Climbing in the Dolomites

In August 2012 we spent 5 days in the Dolomites in Italy to climb the Rotwand (2806 m), the Masaré, the Santner and the Kesselkogel (3004 m) via ferrata in the Rosengarten group.

Day 1

On Tuesday we started our trip from Nuremberg. After a roughly 470 km car ride without much traffic we arrived at the parking lot in Karersee. At about 15:00 we were ready to set off from 1600 m towards Rotwandhütte (Rif. Roda di Vaèl).

View from the parking lot

Because we didn’t want to use the chair lift, we walked up the path to Rif. Paolina which goes next to the chair lift. We passed the Christomannos monument and reached the Rotwandhütte (2283 m) at about 17:15.

Day 2

Our plan for the day was to climb the Rotwand via ferrata from Passo Vajolon and to continue with the Masaré via ferrata.

Because we started quite early at 8:15 we weren’t expecting a lot of people. In fact there were only people that had set off some minutes ago. Roughly an hour later we arrived at the via ferrata, prepared our equipment and set off to climb our first via ferrata in the Dolomites.

The first part of the via ferrata to the summit is A/B rated and fairly easy. After 35 minutes we reached the summit (2806 m). The view from there is said to be fantastic, but unfortunately we didn’t see much because of dense fog.

Foggy view from the summit.

The way down is also mostly A/B rated, but there is a short C passage which definitely is the most interesting part of the via ferrata.

We headed towards the Masaré via ferrata which is just slightly harder than the Rotwand via ferrata. It’s rated A/B with some easy C parts. The trail was more crowded with people coming from the valley and only doing the Masaré.

Completing the Masaré via ferrata took us 2 hours — resting and waiting included. About half an hour later we were back at the rifuge and recapped our tour.

Day 3

The third day was meant as a transit day to go from the Rotwandhütte to the Grasleitenpasshütte (Rif. Passo Principe) which is the starting point for the Kesselkogel via ferrata. Because we had the whole day we went via the Santnerpass (Passo Santner) via ferrata and looked for some geocaches.

On our way to the Santner via ferrata the weather changed. It was heavily foggy and we couldn’t see further than 20 meters. Just after passing the first part of the via ferrata it began to rain — followed by thunderstorms some minutes later.

We decided to not go back and to continue with the via ferrata. Because there were five climbers in front of us that didn’t seem very experienced and because we were extra careful not to slip on the wet rocks the second part took significantly longer than the first one.

At the Santnerpasshütte (Rif. Santner) we looked for the geocache Passo Santner and were happy to be the first ones to find it. Going down we passed the famous Vajolet Towers. I don’t know why but somehow I managed not to take photos of them. (Note to self: Take a pocket camera next time.)

Being at about 2700 m the Grasleitenpasshütte at 2601 m looked like an easy to reach destination. Unfortunately, we had to go down to 2340 m first. We were really happy to reach the rifugio at about 17:45 after almost 14 km and a total 1500 m ascent and a 1100 m descent.

In the end the day that was expected to be the most boring one turned out to be the most exciting.

Day 4

Day 4 was the day we were all looking forward to. Today we wanted to climb the Kesselkogel — the highest mountain in the Rosengarten (3004 m) and the only one above 3000 m. At 8:15 we started our ascent from the west. The Kesselkogel via ferrata is rated B and therefore not really demanding. We reached the summit at about 9:30.

Kesselkogel summit cross

After enjoying the fantastic view from the top and signing the log book of the Kesselkogel geocache we began our descent on the east side. We got a sight of the beautiful Grasleitenpasshütte which is fairly crowded at lunchtime.

At dinner we had several interesting conversations. It was a friendly turn when the former owner of the rifugio (his son took over) came by with a schnapps and joined the conversations.

Day 5

The fifth day was our last day in the Dolomites. We didn’t choose the best way back to the parking lot and had to do some unnecessary elevation gains, but we were rewarded with a wonderful view of the mountains, which led us to recall the great days we had.

Roda di Vaèl (right)