Information and photos of my mountaineering trips in Scotland,England and Wales:
Including hillwalking,scrambling and easy rock climbing.Also via ferrata, skiing and alpine trips in Europe.

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Thursday, 24 July 2008

Italy - Via Feratta Week - Marino Bianchi, 24th July, 2008

For our last VF of the week, we drove out to Cortina to do the 2B, Marino Bianchi. The cablecar is situated on the S48 between Cortina D'Ampezzo and the junction between S48 and S48b. The lifts take you up, in two stages, to the rifugio Lorenzi. The second lift, or "coke cans" as they're affectionately called are an experience in themselves, as they rattle and shake they're way up to the main ridge of the Cristallo group where the refugio Lorenzi sits precariously at 3000m.

The "coke cans", only have room for two, just (you can see Lorna and Ben in the one above), and you have to run to get on as the lift guy slams and locks the door shut behind you! You also get a good view of the drop below you through the holes in the floors! As they took forever to go up, I did consider having a pee through one of the holes.

The route of Marino Bianchi VF is the ridge that leads straight from the balcony of the refugio, up to the summit of the Middle Cristallo, so you will have an audience as you leave, and come back. The route has some small exposed sections, but nothing too drastic, yet for a 2B they are exciting enough! That and a couple of ladders, one a little on the loose side, make this a great route.

Ben on one of the short steeper sections. Apart from a small loop in the route, taking a different descent than ascent, you have to follow the cable back to the refugio. This makes the ladders and some of the short downclimbs interesting, but it can be slow going due to amount of traffic. However this gives you time to savour the views and the drops!

The summit at 3154m gives you a great view of Ponte Cristallo (Cristallo Bridge), the longest ferrata suspension bridge in the dolomites, near the start of the Ivano Dibona VF, which also starts from refugio Lorenzi. Sadly, due to the amount of people on our route, we couldn't make it back to the refugio in time to even try and get to the bridge for some photos! Maybe next year?

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Italy - Via Ferrata week - Delle trincee , 23rd July, 2008

After a rest day (ahem), myself, Ben and Lorna, thought it would be a good idea to try a harder Via Ferrata, such as the 4B, Delle Trince, high on the Padon Ridge above Arabba.

The Padon ridge and route of "Trinci" as seen from our balcony, a long way up - 2727 m!

Dick and Stewart, who were staying in the same chalet as us also came along. We took the cable car up to the Porta Vescovo ridge in what appeared to be quite good weather. However we followed four very professional looking Italian climbers out of the top station into bittlerly cold, almost gale force winds! The whole lot of us promptly about turned back into the station to put on every bit of wind proof clothing we had, before venturing outside again and heading east to the start of the Padon Ridge.

As you leave the station, you get your first view of the ridge and the imposing steep first section of the VF on the left.

The first 10 - 15m are the hardest, and unless you are an experienced rock climber, you'll probably end up hauling yourself up by the cable! We saw some people using rock shoes, although they would need to change back into boots after a while. Sadly, Lorna, Ben and Stewart found the start too difficult and went back to the top station, whilst Dick and myself swore our way up!
I had my handsfull most of the time and so I didn't take many pictures, especially as I opted not to wear gloves despite the cold!

Myself and Dick, crossing the exposed smooth slab section (1st and 2nd from left).

Again I had to "steal" a photo of the slab as it was just to cold to get the camera out!

Another borrowed photo of the very airy ridge, with an amazing drop over to the right!

Me trying to stand still on Trinci's suspenion bridge, in the wind.

Dick, also trying to look cool in the wind!

Another borrowed picture of the northern side of the ridge, looking back along the route.

The route is split into three sections, with the last section taking you through World War Tunnels and fortifications. Despite the blue sky and wearing full kit, it was a bit nippy, so we left the route after the second section (which I now regret) and made our way back to the cable car, passing under the route as we did.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Italy - Via Ferrata week - Brigata Tridentina, 21th July, 2008

Our next outing was to the popular Brigata Tridentina, a 3B VF that climbs a wall on the north flank of the Sella Massif. This is another route with a nice short walk in of about 10/15 mins from the car park. The first section goes up a big slab, quite often wet but there's plenty of rungs (stemples). Then there's another twenty minute walk to the main section which starts just to the right of the waterfall you can see in the centre of the picture. Looking back across to the road up to the Gardena Pass. As you walk along to the next section, you get to see the bridge that you cross at the top of the VF and the steep wall to the left of the main tower. Ben on the lower part of the nearly continous 1300m cable. This section reminded us of Curved Ridge in Glencoe.

Lorna and Ben Going round an exposed corner, before the main wall. However, you soon leave the ridge like section and very quickly gain height onto the steeper main wall with massive drops back into the gorge. Any thoughts of being big and clever, were soon stopped as we were folllowed by an Italian family and their kids! As you take a rising traverse across the main wall, you come to probably the hardest part; a vertical section up chimneys and ladders, but all with good protection. After the ladders, a quick shimmy under an overhanging block brings you out at the deep gorge we saw from the bottom. It's then just a case of crossing the suspension bridge and posing for the camera, before a final short section of cable and a another twenty minute walk to the Pisciadu hut for lunch. Once you've filled up on beer and pasta, you get a fantastic view of the bridge that you crossed earlier as you set off on the two hour descent back to the car park.
On the way down you also see the top of Piz da Lech high on the right.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Italy - Via Ferrata week - Piz da Lech, 20th July, 2008

For the week, 19th - 26th July, myself, Lorna and Ben went to Arabba in the Italian Dolomites for a week's VF ing! We stayed in Chalet Brigitta as we did ;ast year (2007), courtesy of Colletts Mountain Holidays. Our first route of the week was the 3B, Piz da Lech. A short drive to Corvara, then the cable car and chair lift to the top station, leaves you a twenty minute walk to the start of the VF.

The red line shows the route of the VF.

Ben gearing up in the "cave" just below the start of Piz da Lech.

Looking up at the main wall with the two ladder sections higher up on the right.

Me and Ben on one of the ladders.

When you finish using the cable, it's another twenty minute or so plod to the summit, with huge drops on your left and great views of some of the Sella Massif's towers.

Me and Ben, not looking very macho at the summit cross on Piz da Lech at 2520m! After leaving our comments in the log book, we headed back down via the chair and cable car to Corvara.