Sardinian via ferratas (Part 1)

For the ones who are not quite familiar with the term via ferrata I could simply put it this way: they are protected climbing routes in order to enable people who aren’t expert rock climbers (in the more common sense of the word) to traverse high and steep crags or even reach a summit that otherwise would be too demanding or require a certain experience and technique of mountaineering.

Nowadays their importance has undergone a lot of change from being a “means of transport” to move troops more easily in the Dolomites to something that shows more resemblance to an alternative way of having a breathtaking view of the surrounding nature and additionally an adrenaline rush due to altitude and the often exposed spots on rocky walls.

Therefore via ferratas are widespread in quite a few countries including obviously the region of Sardinia as well. As far as I’ve managed to count them, we are talking about more or less a dozen of via ferratas on the island and I will show you four at a time in each article.

WARNING!

  1. If you have done some via ferratas before you already know that you MUST have a via ferrata kit and I would also add a third short arm to the harness which might come in handy if you want to rest in between the sections or take some pictures along the way. All the via ferratas are free to use in Italy!
  2. If you have never been on a via ferrata I can recommend some expert guides who are more than capable of accompanying you making these hikes much more enjoyable and safe above all. I know exactly how it feels to be told that you can’t do it but I can… That’s exactly why I did many of these via ferratas with expert guides for the first time!

Ok now that I have sufficiently cast some terror into your hearts (which is clearly not my intention) let’s roll! You got your gear and helmet and everything? Let’s start with a via ferrata which is situated some 20 minutes from Sassari.

1. Via Ferrata di Giorrè

Data sheet

Length: 2,5 km/600 m protected climbing route

Time: 3/4 hours

Difficulty: PD (moderately difficult)

Approach: 10 min (there is parking lot layout with a signpost to park your car)

This via ferrata is situated right in the outskirts of a little village called Cargeghe and even though the territory of Sassari is rich in limestone crags (and rock climbing routes) I was a bit surprised when I got to the place. Why? Because it’s a huge ledge and you can walk/climb twice on the same side but at different heights.

The route forms a horizontal 8 so that means that you choose which way to go as you will eventually walk both in the higher and the lower section. The higher and more exposed section is the one that looks more like a common via ferrata whereas the lower one often lets you walk freely without any protection (except for the helmet obviously).

It is not one of those ferratas that keeps you concentrated all the time or requires a constant control of your movements. It’s more like a nice walk with a relaxing view over the countryside with some occasional climbing passages along the way.

It took us about 3 hours to complete this via ferrata. We decided to arrive there at around 5 o’clock in the afternoon (in July) in order to avoid the hottest hours as the sun might heat the cables which sometimes become burning hot thus difficult to handle. However, to our surprise the temperature was more than acceptable and the ledge was in the shadow all the time.

These signs indicate escape routes so whenever you find them it means that following the direction they point at you’ll be out of the via ferrata in a couple of minutes (first on the plateau then down in the valley)
One of the very few climbing passages of the Via Ferrata Giorrè

 

2. Via Ferrata di Cabirol

Data Sheet

Length: 1km

Time: 2 – 3 hours (in the shadow until 2 pm)

Difficulty: D (difficult)

Approach: 20 min (short walk from the parking lot “Belvedere” in front of Isola Foradada)

WARNING!

This via ferrata is closed at the moment due to some adjustment examinations but it is very likely  to reopen in the near future. (I will keep you posted on my fb page as soon as it reopens!)

As far as I’m concerned this is the most spectacular via ferrata I have ever seen as it combines the very essence of this beautiful island: the rocks and the sea! It constantly keeps the altitude of around 200 amsl which allows you stare at the magnificent deep blue of the sea far below your feet while you are walking and climbing on the sparkling white crags of Capo Caccia.

Apart from its natural beauty and the view of Isola Foradada just in front of the route even the path to approach the via ferrata is truly amazing. The short climb up to the starting point gets us to some breathtaking crags (multipitch climbing routes) and a little cave called Grotta dei vasi rotti (Grotto of the broken vases) which is definitely worth a quick look around.

Grotta dei vasi rotti
Signpost indicating the beginning of the via ferrata and Isola Foradada in the background
My dear friend Paola has a way of expressing multiple feelings with one smile
Tore, on the other hand has done it many times. This must be the 20th time. Can you see the smile on his face? How do you explain it?
Never know what’s around the corner
You’ll want to take pictures at every step but don’t forget to keep your carabiners attached at all times
Comin’ up?
The logbook of Cabriol: short messages of climbers who walked along this stunning route (you will find it in a little metal box). This breathtaking via ferrata saw more than 2700 climbers (and that is the ones who signed the logbook) last year being chosen as one of the top 10 in Italy, so people are really looking forward to putting their carabiners on these cables again!
The very last steps already thinking about when to come back… (or beer possibly)

One last thing. It isn’t actually part of the via ferrata but it’s in the vicinity and I thought you might like it (it took me quite a while to find this spot)

Isola Foradada from an other angle

3. Via Ferrata della Regina

Data sheet

Length: 600m

Time: 2 – 3 hours

Difficulty: D (difficult)

Approach: 15 min

This particular route is situated in a village called Monteleone Roccadoria in an area that I think should get more attention as its inhabitants struggle to attract tourists despite the fact that it offers hiking, mountain bike, climbing, kayaking and via ferrata routes. It is a typical destination that is best to visit in spring and autumn to enjoy the spectacular change of colours of this beautiful landscape. The village itself seems to be a sort of Atlantis rising up from the surrounding lake often covered in a thin layer of clouds in the early morning light.

This via ferrata is classified as D (difficult) mostly because of the very first 20 min climbing. It all starts with a steep ascent on metal net that takes us directly to the crag where we find some exposed climbing passages with a slight inclination. Therefore I would recommend a third short arm attached to the harness if you feel like resting a bit. As soon as you traverse this first part of the route you’ll get to some vertical steps. From that point on the route will get much easier letting you admire the surrounding landscape.

The vertical stairs
The dam of Lago del Temo

What makes this place particular are definitely the little details other via ferratas don’t have in Sardinia (apart from the lovely walk among the mediterranean scrubland, tiny green fields and nice panoramic view) such as fireman’s pole – like stairs and a suspended bridge!!!

Pathway to the jungle
Suspended bridge (10 – 12 meters long)
The fantastic view of the lake below

If you would like to know something more about this part of Sardinia you can check out my previous post here.

 

4. Via Ferrata di Goloritzè

Data sheet

Length: 100 – 150 m (approximately)

Time: 10 – 15 minutes

Difficulty: TD (very difficult)

Approach: requires an expert guide

This is rather a protected climbing route than an actual via ferrata as it helps to reach more easily the path that eventually goes down to Cala Mariolu.

You might recall from earlier posts the area of Ogliastra and the stunning trek of Selvaggio Blu. Well, this route is right in the middle. The surrounding mountain ridge called Supramonte is a very rough territory even for local hikers and you shouldn’t underestimate neither the difficulties of orientation nor the very high temperatures in July/August. These two factors might very well ruin this otherwise stunning trek that includes some rappelling as well. Therefore it is to be done together with an expert guide (ask me for info if needed).

So let’s go ahead! Welcome to Wonderland!

Cala Goloritzè in the morning
Floating boats in the crystal – clear sea
Just lost sight of Cala Goloritzè as we climb higher
To be honest I’m still proud of this photo as it took a great deal of effort to get to this spot. Also it describes way better what I love about this island than I could with the help of words
And here we are at the very beginning of this tiny via ferrata right before it turns vertical. Should I add something?

I’m hoping to be able to post about the remaining Sardinian via ferratas soon in the future but in the meantime do not hesitate to contact me here or on my Facebook page if you need any info!

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