Today is the last day of my fortnights holiday in the Dolomites. My friend Rolf has been hoping to get me to agree to do a biggie summit. This mountain Tofana di Rozes at 3225m has a via ferrata that is more difficult than anything I'd done previousy. I kind of knew this was coming and was not wholly convinced I could do it. However Rolf has been taking me on a few via ferratas these last few days to give me experience. I liked what I've done so far and was getting more confidant with each one. This one though would really up the ante.
From my guide book the route is quoted Grade 4 and Seriousness C. Grades are 1 to 5. 5 being hardest.
Quote from book. Grade 4.
" Demanding routes, frequentlyinvolving steep rock faces and requiring a fairly high standard of technical climbing ability. These routes are certainly not for the novice, or those unsure of their confidance in mountain situations".
"Routes for only the experienced mountaineer. Such routes might lack any escape opportunities, be in remote areas, have passages of very exposed, unprotected terrain, or involve inaccessible situations where any mishap could have the most serious consequences."
Those phrases are enough to put you off but this being my last hike I may as well go out with a bang. I put my faith in Rolf who was more confidant that I could do it than myself.
We drove from Sexten for 1.5 hrs passing Cortina and taking the Passo Falzarego road from where a 4 km side road took us to Rifuge Dibona situated at 2050m.
The massive south wall of Tofana di Rozes stands impressively above the plain. Some morning mist was hanging about its faces as we set off in its direction on path 442 where a branch path 404 would take us to the base and westwards to the start of the Giovanni Lipella via ferrata, named after a Cortina guide.
It took us an hour and we gained some 350m. Now the fun starts. We put on our harnesses and helmets whilst a rather large group set off in front.
An easy scramble up took us to ladders that would lead us to a 1st World War tunnel. With torches on our helmets we entered the tunnel. The first part of the tunnel had a fine staircase, not original and led steeply upwards. Later the staircase ended and now it was rough climb now. A wire helped us to ascend without slipping. Soon we came to a rock window that brought us some much needed light. Soon after we exited into the bright sunshine. At 2600m we had great views all around with Marmolada being the most impressive with its glacier top. We clipped on to the wire and moved forward for some metres before being held up. The group in front seemed to have come to a standstill. We had to wait and wait. Slowly we moved along. The wire descended and some of their group was having difficulty going down. After 30 mins we were off the wire and onto a scree path. As the group got themselves organised we set off quickly. We didn't want to be stuck behind them again.
A 10 minute walk along a fine scree path took us to the metal plaque to signify the start of the via ferrata proper. Some people were already in front and from this you could see the line of the wire. The only way is upwards and now I was ready for the challenge. Two hours after setting off this was it. No time to chicken out.
Upwards we go, the broken rock made for good footholds as we followed the wire zig zagging its way upwards. Soon the wire went horizontally along on a rough ledge. Following this you couldn't help but notice the fine views below you and of course the steep drop below your feet. Shortly the wire ended and being on a wider ledge one could relax a bit before the next section. That was the first bit out of the way and I was happy that no difficulties were encountered.
The next section was steeper. Rolf was in front leading the way, very confidant as he climbed quickly along the wire. I was a bit slower and cautious as I looked for good footholds and getting safe positions to clip the carribineers off and on.
Shortly on a more steeper section I got myself stuck. Looking around I couldn't see any decent footholds. Well Rolf and others had passed this bit so there must be a way. So far the via ferrata had been interesting but with no real difficulties. Was this when it starts to get more harder? I couldn't stay here and I was not going to admit defeat so picked up some courage and holding tightly onto the wire I made my move. Boots clinging to the smallest lip of rock I hauled myself up to a more safer situation. Phew! that was a relief. I took a few moments to relax before heading on up again. This time it was OK and I quickly moved on. A couple that had been following me decided at this point to descend. Upwards we came to a ledge. Nice and easy now we traversed the sloping ledge. All that effort in gaining height we now lose some. Ah such is life.
Now that the ledge widened we could take it easy and enjoyed our walk in the sunshine. The path twisted its way around the Tofanas massive western walls. This was seriously enjoyable. My worries earlier had been forgotten.
Ten minutes later we clipped back onto the wire for a short climb and then a longer descent. More traverses and some ups and downs took us to a wide ledge where now decisions had to be made.
This point is used as an emergency exit if you've had too much via ferrata, weather turns bad or maybe your timings are slower than expected.
A painted sign on the rock said Cima ( summit ) with an arrow pointing right. The next section of the via ferrata starts here. To the left a sign said Cantore where Rifugio Giussani was situated. A normal hiking path would take you there and no more via ferrata.
See Part 2 to see what we did.
Travel and Coronavirus
Please check current coronavirus restrictions before travelling within or to Scotland.
Click for details
This board helps you to share your walking route experiences in England and Wales... or overseas.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.