This is a big day out, and if there is any sun, you will be in it.
The route takes you up the vast south east face of Monte Casale, with over 1,300 metres of vertical ascent. Much of the descent is over steep ground and you should aim for a total time of somewhere in the region of 7 to 9 hours from car to car.
It’s graded as 3C in the Guidebook ‘Via Ferratas of the Italian Dolomites: Vol2.’ and is referred to in that book as ‘Riva 2.‘
Although not technically hard, it’s a long day with no escape route from the main face. There is a refugio just as you start to descend and you could probably beg a lift from here if you really had to.
From the northern end of Lake Garda, take the SS45bis road north until you reach the small Lago Di Cavedine, which will be on your right. Enter the village of Pietramurata, and continue until you see the exit sign leaving the village. Turn left into an industrial estate, just at a car sales showroom. Head to the south of the industrial estate until you reach a small parking area on your left. The path goes off to the right and is signposted.
The path skirts some agricultural land and a quarry, then begins to climb up to the base of the crag through pine forest. Go right, along the base of the crag, until you reach the cable.
The first hour or so will take you on a rising traverse rightwards. Eventually, you reach some older cables and rungs, and start to climb higher before moving back left. After reaching a path through a wooded shoulder, you will eventually reach the route proper, marked by a big red asterisk on a pillar of rock. Move up the pillar and around it’s left side, until you see the name of the route painted on the wall.
Numerous pitches will take you ever higher up the route. Some are scrambles over steep sound rock, whilst some are rungs or easier ramps. Occasionally there is some loose rock. The higher you are, the less technical it gets, but with the sense of being a small animal on a huge face.
About half way up the face, a short section of cable leads over some broad ledges to the left. It ends after a few metres and serves only to lead you to a rest spot with great views over the valley and Toblino Castle jutting into the Lake of the same name.
great views across the big face to the North
Another hour or so will take you up some more climbs and into easy paths through some wooded sections. You will find the route book here, but this is far from the end of your journey!
The rest of the ascent is mostly paths with the occasional short protected wall or corner. You will come around a pinnacle and move above the tree line onto a grassy plateau. Skirt around the abyss on your right until you reach the big steel girder cross, which is near the summit of Monte Casale. If you are here on a dry and sunny weekend, you will undoubtedly see people of all ages and abilities, most of whom will have taken the easy trails up the other side of the mountain. Some of them will have driven to the nearby “Refugio Don Zio Pisoni.”
Nigel Lewis high on the face
Go to the refugio and indulge yourself, but remember, you have over 3 hours of descent yet!
From the hut, follow the road (marked 408/426) downhill for about 10 minutes. At the first junction, turn left. This path will eventually fork, with the lesser path going to the left. Follow that, downhill at first, but then eventually rising up again. Just when you start to think you’ve gone wrong, you will see a steep path dropping off left into the woods. Look carefully, and you will see the start of the cable that protects this section.
A long and steep descent through the woods eventually brings you to a rusty ladder. There are some rungs missing, so take care. Keep following the steep path down for another hour or so. As the steepness eases off, you will cross a rugged road a few times. The road switch backs around, with your path cutting straight down across it. Eventually, the path will stop on one of the sections of road, and you will then follow the road, left at first, all the way down back to the village of Pietramurata. When you reach the main road, turn left and walk the half mile or so back to the car. You can cut into the Industrial Estate at it’s southern end.
Water and sun cream would be a good idea in September, essential in hotter months.
The route shows evidence of rock fall. A helmet is recommended.
Spending money for the refugio, if your mum (or spouse) will let you have some!