Beginners Guide To Via Ferrata Climbing In The Italian Dolomites

If I was to play a word association game with the Italian Dolomites, via ferrata would be my first pick. These mountains were a cradle for via Ferrata climbing, a sport growing in popularity in recent years.

During the First World War, the soldiers constructed these routes to gain strategic strongholds over the enemy. The Great War ended eventually claiming thousands of lives, but the iron secured on the mountainsides remained.

The routes eventually morphed into tourist attractions with more advanced, longer tracks being established all the time. 

16 Things You Ought to Know Before Venturing Onto Your First Via Ferrata

With circa 50 via ferratas under my belt (and counting), today I am going to share with you everything I learned about these routes. Hopefully, this article will help you in gaining the confidence to try your first via Ferrata. I am sure you will get hooked or should I say clipped!

1. What is a Via Ferrata?

A climber on the via ferrata Marino Bianchi in the Italian Dolomites
Me on the via Ferrata Marino Bianchi in the early morning hours

The fact that the implements the soldiers used such as ladders, cables, stemples, and legs were made of iron, paved the way for the name Via Ferrata, which translates from Latin to “Iron-Road” or “Iron-Way”.

As touched on before, a via ferrata is an assisted scrambling route on fixed cables that have been professionally attached to the side of the mountain. They all have different grades, and lengths, offer varying amounts of views, and are frequently checked and maintained by the Italian Alpine Club.

As they were initially created for soldiers who wore heavy boots and carried huge quantities of supplies, during all times of the year, they weren’t meant to be technical. After the war ended the old, often steel and wooden equipment were replaced with safe modern solutions. 

Since German is another official language spoken in the Dolomites, in some parts you can find signs pointing to a “Klettersteig”. It means via ferrata in German.  

Another way used for describing a via ferrata is “Sentiero Attrezzato” meaning “an aided path/traverse” an example of this is Sentiero Massimiliano or Sentiero Carlo Minazio on the Sorapiss Circuit.

2. Do I need climbing experience to tackle a via ferrata?

A climber on the via ferrata Merlone in the Italian Dolomites
My friend Magda on the via ferrata Merlone

The quick answer is no, you don’t. Don’t expect to have to dangle from a ledge only holding yourself with one finger.

Even though the objective of regular climbing and via Ferrata is often the same – reach the summit of a mountain, undertaking a via Ferrata doesn’t require any prior climbing experience.

The biggest difference I can think of between climbing and via Ferrata climbing is that a strong part of the first one is practicing safe falling.  

Whilst you do wear safety equipment via Ferrata which is supposed to be a lifesaver if you lost your footing and fall, the existence of ladders, stemples, and other apparatus ensures that you DO NOT fall in the first place.

Undertaking a via Ferrata does require sure-footedness, an adventurous spirit, and some stamina. If you suffer from vertigo and standing on steep ledges with a couple of hundred-meter drops below makes you want to faint, then maybe you should choose one of the day hikes in the Dolomites instead.

3. I have never done a via ferrata before. Do I need to hire a guide?

A climber on the via ferrata Ra Bujela in Cortina D'Ampezzo in the Dolomites
Making use of the cable on via ferrata Ra Bujela near Cortina D’Ampezzo

When it comes down to my knowledge of via ferratas in the Italian Dolomites, this is the question I get asked the most. I won’t give you a straight answer because whether you need a guide or not depends on a few things.

Ask yourself, what is your risk tolerance? If your answer is low, then hiring a guide is a very good idea.

However, if you are a seasoned hiker, have a pretty good orientation in the mountains, can follow route markings well, and have done good prior research on how to use via ferrata equipment or have a friend coming along, who can teach you, then hiring a guide might be a waste of your money. They aren’t cheap after all!

Start with one or two beginner paths and you will move onto intermediate or advanced ones in no time. This was my strategy and I am still alive and well.

I was first introduced to the world of Italian via ferratas by my partner. He taught himself how to use the equipment a couple of years prior with the help of a youtube video.

Neither of us has had any prior climbing experience, but we did spend a lot of time hiking in New Zealand and the Canadian Rockies and felt comfortable being in the mountains. 

4. What equipment do I need for via ferratas?

A climber in a narrow gully on the via ferrata Bocchette Alte in the Brenta Dolomites
Squeezing through a narrow gully on the via Ferrata Bocchette Alte in the Brenta Dolomites

Before you set off on any route, you need the right equipment. This is probably a good time to mention that via Ferrata equipment, unlike climbing equipment, is only meant to be used as emergency equipment, in case of a fall. Remember it only works if you have it on and use it properly!  

Stripping it down there are really 4 mandatory items and they are:

Climbing Helmet

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Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet  

Rockfall is a major concern on these routes, unbeknownst to you, other climbing groups may be hundreds of meters above you. Even if they accidentally dislodge a small golf ball-shaped rock and send it hurtling down the mountain, if it hits you on the head it could have serious consequences. A helmet placed on your head (not inside your backpack) is a must! 

On almost every route, there are memorial plaques for people who have died on these routes. Let’s try not to add more. 

As a note: A cycling helmet does not offer the same type of protection a climbing helmet does and it is not recommended, in case you were thinking about it. 

Harness

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Black Diamond Momentum Harness

There are different types of climbing harnesses all of which will work for Via Ferrata. Your main choice will be between a sport harness or a traditional (trad) harness. Interestingly, one of the main considerations of buying a harness will be how long you’ll be sitting when climbing. Providing nothing goes wrong, whilst doing a via ferrata, you should never have to sit in it. 

You also don’t need any extra or larger gear loops. Something light, that packs up small is perfect. 

Another important thing to note is that climbing harnesses go out of date. Even if not used the material perishes, the life expectancy of a harness with regular use is 3 years. Personally, I’d never buy second-hand either. 

Via Ferrata Lanyard

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Camp Kinetic Rewind Pro Via Ferrata Lanyard

Also known as a Cow’s Tail. A via ferrata lanyard has 4 main components. A strong loop to attach it to your harness, an energy-absorption system, and two carabiners on the end of the lanyard arms. 

The attachment loop is pretty straightforward. It’s used to attach to your harness.

The energy absorption system is used in case of a fall. It’s filled with extra coil so in the event of an accident, it reduces the stress on other parts of the gear and on the climber. Hopefully, you’ll never need it!

The two carabiners on the end of the lanyard arms, which usually have some elasticity to them for convenience, are used to clip into the cable (I’ll get to the details later in the post).

Climbing Gloves

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Black Diamond Crag Gloves

If you’ll be hauling yourself up on a cable all day without gloves within a few hours your hands will be red raw and blistered. 

Fingerless climbing gloves are good for via ferrata as they still allow dexterity on the rock but protection from cable burn. 

However, personally, I prefer these full-fingered gloves because I have cut my fingertips a few times when a piece of wire was sticking out on a cable. Extra protection never hurt anybody, right? 

Harness and helmet are the two items you should try before buying to ensure a safe and comfortable fit, but with free shipping and returns, you don’t have to drive to the stores personally. 

Some via ferratas have subterranean sections so you’ll also need a head torch because there is no natural light to guide you. The two examples are via ferrata Giovanni Lipella and via ferrata De Luca.

Also if you get lost and it gets dark, a torch is a very useful item to carry with you.

There are loads of reputable brands which make via ferrata equipment such as Black Diamond, Petzl, Mammut, Edelrid, Camp, and Salewa. The last two were established in the Dolomites! You can mix and match brands as much as you want! The ones I linked to above are the ones I own myself and highly recommend.  

5. Can I rent via ferrata equipment in the Dolomites?

One of the sections on the via ferrata Michielli Strobel in the Italian Dolomites
One of the sections on the via Ferrata Michielli Strobel

Yes, you can. Most towns have outdoor rental shops where you can rent gear. Look for anything that says “noleggio” because this means “hire” or “rental” in Italian.

Rental equipment costs around 20€ a day for a via ferrata lanyard and a harness. A helmet (which is an absolute must), gloves, and a torch usually cost a few Euros more.

If you plan on tackling multiple via ferratas, or thinking about taking up scrambling and via ferrata climbing as a hobby, it might be more cost-efficient to buy your own gear. The whole via ferrata Kit will set you back around 200 Euros. 

So as you can see the price point is around 9 days of renting to completely pay for your kit. If you’re climbing more than 5 times this holiday, maybe it’s better to have your own stuff instead of old smelly gloves that have been worn by a hundred people. After all, it will be an investment. 

6. How do I use a via ferrata lanyard?

A climber on the via ferrata Ivano Dibona in the Italian Dolomites
My friend Jimmy on the famous via Ferrata Ivano Dibona

First, you attach the Via Ferrata lanyard to the harness through the belay loop. All Via Ferrata lanyards will have detailed instructions on how to do this. It’s a really simple knot called a cow hitch.

As you may have noticed, after playing with the carabiners, they are designed to be automatically locked. This means they won’t open whilst on the cable.

They can be opened by pressing your palm into the release and opening the carabiners with your fingers. It’s a technique that you’ll end up using hundreds of times and will become second nature, but it’s good to practice with your lanyard at home. 

As you approach the first section of cable, properly harnessed up, your helmet and gloves on and you’re via ferrata lanyard attached, you’ll attach BOTH carabiners to a cable. 

After a few meters, you’ll get to the first fixed cable loop (where the cable is attached to the mountain, usually by resin screws). Unclip one carabiner and clip it back into the other side of the loop, then repeat the action with the second carabiner.

The important thing is you always do it one carabiner at a time. The good way to do this is by using only one hand, that way you will eliminate the possibility of unclipping both carabiners at the same time. 

I’ve seen people on Via Ferrata routes only having one carabiner attached at a time, alternating the lanyard arms between the cable sections. This is wrong. In the event of a fall by having only one attached, it doubles the stress on the lanyard risking it being ineffective. 

Try to only use one hand for clipping and unclipping the carabiners, the same way as you should only use one foot when driving an automatic car! 

I know it can be difficult to envision words. I recommend that you jump onto youtube and watch this great video showing the use of a lanyard and carabiners. Just don’t be put off by the difficulty of the ferrata showcased in the video! As the guys mentioned at the beginning of it, this is probably the toughest of the toughest ferratas out there! 

As with everything it takes practice to become good at something. I remember on my first few routes I always forgot to clip out and back in on the different sections, which resulted in me getting ahead in the route, but my lanyard stayed behind. I then had to climb down to the last section to do it. 

Later I figured out it’s easier to rest the carabiners on the palm of my right hand (the one I use for clipping in and out of the cables) and slide them along the cable. Cables are there to help you with climbing and using them to get ahead is definitely a good idea, especially if you are a beginner. 

7. The climbing protocol along a via ferrata

A person climbing the ladders on via ferrata Castiglioni in the Brenta Dolomites
Climbing the ladders on via ferrata Castiglioni in the Brenta Dolomites

Do you know that asshole who will tailgate you thinking it will make you drive faster, even though you are already driving at a speed limit, eventually overtaking you in a sketchy spot a couple of minutes later so you can catch up to him at the next traffic light intersection anyway? Yeah, we all do. 

Occasionally you will meet those in the mountains too. Luckily this is more of an exception than a common occurrence. Generally, mountain folks are friendly and chill. 

If you need to pass someone along the route, make sure to do it in a safe place (for example a wider ledge). The person being passed usually just has to stop and wait, whilst the other climber clips one, then the other carabiner around them. This often results in a short hugging session with a stranger, but it’s part of the experience!

The safe way to climb with a partner is always staying clipped into separate cable sections and remaining at a safe distance. That way if one person loses their footing and falls, the other person isn’t pulled with it. 

If you happen to set off some loose rocks shout ‘below’ as climbers do. That way any party who might be in the lower sections looks down and not up!  

8. Is there an official grading of the route difficulty?

A climber looking down towards San Martino Di Castrozza from via ferrata Bolver Lugli in the Pale Di San Martino Group
The view down to San Martino Di Castrozza from via ferrata Bolver Lugli in the Pale Di San Martino Group

At times it seemed to me that amongst the locals there is only one grade for a via ferrata and it’s called – via ferrata. If it has cables and ladders, it’s marked with crosses on the maps and if the route requires the use of a via ferrata kit to complete it then that’s it! 

Funny enough the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA) adopted the Italian scale for grading the difficulty of a via ferrata as its international standard. You can read all about this grading on the UIAA website. 

Yet I’ve never seen a plaque at the start of any of the routes with the information on the difficulty grade of a via ferrata using the scale created by the Italians. To me, it immediately poses the question: what’s the point of having a scale if you are not going to use it?                     

Another unofficial grading is the Smith/Fletcher rating developed by the authors of the Cicerone guidebooks via ferratas in the Italian Dolomites. The scale uses numbers 1-6 and letters A-C. But what do they mean?

The number is reflective of the technicality of the climb. The number 1 is a walk that may be exposed in parts, and the numbers 5 and 6 have sections of vertical or near-vertical climbing where sustained arm strength is required. 

The letter represents “seriousness”. This is mainly how quickly you can get back to civilization in an emergency. So a C would represent a long remote climb potentially with no escape routes. An A would represent a shorter climb, located near civilization with potentially several escape routes.  

Personally, I think the Smith/Fletcher rating is much better than the official international standard grading, but it certainly isn’t perfect. I imagine it’s a difficult job rating a via ferrata difficulty because a lot of variables come into it. 

Sometimes I felt that some 4C ferratas were easier than a 3B, but at the time something simple as my current experience or fitness level or even how ‘pumped’ i felt on a particular day when tackling a route, could influence my judgment. 

9. Does it matter which way you follow a route?

A climber on the summit of Torre di Toblin after completing her first via ferrata
Magda on the top of Torre Di Toblin after completing her first via ferrata

Yes, it does, some routes should only be done in certain directions. This is because of passing issues. If you have two groups going in different directions with no safe place to pass, it can take a long time logistically and potentially be dangerous.

This is especially true on popular via ferratas such as Torre di Toblin. 

If a certain way is recommended, it will be reflected in the literature and sometimes on the Tabacco Maps with a solid arrow in the permitted direction of travel. 

10. Are via ferratas dangerous?

Scrambling on the via ferrata Degli Alpini Al Col Dei Bos
Scrambling on the via ferrata Degli Alpini Al Col Dei Bos in the early morning hours

All climbing has inherent risk and for anyone to say “Yes, they are safe” would be a lie. That being said, if you are properly prepared, well-kitted out, and choosing routes within your limits, the chance of having an accident is low. 

Falls can still be bad though, if you’re at the upper end of a cable and slip, you will travel the length of the cable down, plus the length of the via ferrata lanyard, which can be several meters. 

It’s worth noting that after a fall, you’re via ferrata lanyard should be replaced as it will be weakened. You should frequently check your energy absorption system, on the inside, there’s a tear-off label that indicates whether it’s fit for purpose.

If the label is broken, do not use it. You should also check your harness and via ferrata lanyard for knots, cuts, tears, wear, rust, chips, or missing parts, regularly. 

Always have adequate insurance with you, which covers mountain search and rescue! No matter what insurance you are buying, always make sure to read the terms and conditions as sometimes restrictions apply. 

11. Are via ferratas suitable for children?

On the Terrarosa ridgeline along the via ferrata Sentiero Massimiliano in the Rosengarten group
On the Terrarosa ridgeline along the via ferrata Sentiero Massimiliano in the Rosengarten group

Yes absolutely. I have seen plenty of children on via ferratas. More frequently on easier grades. The process is exactly the same as for adults.

Just take extra time explaining the procedure and practice with them several times so they understand not only the procedure but also the implications of not following it. 

Bear in mind that your group is only as strong as your weakest climber. Even if you are a pro, don’t take an inexperienced child on a 5C via ferrata. 

I remember once seeing a teenage girl on a route covered in tears, stuck on one of the ledges, too terrified to keep going. I felt really sorry for her. Clearly, her party overestimated her abilities. 

What I see occasionally is that not only are the children using the lanyards to clip into the fixed cables but they are also roped to their parents for extra security. In the case that a child forgets to clip in, or clips in incorrectly and slips, they are still attached to their parent (who will hopefully be correctly clipped in). 

12. How can I find via ferratas in the Dolomites?

One of the Sella towers from the Mesules iron path
One of the Sella towers from the Mesules iron path

I have made 3 lists that should get you started. They are beginner via ferratasintermediate via ferratas, and advanced via ferratas. Each of the articles links to separate posts describing individual routes. 

If you prefer a tangible version to carry with you I highly recommend the Cicerone guidebooks, particularly volume I. 

I have used them myself on several occasions and although I did sometimes find the grading a little bit off, this is mainly due to my personal experience, not a professional eye of a mountain guide. 

13. How to dress for a via ferrata

via ferrata Giovanni Lipella
An easy section along the via Ferrata Giovanni Lipella

Weather accordingly and comfortably. You want to be able to lift your legs without tearing a hole in your crotch (speaking from experience here).

I always like to wear long hiking trousers or leggings, even on warm days,  to prevent any cuts and scratches on my legs caused by sharp rocks.

My favorite go-to brands for hiking trousers are Fjallraven or Revolution Race. Both are Scandinavian brands and when it comes down to the outdoors the descendants of Vikings really know their stuff! 

wind and rainproof jacket are always in my backpack, as well as either a down vest or down jacket because I tend to get cold on the summits, once I stop moving.

Wear synthetic or merino wool shirts, never cotton. They dry a lot quicker and absorb any funky smells better. Sweating bucketloads is part of the experience!

Make sure you have UV sunglasses and a hat to cover your head. The sun in the mountains is unforgiving and I try to avoid sunburns at all costs.  

I often get asked what boots should be worn on via Ferratas. There are a few via Ferrata dedicated boot designs, but to be honest, any hiking boots will do. As long as they have a good grip and are comfortable! 

For outdoor gear shopping, I highly recommend Backcountry (US), Alpinetrek (UK), or Bergfreunde (EU). They are all the same companies serving different country markets. 

14. Do I need a map to tackle a via Ferrata?

Climber on a vertical ladder on via ferrata Merlone in the Italian Dolomites.
Climbing a vertical ladder via Ferrata Merlone – one of my personal favorite routes in the Dolomites!

Waymarking in the Italian Dolomites is excellent. There are signs on every fork and red/white or blue/white paint marks on the rocks along the paths.

As long as you pay attention to where you are going and know the name of the place you are heading to, you should be fine without a map.

However, personally, I am a big fan of printed maps. I have a whole collection of Tabacco maps from the Italian Dolomites and I always encourage people to purchase them. It gives me a sense of security.

Of course, nowadays there is plenty of online choices and apps, but I don’t like to rely on my phone batteries (hmmm….former iPhone user speaking here). My inner geek also enjoys studying maps for the names of the surrounding peaks.

During the 7 months, I spent hiking and climbing in the Dolomites I have only lost my way once and as it happens it was because I did not have an adequate map with me on that day. 

15. What if I have an accident whilst on a via ferrata?

Early morning on the via ferrata Alfonso Vandelli. A climber looking down towards Lago di Sorapiss
Early morning on the Vandelli route. Me looking down towards Lago di Sorapiss

 In case of an emergency, the most important number to keep saved in your phone is 112. This is the so-called Pan-European emergency number where the operator will redirect you to an emergency service line in the country you are currently in. 

118 is the direct number for Medical Emergency and Ambulance in Italy. 

Whilst the phone reception is generally pretty good in the Dolomites don’t count on it entirely. There are many spots where there is still none,  especially on longer and remote routes. 

If you spend a lot of time in the mountains consider investing in a GPS device such as Garmin InReach Mini with a month-to-month plan.

I only purchased mine after I had an accident in the mountains. Luckily I came out of it unscathed, but don’t make the same mistake as me. There is no price you can put on your own life.

 And once again don’t forget about the insurance!  Being an Alpine Club Member has its perks as it often comes with Mountain Search and Rescue insurance. 

16. When are via ferratas accessible?

The fantastic views of Croda Dei Toni on via ferrata Strada Degli Alpini in the Sextener Dolomites
The fantastic views of Croda Dei Toni on via ferrata Strada Degli Alpini in the Sextener Dolomites

The official hiking and via ferrata season in the Italian Dolomites is relatively short and usually stretches between the third week of June and the end of September, or in some parts mid-October. 

If you were wondering why it’s so short, it’s because the snow in the mountains doesn’t melt entirely even well into July, and then starts falling again in September/October (although you can even expect it in the middle of the summer)! 

If you plan on going to the Dolomites in the spring then pack your skis instead of the via ferrata equipment. 

Always plan your excursions for early in the morning. Not only you will avoid the midday sweltering heat on your climbs, but you will also be safely back down before the thunderstorms roll in. 

Thunderstorms are a big part of the Dolomiti weather cycle, expect them in June, July, and even August. Generally, the most stable weather is in September.

October is a bit of a gamble. It can be absolutely amazing on warm and sunny days, but it can also already bring lots of snow and road closures with it. Most of the chairlifts will also already stop operating until the winter season, which means often prolonged approach times on some of the via ferrata routes. 

That’s pretty much all you need to know about via ferratas. However, if you do have any questions, please put them in the comments below. I take pride in thoroughly answering every single comment on my website.

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Marta
Marta

Hi! I am 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.

32 Comments

  1. thank you for the thorough guide! i’m really interested in via ferrata at the dolomites, and also a hut to hut experience. as it will be my first time, i am unsure whether i would need a guide for this trip? i’m trying to do as much research as possible but i know this wont substitute for someones real world experience

    • Hi Victor. Thanks for visitng. Just start easy with beginner routes, see how you like it and then if you decide you are ready for harder routes do them next. You definitely need to know how to use the gear but a simple youtube instruction video explains how to use it. Everyone is different. Some people get into advanced routes right off the bat, some need longer time because they don’t trust their feet:). One thing to bear in mind is that via ferrata is not climbing (many people mix the two). Climbing requires a lot more skills and knowledge.

  2. Hi Marta!

    I had a question regarding via ferreta lanyards. If I do have a fall with the lanyard, and the safety mechanism is deployed meaning I am no longer able to use it, should I be carrying an extra lanyard in my bag? I know the hope is to not fall but I can’t imagine falling in the middle of a route and having no protection for the way out!

    Let me know your thoughts!

    • Hi Rhea. Thanks for visiting. Yes, once the safety mechanism deploys the set is not usable anymore. With that said I never had it deployed. Unlike in climbing where you practice falling during a via ferrata you are never meant to fall, because even with a lanyard secured to the cable one would bruise up pretty badly during a fall. Via ferratas are scrambling with extra security. If you would feel better you could look into getting a climbing webbing sling and another carabiner with you which would give you extra security. Those are meant to be used on really difficult ferratas where sometimes one might have to rest on a harness without putting their weight onto the lanyard or when crossing suspension bridges. Hopefully you would never have to use it though. I’ve only done a couple of via ferratas where a webbing like that would have come in handy, otherwise there were always places where i could just rest on my feet.

  3. Hi, thank you very much for the guides, they have heavily shaped the Europe trip that I am currently on. We are about to head to the Rosengarten group for a brief 3-day hut to hut hike (from Carezza to Alpe de Suise), and I was wondering if you know if any of the Rifugios in that area allow hikers to rent or borrow via ferrata gear. We are travelling as budget-conscious as possible, and it seems like a waste of money (and weight in our packs) to be renting gear for 3 or 4 days that we may only use once or twice. The hiking trails we have selected do not include any mandatory via ferrata, but we are hoping to do them as more of a bonus excursion at the end of our hiking day. Any info on this topic would be great.

    • Hi Evan. Thanks for your great feedback. I am stoked to hear you are heading to the Rosengarten. Unfortunately I don’t know whether the huts rent gear. I know some huts offer guiding tours, but never heard of them renting the gear. You might want to contact them directly and ask.I would be interested in knowing that as well to be honest.

  4. Hiya! I’ll be heading to the Netherlands in mid November for my sister’s wedding and was planning on traveling around a few countries and doing a via ferrata, ideally in the Dolomites. However, after reading your wonderful breakdown of the via ferratas, im assuming November is probably not going to be a great idea or even possible for the Dolomites. Any suggestions of other via ferratas in surrounding areas/ countries?

    • Hi Katrina,

      Thanks for visiting. Yes since most of the via ferratas in the Dolomites are at high elevations November is usually off limits. Last year the weather in the mountains in November was very mild and I was still hiking even in December so it really is a matter of what the weather is doing. I suggest that you check out the Geierwand Klettersteig in Haiming, Austria. It is close to where I live and at low elevation. Quite sun exposed too. If the weather aligns it should be doable in November too.

    • Hi Rick. Thanks for visiting. I link to individual guides for each via ferrata where you can find the info of the Tabacco Map Numbers that you will need for these routes. The routes are marked on the maps. I hope that helps.

  5. Hi Marta,
    Thanks for the excellent overview and information! My wife and I and our daughter (17) will be in the Dolomites for 5 days from 30 June to 5 July. We plan on hiking a lot (including a 2-day hut-to-hut in the Tre Cime) , but would love to do at least one, if not two Via Ferratas. We are experienced hikers (have “climbed” Kilimanjaro and Mt. Fuji, plus some 14ers in the US). We have also done a couple of Via Ferratas (one in the Canadian Rockies and part of one in the Dolomites on a trip 6-8 years ago.) We do pretty well with heights and some exposure. Is there one or two routes you might suggest that might be appropriate for us? Perhaps in the Cortina area, though we will have a car and can move around. We feel like a beginner route might not be a real adventure for us, yet we don’t want to tackle something that is too advanced – or something that is going to take more than about 4-6 hours total. If you have a thought or two, we welcome it! Thanks for helping us out with such great information!
    Carl

  6. Fabulous summary. Could you advise, my daughter and I have some bouldering experience but no lead climbing experience. Could you suggest a good beginner route, preferably somehting that could be a day or two trip from Venice?

    • Hi Michelle. Thanks for stopping by. Via ferrata is not climbing. It’s protected scrambling. You don’t need to tie any ropes etc. As per my post 😉
      I would suggest that you look into via ferratas around Cortina D’Ampezzo. For example Averau or Ra Bujela will be great. There is a shuttle that runs from Cortina to Venice daily so you could visit it for a couple of days. Let me know if that helps!

    • Hi Pablo. Thanks for visiting. I personally always bring at least 3 liters with me and most of the time I drink it all, but I always get very thirsty. It obviously depends on a via ferrata. Some take the whole day some take 2 hours. Quite often you also have the possibility to buy drinks in huts. You have to adjust to the condition. The general rule however for me is 3 liters. I also often mix it with some rehydration powder and electrolytes. I hope that helps!

  7. Hello, I know you said that the season doesn’t start till June. But are there certain via ferrata that are lower and can be done earlier in the year? We plan on being there in may. Thanks

    • Hi Trenton. Thanks for visiting. The only one I know of and have seen pictures of people doing it even in Winter is via ferrata Degli Alpini Al Col Dei Bos . Averau faces East too so it might be possible but I can’t give you a 100% answer. It highly depends on the amount of snow. The webcams from Rifugio Lagazuoi face Mount Averau so you will be able to see how much snow there is in the area. Last year at the start of May there was still a lot.

  8. We are planning a route (thanks to one of your other posts) and are debating about what combination of packs to bring for our family. I have viewed some videos and see people carrying day packs which wouldn’t work for us in doing a hut-to-hut hike where we will need to carry the essentials for several days. Some of the spaces look like they could be difficult to maneuver with a full backpack on. Any advice regarding this? We are looking at beginner and intermediate level VFs.

  9. Marta, Thanks for this – I have mountain experience and trad cliombing but know little of VF. I’m planning a trip here. I’ll probably hire a guide for the first day or too but it’s important to understand the needs and requirements. It’s a really good beginners guide … Tx G.

  10. Hey Marta,

    Curious, coming from Canada and I have my own gear but logistically – this is only part of a bigger trip and I won’t need my gear for the rest of the trip. Is there places to rent that allow you to drop the gear off at the end of your trip, I’m looking at the Alta Via 4 so I’m wondering if, to your knowledge you can pick up gear in San Candido and drop off in Pozale. Similarly, do you know any way to ship gear (that isn’t being used for hiking) from town to town.

    • Hi Will. Thanks for stopping by. Unfortunately, I don’t know of any rental companies which allow you to drop off gear at another location. They are usually small, family-owned gear rentals. As for gear shipping, when I was in the Dolomites for the whole season and I didn’t have an address I used to ship my orders to a post office and picked it up there. I used the post office in Cortina and it worked well.
      What I usually recommend to my readers is to stay the night in Pozzale first and leave the gear that you don’t need at a hotel, then use the public transport to the start of AV4 and end the trek in Pozzale, where your gear will already be waiting. Pozzale has a train station so it’s easy to travel to from wherever you are coming. Let me know if I can help any further!

  11. Having just got back from a weekend away in the Alps, I wish I’d seen this post first! We did a couple of via ferrata, the first one very elementary and the second one much harder; almost entirely vertical with at least a metre between each rung! We’d been told to bring “lightweight gloves” but I hadn’t quite realised what they were for. Thinking it was for the temperature at altitude, I packed some cycling gloves. It was only halfway up the first section that I realised that they had no grip so I took them off. Halfway up the mountain, my hands were bleeding and I couldn’t continue. Our guide told us that we’d reached the last point at which we could take the easier path so off I went down the easy path whilst the rest of my group carried on.
    I’m still undeterred though and will definitely be buying myself and my son a harness, lanyard and helmet, not forgetting the ever important gloves! I’ll definitely head over to the dolomites to check them out, I’ve yet to visit and want to try out my new hobby there!
    Great post, I’ll be sure to keep updated with your adventures! Thanks!

    • Hi Dave! Thanks for your input. I think gloves are really underestimated when it comes down to via ferrata. I never go without a pair and I have already worn out two pairs. I have also learnt the hard way how important they are when I forgot to pack them. Blisters and cuts on my hands. In the summer they absorb the sweat and in autumn they actually do help with the cold! Definitely check out the Dolomites. The via ferratas there are amazing!

  12. Hey Marta, thank you for such a thorough explanation of everything. I have used your site as my ‘bible’ for planning our first ever hiking trip that includes via ferratas. We will be following your 4 day hut to hut excursion across Tre Cime National Park in July 2022. As a beginner I’m a little nervous but your packing list, equipment and trail suggestions fill me with confidence and excitement as the adventure draws nearer. Thanks again, you’re a champ 🙂

    • Hi Mike! Thanks so much for your awesome feedback. I am so glad I was able to help! Remember practice makes perfect. Take your time, practise clipping in etc. It’s a pretty straightforward process! Definitely take full advantage of the cables, which are provided for everyone’s safety. Let me know if you have more questions and do let me know how your trip goes! I am sure it will be epic!

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