Review of the long Ferrata Costantini to the peak of Moiazza Sud. Unique itinerary of its kind for height difference, duration and length. Within the itinerary we encounter a series of very varied challenging passages between them. The route features passages on the ridge, exposed and unprotected ledges. Itinerary to be planned with care and to travel if well trained and experienced in climbing and hiking in the high mountains.
The starting point of the itinerary is the Duran Pass in the province of Belluno which connects Dont in Val Zoldana with Agordo in Val Cordevole. Once you reach the pass, park in the square in front of Rifugio Tomè at Passo Duran. Directions for Google Maps available here.
Let's start with a proper premise. The itinerary of the Ferrata Gianni Costantini is remarkable from many points of view. More than 1200 m in altitude, passing almost the 3000 m of the summit of the Moiazza Sud along one of the longest via ferratas in terms of height difference and duration of the whole Italian landscape filled with challenging passages. This premise is to put in the right light this magnificent trip that must be planned carefully in relation to the weather, to the physical preparation of those who walk through it and not least to leave early.
From the Passo Duran (1605 m) we will first have to reach the Bruto Carestiato Hut (1834 m) following the path 549 following the abundant indications and the majestic wall of the Sass de Duram, southern offshoot of the Group of the Moiazza. The path climbs with a constant and never excessive slope on the southern slope of the group. We ignore the deviation (red stamp) that deviates to the right for the alpine path of the Cengia Letizia e we continue on the wide path among pines and pines to the hut (45 'from the pass). From the hut it is possible to spot the nearby start of the via ferrata thanks to an unusual large red square painted on the wall. We cover the short path connecting the hut and the start and we are under the majestic wall to be climbed next to the metal slab with ha start the Ferrata Costantini (ca 1h from the parking lot).
The first section of the route it is a long diagonal crossing that will immediately put the hiker. The first 50 meters are characterized mainly by a long traverse to the left with few and small holds with which we climb diagonally first towards a dihedral at 90 degrees, then we walk out of it in strong exposure and then we continue on the traverse. Fundamental in these first 50 meters to manage forces well enough by looking wherever possible for small holds for the feet so to avoid straining the arms too much in view of the long climb later on. Continue on to one very narrow ledge which, in marked exposure, takes us further to the left. Let's now face a stretch of route where we alternate short slabs supported, some easy vertical leaps and ledges that lead us to a stretch of rocks without difficulty. Always proceeding in the left direction, we reach a yellowish wall and a red stamp cross that is considered the key passage of the route. The traverse rises into diagonal to the left along a greased rock slab, however, with some holds for the feet, which greatly reduce the difficulty. It is completed without excessively delaying the traverse in short, we meet two pegs where we can stop before starting to climb vertically the second section of the long way (1h 15 'from the start).
The via ferrata changes its character in this section and proceeds decidedly vertical with the help of metal brackets and pegs along a vertical and rather smooth wall that rises for about 60 meters. The first 20 meters are very exposed, then they turn to the right and the rock becomes more steep. We still climb vertically, we make a short jump to cross a narrow gorge and after a few meters of vertical rocks we reach a stretch of path that leads us to the Pala del Belia (2295 m - 1h 45 'from the start) indicated by a metal slab.
We begin a new section of the route that starts with a traverse to the left and a small wall with discrete holds but definitely exposed. We bend to the left and carry ourselves inside a gully closed between impressive vertical walls. The climb here is devoid of technical difficulties and in fact is a long series of rocks supported by climbing. The rock is well indented and the rope runs on the weak side of the climb allowing us to climb without tiring the arms. We reach a more difficult vertical passage where a pair of pegs help us to climb this jump by about 6-8 meters. We leave the tract aided and, surrounded by increasingly fascinating panoramas, we cover an unprotected ledge to the right. The climb is now more open and we first climb a vertical wall with good grips followed by a well-held slab. We cover a first ledge and a new series of leaps that are not difficult to reach a second exposed ledge. We are under a chimney not particularly demanding which leads us to Cima Cattedrale (2557 m - 2h 30 'from the start).
We re-start by following the red arrow on the wall to the left. We climb a first jump and then on the path we see straight ahead the continuation of the road that will lead us to the ridge. We follow a series of inclined ledges and short jumps that are never particularly difficult except for a jump of 6 meters with rather smooth rock. We cover a short ledge to the left and we find ourselves under a 15-meter wall that is more challenging than the last passages but less than the points we encountered previously. We go out on some rocks supported and we are on Cresta delle Masenade straight to us the sought-after summit of South Moiazza (3h from the start).
After admiring the view around us, we are ready to proceed with the next section of the route, very different from the previous ones. With straight to us the goal of the climb, we cover the ridge alternating easy passages to more challenging stretches, among which a descent aided passage stands out which leads us to Forcella delle Masenade (2650 m) where it is necessary to pay maximum attention. Beware of a couple of unprotected passages just below the ridge line. At the saddle - indicated with a metal slab - we find a detour to the right that leads to the Grisetti Shelter first and possibly a steep descent to Chiesa. After the saddle, we follow the red signs and arrows and the route becomes less exposed. We leave the ridge edge and a series of long inclined slabs is cut along the hillside getting closer to slopes of the South Moiazza. We cover these slabs and reach a ledge that slightly downhill leads us to the last vertical section of ascent of the road (4h from the start).
At the end of the ledge, slightly downhill we follow the cable that turns sharply vertically along black-yellowish walls. We climb a first vertical jump and then a few rocky steps diagonally to the right before going up again vertically with a passage inside a stepped gully. We continue the climb with some difficult passages and reach a point where the equipment ends. We follow the red signs that rise up an inclined airy to the left towards a new ridge that ends at the top. At the end of the scree we reach a saddle: on the right we climb to the top, while on the left we go around the peak along the Cengia Angelini. We continue uphill towards the summit.
Waiting for us, we face a definitely challenging stretch of the route which, added to the length of the ferrata traveled up to this point, requires a correct evaluation whether to be undertaken or not. Let's start with a diagonally traverse to the right on rock rather free of holds that leads us on the exposed ridge. We then move on the left side of the ridge and face 2 challenging and aerial passages where on rather smooth walls we continue uphill along the ridge. They end the equipment momentarily and walk along a very exposed ledge with a notable precipice on our left until we meet again the metal equipment that goes up on the slab. We finish the slab and with it the equipment and along a path marked with numerous red signs we follow up to the anterior point from where the summit is visible a few tens of meters straight to us. However, these meters are not trivial and will still require high attention. We go down a few meters along the ridge that connects the foresummit to the summit. These passes are very exciting and require a steady step although not difficult. Then go down a few meters and then go up again reaching the coveted area top of Moiazza Sud (2878 m - 6h from the start - 7h total) signed with cairn in stone. Absolutely necessary to take the time for a break to appreciate the panorama that impresses at 360 degrees with views of the nearby groups of the Pale di San Martino, of the Civetta and other groups Dolomitici Bellunesi. A few hundred meters below us we can also see the Ghedini shelter, next destination of our itinerary.
We now begin a long and demanding descent in large parts aided. The first section of descent will return to the junction between Cengia Angelini and the ascent route to the summit. To reach this point we will have to go back along the last stretch of the ferrata path. Attention to the points already indicated for the ascent: the stretches on the ridge and the ledge not protected, the two small slabs on the ridge and the diagonal traverse just before the saddle.
Returning to the junction we follow the red signs to the left towards the Angelini ledge (2784 m - 30 'from the summit). We meet a sign beyond which takes up the wire rope but for a few meters. Let us now begin a section of rather easy and wide ledge with which we bypass the western slope of the southern Moiazza. This section of ledge is generally not protected and it is necessary to pay attention to any residual snow that could be present making the passage more difficult. We bypass a prominence of the ledge and the ledge continues now shrinking but aided. We go around some edges and continue along theexposed ledge losing gradually altitude without encountering difficulties. We continue downhill towards the Ghedini Shelter (2600 m) which is located under the Forcella delle Nevere. We reach the shelter (1h from the junction between Cengia Angelini and the summit - 1h 30 'from the summit) descending the last tens of meters on a gravel path rather unstable.
After a brief stop at the shelter we leave for the descent. We will notice at the bottom of the canyon the valley where we must descend. In short we meet the wire rope to get off a few meters before go up to the right. We walk up this stretch before starting the final descent to the valley. We face some challenging steps alternated with path sections and short leaps on rock. We continue downhill on the trail with a couple of non-trivial aided passages and some smooth slabs until you reach the end of the scree approaching trees and pines where we cross the CAI 554 path and in fact end the difficulties and the aided sections of this long itinerary (1h 30' from the shelter - 3h from the summit - 9h from the start - 10h Total).
At the crossroads we keep to the left along the easy path 554 which runs along the lower part of the newly climbed walls and we reach the Bruto Carestiamo Hut without difficulty (30' from the junction with the 554) and then backwards along the Duran Pass approaching path (30' from the shelter - 11h total).
The Ferrata Costantini enjoys a special reputation within the ferrate routes. The fatigue and length of the itinerary distinguish it from the other Dolomite via ferratas. The technical difficulties - although present - are inferior to many other famous via ferratas, which are famous for being extremely difficult, but the fatigue, the gap in height and the length of the route confine this via ferrata to experienced and highly trained hikers. The itinerary leaves no respite and, given its length, requires not to delay for too long. It is absolutely necessary to leave early in order to be able to return with the light and it is very important to walk the road with stable weather. Although there are escape routes (2), the environment is austere, isolated and the consequences of being in a storm during the route could be serious. Another factor to take into consideration is the altitude and the possibility of finding in a couple of points snowfields even in late season, moreover on unprotected stretches and therefore to oblige to deviations of path not simple or to equip oneself of crampons and ice ax. Concluding for the technical difficulties it is an itinerary to be considered "difficult" while for the physical effort required it is to be considered "extremely difficult" therefore we opted to classify the route as "very difficult" in an intermediate position.
In order to overcome the hard sections of this via ferrata, we reccomend you to read out article "How to temporarily take a pause in a Via Ferrata".
The Ferrata Costantini winds through the Moiazza group south of the Civetta - clearly visible among other things from the summit. The area is full of fairly challenging itineraries including the via ferrata Tissi and Alleghesi to the Civetta and the Fiamme Gialle to the Palazza Alta. Continuing in the direction of the Pale di San Martino we meet the Via Ferrata Orsa and the Ferrata Stella Alpina. Going down to the south instead in the direction of the Schiara we meet the Via Ferrata Sperti, Zacchi, Piero Rossi and Aided path Marino Guardiano.