Thursday 24 July 2003: Giovanni Barbara Via Ferrata plus extension to Cortina

Martin's report:

A planned repeat of Ivona Dibona (just me [Julia thought I was mad], with Dave, Don and Liz, who had all arrived too late for Sunday’s trip) had to be foregone because of doubtful weather, so about 10 of us did the low level 'Barbara' VF. Water level lower than 2 years ago, so this was great fun. Here's Mary's description of the day:

Waterfall Route & Beyond. 24 July.
Start in grid sq. C4, map 617, 1:25,000

(Martin B, Sue B, Liz C, Nick G, Catherine H, Mary M, Carolyn R, David S & Don W)

After heavy rain you might not be able to do this route. Nothing to do with too much water in the waterfall (which would look superb), but if the river swells you can't get to the bridge just down from the falls.

Note the paths at the top & bottom of the waterfall

Park in the car park at the hairpin beyond Hotel Fiames and take a gentle walk through the woods, emerging high above Rio di Fanes, with spectacular views to the falls & across the gorge. Two thin, horizontal lines on the opposite rock-face mark the upper & lower VF routes. Take the steep, zig-zaggy path down to the water, cross the bridge, and walk / scramble to the lower VF. Most folk manage this VF without kit. We paused in the woods on the far side & waited for some of the group who'd taken a different path (Nick’s amazing orange trousers clearly visible miles away).

Harness tangles!

Next, began David’s performance. During the night some gremlins had tied his VF kit inside out / back to front / topsy-turvy, and in trying to put it on (yes, after the VF route had been completed!) he ended up with, as someone put it, his leg upside down. Must've been all that yoga Sue's been teaching. He ended up with half the group rearranging his kit & the other half taking photos. Then most of us headed off to cool down under the falls, leaving Sue and Nick yoga-ing among the trees.



Nick, Carolyn & Catherine towards the end

It seemed too soon to go straight home, so consensus was to walk back down to Camping Dolomiti (our camp site). From the yoga-woods, follow 401 then 408 to Passo Posporpora (Pooh Sticks en route) and join the lovely contouring path 409 with excellent views of Punta Fiames. Much debate about the route of Punta Fiames’ VF "Michielli Strobel", which some of the group had done earlier in the week. We lunched, narrowly missed a snake (black, maybe a metre long, and sure to have been deadly poisonous), marvelled at all the butterflies (also mostly black), and wondered if the pretty purple flowers (phew; not black) were columbines. Much regret over absence of flower books. Even more regret over absence of refreshments at Pie Tofana. In the words of Catherine we "trogged on", along 406 - deceptively straight on the map but in reality upsy-downsy, twisty-turny & boulder-strewn; lots of midges in the woods, too - and then the 403.

Relief finally came in the form of hot chocolate (actually unadulterated melted chocolate as they forgot to add the milk!) and apple strudel at an eatery (Baita il Cervo) near Hotel Pocol. Energy boosted, we set off down the road with eyes peeled for the 429. Somewhere en route we perfected the art of corner-cutting hairpins. Suddenly our route stopped. We were hovering outside a building (a disco, no less) and pondering our next move, when a man came out & indicated the path …… in one door of the disco & out of another! Too bad if you want to do the route out of hours. Views of Cortina spread out far below. Easey peasey from now on, surely??

As instructed, we bewared (bewore?) of the dog (rather cute, actually), and round a corner found our path marked "per esperti" - something to do with "suitable for experts only". We went down anyway, and had a lovely walk through deciduous woodland. We drifted slightly off-track, had to walk up-road a bit, re-joined the 429, and headed on through the trees. Somewhere in all this I got separated from the others who'd split into two groups. Fortunately I met a jogger. "Have you passed a group of people along here?" "Yes" "Was one wearing bright orange trousers?" "I don't think so. I vud have noticed". Even more fortunately map-reading & paths were clear from now. Each in our own way, we followed a large water pipe through (between) the trees & emerged at Hotel Zirfani. A short walk southish, and we were back at Dolomiti.

Then someone remembered. We'd left the cars behind."

Eighteen of us then tripped into Cortina and amazingly got accommodated in a restaurant with no booking and enjoyed an excellent meal.

Click link for more info about Barbara

Devil's claw

Page updated 19 October 2003