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Experience the Via Ferratas of the Italian Dolomites with a Cicerone guidebook

Cover of Via Ferratas of the Italian Dolomites: Vol 2
27 Feb 2015
17.2 x 11.6 x 2.1cm
No. Maps
No. Photos
1st Published
1 Jun 2003
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Via Ferratas of the Italian Dolomites: Vol 2

Southern Dolomites, Brenta and Lake Garda area

by Graham Fletcher, John Smith
Book published by Cicerone Press

Guidebook to 77 via ferrata routes in the Italian Dolomites in the southern regions, Brenta and Garda. Part of a two-volume set of guides to the Dolomite via ferratas. There are graded routes covering 14 mountain groups including the Civetta, around Trento and the Adige valley, with guidance on the best base for each of the via ferrata routes.

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This guide covers 77 via ferrata routes in the Italian Dolomites. As part of a two-volume set of guides to the Dolomite via ferratas, this volume includes the southern Dolomite regions, in 10 areas including those of Belluno, Brenta, Trento, Lake Garda, the 'Piccole Dolomites' and San Martino di Castrozza. As well as the detailed route descriptions, the guide includes maps, advice on how to climb via ferratas, information on the local area's history and geology, how to travel to and around the Dolomites and and the best places to stay.

Many via ferratas were originally built to aid the movements of alpine military units during the First World War, and now they represent one of the major attractions in the Dolomites. They are a range of protected routes, with fixed cables, ladders and even gorge-spanning bridges, which aid ascent to places normally reserved for expert rock climbers. In recent years, old wartime routes have been restored and many new routes added to give a network of routes around the whole Dolomite region. Some of the new ferratas are ‘sport routes’, often technically quite hard, as you will see from our assessment of the grades. Routes are regularly checked, maintained and waymarked by the Italian Alpine Club, CAI (Club Alpino Italiano).

This the second of a two-volume set of guides to the via ferrata routes in the Italian Dolomites. Volume One focuses on the Northern, Central and Eastern Dolomites. 
  • 77 via ferrata routes grouped by 10 valley bases, with guidance on choosing the best base for attacking each of the routes
  • all graded according to the authors’ own simple system that identifies both the 'difficulty' and 'seriousness' of a route
  • ranges include the Pala di San Martino, the Civetta, the Schiara near Belluno, the Alpi Vicentine, the Brenta Dolomites and the hills surrounding Lago di Garda
  • Activities
    Via Ferrata, high cable and rope-work.
  • Seasons
    Mainly mid-June until the end of September in the higher mountains, avoiding August if you can! Lake Garda area can often be climbed year round.
  • Centres
    Bolzano, Valle di Primiero and San Martino di Castrozza, Agordino, Belluno, Bassano del Grappa, Vicenza, Brenta, Trento, Riva, Lake Garda, Rovereto.
  • Difficulty
    All grades of routes from straightforward short sections of 'protected walking' to serious and strenuous mountain expeditions involving high levels of exposure and commitment.
  • Must See
    All the via ferratas described are great, but don't tackle something too hard too quickly.


While every effort is made by our authors to ensure the accuracy of guidebooks as they go to print, changes can occur during the lifetime of an edition. Revisions to this guide are listed below, so please check them as part of the planning of your trip. We also advise that you check information about such things as transport, accommodation and shops locally. Even rights of way can be altered over time. We are always grateful for information about any discrepancies between a guidebook and the facts on the ground, sent by email to or by post to Cicerone, 2 Police Square, Milnthorpe LA7 7PY, United Kingdom.

Note on route closures


Anyone planning a trip to the Dolomites area should be aware that via ferrata routes are closed from time to time, either to repair damaged protection, or to assess the stability of areas of rock. It is always difficult to say with any certainty how long routes will remain closed, since it is necessary to arrange for funding for proper assessments of rock stability, and the works judged to be necessary to return the routes to a safe condition.

While these closures may be inconvenient for ferratists trying to plan trips, we should take comfort from the fact that the local sections of CAI, and the local authorities, are impressively vigilant in ensuring our safety.

Via Ferrata Lanyards update information – 28 September 2012

Via Ferratas Volume 1 on p35 and Volume 2 on p29 refer to the cessation of production of Petzl’s Scorpio via ferrata lanyard.

This update supplements the comments about safety equipment in both volumes of our guidebooks. We discuss the various types of lanyards (commonly referred to as ‘cowtails’) on the market, and refer to the EN Standard (as defined by the European Committee for Standardisation), and the, rather more demanding, UIAA standard. It goes without saying that you should only buy gear which complies with, at least, the EN standard. Also, whatever the cost of via ferrata equipment it really is false economy to buy 2nd hand gear, so we strongly advise against it.

In the latest (2012) edition of our books, we draw attention to a recent product recall by one of the leading manufacturers, Petzl, who experienced problems with their Scorpio model. We understand that Petzl have since resumed production of the Scorpio, and that the product recall they initiated resulted in some 30% of this type of lanyard being returned for inspection within 6 months of the recall announcement. We have not seen any information about the subsequent success of the recall scheme, but it is reasonable to assume that there are still a good many original Petzl Scorpios in use.

Petzl’s UK distributor stresses that if you own, or know someone who owns, a Scorpio via ferrata lanyard that has not been inspected, you should immediately stop using it, and contact the Petzl distributor in your country to have it inspected. This is advice we would wholeheartedly endorse!

However, during August 2012, another manufacturer (Edelrid) were forced to issue a product recall, following a fatality apparently resulting from equipment failure. As with the Petzl incident, the equipment concerned utilised the stitched webbing method to absorb the energy generated by a fall, rather than a metal KISA. Notably, the Edelrid lanyards which failed were hired: this underlines the importance of making a number of checks when relying on gear other than your own. You should ask about its age and history; check for obvious signs of wear and tear; and make sure it carries the label indicating compliance with the standards above.

The stitched webbing technique used in via ferrata kits now seems to represent the majority of systems on the market. Manufacturers, and compliance standards, indicate that these systems are just as safe as the original KISA based models. However, there is a more practical issue that if you are unlucky enough to experience a fall part-way up a via ferrata route, and your stitched webbing lanyard does what it’s designed to do, then you are, in a manner of speaking, left high and dry! This underlines the importance of advice to carry a safety rope, which would at least assist either a safe retreat, or the completion of the route. However, in our experience, only a small minority of ferratists carry such a rope, and then mainly on the hardest of routes, or when introducing a beginner or a youngster to the sport. So, perhaps the lesson to draw from the situation as it stands is that climbers who rely on a stitched webbing system should also pack a length of safety rope – just in case!

And remember, nothing lasts forever, and this goes for your VF kit too! Manufacturers advise on the maximum life (as well as care, maintenance and storage) of the kit they produce. So look after your kit and retire it when it reaches the recommended age - and certainly if it has ever had to hold a fall!

A final cautionary note; even the best VF kit is worthless if you don’t use it correctly! Make sure you know how to use your equipment properly before you start climbing!

February 2013

For further reference to information on via ferrata set recalls, please see the following websites:


February 2017

SMAR 12, page 86

The route has all new looking heavy duty cable through the entire route; this has replaced the thin cables mentioned in the book.
The “right hand course into the dwarf pine-covered slope” still exists but the thin cable on this right course is just a piece of rope.
Also “the less than new log” on the pegs is now an old board still providing footholds.

ROVER 4 page 293

It is possible that new cabling of the reopened route can be seen as a downgrade from 5 to 4 as in almost all steep sections there are foot and hand placements on metal rungs (ladders). However the route is still a serious undertaking and should not be taken lightly.

The Rientro Attrezzata route no longer exists, cables have been cut and the path is entirely overgrown. The descent is therefore Sentiero 675 to the left, walking down to the start of the route.

October 2015

p161 VICEN 5
This route has changed significantly. Read or download the new route description here.
p290 ROVER 3
Cabling, parking and path numbering have changed. Read or download the new route description here.

November 2013

p48 BOLZ 3: Monte Roen
The signage is now much more subtle than the photo on p48. This photo will be updated when this book is reprinted.
Also p48 paragraph 2; note that a lot of the cable is now loose.
p178 BRENTA Lift Systems
Brenta routes 6, 7 and 8: Doss del Sabion uplift runs until mid September, not early September
p216 Trento North Maps
The highlighted banner heading should read “Trent 1,2,3 Kompass Wanderkarte 1:50000 Sheet 95” (not Sheet 96)
p233 TRENT 6: SA Degasperi and p237 TRENT 7: VF Segata
Both these routes continue to be closed; we have no information to indicate when they will be reopened.
p250 Sidebar top left
Camping Daino – although this is a good campsite there can be some noise disturbance from the nearby quarry and passing road traffic.
p252 RIVA 2
The descent (path 426) is now named Sentiero del Rampin, and the danger sign has been removed. It remains unpleasant, until reaching the good path lower down.
p266 RIVA 7
On the way up, the newish small building (after Capanna S. Barbara) is now a semi-ruined shell.

August 2012

TRENT 7: VF Segata, M. Bondone
This is currently closed for maintenance, but there is no information to indicate how long this will take.

p266 (final paragraph) RIVA 7: Ferrata del Centenario SAT
Please note that 100 metres after Capanna S. Barbara you take the right turn to the ferrata, reached in a few minutes from here. Note, this is before Chiesetta S. Barbara which you reach via the left fork and which is on the return loop of path 404.

ROVER 3: M. Cornetto
This is closed following rockfall. Since there is apparently further unstable rock, it is difficult to say how long the closure will be in place. The route has a locally used name 'Vaio Stretto'.

ROVER 4: M. Albano
Closed due to rockfalls on site. Cables were cut in the beginning and in the end of the route. Community decided to close the route..

p109 AGORD 6: VF Canalone
The second sidebar can now be ignored, as the closure notice has been lifted.

p178 BREN 1
“Descent of Vedretta di Tucket to Rif. Tuckett” – New sidebar at the top left of the page: “New cabling from Vedretta di Tucket on Sentiero Dallagiacoma (315) down to Rif. Tuckett”

p187 BREN 5
New sidebar at the bottom of the page: “Note, at the end of the ferrata turn left up the glacier to the col which leads down to Rif. Pedrotti.”

Previous print runs

For revisions relevant to the 2008 print run of this guide, please click here.

For revisions relevant to the 2005 print run of this guide, please click here.

For revisions relevant to the 2003 print run of this guide, please click here.



Route Listing
Key to Diagrams

How to use this Guide
Route Groupings
When to Go
Travel to the Dolomites
Local Transport
Map Availability and Place Names
Route Grading
Cable Etiquette
What to Wear?
Accidents and Mountain Rescue
Some History

Valle di Primiero and San Martino di Castrozza
Bassano del Grappa
Riva, Lake Garda

APPENDIX 1: Glossary of Mountain Terms
APPENDIX 2: Index of Routes in Grade Order
APPENDIX 3: Index of Routes by Mountain Group
APPENDIX 4: Mountain Rescue
APPENDIX 5: Useful Addresses
APPENDIX 6: Bibliography

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