The Rosengarten is a group of mountains in the Dolomites with a dense cluster of exceptionally jagged peaks. 10 years ago I did two hikes through this range, and since then I’ve longed to return for some better photography and more challenging via ferrata climbing. Last week Claudia and I did just that, spending four days trekking, climbing, and photographing our way through the mountains.
Ferrata Trek through the Rosengarten - Dolomites, Italy - August 2013
We spent our first night at Rifugio Bolzano (aka Schlernhaus), a castle-like stone hut with a great view of rugged spires of the Rosengarten range… when we could see them through the clouds.
Despite the misty weather, we pushed through our first via ferrata of the trip – the Maximiliansteig - to the Rifugio Alpe di Tires, our destination for the next night.
The Maximilian ferrata was a bit of a warm-up, test run ferrata for us to see how we felt about doing a much longer, more difficult ferrata the next day. All went well!
The big objective of our trip was to complete the Via Ferrata Laurenzi, a long, high, rugged ridge route over the Molignon. This cabled route was rated by our guidebook as much more difficult and committing than any previous ferrata routes we’ve done so far, so we weren’t sure if we could do the whole thing or if we’d have to turn around at some point.
Although the Laurenzi ferrata route is well secured with cables, there are a number of difficult downclimbing sections requiring quite some strength and commitment. Here Claudia encounters the first of these awkward downclimbs. She tried several times and almost gave up before she conquered her fears and pushed through, even though she knew that there were more difficult sections to come. I was impressed and proud of her!
Now we’re having fun! This was definitely the finest ferrata route I’ve done so far in the Dolomites. With no crowds either, we could really get into the swing of things. (Nice pun, huh?)
The via ferrata cabled routes are probably considered lame by serious climbers, but for us mere mortals they provide a taste of the joy of climbing, especially when you resist the temptation to grab onto the cable and just use the natural rock handholds. In this section above, there were no cables anyways… just some very airy scrambling!
The third hut during our hike through the Rosengarten was Rifugio Re Alberto, situated right below the fantastically surreal Vajolet towers (pronounced similar to “violet” with the accent on the “let”).
Of course my dream was to photograph the towers with some nice sunset light. In the afternoon I scouted out my favorite spots to shoot from, then after dinner, despite the clouds covering the peak, I returned to my spot, set up my camera, sat there, and waited. About 20 minutes before sunset, we started seeing glimpses of the towers though the clouds, then soon enough the clouds began dissolving into mist just as the ruby glow of sunset illuminated the pinnacles! As the misty clouds swept around the glowing red towers, the scene was so magical I really had the feeling that I was dreaming, and even started to get a little worried that I’d wake up! Claudia and I were speechless… almost in disbelief; and we were both riding high all night after witnessing and photographing such a phenomenal sight.
One last vía ferrata after the Santner Pass took us to our exit point from the Rosengarten. A hitchhike to Bolzano, three trains, three busses, and one day later, now we’re out of Italy, back in Bavaria sitting in a nice apartment we scored in Mittenwald, Germany. More to come, but for now just a few days here to relax and take a vacation from our vacation!