If you want to dip your toes into the via ferrata World of the Italian Dolomites, but don't know which beginner routes would be good to start with, then you came to the right place.
A via ferrata is a steep hike with some sections of scrambling or climbing, protected with metal cables. To complete it you will need a helmet, harness, via ferrata lanyard and gloves.
There is over 700 via ferratas in the Dolomites. Their history dates back to the 1st World War, when soldiers set up an intricate routes across the mountains to fight the opposite side. Since then the wooden ladders, have been replaced with proper cables, stemples and metal steps and turned into adventure sites for people who aren't climbers, but would like to take hiking into the next level.
Just last year I was a beginner myself, but after 2 full seasons spent in the Dolomites, I managed to tick off over 50 via ferratas from my bucket list. Here are a few which I consider to be great for a novice.
Ten Beginner Via Ferratas In The Italian Dolomites
1. Via ferrata Gran Cir
If you are a fan of getting great rewards for putting little effort into something, then via ferrata Gran Cir is for you.
There is a good reason why this route is on the top of the list. It's the easiest one and the ascent to is only an hour to an hour and a half long.
Starting at Passo Gardena, one of the most photogenic mountain passes in the Dolomites, the route will take you to the top of Gran Cir mountain, where you can check out the beautiful views of the nearby Sella mountain group and Sassolungo.
2. Via ferrata Innerkofler/De Luca
This is a real gem in the popular Tre Cime Di Lavaredo National Park in the Italian Dolomites. Via ferrata Innerkofler packs a hella of a punch for half a day excursion that it is.
The ferrata starts near rifugio Locatelli (Dreizinnenhütte), one of the best mountain huts in the Italian Dolomites, taking you to the summit of Monte Paterno, at the foot of which the refuge was built.
From the top you can admire the famous three peaks from an elevated view and away from the crowds. Just make sure to leave early to have the summit all to yourself!
3. Via ferrata Passo Santner
For a beginner route, this one is a bit harder then the two previously mentioned via ferratas. The reason I decided to include it in the beginner list is that the route never presents any scary exposure. The protection in the form of cables and stemples is excellent from start to finish.
The real challenge will be to focus on the route and not the amazing views surrounding you. The Rosengarten Nature Park, where the ferrata is located, is known for its many dramatic spires.
The culmination of the ferrata is the Santner mountain pass, where you can get an excellent view of the Vajolet towers - one of my favourite photography subjects in the Dolomites!
Go to my article about via ferrata Passo Santner for detailed information and to see more photos!
4. Via ferrata Catinnacio D'Antermoia
At 3002 meters Catinnacio is the highest peak in the Rosengarten group. Thanks to the beginner via ferrata Catinnacio D'Antermoia you can have its summit under your belt in just a few hours, if you decide to spend the night in the nearby mountain hut.
The ferrata starts at rifugio Principe, built on the mountain pass with the same name. If you study the photo above you will be able to notice the hut. This is the most interesting structure i have come across during my time in the Dolomites.
The iron path doesn't pose any great challenges. The only real obstacle might be in your mind. Sure-footedness is a necessity on any of these routes!
5. Via ferrata Ra Gusela
If you did any kind of research about the Dolomites I am sure that sooner or later you came across a photo of the Giau mountain pass (Passo Giau).
The mountain standing on the pass - Ra Gusela, is a beloved photography subject for many who visit this area. However few realize that you can get to its summit along the beginner via ferrata Ra Gusela.
There is nothing technical or complicated about this ferrata. The only scary thing is the few hundred meter high and nearly vertical wall on the other side of the mountain, visible from the summit. Don't worry though, this is not the side you will be scrambling on!
6. Via ferrata Averau
Just two peaks across from the previously mentioned Mount Ra Gusela stands Mount Averau. If I was going to single out my favourite beginner via ferrata, it would be this one.
The cable section on this route is quite intense, but very short. After that it's a straight forward path to the summit, where some of the best views I have witnessed in the Dolomites are waiting for you!
Via ferrata Averau can be connected with the previously mentioned Ra Gusela. Together they will make up for a demanding, but exciting day in the mountains!
7. Via ferrata Sass Rigais
This great beginner via ferrata will give you a chance to summit the highest peak of the Seceda ridgeline - one of the most iconic photo spots in the Dolomites. The peak is called Sass Rigais and it reaches over 3000 meters!
Due to a relatively long approach, this ferrata is a bit harder then the others I have mentioned in this article. The exposure along the cable section is also greater. I was actually mauling over for a while whether to include it on my intermediate list, but decided against it.
If you have head for heights you shouldn't have any problems completing this via ferrata. The route is straightforward and there are always great spots to place your feet. For more information about this route, check out my other article.
8. Via Ferrata Sassongher
Sassongher is the distinct peak standing over the town of Corvara. It also lies within the borders of the Puez Odle National Park - home to the famous Seceda ridgeline.
When I first lied my eyes upon Sassongher I thought of it to be unattainable to a mere mortal like myself. When looking at it from Corvara all you see are 90 degree steep walls. Luckily the slopes on the other side of the mountain, where the path runs, is a lot more gentle making it one of the easiest via ferratas on this list.
The approach starts at the top of the Col Pradat gondola in the town of Colfosco and for the first 30 minutes it leads gently along the side of the mountain on path nr 4A. After around 30 minutes it veers off on path nr 7 to Forcella (saddle) di Sassongher.
The cable protected section starts shortly after you reach the saddle and lasts for around 100 meters and it doesn't pose any challenges. After that you have another 30-45 minutes of switchbacks to reach the summit. The total roundtrip time to the top is 3-4 hours and makes for a great half day trip.
9. Via Ferrata Sass de Putia
The hike to the summit of Sass de Putia begins at Passo delle Erbe near the village of Santa Magdalena.
Sass de Putia has two summits. The lower one can be reached via a day hike, but to reach the true summit you will need to tackle the via ferrata section stretching for around 300 meters before the top. The whole route takes around 6-8 hours to complete.
Sass de Putia can also be summited as an extension to the popular long distance trek - Alta Via 2 running nearby. This is the option I went form when hiking it during the 2019 summer season.
10. Via Ferrata Strada Degli Alpini
I have deliberately decided to leave the best for last. If you spend as much time in the mountains as me you can quickly become, what i call the 'view snob'. Regular green rolling hills don't quench my thirst for jaw dropping views any longer.
I need sheer walls and dramatic spires and via ferrata Strada degli Alpini delivers exactly that. All whilst remaining within the beginner level, attainable even for those without any via ferrata experience.
I am currently working on a separate guide for this route, so make sure to check back with me in a few weeks!
Have you done any of these via ferratas? If you are going to visit the Dolomites this summer and plan on completing some of them, but have more questions, either check out my complete Italian Dolomites Guide or the links to each via ferrata in the article. You can also post your questions in the comment section below!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
I am Marta Kulesza - the photographer and creator of www.inafarawayland.com. I come from Poland, but I've been living, travelling and working around the globe since I turned 18. A few years ago, during one of my trips to Scotland, I bought my first DSLR and my adventure with photography began. When I am not stuck to my computer editing photos, you can find me hiking somewhere in the mountains.