack of views and with the clock ticking onward (and with the reality of a fair bit of downclimbing and hiking yet to do before making it back to the rifugio in time for dinner), we left the summit. Straightforward and easy downclimbing (on the Ferrata Nord, the route upon which we had just come up) meant we were soon below the top climbing section, and walking down amidst the various ruins and relics on the northwest ridgeline.
As mentioned earlier, our intended return route was via a hike east, along the northern base of the Sesto Group, until we could turn back south to reach the Rifugio Berti and complete our day's loop. To get to the base of the mountainous terrain, however, we needed to first continue down the spine of the Croda Rossa's northwest ridgeline until a reasonable route could be found to descend towards the north and east. A side-effect of this routing is that we'd get to experience nearly the entire length of the Ferrata Nord (at this point we had only climbed the upper half to the summit).
The climb down along the ridgeline along the VF Nord - much like the upper part - was quite easy. It was only infrequently protected by ferrata wire, and when it was, the climbing was very easy. The scenery was nice, however, and our lowering elevation meant we were mostly out of the clouds and able to look both ways off of the ridgeline. There were also many more extensive World War I ruins to see. We were in a bit of a let's-make-some-progress mode, though, so we didn't stop to examine any of these sites too closely.
Extensive Ruined Installation
Extensive Ruined Installation
Down at about the 2400-metre level, we came to a small notch in the ridgeline with some red blotches and a painted sign (on the rock) for Burgstall / Castelliere. I had noticed this little shortcut route on my map, and wanted to take it, for staying on the VF Nord all the way to the very lower end would involve a bunch of extra distance for us.
A final bit of descent down some steep terrain (including some easy sections of via ferrata) brought us out of the realm of cold bare rock and into the realm of alpine meadows and grasses. Our descent path soon intersected the main "sub-mountainous" trail (#15) in the area.
We turned right (that is to say, towards the east) on trail 15. Ahead of us we could see much of the trail's path, as it led across the broad slope below the crags above. We traced the line of the trail as it receded into the distance, finally turning around a corner and becoming hidden from view.
After the heightened level of concentration required of scrambling and climbing in steep terrain, the hike along 15 was relaxing - maybe even slightly boring. One foot in front of the other, we walked east on the nice, smooth track, very gradually descending as we did so. We passed a number of side intersections to trails that led down and to the left, towards the main pass in the area - Passo Montecroce - through which the main highway ran. But since we were headed back to the rifugio Berti, we needed to stay straight, skirt the base of the mountains, and eventually circle around to reach the hut.