09-22/08/2014 - photos
Participants: Tom Brennan, Rachel Grindlay
Rachel headed to Italy in August 2014 for the World Ultimate Club Championships. I joined her at the end of the tournament for a couple of weeks of via ferrate with a couple of canyons thrown in for good luck. It was the wettest summer in northern Italy in recorded history, so I suppose it was lucky we were able to do as much as we did. We managed to do something most days, though on a couple of occasions our aim was thwarted.
The first couple of days were spent canyoning in Piedmont, in a valley near the town of Gordona, not far from the Swiss border. We then drove up through Switzerland and across to the town of Corvara, in South Tyrol, where we spent six days doing via ferrate in the Dolomites. From there we headed a little way south to San Martino di Castrozza, in Trentino, to try to do a three day walk in the mountains. Finally, we made our way south to Verona, and then out via Milan.
Here are the photos from that trip. To keep things manageable, I have split the photos into pages, mostly one page per day/trip.
- Sun 10 Aug - Cormor Canyon
Cormor Canyon is quite incredible. Much of the canyon is in almost total darkness, requiring headtorches, and the roar of water is deafening. We were apparently the first party to go down the lower section in almost two years, as the dam has been releasing too much water. With Pascal van Duin from TopCanyon.
- Mon 11 Aug - Val Bodengo (Boggia) I
It had rained most of the day, and continued to rain during the canyon. The water levels were very high so we couldn't go on to do Bodengo II, and many of the obstacles required safety ropes to negotiate safely (guided rappels, pulling people out of hydraulics etc)
- Wed 13 Aug - Tschierspitze V (Cir V, 2520m) and Grosse Tschierspitze (Gran Cir, 2592m)
Our first day in Corvara - weather forecast was deteriorating for the afternoon, so we headed up to do a shortish via ferrata, Tschierspitze V, which was good fun and a great intro route. Grosse Tschierspitze (Gran Cir) was supposedly easier, so after descending Tschierspitze V, we headed up a nearby gully to the start. Unfortunately the rain set in, which made it somewhat harder than it should have been! I pushed on via some scrambling to the summit while Rachel decided to sit this one out. A slippery descent followed. Still, it was good to find out how slippery the rock gets once it's wet, as the forecast for the rest of the week was not good.
- Thu 14 Aug - Piz da Lech (2915m, Peak of the Lake in Ladin, or something like that)
To get to the start of the climb, we took a gondola and then a chairlift, at the top of which we could barely see anything there was so much cloud. We decided to press on, and were gratified that there was a queue at the start of the route. Solid but generally fun climbing, and then a stroll to the top of the peak where the cloud briefly cleared for a few views. The weather finally came through, and it started snowing as we left the peak, turning to rain lower down the mountain. Thankfully not too wet for the chairlift back!
- Fri 15 Aug - Sassongher
Sassongher is the impressive peak that overlooks the town of Corvara, where we were staying. It is accessed by a supposedly easy via ferrata. We set off with a poor weather forecast. The rain looked to have set in after a narrow and precipitous section of track well before the ferrata section, and we decided it would be prudent to reverse our route while the weather was still setting in. In hindsight, the we may have been able to push on, but at the time it seemed like the right decision.
- Sat 16 Aug - VF Brigata Tridentina
Via Ferrata Brigata Tridentina is one of the most popular VFs around Corvara, being quite long, in spectacular position climbing up beside a long waterfall, and at a moderate but still challenging grade. We got to the start fairly early, and there was only a queue of about 10 there already, with another 20 or so close behind us. After the first pitch, we got into a sweet spot with a nice gap opening up in front of us and behind us meaning we could take our time and enjoy the view, rather than feeling the pressure of the hordes behind you. The route finishes near Rifugio Pisciadu, which is situated in an awesome spot above a small lake, and at the head of the steep valley that the VF climbs. We took the longer descent via Val de Mesdi, which had its own little ferrata section, and then returned past the bottom of the waterfall we had climbed up beside.
- Sun 17 Aug - Piz Boe (3152m)
Ferrata Vallon is a fairly short ferrata, in the head of the valley near the Piz da Lech route. There was a bit of loose rock, and some ice, so less pleasant than the other ones we had done. More an approach route, so we intended to walk on to Piz Boe to make a day of it. The 672 path was a bit more challenging than the dots on the map indicated, with the snow and ice on the ground making some sections a little treacherous. Piz Boe itself is at the junction of several paths, and as we approached the summit, we also ran into the hordes, including plenty of dogs! Rather than retracing our steps, we descended by the south-facing 638 path, which only had one nasty section of snow, in a deep gully. This could be bypassed by some scrambling, which we did, leaving a large number of Italians doing the sketchy descent using a fixed rope.
- Mon 18 Aug - Pale di San Martino
After leaving Corvara, we headed for San Martino di Castrozza for a 3-day walk in the Pale di San Martino. The forecast was pretty dire, but we had rifugio bookings, so we figured we'd give it a go. The walks in and out were only supposed to be short, and there were various bail-out options. At the top of the cable car, the cloud was low, the visibility was fairly non-existent, and we quickly put on extra warm gear. The walk in to the rifugio had a few interesting sections, including some easy cables and snow, and certainly took longer than we expected. The weather was expected to deteriorate significantly the following day, and over breakfast the next morning we decided that retreat was the best option. All other routes required some higher altitude via ferrate. It turned out to be a good decision as we trudged out in the rain and wet snow, and headed to a nice warm hotel for the night, along with meeting up with some friends who happened to be in Trento as well.
- Wed 20 Aug - VF Rio Sallagoni
A via ferrata in a canyon - how good is that?! Given how close this was to Trento, I was keen to give it a go despite its difficulty rating of 4 in the guide. It turned out to be very easy, and a blast. The canyon was beautiful, and we continued up through the upper section as well, emerging at the castle at the top.
- Thu 21 Aug - Verona
We stayed at a B&B in the hills above Verona, and spent the day doing the tourist things in Verona
If all that is too much, there is:
- a summary page of photos with a cut down selection of shots
Rachel also has photos from the trip