Marmolada (3343 m) is the highest mountain in the Dolomites group. Because of its south face, this is such a great mountain that even in the biography of R. Messner on Wikipedia it is listed as one of his great early achievements.
But the normal glacier route from the north is far less demanding, and with the installed ferrata elements on its rocky part nowadays it is achievable by anybody with normal physical conditions.
In this page, I shall give you essential information which you will need before climbing Marmolada.
[ Bach – BWV903-Chromatic-Fantasy ]
This is a beautiful massif from any perspective and surrounded by many other nice peaks of Dolomites. The approach roads are over mountain passes with breathtaking views.
Like many other mountains in the region, this mountain was also a front line during the World War I, and you will realize this, see one of the photos below. The glacier itself contains tunnels from that period. The normal north route starts at Fedaia pass.
There is a free car parking at the pass and the lake, after crossing the dam. Many spend a night there, some in motor-homes, in cars, or in tents raised late in the evening. You will see the sign for Punta Penia (3342 m) at the parking. The route goes toward Pian dei Fiacconi hut (2626 m), and from there over the glacier to the summit.
In late season the glacier is with little snow and only then you will realize that it is with a lot of crevasses. When I was there, there was a thick snow layer and I could not see any. But this only made me more nervous.
The glacier section ends up by a rock passage of some 100 meters or more with fixed cables. You will need the usual ferrata equipment here, a harness and a y-rope. After the ferrata you are on the snow, and very soon the summit cross will be visible in the distance. This part is rather easy and beautiful. There is yet another hut only about 50 meters from the summit.
The coordinates of the mountain are:
- Lattitude – 46.4333
- Longitude – 11.85.
- The height difference from the car parking is about 1300 m.
For the type of boots and crampons please see my another text.
My climb to Marmolada
I climbed Marmolada solo, and it was just a day after my long tour to Zugspitze (see the page within this site). After descending Zugspitze, I just continued south, crossed Austria and entered the Dolomites. I had a storm most of the time, and only during lightning, I could see what kind of great scenery I was surrounded with.
I arrived at Fedaia Pass (2057 m) around 10 pm, it was July 3, 2010. There, I spent the night in the car and set off for the summit at 3:50 am.
The route was first a walk on a rocky terrain through bushes, and then on snow before arriving at the Pian dei Fiacconi hut (2626 m) at 5:50. There was no sign of life in the hut, people were sleeping. This was not surprising because not much time is needed from the hut to the summit, so a late start is fine.
My original plan was to avoid glacier and to take the west ridge ferrata route. However, everything around was covered by snow, and I had no idea where to go and how to cross the glacier to get to the route.
So for that reason, I decided to take a rest on a rock surrounded by snow far above the hut, and to see if somebody would appear going in my desired direction. In the end, after a long hour of waiting, some groups started moving from the hut. To my disappointment, I realized they all were going the glacier route. I decided to go the same way. There was deep and soft snow on the glacier, but there were no problems, I could not see any crevasses. I followed the trail hoping this would be safer regarding crevasses.
On the upper part of the glacier, the route turned to the west and I was on the rock, where I used y-rope and harness. The ferrata part was not difficult, and it was far less exposed as compared with my experience from Zugspitze the day before.
At the summit
There were no many people at the summit, perhaps those that were in front of me, have already been resting in the hut which was just about 50 meters from the summit cross.
But there was a young man, almost teenager, and his elderly and authoritarian father. The father was obviously in charge of everything. He was ordering the son where to stay, and which mountain to have in the background as he was taking pictures. He made his orders just by pointing fingers. The boy followed his finger obediently. I felt sorry for him, and I think he realized that. Soon, the father gave a sign and they started descending. But this was a moment for me to ask the boy to make a few photos of me, and they are here on this page.
Later on the route below, I could hear the father angrily speaking to the son about something. Marmolada remains a great memory for me; I doubt it is the same with the boy.
I was carrying 3 liters of water and did not spend it all. Later somebody told me that west ridge route was under snow and that is why there were no visible trails in that direction.
Back at Fedaia pass, I realized it was crowded now. Many Italian families arrived in their motor-homes. From this, I concluded that weather forecast was good. I decided to stay the night there, I was tired to continue.
Next to my car were two vehicles from Slovakia, they were sitting till late in the evening playing the guitar. In the morning, I saw a few of them still sleeping in bags under the clear sky, but some of them were already preparing to go to the mountain. I left soon toward Trieste, which was my actual destination in the first place.
So, this was my story from this great mountain. I wish to stress again that you need special equipment for this route. As for the accommodation, Dolomites are a popular destination and it is advisable to find something well in advance. My experience with Booking.com is very good, they always have plenty of options and you can choose fully equipped apartments, houses, or hotels.
Please leave a comment below, it will be appreciated, and I shall be happy to give answers to any question from you.