Our directors, Mike and Teresa, recently returned from their latest adventures in the Dolomites. We thought we’d ask them to recount their experiences for those of you who are interested in travelling to the destination. Click on the video for a short snippet of what they got up to.
For those of you that don’t know, The Dolomites are a range of mountains located in northeastern Italy. They form a part of the Southern Limestone Alps and extend from the River Adige in the west to the Piave Valley in the east. It is particularly well-known for the fact that it has many Via Feratta climbing routes.
A bit of history…
The protective climbing routes “Via Feratta” were originally installed by the Italian Army in the First World War in an attempt to keep ‘foreigners’ out. It is essentially a collection of metal ladders, stemples (posts fastened into the rock face) and steel ropes that allow climbers to climb the mountains with greater safety because people using this facility are always fastened on using flexible carabiners which are attached to the metal ropes that are already there. These Via Feratta are serviced and looked after by the local alpine clubs and attract many thousands of climbers during the summer months. Most of the mountains climbed are to a height of 10,000 feet (approximately 3,000 metres) and Mike and Teresa do this for fun!
Most of the ‘climbs’ take between 2-4 hours and once at the top, it is fairly common practice that climbers walk from the top, rather than climbing downwards through the same route that they ascended. This often means being out for between 5-8 hours, most of the time that is purely climbing. Although the mountain tops are at 10,000 feet, often there is a chair lift to take you to the start of the climb, invariably meaning only approximately 1,000-4,000 metres climbing is undertaken. Whilst it is a relatively safe activity because climbers are always fastened on, last year Mike managed to break a rib by slipping on one of the posts making the end of the climb and walk down slightly more uncomfortable (eeek) but don’t let that put you off!
Quite often there are refugios (refuges/cafes) near the top of some of the climbs and at the bottom of others. This year, two of the climbs Mike and Teresa were planning to undertake had to be cancelled due to the fact that although it was 29 degrees centigrade in the valley and there were 2 meters of snow in certain gullies meaning it would be impossible to get back down or to continue around a circular route.
Although Selva Val Gardena is a well-known ski resort during the winter, during the summer, it is full of hikers, climbers and cyclists.
Areas you should visit
Mike and Teresa stayed at an apartment block (Residence Merk) on the outskirts of Selva. This was handy because it was just a 25-minute walk into town, passing lots of restaurants and bars. Mike said, “it’s a very pleasant walk back through the ‘Walk of Champions’ pathway which was installed to commemorate every winner of skiing world cup events that have taken place in the town.”
Local areas visited on the trip included Canazei, Cortina, Sass o lungo and Corvara. These areas provide spectacular views of incredibly high mountains, with the inevitably associated hairpin bends to get to the top and bottom of some of the paths used.
(Mike wears Oakleys, Teresa wears Maui Jim and Sarah wears Thierry Lasry)
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