Dolomites Trip - 14 to 23 July 2006

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Team news
Maps and guide books
Kit list
Route ideas
Useful links
Diary entries


Camping Colfosco Corvara is situated in magnificent mountain scenery half way between the villages of Corvara and Colfosco. The cost will work out at E10-15 per night per person. We can choose whether to cook in camp or sample the local restaurants.

The above link to the campsite's website provides numerous further links for anyone who wishes to peruse them or try to work out the route by public transport, which in Italy is cheap but time consuming.

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Team News

There are now 13 of us confirmed on the trip.

Martin, Sue, Gary, Jenny and Andrew are flying on LS343 from Leeds/Bradford on Friday 14 July, arriving at Venice (Marco Polo) at 11.05. We have an Astra Estate and Fiat Punto between us and will travel immediately to Corvara, picking up Julia en route, probably in Cortina. Julia may return by public transport or have a lift if available. The rest of this group is returning home on Sunday 23 July - LS344 from Marco Polo - 16.15.

Gaynor McTurk is arriving at Venice (Treviso) at 14.25 on Thursday 13 July and will make her way to Marco Polo the following morning to pick up a lift to Corvara with the above group. Gaynor returns on 23 July, leaving Treviso at 14.50, so can also travel back with those above.

Rupert and Catherine are travelling on Saturday 15 July and are staying overnight in Venice, returning early 23 July.

Paul Filby and Dave Sorensen are arriving at Venice Marco Polo at 17.05 on 15 July, where they will rendezvous with Rupert and Catherine and travel with them to Corvara on 16 July. They also return early on 23 July so will probably get a lift with R+C.

Paul and Judith plan to arrive at camp on Monday 17 July after travelling elsewhere in Italy, and plan to stay until 23 July.

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Maps and Guide Books

Via Ferrata Scrambles in the Dolomites - translated by Cecil Davies (Cicerone) -"the old guide"
Via Ferratas of the Italian Dolomites: Vol 1 - John Smith and Graham Fletcher (Cicerone) - "the new guide"
Walking in the Dolomites - Gillian Price (Cicerone)
Shorter Walks in the Dolomites - Gillian Price (Cicerone)

Cicerone guides are available by mail order from Cicerone where an update to the new guide can also be found

There are many different maps to choose from. The main publishers are Tabacco and Kompass. I like the Kompass 1:25000 Cortina d'Ampezzo - map number 617.
Gillian Price prefers the Tabacco maps - numbers 1 and 2 in the 1:50000 series and number 07 in the 1:25000 series cover Corvara. Kompass map 59 also gives 1:50000 coverage so may be a better bet than the two Tabacco maps.
Maps are readily available locally in Italy and also from Stanfords (020 7240 3611 or or The Map Shop

There is lots more information available on the Dolomites web site including a couple of Via Ferrata routes.

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Kit List

This list may include items not everyone will need - it's intended as a checklist and whilst not exhaustive does cover both essentials and luxuries!

Gloves - for via ferrata - the steel ropes can abrasive. Specially designed gloves can be bought in Cortina, resembling cycling gloves (padded palms and cut off fingers). Some people use ordinary gloves (needed anyway in case it gets cold), others use cheap gardening gloves, others don't use them at all.
Climbing gear (if going on via Ferrata) - Zyper / 3 Screwgate carabiners / harness / helmet. 'Via ferrata kits' used to be unknown to most UK outdoor shop salespersons, but now any reputable shop should stock them. On the easy routes that most of us enjoy, I have not yet encountered rockfall. But the use of a cycle helmet is apparently risky - a proper climbing helmet is therefore advised - it's up to you...
Torch for tunnels (keep in day sac) / spare batteries / candle if desired
Rucksack or large bag
Tent or arrangement to use one
SleepingBag / Liner / Karrimat or Thermarest
Cagoule / Overtrousers / Fibrepile / SunHat
Walking-poles (optional)
Walking Socks / Underwear / Shirts / Swimming trunks
Stove or access to one (don't bring gaz by air) / Pan / Mug / Plate / Bowl / JCloth / Scourer / Knife / Fork / Spoon / Lunchbox /butty bags
Water Bottle(s)
Food for journey / special teas / other special requirements / there are restaurants + supermarket in Cortina (the Coop is like a department store and supplies everything - staying open until around 7pm)
Trainers or sandals / Boots or all terrain shoes
Day sac plus liner
Camera / Binoculars / Film / spare batteries for torch and camera / Tripod
Map (Kompass 59 and/or Tabacco 07) -available in Corvara)/ Guide Book / Pen / Paper / PhraseBook / Book to read / Bogroll
Clock / watch
Glasses / contact lenses (for the poor sighted )/ Glassescase / Cloth Cleaner / Sunglasses
Compass / Whistle / First aid kit
Can Opener / penknife
Suntan cream / lipsalve
ToothBrush / ToothPaste / Dental floss / Shampoo / Razor (if prone to hairiness) / Comb / Towel
Elastoplast/ Aspirin / Diocalm / Savlon / Wipes
LuxFlakes or similar to dunk sweaty underwear
Matches / needle / thread / tape
Passport / driving licence / currency (suggest around €300 plus credit card - there is a cash machine in Cortina) / English Money / Tickets / Insurance papers (if doing via ferrata, check you are covered, also bring details of household policies) [If you need cover try Snowcard]
Timetables / other papers / Addresses for postcards / This List / Keys
Favourite tapes / CDs (for journey or personal stereo)

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Don't leave home without it!
Try the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) or Snowcard (01327 262805).
Take a copy of your household insurance details if you are relying on that for possessions etc.

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Route Ideas

The old guide that has accompanied me on previous trips has now been superseded by the new guide. This new guide has grades for technical difficulty (1 - 5) and 'seriousness' (A - C), whereas the old guide just gives an a - g grading.

Any fit walker with a head for heights should be able to cover the routes graded up to 1B. Scramblers should be alright up to 2B. Those happy with a longer day out should be good for 2C, and those confident with their via ferrata skills may be able to go up to 3C without complaining. That's for all who don't climb.

Anyone with climbing skills will be able to consider attempting the grade 4 and 5 routes, but they should obviously read about the routes and judge their capabilities accordingly. Good technical climbing ability is required.

These notes are aimed at non-climbers - whilst the climbers amongst us will no doubt enjoy them, I appreciate they are more than capable of carrying out their own further research.

I will have full details of all routes with me and we can discuss options on a day to day basis. If the weather is poor, or for anyone not keen on via ferrata, there are plentiful superb walks of all lengths in the area.

Please take your own counsel - we have no qualified guides and no one is legally responsible for anyone else!

Note that the Via Ferrata routes are basically walks with aided sections. Don’t expect to spend all day clipped to the side of a mountain!

Mountain bikes can probably be hired - this activity is popular, but it is quite hilly!

Venice and other interesting places are accessible for a long day out for those who want a break from walking, or in the event of a wet spell.

We will keep our eyes open for the local concerts, which appear to be a summer feature of Alpine resorts.

The flora and fauna are interesting with a plethora of species to observe. Botanists may find Collins ‘Alpine Flowers of Britain and Europe’ handy.

I hope these notes are helpful - your comments on the routes taken (I'm sure we won't stay together all week) will be appreciated, so try to keep a diary that you can send to or leave with me. I'll have lots of paper!

Martin B

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Useful Links

Most of these have already been given above.
For insurance, try (BMC) or Snowcard
Guide books and maps can be found at Cicerone and The Map Shop
Weather information - Venice is the closest I can find.

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Diary entries

I've left the following heirloom from a previous trip to give an idea of what the VF experience can be like, but remember the route described is quite hard for 'non-climbers'!

I'm looking for more contemporary entries to replace Nick's fine story....

Ettore’s ‘e’ grade – travelling the Via Ettore Bovero on Saturday 21st July 2001

It wasn’t how I’d planned to spend my last day in the Dolomites. I stalked around silently with my own thoughts as I thought of the challenges ahead. I’d rather fancied a stroll around the plateau of Monte Piana, and the thought of an ‘e’ grade via ferrata with its vertiginous drops was perhaps more than I could stand. But as I lay in my tent thinking of the day ahead, I visualised how I would feel on the top having completed the ‘walk’ and decided it was better to try this than walk off on my own.

The day dawned bright and clear – the kind of weather we’d prayed for all week, but I couldn’t eat much breakfast at the thought of the rigours ahead. Linda had already told us that everyone feels nervous before a new climb – just the threshold at which you feel it gradually changes. Mine was about to be increased.

Parking at Camping Olympia (alt. 1300m) was the easy part – not much negotiation was required to be allowed to park all day in front of the No Parking signs. We set off through the shady woods, my pack all the heavier with the rope that I had insisted we take – ‘just in case’.

I knew it was a big climb up to the Passo Posporpora, after all we’d descended from there into Cortina only a couple of days earlier, but the easy gradient and the multitude of zigzags made it a steady plod. Not quite enjoyable, but bearable – even with six days of walking in our stiffening legs. Pausing at one point in the shade for a sip of water, I wondered whether my dented litre Sigg bottle would really be enough for such a hot day as this.

We paused at the col (alt. 1730m) to look for the mouse we’d seen earlier, but despite (or perhaps because of) copious poking about with Martin’s stick our little brown friend failed to surface. Now began the real climb up to the start of the via ferrata at around 1900m. This path was much rougher than the gentle amble up to the col – and even the lower stretches were not for the faint-hearted being somewhat exposed. I asked why the pause at a particularly dodgy section – ‘to look at the beautiful view’ was the reply. It was, but I wasn’t in the mood. A little higher we scrambled on to a rather wider ledge. I felt confident enough to take out my camera and take a few wide-angle shots way up the valley of the Rio Travenanzes towards Tofana and Falzarego.

Onwards and upwards, the waymarks now taking on more of a climbing feel, with red arrows pointing around corners and upwards. There were a few awkward moments – lucky for me Linda just in front was able to point out some easy handholds that made the route finding easier. Martin, a little further behind, paused for a rest at this point. (Actually, he stopped because he was stuck! – Ed)

It was a relief to finally reach the bottom of the route. The wires snaked up the white rock into the brilliant blue sky. We climbed into our harnesses. Linda proffered some nuts which I had difficulty swallowing. But it looked do-able which was good – I had pictured some vertical blank wall in my mind.

Rupert led from the front, followed by me and then Martin. I pulled up the first part, hearing words to take small steps but ignoring them in my anxiety to get up. Much of the route up was a daze. I looked out at the view with incredulity – not believing I was there. The worst part was always unclipping at the end of a wire while walking over ‘easy’ ground. I rushed for the next wire to make me ‘safe’. Rupert offered quiet words of encouragement. I wished I dared take out my camera to record the moment. Rupert took shots downwards where I dared not look. Then came a moment I couldn’t believe.

Just up ahead the wire disappeared horizontally around a corner. But where to put my feet? Rupert suggested I go ahead so he could take my picture – but even this opportunity failed to encourage me. Instead we had to execute a rather tricky manoeuvre on a very tight ledge. I was shown the controls on the camera, but all I could do was hold on tightly to the wire. I dared to let go with one hand as Rupert swung out onto the wire. One-handed picture with much camera shake, while Martin waited just below with his nose pressed to the rock. Moving around the corner was easier than expected, so we were soon on some easier ground below the summit rocks. There was a call for lunch but Martin, I suspect like me, wanted to be on the top. There were then several sets of ‘stempels’ – big iron staples drilled into the rocks before I finally saw the small wooden summit cross ahead to my right.


It was just as I visualised. We relaxed on the summit at 2166m, enjoying our lunch and taking in the wide-ranging views as the sun baked us. Many summit photos.

Then off down the long walk back. The conversation was light-hearted – from Laurence Llywellyn-Bowen to Charlie Dimmock. And we laughed as one of our fellow ‘mountaineers’ skipped past with a video camera slung over his shoulder as his only equipment! Much more in the way of war remains on the way down. Chris made a fine model poking his head out of a tunnel window 50 feet above us. And Sue made a fine sunshade with my hat so I could record the moment.

The rest of the journey down was uneventful, save for a rather ungainly scramble down a tree trunk, and some sarcastic comments from some Germans who looked rather disdainfully at our rope.

Ice creams were only noteworthy by their obvious absence at the entrance to Camping Olympia, so instead we returned to Cortina for a welcome beer (or lemonade…).

The day finished in style with a communal meal of highlights and leftovers from the week: seafood pasta, sausages – expertly cooked by Chris and Rupert – with a very large salad, a lovely Barolo wine and finished off with yoghurt with strawberry jam. And no rain.

In the middle of all this, Linda helped a small German child go to the toilet.

Nick Gray - 23rd July 2001

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