Monday, October 3, 2016

Dolomites - Day 5: Via Ferrata Tomaselli to Punta Sud

After a comfortable night at the Refugio Lagazuoi we came down to breakfast at 7.30am to find we were the last ones up.  Because of this we nearly missed out on breakfast!  We hastily made ourselves some tea, yoghurt, fruit and juice to get the day started.

Early morning views from the refugio

A short time later we were out on the trail heading to the base of Punta Sud where we would pick up the via ferrata Tomaselli.  The trail descended from the refugio to begin with, past the remains of buildings and encampments from World War I.  Then it traversed underneath some large cliffs and above a valley with mountain goats, sheep, and a small lake.

Wartime accomodations

Our approach to the route

Looking back to the refugio from the trail

Sheep in the valley below

The via ferrata Tomaselli is a grade 5C route, and it includes some very steep rock and exposed moves.  At the start are some old wooden ladders which thankfully are no longer used as part of this route!  In the tradition of big mountain routes at one point an "a cheval" move was required to gain the holds on the ridge.  However, this was all on very solid rock and under clear skies.

Thankfully these wooden ladders are no longer part of the official route!

Just above the "a cheval" move onto the ridge

Approaching the summit (9777-ft) with big smiles

We arrived at the summit in the clear and for a while had the place to ourselves.  There was a small cairn and a few birds to keep us company.  Eventually we were joined by a very fit looking septuagenarian who had climbed up just behind us.

Views from the summit

To get down off the summit we had to descend a via ferrata for about 10000ft.  This was our first experience down-climbing on the Dolomite rock and it was quite an adventure.  In several places we had to step off into a void without being able to see the holds below us and we were very grateful to be clipped into a cable for security.  Not surprisingly we didn't take any photos on this section of the route!

On the hike back to the road

Once we had descended to the col we were able to jettison our harnesses and helmets, and we hiked back to the bottom of the mountain.  Here we were met by a taxi to take us to our next destination - Corvara in the Alta Badia region.  This was about a 45-minute journey by car, and we arrived at the Hotel Table (3-stars!) just in time for afternoon tea and ice-cream.  We had planned to spend the rest of our trip in Corvara, so we relaxed and enjoyed a simple meal at the hotel before retiring to bed.

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