The wedding was awesome. Afterwards, in need of some serious rest and unwinding, Christy and I headed to Europe, Italy to be exact. I know what you’re thinking, how romantic it must have been to cruise around the canals of Venice by gondola, the cliche honeymoon, right?
Not quite. In full disclosure we did eventually find ourselves in Venice, but it was only for a night at the very end of the trip. Instead, Christy and I threw the conventional honeymoon advice aside and headed to the mountains, choosing to relax in our own style. A two hour drive from Venice Airport put us in Cortina D’Ampezzo, in the heart of the Dolomites, where we went climbing.
More specifically, we were climbing “via ferrata.” Loosely translated into “the iron way,” this uniquely European concept began back in the WWI era and has since evolved into a climbing discipline in itself. Back then, in an effort to gain strategic positions on the high peaks of the Dolomites, the Austrians strung up cables and built iron ladders up mountainsides to recon and track movements of the approaching Italian forces, even launching attacks on them from high above. The summits of this region and the passes between them became critical fronts in the war between the then native Austrians and the Italians. With the help of these climbing aids, soldiers could quickly and safely gain these offensive positions and vantage points, on peaks that by today’s standards would require fifth class climbing with huge exposure.
Now, nearly a century later, of course with many of the cables replaced and anchors reinforced, these historical routes can be climbed on your own, even on a honeymoon. For us it was pretty cool. With a modern via ferrata(VF) setup added to your standard climbing harness, a basic description of which is two long load-dispersing runners with locking or equivalent carabiners at the ends– you can zip up the cables of these otherwise very exposed solo climbs or time consuming multipitch leads, and be down easily in time for your proscuitto panini late lunch and beer. And with a Italian restaurant dinner and a cush hotel as camp to finish the day, it pretty much counted as a comfortable getaway when compared to other “vacations” of ours. We hit several VF’s of varying difficulty and loved every one. Here are the pics from the first day:
Next up was the Tofana di Rozes. That would be a good day….