This 4-day climbing tour with the best thinkable panorama in the Dolomites is full of highlights. Armed with climbing equipment and a camera you will be discovering some of the most beautiful summits of the Dolomites. Secured with steel cables you will be crossing the summit ridges in dizzy heights – some of them are even accessed by suspension bridges. During your trip you will be reaching places that can hardly be beaten for their views – it will be hard to match this sense of freedom. This trip is truly unforgettable due to its mix of active climbing, the adrenalin at difficult passages and the unbeatable beautiful setting of the Italian Dolomites.
|Geography:||Italy, Europe||Best travel time:||Jun – Aug|
|Starting Point:||Cortina d’ Ampezzo||Ending Point:||Cortina d’ Ampezzo|
|Required Fitness:||★★★★||Adrenalin & Survival:||★★★★|
|Outdoor & Nature:||★★★★★||Fun & Relaxing:||★★★|
|People & Culture:||★||Family & Kids:||★★★|
Italy is a very safe country and compared to the coastal regions the Dolomites are rather sparsely populated. You can move around freely and enjoy nature. The biggest danger is the weather and the territory itself (e.g. rock fall or landslides). Given that you pay attention to your surroundings and the oncoming weather this tour is very safe.
The fastest way to get to the Dolomits is via airplane to Innsbruck (AT) or Bolzano (IT). The remaining distance you can go by bus, train or rental car.
Starting point for all day trips is Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy. Here you find a very good infrastructure with a number of camping spots, hotels and shopping facilities. Staying here rids you of the headache where to leave your tent and makes stocking up on food on a daily basis a lot easier.
Around the Dolomites there is public transport (bus) but it doesn’t cover all those side streets that branch off from the main road and lead to small passes in beautiful scenery.
Sharing a car is the far better and more flexible solution compared to public transport. You can rent a car directly at the airport in Innsbruck or Bolzano. This way you save the fee for the bus or train to Cortina d’Ampezzo.
There are many Hotels in Cortina d’ Ampezzo but they are really expensive. The best and cheapest way to live in Cortina is to stay on one of the campsites there. They are well equipped and you will always find a nice place for your tent.
We suggest that you buy simple food in the grocery stores and prepare them on the camp grounds. Of course there are restaurants in Cortina, but they are expensive, and you come back late after a day full of fresh air, your motivation to dress nicely and go out for a glass of wine will probably be rather weak.
Start your day with a big breakfast in front of your tent. Then prepare sandwiches to hold you through the entire day because there is nothing to buy on or around the climbing routes.
For dinner you can be as creative as you want, but try to concentrate on meals that can be prepared on a camping gas cooker. Or gather around one of the grills on the campsite. At the supermarket in Cortina there is only a small selection of meat, but a barbecue in this mountain scenery is quite amazing.
What to See
Starting point for all day trips is Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy. The following day tours could easily start from here.
Just to define upfront what we are talking about: A Via ferrata (or Klettersteig) is a protected climbing route along a secured steel cable. With a Via ferrata kit you can secure yourself to the cable limiting any fall.
Description: The Ivano Dibona on the summit of Monte Cristallo is one of the most beautiful climbing route in the whole of the Alps. Including plenty of time for photo and meal breaks it should take you about 7 hours in total. This tour leads along the ridge, across a 30m long wooden suspension bridge and makes you climb several ladders past old posts from the First World War. It’s a truly magnificent tour with gorgeous views. The tour can be recommended for the whole family as you don’t need any previous climbing knowledge.
Duration: 1 Day
Directions: Cortina de Ampezzo -> heading east for 2km on the SR48 -> chair lift Rio Gere – Son Forca -> Gondola Son Forca – Staunies -> Via ferrata Ivano Dibona -> hiking trail 203 back to Son Forca Station
Parking site: N 46.60270, E 12.14156
Via ferrata: N 46.58338, E 12.19290
Costs: 22 € p.P for the chair lift (one way)
- Head off early to avoid the crowds.
Description: The Via ferrata Pisciadu is the most visited climbing route in the Alps. And there is a good reason for that. The route offers beautiful views and a lot of steep passages without getting too difficult. On your way you will be crossing a suspension bridge and at the end you will find an Alpine hut within a magical mountain landscape. After regaining your strength with some refreshments several hiking trails will lead you back to the parking lot. With the trail back it should take you about 6 hours in total.
Duration: 1 Day
Directions: Cortina de Ampezzo -> 36km on the SR48 towards Corvara (West) -> SS243 2km towards Grödener Joch -> after about 6 serpentines you will see a parking lot on the left side of a right turn -> follow directions towards Via ferrata Pisciadu
Parking site: N 46.54698, E 11.82100
Via ferrata: N 46.54564, E 11.82488
- Take your own food as the Alpine hut is very expensive.
- Head off before 8am onto the Via ferrata. The later you get there the more crowded it will be.
Description: This pass brims with natural beauty. You won’t possibly be able get any higher with your car. From the highest point you can take several hiking trails along the posts from the First World War. This way you can combine activity in nature and a little history. This is an absolutely worthwhile tour! It should take you about 4 – 7 hours in total (it depends on your “own” trail).
Duration: 1 Day
Directions: Cortina de Ampezzo -> 16km west on the SR48 -> at Passo Falzarego turn right towards La Villa -> after about 1km you will have a right turn and see a lake on the left side -> park and follow the valley south
- Take your climbing equipment as they also have Via ferratas.
Points of Interest
Historic Ropeway Rio Gere
One of the main highlights on this tour is taking a ride with the Rio Gere cable car – one of the oldest cable cars in Italy. The cabins clearly have seen better days – dented on the outside and poorly patched up on the inside. But the ride is pure nostalgia and might already be an adrenalin rush for some.
30m suspension bridge
Another highlight is the 30m long suspension bridge that you’re crossing on the Via ferrata Ivano Dibona. Even the most courageous might go weak at the knees. You will be rewarded with a view that is very rare.
For movie geeks: The movie Cliffhanger with Silvester Stallone has been shot here for good reasons.
Tips and Tricks
- You should start early in the morning as it will get very busy after 9am.
- Definitely take your weather-proof clothing even if it’s sunny – the weather in the mountain can change very quickly.
- Check the weather report. You won’t be able to spot oncoming thunderstorms just by looking into the sky.
- Take some snacks and enough to drink. You never know how long the tour will last.
- Check your own safety equipment and that of each other. Safety is priority number one.
- Don’t start at any signs of bad weather. Make sure you have a Plan B ready.
- It is tempting to try the Via ferratas without safety equipment like the locals. But don’t be fooled. There is a reason you can see commemorative plaques along the way.
- Don’t leave the paths that are secured with steel robes.
To prepare this trip we used these books:
- Klettersteigführer Dolomiten – Südtirol – Gardasee (mit DVD-ROM) is a really good book to get a good overview of all Via Ferratas in the Dolomites. The book describes all Via Ferratas with all their details and all necessary preperation to climb them. It is a bilingual book in german and in english
- Via Ferratas of the Italian Dolomites, Vol 2: Southern Dolomites, Brenta and Lake Garda
The landscape in the Dolomites is simply amazing. I’m always impressed anew by the beauty of these mountains.
I would come back to …
- …conquer more of the Via ferratas in this region.
- …ride around on a bike, climb different mountains and just unwind.
- …discover the massive ski resorts in the Dolomites.