Via Ferrata - Piz da Cir V, in the Dolomites of Northern Italy

Artemus

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A trip report from another country, and another activity (not Hiking and Camping) and both place and activity are different than my usual.

This climb was conducted during our recent trip to Northern Italy for which I have condensed documentation in this thread. Many people have asked about this via ferrata gig so I thought I would post a TR of one of our climbs, the Piz da Cir V. This climb is rated 2B which is an easy rating. Via ferratas (translated as the iron way) are equipped routes with fixed gear left mostly from historical times, namely WWI and maintained by the Italian climbing clubs for locals and tourists alike. These routes are equipped with protection and aids, such as ladders, bridges and cables, originally intended to aid the soldiers in carrying their little guns, big guns and ammunition to near the tops of the peaks and towers in order to blast the pesky Austrians occupying the homeland.

I have been smitten by the Dolomites for many years and these sheer, craggy towers occupy my dreams and plans. This particular destination in the Sella group have been on my tic list for a long time and were ones we targeted and failed to climb in our 2002 trip to the same mountain range in which we were hit by a sudden storm pattern which sent us packing from the highlands to comfort in Tuscany way back when

Better weather this go around, and some of the same group from that ill-fated trip in 2002 led to a summit on Piz da Cir V!

A view from the approach hike of the surroundings. See what I mean. Grand!
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A view of the Piz or peak or tower that we had set our sights on, from below.
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Gearing up at the bottom. Via ferrata, being a very specialized form of climbing requires very specialized gear. That is, a via ferrata lanyard, helmet, gloves and climbing shoes. My friend Dan and his wife donning their gear. Dan and I were on the 2002 trip. I have been climbing and chasing him around for almost 30 years.
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Hamboning it up as we start.
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Another view of the route as we start up.
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This rock is called Dolomite and it is very similar to limestone. Especially with regards to its coarseness and feature-laden composition. Feature-laden to a climber means a lot of foot and handholds. This is typically very easy climbing for someone used to the more vertical world. Look closely and you can see people high on the route.
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A view looking down a gully mid-route. Much of the ridge is composed of loose rock and talus being shed from the towers.
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A view of parties ahead of us. Here you can see some of these iron bits. Steel cables that are in place for you to clip into for safety and climbing assists.
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Another view of climbers above. A big reason why we wear helmets. People drop stuff. People knock off rocks.
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A view of the main Sella group across the mini valley. Every flat-ish area between peaks and ridges is covered in grazing meadow, ski resort, small town or some other type of development. True wilderness, unlike Utah, is few and far in between.
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Sella
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A view looking down the route as we ascend.
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Another... Notice the guy with the green lid.
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The guy with the green lid was a bit of a strange duck. He latched on to us and followed us around most of the climb and descent. He was a nice enough guy, I suppose, but couldn't speak english and he was certain that the louder he spoke German the more we would be able to understand him. I am pretty sure he couldn't see well at all and was glad to trail us to help lead him. An eccentric in manner and appearance. :)
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Climb ON!
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The view to the east and a prototypical small Italian mountain town in the distance.,
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Some sections of the climb were more like hiking, but with exposure.
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We are now able to start peaking around to the other side of the Piz. Towers and craggy peaks abound. My fave.
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An alpine chough hovering above the summit.
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Another chough encounter from the middle of the cliff. This corvid is not from around here, north america that, is but is related to my old pal Corvus corax. I normally don't like to feed the birds but wanted his picture. ;)
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The requisite cross on a sub-summit. Everything had crosses on it. Kind of morbid I guess, but tradition.
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Approaching the top - a view off to the distant peaks.
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Approaching the tip of the top. The competition on the small tower summit.
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A close up of my friends as they climb the final bit. This was the second crux of the route.
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It was a very enjoyable climb and this was only the beginning. After three of four via ferrat we left the mountains and moved on for another couple of weeks for serious eating and drinking You can see a condensed chronicle of the whole three week trip in this trip report.

And that is all. Arrivederci! Any questions?
 
Last edited:

Perry

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You were definitely in your element my friend. Awesome climb! Are we going to see TRs for your other climbs?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Artemus

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You were definitely in your element my friend. Awesome climb! Are we going to see TRs for your other climbs?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Thanks P. I certainly was. I don't think I will post the others. This was the best one - at least the most photogenic. The other long one was 90% inside the mountain! Tunnels built by the Italians for protection from the Austrians throwing boulders down on them. They took months to dig it and hauled 3,000# of nitroglycerin to the top only to have the Austrians abandon the top before they could go boom....
 

LarryBoy

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How uh, doable is this kind if thing for those who aren't technical climbers by background?
 

Artemus

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How uh, doable is this kind if thing for those who aren't technical climbers by background?
For you, and many here, easy if you had the gear and possibly a friend or guide to be with you the first time. For most people not like you - not bad if they are adventurous if they have gear and a friend or guide. My wife has done a couple with me and she doesn't like to climb but is mountain-savvy. This 2B route would be too much for her though. I took my non-climbing friends up the tunnel route, a grade 1 that I described in a comment above, and they did fine. The ratings go to a level 6 which is very difficult and I couldn't recommend and wouldn't want to do myself because I don't like the gear.

Note: This style of climbing is rare in the US. It is quite common in northern Italy and somewhat less common but still available elsewhere in the Alps.
 
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Titans

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Fantastic photos ! Beautiful place. How awesome you went back to Italy and climbed several 'via ferrata'.
When you mentioned the guy with the green hat I thought for sure he would try to race by you, Italians are generally challenged by the any sort of queuing up.
What a trip Art! Are you already planning the next trip?
 

Artemus

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Fantastic photos ! Beautiful place. How awesome you went back to Italy and climbed several 'via ferrata'.
When you mentioned the guy with the green hat I thought for sure he would try to race by you, Italians are generally challenged by the any sort of queuing up.
What a trip Art! Are you already planning the next trip?

Thanks @Titans! Nah, I think it is time to move on to the next strange mountain range ;)
 

WasatchWill

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Wow, that kind of trip would be once in a lifetime for many folks so I'm glad you got to go back for a second attempt that worked out well this time. That rock looks so crumbly I think I'd still be a bit nervous about the anchors, holding those lines, but then again, obviously many including yourself now do it just fine, so its obviously safe and I'm sure it's all checked for integrity pretty routinely. Did the crosses represent spots where people lost their life?
 

Artemus

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Wow, that kind of trip would be once in a lifetime for many folks so I'm glad you got to go back for a second attempt that worked out well this time. That rock looks so crumbly I think I'd still be a bit nervous about the anchors, holding those lines, but then again, obviously many including yourself now do it just fine, so its obviously safe and I'm sure it's all checked for integrity pretty routinely. Did the crosses represent spots where people lost their life?

Thanks, Will.

The rock was actually pretty good quality once you were on the main sections. Yes they do inspect and maintain the cables and stanchions quite regularly. Still, not my style of rock climbing protection and aid gear so I tried to mostly avoid yarding on it. The cross's ties to actual incidents was completely unknown. There were other monuments to religious and war relics all over the place too. I would think that there was no way there could have been actual deaths corresponding to each cross. Especially because the crosses were on the tops of the peaks and that is not where you generally in mortal danger....
 
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