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Via Ferratas of the Italian Dolomites


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Table of Contents


Route Listing
Key to Diagrams

How to use this Guide
Route Groupings
When to Go
Travel to the Dolomites
Local Transport
Map Availability and Place Names
Route Grading
Cable Etiquette
What to Wear?
Accidents and Mountain Rescue
Some History

Valle di Primiero and San Martino di Castrozza
Bassano del Grappa
Riva, Lake Garda

APPENDIX 1: Glossary of Mountain Terms
APPENDIX 2: Index of Routes in Grade Order
APPENDIX 3: Index of Routes by Mountain Group
APPENDIX 4: Mountain Rescue
APPENDIX 5: Useful Addresses
APPENDIX 6: Bibliography

About the Author

Graham's love of mountain sports started when, at the age of 14, he was dragged up his first VS by the noted Yorkshire climber, Alan Austin. Climbing remained a major passion until it had to take second place behind a busy professional career, which allowed for little more than annual holidays throughout the alpine regions. However, an unmissable early retirement package saw him move to the west coast of Ireland. Here, living in the midst of the Twelve Bens, he had the opportunity to make up for lost time! However, Graham, and wife Meg, have incurably itchy feet! After Ireland, they moved to the Lake District, but have now settled, perhaps permanently, in Italy. Their home is a little village at the foot of Monte Agner, one of the giants of the southern Dolomites, whilst the view from their front door is of the mighty Civetta-Moiazza group. Graham had begun his exploration of the Dolomites in 1997. He was drawn to climbing via ferratas partly by the sheer audacity of the bigger routes, but also by their historic resonance. Researching the guidebooks revealed the enormous scale and variety of the region, whilst the inclusion of the area round Lake Garda showed that climbing via ferratas could be a year-round activity, not just confined to the summer climbing season. After the demands of researching the guidebooks, Graham now enjoys introducing newcomers to via ferrata climbing. However, he and Meg also make time for other mountain sports, such as biking and skiing, whilst the proximity of historic cities like Venice and Padova allows them to indulge their love of Italian culture and architecture. John Smith has been walking and climbing mountains around the world for about 30 years, but until 1998 had never been to the Dolomites. On his first visit, with Marion, Dave and Deborah, he fell in love with the mountains, culture and via ferratas. In ticking off routes with a growing passion, he recognised the need for an up-to-date English-language guidebook; this first volume is the result of many enjoyable days in the Dolomites.


'You could never accuse it of shying away from niche sports. In fact Cicerone Press appears to take pride in publishing books that only those already passionate about a specific sport or place are likely to buy. This time, though, it's appealing to a growing fraternity. Via ferratas, especially in the Italian Dolomites, are becoming increasingly popular as walkers push their personal limits in a different mountain playground. That, and the availability of cheap flights to airports feeding the Dolomites, have helped push via ferrata to the fore. For those who haven't experienced the heart-pumping exhilaration of the via ferrata network, they are protected routes in rocky mountain ranges, using fixed cables, ladders and bridges. They allow the walker to access places usually reserved for rock climbers and provide a unique way to enjoy the breath-taking beauty and exposure of the mountains. Until now the only decent guidebook has been Cicerone's Scrambles in the Dolomites. This suffered from being out of date (first published in 1982) and translated from German (although this has also helped fill long hours in huts, as people gather round to laugh at the phraseology). Smith and Fletcher's version, covering the North, Central and East Dolomites, gains considerable points by originating in English. It has an excellent introduction with comprehensive information on equipment, weather, maps, accommodation options and so on. In fact, if I'd had this book prior to my first trip to the Dolomites I would have saved a fortune on phone calls to Italy. They've also created a new two-stage grading system incorporating both difficulty of the route and seriousness of the mountain situation. Cross-referencing back to routes that I know, I'd say this is accurate and easy to follow. The book includes 75 routes in a fairly tight geographical area, including Cortina, Marmolada and Val di Fassa. They're well described with good colour photography and clear sketch maps. Some are straight-forward walking routes, others go up to the highest level of via ferrata. But the authors have opted to cluster the routes according to valley base rather than mountain groupings and have not referred to the mountain ranges in either text or maps. An index of mountain groups is some compensation but unless you have a local map in front of you, this isn't much help. Given that there are two identical locator maps in the book showing numbered routes relative to each other, converting one of these to show mountain groups as well as towns would have made things easier to follow. VOLUME TWO will complete the coverage of the Dolomites. It will include the famous Brenta group as well as the southern Dolomites, with the stunning Paia group being particularly well represented. Besides the honeypot via ferrata, this volume will break new ground in covering some of the short-duration, off-beat routes near Lake Garda. These are often real gems, and make this volume essential reading for walkers on a lake-based holiday who need a dose of adrenaline, stunning scenery and physical challenge. (Judy Armstrong, TGO)

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