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Above Cortina d'Ampezzo: Etorre Bovero Via Ferrata

As we simply fell in love with Cortina d'Ampezzo we thought it would be a great idea to do a via ferrata track that would give us a fantastic view over the whole valley and that would end up on Col de Rosa peak at 2166 meters altitude.Our plan was also in line with the weather forecast that announced rain and possible thunder storm in the second part of the day.

Hiking stats

Time: 6.5 hours
Distance: 9.5 kilometers
Vertical relief: +/- 1000 meters
Routes: 408
VF: Etorre Bovero
VF Difficulty: 3B (Smith and Fletcher)
Gear: Standard Via Ferrata gear
Guide: The Dolomites - James Rushforth

GPS Route: GPS Track

Where is this?

We had an early morning start (luckily the night temparature got above 0 degrees Celsius) and by 9:20 AM we were at the starting point. The footpath begins next to the main gate of Olympia Camping, located 2 kilometers north of Cortina.

Entrance fee?

There is no entrance fee for this hike.

Let’s start!

The first part features a wide and paved footpath through the forest. This is an ideal place for jogging or for walking your dog. As a side note, we found it amazing to see that some tracks have special signs that indicate if it is suitable for dogs and there are even guides with all local dog friendly hikes.

After 1 kilometers we start our ascent on path 408, the intersection is very visible and the chances to miss it are slim.

The ascent is relentless and our energy levels are going downstream either because the temperatures are higher today compared to past days or we are simply tired. The footpath is very visible and the markings are pretty common.

After many short breaks we pass by some forgotten ruins that look abandoned since WWI and that offer little to no indication of what their purpose used to be. We reach Passo Posporcora from where the path tilts to the right and the slope gets steeper as we approach the starting point of the via ferrata.

After only 1 hour and 40 minutes ascent time we were pretty tired and we were ready to encounter the starting point of the truly spectacular part of the hike. We reached the cliffs but not the ferrata. Shortly we find the first cable... finally!

We equipped our gear in vain as the first cable sector is short and followed by another part where we need to scramble without cables. Only now the actual fun begins!

Looking at the stone wall we think that this should be relatively easy as there are many griping points. Up, up we slowly ascend and reach another couple that was in front of us. Karina was looking at the young lady in front as she was hesitating in her approach and was thinking that they will make us loose a lot of time on this section. We give them some lead distance and the I start climbing. It wasn't really easy as I had to use the cable a lot of the time due to grips being spread apart. Karina was up next and after three attempts she got pumped up. A queue was starting to form behind her so since there was room for maneuver she stepped aside to let them pass. She hates making other people wait and she prefers to wait for others.

This was our first via ferrata with a difficulty rating of 3B (on the Smith\Fletcher scale) and for Karina it was a real challenge due to her right wrist condition - an inflammation that reduced her mobility by about 70% and came with a lot of pain.

Side note: If you lack via ferrata (or rock climbing) experience it might be advisable to start of with something lighter. As a note for Karina: remember to avoid difficult ferratas in combination with arm problems.

The ferrata is about 600 meters long, has a vertical relief of more than 300 meters and can be demanding at times but it offers some great view points and a good dose of adrenaline to those that seek it.

Of course not the whole ferrata is equally as hard. There are section where you can run, sections with great photography potential and sections that offer great view points.

We had cloudy day which reduced our visibility somewhat but still we had a good view over Cortina and the whole valley.

The via ferrata ends shortly before the top and the last section is just hopping from rock to rock until reaching the peak Col de Rosa.

On the mountain top we meet the two couples we encountered during our climb and ended up talking more than a hour with a great man: 72 years old, hiking alone, still active with the American Army as a consultant, from Czech republic but living in Germany / UK and constantly spending time out in the Alps / Dolomites. We really liked the man and were happy to spend time with him on the peak and during our descent.

Speaking of the descent, it isn't the most pleasant one: rocks, gravel, steep slope, a perfect combination to stress out your knees during the 4.7 kilometers long track.

The bottom line is that the ferrata is not the easiest in the world but the view is totally worth it so if you feel up for it go on and try it out, you won't regret it! Another good side is that this hike is a circuit and the descent doesn't feature any ferratas. Try to approach it on good weather without rain as the rock is somewhat slippery at times.

Where do I sleep?

For this holiday the best option for us was to establish a base camp in Cortina d'Ampezzo. We chose  Camping Rocchetta and it proved to be one of the cleanest, tidiest and best-looking camping grounds where we have ever been (the only close contender would be Kamne Camping in Slovenia). The prices fluctuate based on the season but are between 20 and 35 euros per night (2 persons, one small tent and one car).

When we will return to the area we are positive we will choose to stay here again. For your info, the camping is open all year round.

What do I eat?

You will have to pack lunch as there are no huts in this area. Also once you reach the via ferrata there are no water sources so plan accordingly.

Above Cortina d'Ampezzo: Etorre Bovero Via Ferrata Reviewed by Alex on 19:43 Rating: 5

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