via ferrata

Young Empires – The Earth Plates Are Shifting

Our first stop for the trip around the Alps was the Italian Dolomites where we were going to do some via ferratas for a couple of days. We slept in this beautiful hut, Rifugio Brentei. The little construction you see behind it and in the second photo is in fact a shrine filled with obituaries of mountaineers and climbers who lost their lives around these places.

Leaving the super heavy backpacks with all our gear at the rifugio, we took the essentials and started on the path to the first via ferrata.

It’s hard to make out, but right in the middle of this gigantic mountain face there is a path that takes us around and on the other side of it. The close up on the second photo shows you how insignificant we are in comparison to nature.

Already on the ledge you saw earlier, we had a 200m vertical drop near us almost the entire day (on the other side of the mountain it was even bigger at times)… sure makes you feel good about having the safety equipment.

At some point the fog started creeping in, but it made for some interesting shots.

The fog kept us from seeing the scenery around us most of that day (which some people were happy about, considering the heights), but on a few lucky occasions it cleared up briefly and allowed us to see places such as this one. It’s a very strange feeling to be sitting on a rock that protrudes out into air with a 300+ meter fall awaiting on each side if you take the wrong step 😉

The following day we took on a longer (8-10 hours) and more challenging via ferrata.

It’s difficult to tell from the photo because of the weird angle I had to use to get in all in the frame, but this is a practically vertical climb that allowed is to very quickly gain altitude. Just to be clear, we didn’t climb the rock straight up – there are ladders, steps, and handles you use to propel yourself. Still though, there was one 20m long ladder in particular that was even tilted a little backwards at such an angle that your hands quickly started getting tired.

A heart for all the crazy people who made it to here 😉

Almost at the top of that climb (at nearly 3,000m), the spectacular view below us made it worth it. That morning we started trekking from somewhere in the valley, beyond that giant cliff in the center, and we weren’t even half-way done with the via ferrata.

The three little dots you see in center is where we were going, via that edge. It’s a bit daunting when you first see it, I’m not gonna lie, but it’s so fun to actually do it. This was the most impressive sight of the day, hands down, especially with the clouds creeping up behind the ridge. I shot the same three guys on the way down from there, seen on the second photo.

This was probably the longest ladder of the day – no less than 20m, but thankfully not tilting backwards. Long live super wide angle lenses 😉

The weather worsened after that and for the majority of the day there wasn’t much to shoot. Towards the end of the via ferrata, there was an option to split up – take the easier route back via a normal path or do another mini via ferrata that took you high above the Rifugio Brentei before taking you back down to it. Naturally I took the latter and was rewarded with the most amazing sight – a whole field of wild Edelweiss flowers, spread around this hard to reach grassy area not too far off the path. They are difficult to spot initially, but once you see one patch, you start noticing the hundreds of other flowers around you. It was a good end of the day 😀


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