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Sextener Rotwand, 12 hours of Dolomite Delights

Sextener Rotwand, 12 hours of Dolomite Delights

Postby trekker53 » Wed Sep 26, 2012 6:31 pm

Date walked: 08/09/2012

Time taken: 12

Ascent: 1000m

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Here I am back in the Sexten Dolomites, close to the Austrian border. My friend Rolf travelled down from Germany to join me for 9 days hiking. Our first days hiking is to summit Sextener Rotwand, an impressive peak towering above the small town of Sexten. Its height is 2965m but we can only get to the summit cross at 2936m. That's good enough for me. I believe you need to be a rock climber to ascend the true summit.
Sextener Rotwand on the left from my accomodation

A short drive from our accommodation takes us to Bad Moos where a cable car will take us to 1950m. That's just about 1000m of ascent to do. No problem being a Munro bagger, but the route is not straightforward as we will need to don via ferrata kit for a few tricky sections.
We exit the cable car at Prati di Croda Rossa, a beautiful flattish green area with a few cafes which are very popular with families with its various playthings for children.
Prati di Croda Rossa
We didn't stop but walked across to find route 100 where a good path twists its way through the rocky outcrops and pine trees gaining height all the time. After negotiating a rather nice wooden staircase ( so thoughtful for us hikers ) a signposted branch path will take us to the summit.
We now make our way up the Coston di Croda Rossa, a very fine ridge, with fantastic views of the valley below opening up between the rocky spires. All around the views were getting impressive as we continued gaining height. I should mention there was not a cloud to be seen and the forecast said it will last all day.
Great view of the valley below

40 minutes from the branch path we stopped to put on our harness and hard hats. A few others were in front. Up ahead after leaving the green vegetation , all we see is rock. No plant life at all. A path across loose rock leads its way to a rocky wall. Now the fun starts.
The via ferrata is about to begin. The ladders just below centre of picture
Approaching the ladders

An extended ladder bolted on to the rock made life a little easier. As I had done some basic via ferrata last year I knew what to expect. Still I climbed carefully, I didn't clip on with the carabiners as I felt safe enough. The ladders then gave way to the wire rope weaving it's way through the convoluted Dolomite rock.
Sometimes there was akward bits to negotiate but you always managed. At quite a few places it was just easy scrambling that most Munro baggers will have done sometime. Where it gets steeper clipping on the carabiner or two will give you the protection in case of a slip. A lot of the times I used the wire as a handrail as this made you move faster as you didn't have to clip on and clip off.
An hour after donning the via ferrata kit we came across the remains of wooden barracks from the 1st World War. This area was an extensive fighting zone between the Italians and the Austrian / Hungarian empire. We would see a lot more before the day is over.
1st World War site

Well looking at war remains will not get the job done so it was onwards and upwards. After traversing over shale and scree paths sometimes clinging to the hillside we came to the last obstacle, a towering rock face.
Oh well here we go again. It wasn't as bad as it looked once you got up close and followed the wire. There was plenty of ledges where to get a good foothold before you moved on up again. It does take time as you're looking up ahead 2 moves to see the best foot placements. Doing this you can quickly gain height.
Getting close to summit now

Soon we saw the cross which gave us an added incentive for the final push to the summit. At our right side more 1st World War paraphenalia and tunnels were all over the mountain top.
Right side, remains of Ist World War

At 12pm we were at the cross getting our celebratory photos taken. From our cable car exit it took 3 hours to achieve. After doing some impressive via ferrata I was well chuffed with myself. We soaked up the views from all around. A few other summiteers were relaxing with us. With this glorious weather who could blame them. Time now to enjoy a well earned bite to eat.
We made it.
We had a half hours rest before setting off again.
We set off down again retracing our steps.
Rolf leading the way.
It was very quick going down using the via ferrata. Only the clipping and unclipping would slow us. At a junction we were to turn left and descend to a path running along the top of a giant scree field. This would take us to the Strada degli Alpina. This is a 2km walk along a ledge starting from the towering north face of Cima Undici made by the Italian troops in winter and at nightime. You have to admire these guys who suffered here for their cause. So many people died from the cold and avalanches than ever by the enemy.
This path was a pleasure to hike as you took in the vista’s all around. In the distance I could see some folks hiking the ledge.
Heading up to the Sentinella Pass
The scree finished and it was back on the wire to ascend the rock wall. I think I had one moment when I couldn’t see where to put my feet next. I found a toe hold and just hauled myself up to a safer ledge. There I caught my breath and ascended again. We passed a signpost showing the ledge route but Rolf had other plans. We were to keep ascending till we came to the Passo della Sentinella at 2717m. More scrambling ensued and then a normal walk took us to the pass.
1st World War observatory post

2 hours after leaving the summit we arrived here at 1430hrs. This was once a war time observation post that commanded great views of both valleys either side of the mountain. A shelter was cut into the rock.
Entering the former war shelter
We entered and enjoyed the view from the rock window. We had another rest here and a second lunch. We were alone which I liked.
We didn’t hang around as there was still a lot of hiking to be done. We quickly retraced our steps down to the signpost we saw earlier. Now I can enjoy this path which I’ve been wanting to do ever since I first read about it.
More via ferrata as we traversed and descended down another ladder to reach the cliff side path. You look ahead and think is that really safe. As always a wire is running along to clip on to. Not once did I feel scared though you do need a head for heights. As my guide book said, ”there’s an awful lot of air below you”. A bit further on some planks of wood covered the gap where the ledge disappeared into the abyss.
Glad the boards were there
What you do for adventure when on holiday. I was enjoying every minute of this as we kept on track.
Rolf looking comfortable. Where is the path though?
The Sentinella pass is at the lowest point of the sky
Do we really go over there?

Shortly we arrived at the Forcella Undici 2600m where there is an escape path if you choose not to go on. This was not an option for us. We must get to the end. The path now turns left around the mountain and descends a bit along a good scree path. We were now on the west side heading south making good progress. Soon this good path would go back to a cliff side ledge ( Salvezza Ledge ) which when looking at is very spectacular. A true ledge cut into the rock. This will be exhilarating. Good job today I’m not feeling suicidal.
The ledge running just above Rolf's helmet.
Feeling OK as ledge approaches.
The Ledge.

Onto the ledge, sometimes its broad other times not, so careful attention was paid. Where it got narrow I clipped onto the wire. You certainly don’t want to stumble here. There was no one else around. I was very glad of that as this route 101 is very popular and you could get large groups hogging the path and taking away the majesty of the situation. So with clear blue skies and its excellent visibility and dicing with death this would be one day I‘ll never forget.
Rolf in front with me behind we passed a drainage gully with old snow still lying. Continuing along the ledge we came across its most famous feature. The ledge is cut right into the back of a deep vertical chimney . Here we would spend some time taking photos. This is a great place if you’re a photographer ( Chris W take note ). You could spend ages here trying to get the perfect photo.

Time now is 5pm so we should move on. There is still the long walk back to the car to come. Eventually the ledge peters out and we slowly descend along a stony boulder field.
Normal hiking resumes.
It continued with some odd bits of scrambling till we reached a good fine scree path 103 which will take us to the Rifuge Comici at 2224 m. The path took us down quickly before a small ascent took us to the Rifuge. Rolf was looking forward to a Cappuccino and maybe a beer for me. Well I’ve earned it. To our dismay the Rifuge was busy with evening dinners. We didn’t have the time to wait.
Rifuge Comici with the route 101 high above. Picture taken on a previous day

The time was now after 6pm and we still had a long walk ahead and 900m descent. We carried on down the excellent track which I’ve walked a few times before. The sun was beginning to set throwing some excellent shadows on the surrounding mountains. The mountain summits had a lovely warm orange glow to them.
A colourful glow to the summits
We moved quickly to get out of the twisting track before the light fades. When we descended to the valley it was an easy walk along a good broad track in the fading light.
We arrived on the minor road at its end at the Dolomitenhof Hotel where the tarred road took us down in darkness to the car park at the cable car station at Bad Moos. Arrived at the car at 2045hrs, that’s 12 hours after setting out. No complaints from me though. Today I’ve hiked in some outstanding mountain landscape, bagged a summit, had excellent views all day and walked in the remnants of a war zone. Not bad at all.
Truly awesome.
Thankyou Rolf for joining these 2 hikes together. Each separately would have been a good day out.
Also some photos courtesy of Rolf.
Last edited by trekker53 on Sun Sep 30, 2012 8:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sextener Rotwand & Strada Degli Alpina, Dolomite Delight

Postby SAVAGEALICE » Wed Sep 26, 2012 10:26 pm

Amazing photos ...certainly different to the Highlands
looks great!
Thanks for sharing :) :)
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Re: Sextener Rotwand, 12 hours of Dolomite Delights

Postby ChrisW » Mon Oct 01, 2012 5:54 am

I'm taking note T53 :lol: What a stunning hike in spectacular surroundings with perfect weather, what more could you ask. So many beautiful photos throughout but that one in the vertical chimney is a cracker (and so damn difficult to expose correctly too with so much contrast) :clap: All in all a wonderful 'joined' hike :D
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Re: Sextener Rotwand, 12 hours of Dolomite Delights

Postby trekker53 » Thu Oct 04, 2012 6:05 am

Savage alice said
certainly different to the Highlands

Yes and no boggy paths.

Sometimes it was very hard to stop taking photos as every view offered something. A truly wonderful landscape.
Look out for another report soon.
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