When I first lied my eyes upon the western face of Mount Civetta, whilst standing on the terrace of rifugio Lagazuoi,
I thought its summit to only be attainable to professional climbers.
Via ferrata Degli Alleghesi is one of the most demanding ferratas I have done, requiring not only experience, but also organisational skills.
It involves an overnight hut stay and awkward gondola times but I will get to that in a minute.
Whilst the scrambling isn’t overly technical or demanding, the sheer length and elevation gain along this route make this a serious excursion for serious adventurers.
Everything you need to know To Successfully Tackle VIA FERRATA DEGLI ALLEGHESI
8-10 hours (excluding the approach to the hut)
16 km / 10 miles from the hut
1150 m /
How to reach the start of the via ferrata Degli Alleghesi?
When researching this ferrata, all the material I found described the route as being very unprotected with path finding skills necessary, however recent improvements changed all this. Today the route is really well protected in all situations, and the path is clear with obvious markings.
This article describes the loop from Rifugio Coldai up via ferrata Degli Alleghesi and down via ferrata Normale. To begin with, you can get to Rifugio Coldai by two main ways:
1. Take the two-tiered-gondola Pian di Pezzè - Col Dei Baldi from Alleghe, then follow the signs for rifugio Coldai. The hike starts downhill on the access road, turning onto path 561 and then switchbacking uphill on path 556. You will reach the hut after 60-90 minutes.
Both gondolas operate from 08:30 to 16:30. This 8 hour gap generally does not leave you enough time to complete this route unless you are incredibly fast. Even if you hike and scramble at lightning speed this allows for no contingency. This is why I strongly recommend an overnight stay along the route in Rifugio Coldai or Rifugio Torrani (or both).
2. The second way to get to Rifugio Coldai is to hike in from Malga Vescova. This small malga is reached by road SS251 from Passo Staulanza.
Overnight parking is prohibited, but there are plenty of pullouts just before it. Similarly, to the top of the Col del Baldi gondola you hike on path 561 then switchback uphill on path 556.
This approach also takes 1- 1.5 hours and the main advantage of this approach is that it isn’t limited to gondola times.
Accommodation in Alleghe
Alleghe is a quaint little town in the Italian Dolomites, not overly touristy, yet very accessible. It was built on the shoreline of the turquoise lake Alleghe and it offers a great access if you want to summit Mount Civetta. I recommend booking an overnight stay here to get a good rest before your excursion!
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To protect your head from any potential rockfall set off by climbing groups above you, or any other head injuries.
Aim for a lightweight harness, which will be comfy to wear between the cable protected sections when you are hiking.
When you haul yourself on a cable for half a day your hands will quickly become blistered. My advice is to go for full fingered gloves.
Developed specifically for via ferrata scrambling, the lanyard provides shock absorption in case of a fall.
Via ferrata Degli Alleghesi - route description
From Rifugio Coldai, the path to the start of via ferrata Alleghesi is well sign posted. It begins just behind the refuge. The path number is 557, also called Sentiero Tivan.
For the first 30 minutes it undulates showing off the striking faces of Monte Pelmo and other dramatic peaks to the south east.
Not before long the route steepens and crosses a few short sections protected with cables, before it gradually eases again.
Whilst gearing up for these small sections isn’t necessary, you have the equipment so you might as well use it. I am always a big advocate for being safe rather than sorry.
Things can go wrong quickly in the mountains and I have unfortunately learnt it the hard way.
Circa 1 hour after leaving rifugio Coldai the path branches off from Sentiero Tivan and a spray painted sign on a rock points to the direction of the via ferrata Degli Alleghesi.
After another 15-20 minutes you will reach the cables and ladders where the real fun begins. If you haven't done it yet, it's time to gear up now!
The climbing now is tougher and steeper, but the introduction of staples and ladders make it uncomplicated and enjoyable.
The route rises quickly between intermittent sections of cable-secured scrambling and hiking along narrow ledges. The red spray-painted route markers are found close together and make it almost impossible to lose the route (unless you are not paying attention to where you are going).
After around 2.5 hours from the start of the climbing, the view westward becomes visible for the first time.
Once you reach this viewpoint the rest of the way to the summit follows the eastern side of the ridgeline. At an average speed you can reach the top in 4 – 5 hours from Rifugio Coldai.
The summit is wide, open and a great place for a snack. If you have good views take photos immediately because clouds can build up rapidly at this elevation.
Try to locate lake Alleghe from the top. It's almost 2000 meters (or 6500 feet) lower and it looks miniscule from the summit, I honestly couldn't believe it was the same lake!
The descent follows a different route and it begins with a well marked scree slope to Rifugio Torrani.
It’s not a pleasant gradient and your tired knees will definitely notice it. After around 30 minutes, you’ll veer leftward and will be able to spot the refuge. You will probably hear its loud generator first!
The Torrani mountain hut located at 2984 meters is not only one of the highest mountain huts in the Dolomites, it's also one of the quirkiest! It stays open for only 3 months of the year, usually between July and September when the route is clear of snow.
It's run by a music loving Italian man who does everything from cooking through cleaning, maintanance and of course, entertaining his guests! I must say his cake baking skills aren't too bad either, considering the limited resources he has at this altitude.
Be it for better or for worse, it’s not like any other refuge I’ve stayed in and although I thoroughly enjoyed my experience I can understand that it’s not to everyone’s taste. Seemingly very unorganised, quintessentially Italian.
To continue your descent from rifugio Torrani follow the markings for Via Normale, which is a via ferrata in its own right. Firstly, it heads down a scree slope before more complicated down-climbing sections become apparent.
The down-climbing here is arguably the hardest part of the entire circuit but again the insertion of pegs and staples make it achievable.
After around 2 hours and a short crossing of a snowfield, the route rejoins Sentiero Tivan (path 557) and undulates back to Rifugio Coldai. The total descent time from the summit to rifugio Coldai takes around 4 to 4,5 hours and it doesn't include stopping for the cake!
From rifugio Coldai it's another hour to reach the gondola or the car parked near Malga Vescova.
As I said previously, considering the length of this route, tackling it in a day is only recommended to those who are super fit and can absolutely crush average times.
Otherwise getting back to the gondola in time for the last lift is a tough call, even if you stay in Rifugio Coldai the night before.
What I suggest is taking the first gondola of the day, then tackling the route and staying overnight in rifugio Torrani or Coldai before returning to your car or hotel the following day.
You could even drop your overnight gear at the Coldai hut first to make your backpack lighter and subsequently the route easier.
If you have the luxury of time, then stay in both and experience what the Italian huts are all about! I have also put together an article about everything you need to know before staying in a mountain hut in the Dolomites.
Alternatively if you aren’t sure you’ll make it back to the gondola station in time then park at Malga Vescova (refer to 'getting to the start of via ferrata Degli Alleghesi section of this post).
If there is anything unclear about this route or you need more information to safely plan your adventure, don't be shy and let me know your questions in the comments section below! I respond to all comments personally and none of them are left unanswered.
For more ideas to plan your holidays in the Italian Dolomites visit my personal guide. I spent 7 months exploring this mountain group and know it better than many of the locals who have lived here their entire lives!
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.