Sorapiss round route

Last year I was for the first time in Dolomites and I immediately fell in love with them. These mountains have not only fantastic shape, but also beautiful colours. The only problem is that they are very far from my place. Nevertheless, I managed to visit them also this year. Last year I was in Sextener Dolomiten, this year I went to Sorapiss.

Sorapiss consists of a central stone block, accompanied by a ridge on the north-west side. It is not possible for a hiker to go up the stone block, but there are traverses around it. These traverses form the famous Sorapiss round route containing three ferratas. Minazio (A/B), Berti (C) and Vandelli (C/D). Since I intended to add also Brovedani (B), I parked at a small parking place at Ponte degli Alberi (1148 m). However, during the hike I added one more ferrata Cengia d Doge (B/C), so I there were five ferratas on my hike.

I appeared at the parking place at 11:00 at the end of jun 2015. Just a few minutes from the parking place there is an Infocenter with a very good map. I did not pay much attention to it, but I should. I realized it at the evening of the first day.

After crossing a wide creek-bed I started to ascend. But how! The slope was extremely sharp and the footpath was destroyed by fallen trees. Suddenly a deer was running across the slope just above me. The animal was throwing down stones which frightened me a bit.

When I climbed up the forest, the footpath was better. Here starts the secured part of Sentiero Brovedani. It is not very hard, but on some places it is really exposed. Since I had a heavy backpack, I decided to use my ferrata set. After an exposed traverse the footpath goes up a stone valley. In the middle of it there was a huge stone, which fell down from the stone wall recently. Its original position on the wall above me was recognizable by a different colour.

I had a look at bivac Comici and with the rest of my powers I achieved the saddle by Croda del Banco. Till the saddle I was gaining the altitude, but now I could have a rest. In front of me there was a comfortable traverse called Sentiero Minazio. It is not completely horizontal, here and there you must go a bit up or down, but it is much easier than the previous climbing up. The footpath is secured on a few places but the ferrata set is redundant. Being on the footpath, Minazio does not seem to be exposed as it is lined by scrubs. However, when I saw the footpath the very next day from the opposite mountains, I was surprised how sharp the slopes are. A few meters below Minazio there are completely vertical walls.

From the end of Minazio you can see a magnificent tower called Torre dei Sabbioni. However, though my map was telling me that I should go up, the footpath went down. I decided not to lose my altitude and I continued on an unmarked edge. Both above and below me there were vertical walls and I was not sure if the edge will not be broken, but fortunately, it took me to a big meadow.

On the meadow I found some marking, but the footpath was leading to San Marco hut. So I left it and finally I found the footpath to bivac Slataper. The problem was that the sky fell down, everywhere around was fog, and it started to rain. I occurred in the middle of a storm. Through the fog I didn’t see much of the lightning, but some were pretty close. When you hear the sound three seconds from the lightning, then the distance is about 1 km. Here some were closer to me.

By now I ascended more than 1600 m and now, at the end of day, I was almost running up in a heavy storm. Every bigger stone looked to me as a bivac, but when I came closer, I found my mistake. Fortunately the rain stopped and the fog was less dense, so I finally found bivac Slataper (2600 m).

Bivac Slataper has the same shape and size as Comici, but inside there are only three beds. I hang my wet clothes to every possible place and went to my sleeping bag. I was sleeping already, when an Italian guy with a big beard and a rope came. He started from San Marco hut when the rain finished, so he was not wet. His intention was to climb the top of Sorapiss the very next day. Since the route has difficulty III UIAA, I decided not to join him and continued according to my plan.

Next day I started at 6:00. The weather was nice but I was not able to find the marking. The bivac is at a stone plane which is bounded on one side by a huge vertical wall, and on the other side there is (again vertical) hole. Only when I went to the highest point of the plane, I spotted a narrow path going down the vertical hole.

So I went down along the edge of the plane and started to descend. It was really exposed. On these places ferrata Berti starts. It contains plenty of small ladders accompanied by a steel rope. It leads down to a culoir, then up a bit and that’s it. Then the footpath goes almost horizontally along the south-west slopes of Sorapiss. From the footpath you can see Antelao, Monte Pelmo, Averau, Nuvolau, Tofane, but also Civetta, Marmolada and Sella. The weather was nice, sunny, and due to yesterday’s rain the visibility was perfect. This was the most beautiful part of my hike.

At the western point the footpath went a bit up and then I started to descend to a valley. There were large snow fields with a crusty icy cover. But I was prepared for it, I had my chakan with me.

I descended to marvelous smaragd Sorapiss lake. The lake is beautiful, but my eyes were attracted by a fantastic stone tower called “Dito di Dio” (God’s finger). From one angle it really looked like a huge stone finger. Till now the only tourist I met was the climber at bivac Slataper, but around Sorapiss lake there are real crowds of people. I didn’t stop there and continued to ferrata Vandelli.

Ferrata Vandelli was the hardest one on my hike, but it’s difficulty is medium. It is rather long and at the beginning quite interesting. It starts with a series of long ladders followed by a very exposed traverse. From the traverse you can see Cristallo, Cadini and Sextener Dolomiten.

I went up to a crest and then down to bivac Comici. Here I finished the Sorapiss round route, but I didn’t like to go down by Sentiero Brovedani. Already yesterday I decided to continue to Marmarole and go down by another footpath. So once again I went up to the saddle by Croda del Banco and I continued on Sentiero Minazio. From yesterday I knew that this traverse is easy and with lighter backpack (I had almost no water) it was even easier.

In Valle di San Vito I filled my bottle with water from a creek and I went to ferrata Cengia del Doge. It is a traverse of a huge stone tower. Its difficulty is B/C, since the steel ropes are not in good conditions. On many places they are torn apart and the footpath fell down. When I was close to Valle Grande, a goat started to throw stones at me. I was frightened and shouted at the stupid animal, but it was ignoring me.

This night I was sleeping in bivac Voltolina. It is a bit remote but it is in perfect state. I was there completely alone.

Last day I went down to Valle di San Vito. There are two places secured by a steel rope and one is so exposed that I took my ferrata set. Below the footpath is crossing a big culoir bounded by vertical walls with several waterfalls. It is a very nice place.

At 9:30 I returned back to the parking place. My original intention was to go to ferrata Club 80, but I was tired. I couldn’t go to a hard ferrata. So I just sit down to my car and I was driving home. It took me 9 hours.

2 Replies to “Sorapiss round route”

  1. Hello Martin,
    Thanks for sharing your experience, I’m planning to do Alta Via 5 and go around Sorapiss in the beginning September.
    – How did you manage the water supply ? Did you find some source on the path?
    – You had some snow apparently, do you think I need crampons in early september?

    Thank you for your feedback,

    1. Hi Romain,

      unfortunately I am not able to response all your guestion, but I believe, in first half of September you will not need crampons.


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