For the last two days of the trip we decided to head for Cattinaccio on the grounds that it might have less snow, and was closer to the motorway to take us back to Munich. Both Dave and I have visited the area before, so we both knew parts of it quite well. We stayed the night before in Vigo di Fassa, a lovely village surrounded by the beautiful mountains of Cattinaccio, Latemar, and the Marmolada. In the morning we caught the Paolina lift up from Passo di Costalunga and proceeded to Rifugio Rode de Vael, in a lovely spot overlooking the valley.
It had poured with rain as we were preparing, but by now had cleared enough that we decided to have a go at Via Ferrata Masare, which runs along the crest of the mountains above the Rifugio. As we set off the weather seemed to be improving, and we enjoyed the first half, with occasional views through the clouds, fantastic pinnacles, and one particularly exposed traverse that I found quite exciting. However, as we approached the end, the rain came back, happily just as we were passing a small cave. We sat in there and had our lunch, and the weather improved again so we continued.
About ten minutes after lunch, however, the rain started again, this time accompanied by thunder, and we decided that being attached to a big metal cable on a mountain in a thunderstorm might not be the best idea in the world. Fortunately we were once again in a spot where there were some overhangs for shelter, so we scrambled into those to wait out the storm. Instead, we got harder rain, and then quite a heavy hailstorm, with the hail stones bouncing into our inadequate shelters. It looked for a while like we might spend all afternoon there, but happily this storm too passed, leaving the landscape distinctly whiter than it had been, and after a few minutes we were again on our way.
Done South to North, Via Ferrata Masare ends in a little hanging meadow where you can either climb down and return to the Rifugio or continue up the meadow and onto Via Ferrata Roda de Vael which continues North and finishes off the traverse of the crest of the ridge. Given the weather we elected to beat a retreat down the rather cave-like route back to the Rifugio. Just after we finished the cables, the thunder returned again and it poured down as we hurried back to the hut for shelter. This time the weather didn’t break, and we spent the rest of the afternoon watching it from the warmth of the Rifugio.
Happily the weather finally relented around 5pm, so Dave went for a walk to take pictures, and I ran the shepherd’s path to Rifugio Ciampedi and back on the lower path. The views were gorgeous and I saw plenty of Marmots, some Chamois, and (in the valley bottom) cows, goats and donkeys. Unfortunately the weather came back in once again and Dave and I both got quite wet returning to the Rifugio. Rachel’s decision not to go out again proved the smart one!