What is it that makes Via Ferrata so appealing? Perhaps it’s the exposure, the varied technicality, the ability to climb hard to reach places or just the element of the unknown. With an added ingredient of being the oldest Via Ferrata in the Dolomites, Possnecker has that exciting question mark above its head; what does a grade 4C Ferrata completed before the First World War hold in store?
The walk in from the Sella Pass was a gentle warm up, traversing alongside the Sella Massif with views across Sassolungo and the surrounding area. The red dots indicating a VF path lead us right to the starting point and the scraping of clips could be heard before the wire came into view. As I looked up, feet disappeared around the corner which left the first easy-looking section clear of traffic – perfect!
Cold to the touch, the wire was noticeably thicker than usual which had a lot of give in places, but the decent hand-hold’s on offer meant that wire hauling could be avoided at this stage. Reaching the first ledge where the wire ended, it felt like it had taken us a long time; the climbing had already felt more technical mainly because foot and hand holds were not particularly obvious. Looking ahead to the next section, things suddenly became a lot more interesting.
A very tight gap between two rock faces, blocked up a large boulder, lay ahead for us to climb over. With only one stemple to assist the climb, I had to use my body weight to shimmy myself between the two rocks before lunging across the boulder to drag myself up on to the top – a very funny sight I’m sure, but there seemed no other apparent way. Next, a small iron ladder, titled slightly to the right, had to be climbed before an ascent up many iron stemples. Might I add at this stage, no wire was available to clip on to. Thankfully, the stemples snaked up through a chimney, so leaning on the wall behind could be done very easily and provided some stability. Squeezing through a small gap between the rocks, I found myself standing on a very exposed ledge before climbing another ladder where the wire began again – phew!
With the most challenging part complete, the next stage of Possnecker proved really enjoyable. Climbing up the rocks became easier but still had little challenges which supported its 4C grading. I often found myself swapping sides on the wire which added to the fun of figuring out which route up was the best to take. Soon enough the wire ended again, opening up to a large boulder plateau on the Sella Massif. The walk across took half an hour and provided perfect space in the sunshine for a snack stop, not forgetting the amazing views to go with it.
Clipping back on to the wire, we were surprised to reach the summit of Piz Selva just half an hour later – a sign that the climbing had become even easier (but no less enjoyable) for the last section. Soaking in the views of the Marmolada, Piz Boe and the barren land of the Sella Massif, we decided that Possnecker had offered us a very unique experience that could only really be appreciated first-hand; Hats off to the oldest, most adrenaline-fuelled, ever-changing Via Ferrata to be endeavoured so far.