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Climb the Via Ferratas in the Italian Dolomites with a Cicerone guidebook

Cover of Via Ferratas of the Italian Dolomites: Vol 1
Available as eBook
11 Jun 2014
17.2 x 11.6 x 2.1cm
1st Published
10 Nov 2009
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Via Ferratas of the Italian Dolomites: Vol 1

by Graham Fletcher, John Smith
Book published by Cicerone Press

Guidebook to the via ferrata routes in the Italian Dolomites - the north, central and eastern regions. 82 graded routes grouped by 10 valley bases are covered, including Cortina, Fassa, Misurina and Corvara, with guidance on choosing the best base for each route. This guide is part of a two-volume set to the Dolomite via ferratas.

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This guidebook provides 82 route descriptions to via ferrata climbs in the Italian Dolomites. Part of a two-volume set, this volume covers the north, central and eastern Dolomites, with regions such as around Cortina, Corvara, Arabba, Sesto and Fassa. As well as the detailed route descriptions, this guide includes advice on how to climb via ferratas, as well as information on the history and geology of the area, how to travel to and around the valleys and the best places to stay in the Dolomites.

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 is the first in a series of two guidebooks to Via Ferrata routes in the Italian Dolomites. Volume Two completes the set, focusing on the southern, Brenta and Lake Garda areas.

  • 82 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 Catinaccio, Marmolada, Sella, Puez Odle, Fanes, Tofane, Cristallo, Sesto, Sorapiss and Marmarole.
  • Seasons
    mid-June to late September, with some lower and south-facing routes OK outside this season; August is busiest, but has best level of local services
  • Centres
    Pedraces/La Villa, Selva, Corvara, Arabba, Val di Fassa/Canazei, Falzarego, Cortina, Misurina, Sesto and Auronzo
  • 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

Sept 2017

South-East Variant of SESTO 3  pages 280-281 . Presently there is no longer a wire to get onto the final descent wire (it is detached and hanging over the edge) so use the alternative scree descent mentioned.  At the foot of the descent there is a sign to say the VF is CLOSED! It is scheduled to be repaired but no date given when this will be done so check before you attempt this route.



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.

July 2017

P76 para 1 line 10. "there is no signposting to be seen"

There is now a signpost by the fence between the cable car station and the power house.

August 2016

The ascent on the Sassongher route can be reduced by around 400m if using the Col Pradat lift.

August 2015


SELVA 3 - VF Oscar Schuster - Sasso Piatto

Sidebar on page 65

The ferrata was refitted for 2015 . The new, sound, protection includes taught wires (with rubber shock absorbers on the most vertical sections), stemples and a ladder. However, the route still has unprotected climbing at the start (50-60 metres of scrambling - grade 1) and at the end (an additional 60-70 metres, once again scrambling - grade 1. The overall Route Grading remains the same.

Further sidebar note on page 66 adjacent to first paragraph;

Note that the descent path is 527 heading south-west towards Rifugio Sasso Piatto (Platterkofel hutte)

SELVA 5  - Via Ferrata Sandro Pertini

Page 70, header for this route to be annotated “Route closed and dismantled”

Sidebar Page 70: 

This wonderful route has been dogged by controversy since it was built. Its popularity has injected money into the local economy, and it has therefore been championed by the local Comune, who helped fund its original construction. However, the potential disruption to the breeding pairs of eagles and peregrine falcons on the crag outraged environmentalists. The situation appears to have been finally resolved by the closure and demolition of the route. Nonetheless, we are reluctant to remove the route from the guidebook at this stage, as it seems that the Comune and local climbing interests are exploring the possibility of rebuilding the route as close as possible to the original line.

Page 72 amend text on photo to read; 

Climbers on ferrata VF Sandro Pertini – now closed and dismantled.

September 2014


FALZ 2: Lagazuoi Tunnels

Flaming torches are now not available but helmets and torches can be hired from a small wooden building at the base station of the cable car.

Considerable restoration has been completed, with information boards now present throughout the tunnels and new paths created around the area, including a new suspension bridge to the Austrian ledge. A pamphlet, ‘The Great War on the summits of Cortina’, is available locally. See also


FALZ 5: Sass di Stria

A visit to the Fort Tre Sassi museum at Passo Valporola is highly recommended.


CORT 1: VF Giovanni Barbara

This route has been re-cabled and, although short, it is now Grade 2, so use of VF kit is recommended. After passing behind the waterfall and through a cleft in the rock, cable and stemples take you down to the gorge floor. Follow paint way-marks on a path in the gorge to a set of steep engineered steps to the left, which climb to a fine viewpoint. Other work in the area has set up a ‘Sentieri dei Canyons’, including other waterfalls, and it is well worth your time on a rainy day. Information (in Italian only) is available at


CORT 9: Sentiero Astaldi

With continuing erosion adding exposure, if you have VF kit it is better to use it.


AURO 4: Ferrata Sartor

At the original route start go up a broken gully following an old cable. At the top of this cable go right (faded blue arrow ‘Si’ and upwards a faded arrow ‘No’) to follow a path that zigzags to the left to the start of some excellent new cables. The original Y-branch has been dismantled, but the cable above to the right is still in existence, so simply follow the new cable.


AURO 5: Monte Chiadenis, Sappada

New cables have been installed on this route. A descent of the harder route on the northern side is not recommended so either climb the VF Nord and descend VF Sud-Ovest or, for an easier day, climb and descend VF Sud-Ovest.

May 2014

Introduction/Travel to the Dolomites
Since the latest printing went to press, this website has changed from to

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:

Information on Route FASSA 13 Marmolada West Ridge to Punta Penia summit – September 2012

The descent glacier is receding rapidly and an abseil of around 15m may be required to reach the glacier. A rope is essential for both a potential abseil and a glacier crossing. Even if crevasses are not visible due to snow the steep nature of the glacier means that there will be a number of crevasses running horizontally from side to side. Some guides say a rope is not necessary for this route. Ignore this advice and take a rope.



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 Gradings
Cable Etiquette
What to Wear
Accidents and Mountain Rescue
Some History
Plant life
Pedraces/La Villa
Val di Fassa/Canazei
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 Bibliography
Appendix 6 Via Ferrata Information and Equipment
Appendix 7 Useful Addresses

Route Listing

Pedraces/La Villa

PEDRA 1 Sass de Putia (Peitlerkofel) 1A

PEDRA 2 Tullen and Gunter Messner Path 1B

PEDRA 3 Monte Cavallo (Helikreuzkofel) 1B

PEDRA 4 Piz de les Conturines (Cunturinesspitze) 1B

PEDRA 5 VF Furcia Rossa – Cima Furcia Rossa III 2C

PEDRA 5a VF Monte Vallon Bianco – Path of Peace 1C



SELVA 1 VF Est and VF Sud – Sass Rigais 2B/1B

SELVA 2 Piz Duledes 1A

SELVA 3 VF Oscar Schuster – Sasso Piatto (Plattkofel) 3B

SELVA 4 VF delle Mesules (Possnecker path) – Piz Selva 4C

SELVA 5 VF Sandro Pertini 4B

SELVA 6 VF Col Rodella 3A



CORV 1 Gran Cir (Grosse Tschierspitze) 1A

CORV 2 Piz da Cir V (Tschierspitze V) 2A

CORV 3 Sassongher 1A

CORV 4 Via Ferrata Brigata Tridentina 3B

CORV 5 Piz da Lech (Boeseekofel) 3B

CORV 6 Lichtenfelser Steig – Piz Boe 1B

CORV 7 Ferrata Vallon – Piz Boe 2B



ARAB 1 VF Cesare Piazzetta – Piz Boe 5C

ARAB 2 Via delle Trincee – La Mesola 4B

ARAB 3 Sass de Rocia 1A

ARAB 4 Col di Lana 1A


Val di Fassa/Canazei

Fassa. Catinaccio – Scilliar

FASSA 1 VF Laurenzi – Molignon 4C

FASSA 2 Grande dente di Terrarossa/Sentiero Massimiliano 2B

Fassa. Passo Costalunga – Catinaccio

FASSA 3 Ferrata Masare 2B

FASSA 4 VF Roda de Vael 1B

FASSA 5 Santner Pass 2A

Fassa. Pozza di Fassa – Catinaccio

FASSA 6 Catinaccio d’Antermoia 2B

FASSA 6a Scalette Path 1A

FASSA 7 VF Franco Gadotti – Sasso Dodici and Sass Aut 2C

Fassa. South-East – Moena and Falcade

FASSA 8 Via Attrezzata del Gronton (currently closed) 1A

FASSA 9 Via Ferrata Bepi Zac – Cima di Costabella 1B

FASSA 9a BF Bepi Zac (extension) 2C

FASSA 10 VF Paolin-Piccolin – Cima dell’Auta Orientale 3B

Fassa. Canazei – Marmolada

FASSA 11 VF dei Finanzieri – Colac 3C

FASSA 11a Ascent of Colac by the ferrata descent route 1B

FASSA 12 Sentiero Attrezzato Lino Pederiva – Sasso Bianco 1A

FASSA 13 Marmolada West Ridge to Punta Penia summit 4C

FASSA 14 VF Eterna Brigata Cadore (currently closed) 5C

FASSA 15 VF Kaiserjeger – Col Ombert 4C



FALZ 1 VF Tomaselli – Punta Sud 5C

FALZ 1a Ascent of Punta Sud by Tomaselli descent route 3C

FALZ 2 Lagazuoi Tunnels 1A

FALZ 3 Averau 2A

FALZ 4 Nuvolau/Ra Gusela 1A

FALZ 5 Sass di Stria 1A

FALZ 6 VF Col dei Bos 3B



Cortina North

CORT 1 VF Giovanni Barbara and VF Lucio Dalaiti 1A

CORT 2 VF Ettore Bovero – Col Rosa 3B

CORT 3 VF Michielli Strobel – Punta Fiames 3B

CORT 4 Terza Cengia – Forcella Zumeles 2C

Cortina – Cristallo

CORT 5 VF Marino Bianchi – Cima di Mezzo 2B

CORT 6 VF Ivano Dibona 2B

CORT 7 VF Renato de Pol – Punta Ovest di Forame 2B

Cortina – Tofane

CORT 8 VF Giovanni Lipella – Tofana di Rozes 4C

CORT 9 Sentiero Astaldi 1A

CORT 10 Sentiero Giuseppe Olivieri 1B

CORT 11 VF Punta Anna and VF Gianni Aglio – Tofana di Mezzo 5C

CORT 12 VF Lamon and VF Formenton – Tofana di Dentro 2B

Cortina – Sorapiss

CORT 13 VF Francesco Berti 3C

CORT 14 Sentiero Carlo Minazio 1C

CORT 15 VF Alfonso Vandelli 3B

CORT 16 VF Sci Club 18 (not yet graded)



MISUR 1 Monte Piana – VF Bilgeri 2B

MISUR 2 VF Delle Scalette – Torre Toblino 3B

MISUR 3 Sentiero del Curato Militare Hosp – Torre Toblino 2A

MISUR 4 Sentiero De Luca/Innerkofler – Monte Paterno 2B

MISUR 5 Sentiero delle Forcella – Monte Paterno 1B

MISUR 6 Sentiero Bonacossa 1A

MISUR 7 VF Merlone – Cima del Cadin de NE 3B

MISUR 8 Cengia del Doge – Marmarole 1C



SESTO 1 Ferrata Nord – Croda Rossa di Sesto 2B

SESTO 2 Strada degli Alpini 2B

SESTO 3 VF Mario Zandonella, including SE Variante – Croda Rossa di Sesto 4B

SESTO 4 VF Aldo Roghel and VF Cengia Gabriella 4C/3C



AURO 1 Sentiero Degli Alpini – Marmarole 2C

AURO 2 Sentiero Amalio da Pra – Marmarole 2B

AURO 3 VF Mazzetta – Padola 2C

AURO 4 Ferrata Sartor – Monte Peralba, Sappada 2B

AURO 5 VF Nord and VF Sud-Ovest – Monte Chiadenis, Sappada 3B/2B

AURO 6 VF dei 50 – Val Pesarina 4C

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