The Ferrata to the Terza Cengia (literally "Third Ledge") of the Pomagagnon or Aided path Zumeles is an easy ferrata that goes up from Cortina and takes us to Punta Erbin by climbing a long and exposed ledge under the southern slopes of the Pomagagnon. The climb is not particularly difficult although it is constantly exposed. A long itinerary with a good gap that gives a magnificent view of the main Dolomite groups of Cortina from the summit.
The starting point of the itinerary is the parking lot of the Putti medical institute just above Cortina d'Ampezzo. From the Statale 51 to Dobbiaco you will notice before leaving the village the indications on the right for the institute. Go up the paved road with several hairpin bends reaching the institute parking lot. Directions for Google Maps available here.
From the institute's parking lot we follow the path ascending towards the obvious Pomagagnon in a north-eastern direction. It will be noticed that more than one path starts in a north-eastern direction and it is not necessary to take a specific one since all of them intercept the path just above. We reach the path 211 which is a wide cycle path. We keep the left in the wood for less than a kilometer and we cross the path 202. We take it constantly uphill to the right. We meet 218 that we ignore and we continue straight ahead in constant ascent until we meet the downhill gully of the Ferrata Strobel at Punta Fiames coming down from Fiames. The gully descends to our left and us instead we hold the right slightly downhill and then up again on the left following the signs to the obvious ledge that rises diagonally and reach the start of the Ferrata Terza Cengia del Pomagagnon - also known as the Zumeles Aided path (1h 30 'from the car park).
The name Terza Cengia del Pomagagnon can easily be seen by looking at the ledges that cut through the mountain. The last stretch of approach brings us under the impressive walls of the Pomagagnon and it is absolutely recommended to put the helmet also in the last stretch of approach. The beginning of the ledge is steep but not protected and has no exposure or particular difficulties. We reach the first stretch of wire rope and we climb it. The initial width of the ledge is reduced until it is very thin and exposed. We begin to alternate stretches aided with unaided stretches, sometimes decidedly exposed and with gravel bottom that does not always guarantee good stability. Having said that it still remains a climb on the ledge without the need for climbing and it is basically necessary to have a firm foot and no vertigo.
We reach the second stretch of wire rope that goes around an edge and continues in a marked ascent to the left. We go around an edge and let's start a downhill section which leads us to a gorge where we can stop before leaving in the steepest part of the route. Let's start now diagonally going up this steep and exposed ledge where the last section, the steepest, makes the wire rope useful also to overcome the slope since the bottom is not exactly stable. We reach an edge that we go around to the left not before having looked at the panorama that opens towards the south on Sorapiss and Faloria. Also in this section the ledge is aided only in some points - the most exposed - leaving many unprotected sections.
We are in the last aided section of the route. We have to climb to the saddle that separates Punta Erbin from the Croda di Cestellis. We climb some supported rocks and a short stretch of aided path reaching the saddle (2250 m - 1h 30 'from the beginning of the via ferrata - 3h total). From the saddle we see the opposite side with a wonderful view of the Cristallo and beyond the Sesto Dolomites. Climbing a few meters of easy rocks we reach the spartan summit cross of Punta Erbing (2301 m - 15 'a / r - 3h 15' total). Behind us stands the Tofane above Cortina giving a 360-degree show that amply pays for the nearly 1000 meters of elevation gain.
We descend on the side of the Val Padeon with a stretch of steep half-hill descent on rock that is not trivial, especially on wet surfaces. We have to go down some rocks and short rocky jumps. After the first steep section the difficulties end and we reach the path Zumeles saddle (2079 m - 45 'from the end of the via ferrata) crossing paths 204 and 205. We hold the right towards the Rifugio Mietres and we go down on the path that brings us back to the Cortina del Pomagagnon slope. The path has wooden sleepers where necessary to increase stability. We reach a crossroads between path 211 and 204. Although it is possible to continue downhill on the forest, we suggest keeping 211 on the right which comes down sweet, ignoring the various detours and takes us to the institute parking lot (2h 15 'from Forcella Zumeles - 3h from the end of the via ferrata - 6h total).
La Ferrata della Terza Cengia of Pomagagnon or Aided path Zumeles is a via ferrata that is certainly easy for those who are experts in mountain and aided routes. It is the classic itinerary in which exposure dominates since, as indicated by the name, the via ferrata extends on a ledge and the possibilities for climbing will be practically nil. However, pay attention to a couple of steps up the slope where the ledge is not protected and becomes quite narrow with a precipice on our right. Not to take the return in the first steep section. In case of bad weather, the steep section of the ledge in the second half of the route could create some problems. The route equipment has been largely modernized in 2017.
A classic itinerary, rather long but very logical is to go along the Ferrata Strobel in Punta Fiames and then the Ferrata to the Terza Cengia. In fact the descent from the Ferrata Strobel intercepts the path of approach to the Ferrata Terza Cengia in fact combining them perfectly.
If you wanted to take another itinerary, the Cortina area is certainly a little piece of paradise with dozens of itineraries. Not far from the starting point of the itinerary of this route is La Via Ferrata Bovero at Col Rosà at the Col Rosa. Continuing uphill on the SS 51 towards Dolbiacco we meet the Aided path to the Fanes waterfalls, the Ferrata Renè de Pol. Going down instead to Cortina we can go up towards the Tofane where you can take one of the various itineraries - Ferrata Formenton, Via Ferrata Aglio to Tofana di Mezzo, Ferrata Olivieri to name a few - or always from Cortina we can climb southwards to Monte Faloria with the binding Via Ferrata Sci Club 18.