This was my first via ferrata with so many ladders. Ladder here, ladder there... oh look! There's another ladder! When it comes to ladders on Ceria Merlone klettersteig, enough just isn't enough.
Ceria Merlone trail leads to Cima Cadin di Nord-Est peak in Cadini di Misurina area. You can get there by hiking from Misurina (1754 metres) along trail 115. It leads to Rifugio Fonda Savio (2367 metres). Trail 115 is nice and pleasant, perfect for families with children.
Getting from Misurina to Rifugio Fonda Savio took us about 2 hours. Then, getting to via ferrata takes merely half an hour of hiking along trail 116.
Like in majority of cases in Italy, the start of Ceria Merlone trail is badly marked. I was happy to see some Germans waiting for their friend who was climbing this via ferrata. Friendly Germans told me where to go and where, more or less, klettersteig begins. The path leading to Ceria Merlone wasn't visible due to the snow.
Difficulty of this via ferrata trail is C - 3.5. To be honest, it was enough for me - I'm no climbing expert.
The first phase of Ceria Merlone is surprisingly easy - not very steep trail equipped with iron rope was pleasant to climb. And then, the ladders started. They allow quick ascent and the views start to take your breath away. When the ladder part ended, it started getting really tricky. It was my first via ferrata that year and I felt it might be too much.
But I was so close to the peak! I hesitantly decided to follow up another German with whom I had a quick chat. After a while I saw that he took out his climbing rope! At this point I decided to retreat as my adrenaline demand was met and my arms started getting tired.
The drawback of Ceria Merlone klettersteig is that you need to climb down the exact same way you climbed up. When I was climbing up I was a bit fed up with ladders. Ironically, while climbing down all I wanted was some more ladders - going down along vertical via ferrata trail isn't my favourite thing.
When safe down on the ground I was a bit disappointed I didn't make it to the top. Standing there and contemplating the vertical wall of Cima Cadin di Nord-Est, I saw my fellow German climber approaching. Joy of joys, he said it was good decision to retreat - the final part of Ceria Merlone trail isn't equipped with usual via ferrata safety stuff. Well, it happens in Dolomites...
This via ferrata is fairly quick (probably thanks to the ladders) - getting to the top takes about 50 minutes. The difference of height is rather big - it's 750 metres. If you look at these two numbers, you can guess that the trail's steep.
To sum up, Ceria Merlone klettersteig is a great trail for adrenaline junkies and ladder aficionados It also offers wonderful views of surrounding Dolomites peaks and valleys. But I'd not recommend it as a warm-up. Especially higher parts of the trail aren't the best option for beginners.
Have you ever hiked via ferrata trail? Did you like it?