In old times...
The normal ascent route on Agner (where the first climbers had reached the summit) is in my opinion the most recommendable approach to this magnificent mountain. It is rather long and strenuous, but not excessively difficult as well as relatively safe regarding the falling stones. The track is sufficiently marked by yellow dots, but up to the Biasin bivouac completely devoid of any protection installations. Above the bivouac some cables are placed, though only scarcely. Thus numerous quite exposed passages remain unprotected, demanding very careful and cautious climbing, better to say easy scrambling. Difficulties never exceede the lower UIAA II grade, but a lot of small stones scattered over slabs and ledges demand steady attention and secure step.
The track follows a clearly distinctive ramp, which obliquely ascends the S wall of Agner. The final part of the route sticks to the vertiginous steep slopes above the NW wall, reaching the summit along the west ridge.
From Belluno by car to Agordo, then towards the west to tiny resort Frassene. From there by chairlift up to Rifugio Scarpa - Gurekian hut. When the chairlift doesn't operate (that quite often happens even in full summer season), we have to hike by marked path 771 somewhere interrupted by ski trails.
From the hut we take a cosy marked track, crossing the undulated meadows towards NE to the picturesque grassy basin, which lies under the huge ravine Gran Canalone (Grand Couloir). The path tends to east through dwarf pine bushes admixed with scree, nearly to reach the ample green saddle Col Colander, 1769 m. Already ahead to the col our route turns left, ascending upon a steep grassy rib until we reach the foothills of vertical rocky pillar Becco d'Acquila. Here, the yellow dots turn our ascent decisively left in the direction of a wide steep ramp, where the proper scrambling begins. Following the ramp for almost two subsequent hours, we'll find the climbing not a lot demanding or exposed (mostly UIAA I - II), but rather laborious due to its steady steepness. Climbing over rocky steps disconnected by numerous ledges, clambering over sharp small aretes make the ascent various and very interesting. After one hour and a quarter, when the ramp becomes less pronounced, Via del Nevaio joins our track from the left. Sometimes, yet far above us, the tiny red Biasin bivouac is observed. To recah the bivouac almost another hour of arduous scrambling is needed (from the Scarpa - Gurekian hut 3.30h).
Almost immediately above the bivouac, a cable alleviates the passing of a fairly exposed ledge leading into the sheer slopes of Agner's NW wall. A cold breeze blowing up from the immense abyss onto our face makes the setting more somber at once. The summit of Torre Armena appears on the left. The track tends steadfastly in this direction then turns upwards over some well articulated rock steps. The aid of rare cables ceases soon. Further climbing has to be performed by firm step, great caution, and clear head. Searching for the most appropriate passages (UIAA I - II) over the slanted slabs covered with a myriad of dangerous loose stones, we reach the SW ridge of the mountain. Firstly, it is steep and sharp, but soon becomes more attenuated leading to the unexpectedly spacious summit. The traditional cross is erected about 50 m below the highest point in order to be seen from Agordo.
The most secure descent has to be taken along the same route (3.30h from the summit to the rifugio
). Via del Nevaio is surely somewhat shorter, but it has some important flaws: very steep rocky slopes covered by scree, danger of falling stones, the protected parts are quite exiguous. In addition, the cables are often seriously damaged. An alternative descent along the notoriously difficult via ferrata "Stella Alpina" should be out of the question!
Customary mountaineering equipment with a helmet, as well as a short rope for less experienced participants.
This page couldn't be posted without nice courtesy of our fellow Rustichelli, it's previous owner, who gave me his approval and permission to write a new one. I'm deeply grateful to him.