Crossing Ponce chain

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 46.46320°N / 13.69650°E
Additional Information Route Type: Mountaineering, Scrambling, Via Ferrata
Seasons Season: Summer, Fall
Additional Information Time Required: A long day
Additional Information Difficulty: UIAA II
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: Class 4
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For a fit scrambler, comfortable also with climbing details up to UIAA II degree, this is a great one day tour. The sharp, panoramic ridge from Vevnica to Ponce is wonderful, but difficulties may depend also on conditions. The key part is the ridge from Vevnica to the notch below Strug. There, the ferrata may be damaged, so reports were also telling that there belaying was a must.

This description is focused on the ridge part of the crossing. Gaining the ridge and descending from it has many variants.

Rating the Route (by hiking standards)

Overall: Difficult, on the Swiss Hiking Scale T6 grading, constant carefulness needed, exposed. Difficult ferrata sections, not protected climbing sections up to UIAA II. Don't go in bad weather (lightning)!

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

Essential Gear

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


It is best to start the tour at Laghi di Fusine / Belopeška jezera. 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 longer and some of them also very demanding:
1. Laghi di Fusine / Belopeška jezera - Mangart - Vevnica - Visoka Rateška Ponca - Laghi di Fusine / Belopeška jezera. 2 days.
2. Koritnica valley - Vevnica - Visoka Rateška 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 Rateška Ponca - Tamar. 2 days.

Route Description

From the parking place at Laghi di Fusine we don't go to Rif. Zacchi, but proceed towards the 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 ┼Żagerica notch and Mali Koritniški 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 the ferrata starts.

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Via della Vita is a difficult, but well 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 devices 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 the 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 many 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 difficult, steep terrain, you need to master climbing up to UIAA degree II, and by a difficult ferrata.



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