Ascent of Jôf di Montasio on 2013-07-16

Climber: Lee Newton

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Jôf di Montasio
    Elevation:2752 m / 9032 ft

Ascent Trip Report

On a family holiday to Carinthia, I took a day out to climb the superb Montasch (as it´s called in German). Leaving our hotel in Feld am See at 05.15, it took about an hour to drive via Tarvisio and Sella Nevea to the parking at Altopiano del Montasio. The last few km of road were covered in adverts and exhortations for the riders of the Giro D´Italia cycling race which clearly finished a stage here this year. The road was freshly resurfaced in parts, presumably for the same reason.

The first objective is to climb the grassy slopes to the Forca dei Disteis and there are two ways to do this. On the way up I went via the Rifugio Brazza, care is needed to find the lower path connecting across the meadow towards the col, which is rather faint. The main path keeps on going upwards to the Forca del Palone. The other, which I used on the way down is marginally shorter and continues quite levelly to a farm / cafe, then takes a farm road up the main stream falling from the slopes. There are numerous path variants on both sides of the riverbed (and in it at times since it is generally dry in the summer). At about 1850m the two routes join for the final climb to the col with first views down the north side of the mountain. By this point it was around 8am, and the views were very fine. The sun was hitting Kanin on the opposite side of the valley behind me, and the ridge there forms the border with Slovenia for much of its length.

From the col, the path traverses right, while gradually ascending. There was a significant tongue of old snow-ice to cross (and another 3 higher up), which would have been impossible without either crampons or the footprints of previous climbers. In the frozen morning it was quite treacherous, but in the melting lunchtime less so. There is also a herd of about 20 ibex which apparently always live around this area and are very accustomed to climbers, allowing some brilliant photos to be taken at close quarters.

The path upwards is marked with red paint, and was not hard to follow. Although it was marked as a via ferrata on the map there was minimal cables or help, and little need for it. Higher up the route forks, with the left branch clearly signed as Pipan´s Ladder. Taking this, the route normally goes straight up towards a large rock window, meeting the eponymous ladder of Pipan on the left hand wall. The snow prevented this however, but I could find a way further left, mostly on rock, to get to the gap between the snowfield and the steeper rock wall, a bit like a bergschrund. This was up to 3m deep in places, but could be followed all the way round to meet the ladder. The ladder is made of cables with solid rungs, and is not overly steep. Again no special need for ferrata kit unless you prefer it for safety or if it is wet maybe. Perhaps due to the melting snow and ice, I observed several rockfalls during my ascent so a helmet is definitely advisable.

Above the ladder the ridge leads easily to the summit, with a touch of minimal scrambling. I was alone for the first few minutes, having passed several parties en route. the views were extensive, especially to the Julian Alps, with Triglav prominent. The main Alpine ridge from Grossglockner to Hochalmspitze still held a lot of snow, although it has been melting fast in a 2 week long heatwave. I was then joined on the summit by a number of friendly Slovenians and some Germans and Austrians. Oddly, since I was in Italy, I didn´t meet a single Italian all day. The Slovenians got out their beer and sausage, stripped off, and settled in for a good lunch and siesta. I stuck to diluted Powerade and muesli bars and headed back down to get back to the hotel by the end of toddler nap time.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1270 m / 4170 ft
    Extra Gain:10 m / 33 ft
    Distance:10 km / 6.2 mi
    Route:Pipan´s Ladder
    Trailhead:Altipiano del Montasio  1502 m / 4928 ft
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Scramble, Exposed Scramble, Aid Climb
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:3 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:2 Hours 20 Minutes

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