Crossing Ponce chain

Page Type: Route
Lat/Lon: 46.46320°N / 13.69650°E
Route Type: Mountaineering, Scrambling, Via Ferrata
Season: Summer, Fall
Time Required: A long day
Difficulty: UIAA II
Rock Difficulty: Class 4


It is best to start the tour at Belopeska jezera / Laghi di Fusine. There's a parking place and, if fit, we can do this tour in one day. Here this option shall be described.

The other three options are long and some of them also very demanding:
1. Belopeska jezera / Laghi di Fusine - Mangart - Vevnica - Visoka Rateska Ponca - Belopeska jezera / Laghi di Fusine. 2 days.
2. Koritnica valley - Vevnica - Visoka Rateska Ponca - down either to E or W - how to come back in Koritnica? A very long day, or 2 days.
3. Planica valley (Tamar) - Kotovo sedlo - Koritnica valley (upper part) - Vevnica - Visoka Rateska Ponca - Tamar. 2 days.

Route Description

From the parking place at lakes we don't go to Rif. Zacchi, but proceed towards south. After one hour we reach one of the darkest and wildest corners of Julian Alps - the basin between the western wall of Vevnica and walls below Zagerica notch and Mali Koritniski Mangart. Here usually also in summer broad and steep snowfields lie. Often they can also make very hard (or even to prevent) the access to the wall, where ferrata starts.

Via della Vita is a hard, but good protected ferrata. If lucky to pass the end crevasse, you enter a steep chimney and climb a few meters up on top of a tower. From there narrow ledges lead towards right and up. Exposed, well protected, fine! Later the route goes up more directly and again towards right. After crossing a shallow ravine you reach the place where no other protection is possible than small bolts in plates and a bit higher - two chains, hanging from an almost vertical rock above. Obviously here in winter and spring avalanches sweep everything. After some more harder passages the route becomes more comfortable, we walk-up to the next barrier, where steel helps us again to overcome steep rocks. Above them we reach steep scree slopes and paths soon branch. The right branch goes towards the bivouac, so we must take the left branch, which turns more and more and finally reaches the summit of Vevnica over its SW slopes.

From Vevnica marks continue towards NE. The route first goes by the ridge, later it crosses the W and NW face of Vevnica. Here passages are again protected by steel ropes and pegs - even though these passages are hard enough. So we reach the notch between Vevnica and Strug.

When I was crossing from Vevnica to Strug some 10 years ago, protections on the marked route were destroyed. We knew it by a friend's reports, so we didn't even try by the W, NW wall. Without any problems we reached by the main ridge the tower above the notch, but there we didn't choose to descend directly, because we were afraid of considerable rock falling (in a steep ravine everything was loose). So we turned right and down by south slopes (on Planica side), which are steep and grassy. Crossing these slopes towards the notch was again a bit tricky. Steep grassy slopes, exposed, tiny steps, but all in all no serious difficulties. So we didn't even rope-up.

From the notch below Vevnica the most beautiful part of the tour begins. To the Strug summit we climb up directly by the ridge. It is marked on some places, but you need to climb a little, the ridge is narrow, but not harder than degree I. Similarly from the summit of Strug towards Zadnja Ponca. The path is stronger, on some places the route avoids difficulties by going on the Italian side. Similarly from Zadnja Ponca towards Srednja Ponca, where we reach the known terrain - described in the other two routes descriptions of Visoka Ponca.

To make the tour complete, it is best to go to Visoka Ponca and from there descend directly to Italian side.

For the whole tour we need 9-10 hours (we did it in 7, but were fast). You need experience in hard, steep terrain, you need to master climbing up to UIAA degree II, and by a hard ferrata.

Essential Gear

Good shoes, equipment for ferratas, a short (20m?) rope is a good-to-have.

Rating the Route (by hiking standards)

Overall: Hard, constant carefulness needed, exposed. Hard ferrata, not protected climbing up to UIAA II. Don't go in bad weather (lightning)!

0. General: 930m to 2340m, exposition N, W, S, marked (on some passages weakly), protected rock climb.
1. Effort: 1700m, 9-10h,
2. Power: 4 - hard (hard ferrata, easy climbing up to UIAA II),
3. Psyche: 4 - hard (exposed passages),
4. Orientation: 3 - marked, but you still need to find some passages.

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.