The Strada degli Alpini (Alpinisteig) in the Sesto Dolomites is one of the most spectacular and exciting via ferratas in this incredible mountain area. I did it, starting from the Prati di Croda Rossa, and I'll tell you how it went.
Hiking, via ferrata: the Strada degli Alpini (Alpinisteig), the Sesto Dolomites
I don't know how many times in the last twenty years I have studied this itinerary, reading the various descriptions with a mixture of sensations: on the one hand, the inevitable attraction and desire to walk the equipped ledge exploited by the Italian Alpine troops during the First World War; on the other, a certain apprehension about some difficulties that the track may hold. For various reasons mainly related to family needs, I had never managed to accomplish the feat. This summer, finally, I did this magnificent via ferrata, taking advantage of my still good physical shape, despite my age (almost 54) saying I'm no longer a kid.
First of all, I want to point out that from a technical point of view the track does not involve extreme difficulties. The aided sections are mostly on horizontal parts of the route (ledges), or with a 40-50% slope (therefore, far from vertical), while the vertical ones do not exceed 5%. However, it must be clearly said that physical effort is important, considering - according to my direction of travel - the approach to the via ferrata (about 2.5 hours), the actual via ferrata (2 hours), and the exit with the return down to the valley and starting point (about 3-4 hours). It took me from about 9,00 to 19.00 altogether... So, a good physical training is definitely required.
Secondly, excellent mountain and high-altitude experience is required for the overall management of the excursion in a suggestive, but sometimes severe, environment, and above all you must not have serious vertigo problems, because in many stretches the void below you is even 300 meters and more, and it makes a certain impression. Indeed, the aided sections, in the end, are the least problematic ones, because you can hook yourself with your carabiners to the metal safety cable. As for me, it's the sections on rubble and debris, where the path is relatively narrow, without a cable and with a cliff underneath, that bother me the most. Along these stretches, I proceed with great caution, and try not to look too below... But once these aspects have been highlighted, it must be said, with equal emphasis, that this via ferrata will leave you with incredible images and sensations, taking you to a mountain environment that is simply crazy!
Having said that, let's move on briefly to the description of the route. Briefly, because I don't have much else to add to the many descriptions that can be found both on the internet and in mountain guides (like those of Kompass guide, which I used myself).
Compared to the available descriptions, I only highlight that many were written before climate change..... In recent summers, it is difficult to find significant problems still in August due to the presence of snowfields. However, if you want to check the situation of the via ferratas in the Sesto Dolomites, you can consult the Tre Cime Mountaineering School website.
The most useful description (which for convenience and safety I reproduce below, towards the end of the article) is the one taken from Wikipedia (second description of this site), which proposes the route clockwise, from the Croda Rossa meadows, up to at the Dolomitenhof, down in Val Fiscalina, passing by Rifugio Comici. This itinerary does not allow you to travel the first stretch (if, in fact, you go around it clockwise) of the Strada degli Alpini, between Passo della Sentinella and Forcella Undici, which is technically more demanding. I have also chosen to avoid it for reasons of time, since the overall itinerary is already very long anyway, and I have proposed to do this part in a future excursion.
The departure from the Croda Rossa Meadows seemed to me a very wise choice, as:
- allows you to take advantage of the cable car from Moso to take you immediately to 1900 metres, instead of starting from the valley floor of the Val Fiscalina (about 1400 meters above sea level), with a challenging difference in altitude to get to Forcella Undici, even before starting the Ferrata.
- Face the most tiring part of the itinerary, the one to climb to the 2600 meters of Forcella Undici, in the first part of your excursion, when you are fresher. The continuation of the route is a long, slow descent towards Rifugio Comici, and then towards Val Fiscalina, unless you go up to Forcella Giralba, as I did.
- The Zsigmondy-Comici Refuge is a beautiful refuge, where you can breathe a pleasant atmosphere (quieter than that of the Locatelli refuge at the Tre Cime), where before going down, as I did, you can drink a Weissbeer, or a refreshing juice , and then relax, lying down on the opposite lawn, contemplating the spectacle of the walls of Cima Undici, Monte Popera, and Croda dei Toni, satisfied with the feat accomplished, before returning down to the valley where you start.
Below, you will find my track and the technical data of my excursion.
Instead, here is the description taken from Wikipedia and Inalto.org:
"The route can be tackled using the Croda Rossa di Sesto cable car, which takes you from 1358 meters in a few minutes to an altitude of 1930 m. From here, follow path no. 100, following the signs for the Strada degli Alpini. Immediately the path climbs up until you reach wooden steps. Here is the crossroads for the Croda Rossa via ferrata; ignoring signs for that ferrata, always follow path for the Strada degli Alpini, which descends a little. Advancing on the path, the canyon to be climbed in zig-zag shortly appear, until you arrive, with the help of steel cables, just below the Sentinella pass (2717 m).
Without reaching it, turn west (trail sign 101), traversing the entire north face of Cima Undici at high altitude (an unsafe section and therefore not advisable in the presence of snow covering the anchorages - n.d.r. this is the ferrata from Sentinella Pass to Forcella 11, which I deliberately didn't do, heading directly to Forcella 11 - see my track), reaching the notch on the ridge known as Forcella Undici (2600m). From here, go back along the path described in the previous description, and, through Cengia della Salvezza, Forcella Giralba, Zsigmondy-Comici refuge and Fondovalle refuge, you reach Campo Fiscalino, from where you can reach again, by your own vehicle or with public transport, lower station of the cable car to Prati di Croda Rossa, from which you started walking.
In case of bad weather or for any other reason, at Forcella Undici it is possible to abandon the route and descend quite quickly into Val Fiscalina along a fully marked path, initially on rocks facilitated by metal cables (the stretch that I did climbing up), then descending a steep and slippery but not exposed stretch, and finally for a long time through woods, thus directly reaching the Fondovalle Refuge".
In conclusion, I hope you too will be able to enjoy the beauty of this itinerary, which has given me emotions right up to the end. Arriving at the Dolomitenhof hotel, at the bottom of the Val Fiscalina, I had the "luck" of missing the shuttle bus to Moso, a circumstance that gave me the opportunity to walk, at the end of the afternoon, in the marvelous sparse larch wood. Among the trees, the light passes and illuminates the green pastures below, dotted with enchanting wooden barns. Walking there, suddenly a beautiful fawn passed in front of me, out to graze.....
I will remember this day for all my life.....
Enjoy the trip. Fabio
P.S. If you have any considerations, or would like to share your experience, leave us a comment below at the end of the article.
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