We love to hear about the adventures our customers embark upon. So when Vickie Morrison sent us a photo of the Italian Mountains, we just had to know more!
Hey Vickie! Your adventure in the Dolomites looks exciting. Tell us more about the day you took this photo.
This was my husband and mine’s third time completing a via ferrata and we thoroughly enjoyed it. My husband and I first visited Cortina D’amprezzo in 2015 and completed the Michel Strobel VF route. We planned our visit back to the area as we love Italy and the Dolomite mountains are totally breath-taking, even in the rain! Via ferrata means “iron way” in Italian and is a cross between hiking and rock climbing. It originates from the First World War where soldiers created iron holds in the rock face to help them climb over the mountains into Italy. There are holds in numbered routes, all over the Dolomites, each is graded according to its difficulty. You do need special equipment, a harness with two carabineers; these can be hired locally.
The photo is of our first attempt at the via ferrata degli Alpini. On this day, we attempted to find the beginning of the climb and ended up hiking for hours, by which time we were both too exhausted to climb for the envisaged three hours. How we missed the start is unbelievable! If you have ever been hiking in Italy then you will know that the signs for routes and paths are second to none! The footpaths are numbered and these numbers correspond to maps, so like motorways etc in the UK you follow numbered routes until you reach junctions and then choose your next numbered path! This style of labelling is so helpful and is something I definitely recommend we do in Britain! However, having said how great there are, we did miss the start. I am not usually the one in charge of map reading due to my lack of innate navigation skills! I’m secretly pleased to report that I wasn’t in charge of the map on the day in question!
My husband guided me up an extremely difficult path, in search of the beginning of the via ferrata, the path was extremely uneven underfoot and very slippery. The whole route was a path of loose rocks and stones. This was not a via ferrata route, but it definitely felt like one! Once we climbed the rubble path, to my right I could see the wires for the official route we were looking for and so traced it back down the hill and could see the beginning! But by the time we reached the top I was feeling quite tired so we decided to take a different walking path for the rest of the day and ended up at the Austria 1st World War tunnel, Lagazuoi, which climbed a further 1100 metres, which is something I recommend doing.
That sounds incredible, the history in the mountains is captivating. Did you try again the next day?
As we had found the beginning of the route, the following day we headed straight for it and came to join a queue of people waiting to start. People from all over the world were ready with their harnesses at the bottom. I was feeling very nervous at this point as the route was described as being of medium difficulty and we hadn’t been up a via ferrata for over 18 months. We met a lovely chap who explained that he has free climbed the route before and that it is the initial 10 metres that is the hardest, so armed with this information we took to the rock.
Sure enough, the beginning was quite tricky and I needed a foot up from my husband a couple of times. Once we got past the first challenging bit the rest was of achievable difficulty. On two occasions we had to climb around an exposed piece of rock where lots of really foul language escaped my lips but thankfully no one could hear me! It was a little scary but just enough adrenalin was running for us to really enjoy it. We completed the route in good time after stopping for lunch half way up. The weather was dry but a little chilly when not moving, so my FINDRA neck warmer was a perfect accessory to keep the wind out. I would definitely recommend the via Ferrata to anyone who loves the outdoors and doesn’t mind heights! Doing via ferrata in the Dolomites provides a perfect cocktail of Italian food and wine, mountains and great weather!