Via ferrata Stella Alpina (Edelweiss route) is beyond any doubt one of the hardest »iron« routes in the Dolomites. Climbing difficulties are similar to those in via ferrata Giani Costantini in Moiazza. However, although the Costantini route is a lot longer, the difficulties in Stella Alpina are more concentrated and steady. Built in 1979, Stella Alpina soon became very popular among »ferrata freaks« and heralded the advent of new, extremely hard athletic ferratas, which today flourish throughout the Alps, somewhere in a grotesquely excessive manner.
Stella Alpina, heading up the vertical 300 m high south wall of Lastei d'Agnèr could be used as the ascent route to Monte Agnèr, also, although many climbers have to finish their tour at the Biasin bivouac, obviously lacking will and energy for the summit bid. What a pity to fail an ascent on such a splendid summit, being tired from the very demanding, but not at all necessary route. Maybe, I'm a bit biased regarding the vias ferratas of that extreme kind: they seem to me as a matter of self-deception, as well as doing violence to nature.
But, something has to be stressed here: via ferrata Stella Alpina should be absolutely off- limits to unexperienced mountaineers, let alone to beginners. In the vertical wall it is protected only by continuous cables with some rare additional pegs, which don't facilitate the ascent substantially. One can perform the ascent using the fine climbing technics or relying on his (or hers) strong biceps muscles. The first method is much better, no doubt!
The starting point is Rif. Scarpa – Gurekian, 1735 m, in close vicinity of Malga Losch alpine pastures. For the approach data, see the Monte Agnèr – Normal Ascent Route page on SP.
Lastei d'Agnèr, where Stella Alpina goes
From the Scarpa – Gurekian Hut we take a marked path leading towards northwest. After 15 minutes a narrow track, signed by yellow dots, forks to left towards the vertical walls of Sass de la Caure and Lastei d'Agnèr. About 45 minutes after leaving the rifugio, we encounter first iron ropes. This initial section of the ferrata is quite easy and was protected by cables only recently. After 10 minutes of pleasant scrambling we finally stand below the vertical wall. The spirits change immediately, the voices lower, and the breathtaking show may go on.
A detailed description of the ensuing route would be superfluous: the climbing is hard, strenuous, almost always upon vertical rock with numerous chimneys, cracks, dihedrals, extremely airy arêtes, slabs and ledges. The ascent requires a lot of force, as well as fine climbing technics looking for tiny, albeit sufficiently abundant holds. The lower, rather vertical part of the ferrata is shortly interrupted by an airy ledge traverse to the left. Here, the steepness is slightly lessened, allowing to take a little breather, before we tackle the last and hardest section of the ferrata. It consists of vertical, extremely exposed wall with an awkward, slightly overhanging passage, additionally protected by three pegs, but of little use. At 2275 m, after 2 h of hard climbing, the ferrata ends on broad, grassy slabs, covered with rich alpine flora. Traversing slanted slabs under the summits of Sass de la Caure and Lastei d'Agnèr is not quite easy; it demands steady attention to find the most appropriate passages, because the marks are scarce. Although we notice for a moment the Biasin bivouac soon after finishing the via ferrata, it is still far away - almost 1.30 h of tiresome scrambling up and down over undulating slabs and ledges.
The summit ascension on Monte Agnèr, as well as descent possibilities are discussed in the Normal Ascent Route page on SP.
Complete equipment for via ferrata. It is quite normal that numerous climbers are additionally belayed by rope.