A new exploratory adventure for in the Cristallo group together with the inseparable companion of "wild" adventures Diego and the legendary Alpine Guide Edoardo. Today's destination is the north ledge of Cristallino di Misurina, an almost unknown ledge made known in the book by Vittorino Mason in " The book of ledges. 56 horizontal routes in the Dolomites " and traveled by Fabio Cammelli whose report is present in the CAI magazine " The Venetian Alps " of spring / summer 2020.
It is June 18 and already in the morning a clear day, free of clouds, warm and perfect for today's adventure promises to be. We reach the Ponte de la Marogna in the Val Popéna Bassa, before Carbonin coming from Misurina. We have light backpacks and with the bare essentials to better juggle the adventures that will surely appear on our journey today. We proceed towards the SE crossing the dry riverbed of the Rio della Val Fonda and enter the bush. Here the trace is evident and there are red stamps on rocks and trees. In short we reach a commemorative plaque of the First World War. We go around the plaque on the left and the wood becomes a succession of narrow and deep gorges that wind through the vegetation: we are literally immersed in the historic trenches of the Great War! As exciting as the situation may be, we must think rationally to avoid getting lost in these tunnels. Always keeping a direction towards the SE, we overcome the trenches gaining height difference in the wood. We find a timid trace a little further on in which we distinctly notice some recent "cleaning" work with sheared mountain pine branches. We are accompanied by the sound of the stream that descends from the Val Cristallino, but we never see it among the foliage. We arrive at a kind of crossroads and keep to the left where there is a boulder with a faded red mark. From here the track becomes wide, remains at high altitude and proceeds for a long time in the vegetation. With the Tobacco application we look for the correct point to deviate in the direction of the Val de le Bance. At around 1680, the app tells us to turn off onto a rather uncomfortable old landslide stream. A little further on we find a path that seems well marked and visible that goes back into the woods. We choose to follow it and with a comfortable climb we come to intersect a very wide and super-marked path that connects the entrance of Val Popéna Alta with the CAI 222 trail.
Thus begins the real Val de le Bance with vegetation that gradually thins out and leaves room for a comfortable scree that winds its way between the Croda de le Bance and the imperious Croda Mosca. Up to an altitude of 2000m the ascent is agile and very comfortable. Then the valley becomes narrower and narrower and you are channeled towards the homonymous saddle de le Bance. At the base of the bottleneck we keep to the right orographic side, actually skirting the Croda Mosca and starting to climb the first jumps of rock that arise. The boulders pile up one on top of the other and, on several occasions, require climbing to overcome them. We manage to overcome all obstacles with relative ease. Every now and then I allow myself to look back and my throat seems to have to swallow and suddenly drag everything down. I look back towards the saddle and the verticality of the cracks is so accentuated that it seems they must fall upon us instantly. We arrive at the height of a small snowfield that invites us to move to the left orographic side. Here we proceed in the most demanding stretch where the high slope of the valley becomes prohibitive when on the bottom there is that light gravel that does not allow a secure grip with the boots. A last climb of a rock jump of a couple of meters, some easy rocks on which to gain the last difference in height and reach an altitude of about 2500m where a nice wide open space awaits us.
The view is spectacular on the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Mount Rudo and the lower Mount Piana. This large and comfortable clearing allows us to rest and look around. Right in front of us we notice a carving in the Cristallino rock that looks like the ledge we are looking for. I recognize some points photographed by Fabio Cammelli in her report and there is no doubt, it is she, the Raule ledge! We are separated by a few hundred meters as the crow flies and a deep valley with an adjoining snowfield. We note that a small wall divides us that we agree to overcome, assured to our guide Edoardo for safety, since a false step would lead us straight into the snow-covered reservoir tens of meters high. We prepare the harness and the helmet, we tie ourselves up and the roping begins.
Cristallino di Misurina
Misurina, Veneto, Italy
Climbing the face takes a few minutes and luckily is much easier than expected. We pass a snow-covered tongue and land on the ledge. Yes, it is she, this little strip of rock that protrudes a little from the bare rock that seems to have to crush it like a sandwich cut in two that meets the side dish. We choose to proceed in preservation given the narrow width of the track and the chasm that is eventually ready to wait for us in the event of a misstep. Diego drives with confidence, me in the middle and Edoardo who keeps an eye on us with his experience. He proceeds with caution, on the edge of the rock, downhill. The ledge continues to descend with a certain constancy. The rock in some places pushes us towards the ravine and we have to crouch to safely overcome these spurs. We climb leaving the Val de le Bance to move to the side of the Val Cristallino. The landscape changes again and allows us to see Carbonin, Lake Landro and the homonymous valley. We find some "little man" made from the remains of grenades from the Great War that confirm that we are on the right path. The only thing that doesn't come back is the continuous descent. Fortunately, after a while, in addition to widening widely, the ledge begins to climb as we expected. We enter the side of the Val Cristallino and the amphitheater of rocks and peaks leaves us speechless. The abyss on our right is increasingly accentuated and visible, the glance on the surrounding landscape makes our suspended position clear to us.
We continue without difficulty until a sudden narrowing of the ledge, a leap into the void, and the subsequent continuation. We have come to the key point! Described by all as the focal point of the excursion is to overcome a total interruption of the ledge for a scarce meter where you can really observe the void. The difficulty lies in overcoming this short stretch and making sure on the other side where we know there is a nail and a sling. The brave Edoardo makes everything seem like a walk and, "free", in less than a minute, he manages to overcome the obstacle, go to the other side and secure the rope for me and Diego. Seems like a no-brainer ... it seems.
I go and already the transition to the interruption is not trivial. Here the ledge narrows to a width in which I can have three quarters of the boot resting on the ground. I get to the point in the void. I don't look below. I go split on a comfortable (yes, really comfortable) support on the other side of the ledge. I'm split in the void. I find a ravine to support the second leg. I'm totally on the other side. Edoardo invites me to move slightly to the right, going down, where there are a series of small supports for the ascent. It will be the excited moment, but I don't see them feasible, at least for me. I therefore choose for a spartan solution, not very elegant, but on the stomach: I set myself on the stony ground with the supports at my disposal and literally crawl in the direction of Edoardo. I reach the goal, I did it! In an inelegant way, but I did it. The whole operation was done in extreme safety thanks to Edoardo's help. Now it is Diego's omentum and thanks to his experience he manages to overcome the critical passage with elegance and precision (enjoy his performance in the attached video because he deserves it).
An extreme satisfaction. We have passed the key point, we look at it and we see this crack in the rock that seems truly impassable. We resume the ledge which becomes wide and comfortable again. A succession of short sloping and landslide sections slow us down until we reach a gully formed by a small snowfield that allows us to proceed alongside a spectacular yellow-pink Dolomite rock. The ledge continues for a long stretch until it rejoins the Val Cristallino. A final steep section with fine gravel separates us from the comfortable and fun descent into the snowy scree bed. Unfortunately there is very little snow and the carefree "run" does not last long and leaves room for a hard and pure scree with initially hard and slippery gravels interspersed with stretches of comfortable stones into which it sinks. The Val Cristallino, at every step, gives us war relics: from pieces of grenades to fragments of bombs. From spiked soles that have remained almost intact, up to the discovery of a bomb still intact leaning against a boulder!
The destination with the Rio Cristallino shore always seems close, but the descent is eternal and we take a long time to cover the entire scree. Every now and then I turn towards the ledge: the high and imposing vertical walls hide the Raule ledge we have just covered. Thinking that we were up there poised on a thin stony stretch is almost impressive.
We proceed in the dry river bed. From the experience of a previous excursion by Diego and Edoardo, we know that further downstream the river will become a waterfall with a notable rock jump. Edoardo's keen eye finds a timid trace among the pines on the right orographic side of the shore. The GPS confirms that we are on the correct way back. Thanks to this shy path we are able to go back into the woods and thus avoid the waterfall. The road mentioned at first turns into a real path increasingly excavated until it becomes a real trench with the presence of small dry stone walls. In the First World War this area was under Italian control and this stretch that we are traveling on to return to the Lower Val Popéna should be more of a rear. The main front lines had to be towards the Val Fonda where our soldiers were deployed towards the Rauchkofel (Mount Fumo) defended by the Austrians.
At an altitude of about 1700m we rejoin the path we traveled on the outward journey and soon we are back at the Marogna bridge, closing the spectacular ring. This concludes an epic exploratory adventure in the rear of the Italian front on the Cristallino di Misurina. Given the numerous findings in Val Cristallino I can say that the war, unfortunately, was also the protagonist in this valley. The Raule ledge itself has brought to light numerous finds confirming that the north ledge of the Cristallino di Misurina was used and known during the conflict.
For an even more complete view, do not miss the fantastic detailed report by the legendary climbing partner Diego: Crossing the north ledge of the Misurina Cristallino: the "ledge Raule"
Expert Hikers with Equipment - The equipped routes (or via ferrata) are indicated, they require the use of self-insurance devices.