Leading into the heart of the Pale di San Martino group, via ferrata Bolver Lugli is characterised by three main sections each with increasing technicality.
The final section is pure bliss for a keen scrambler with lots of cable time all in conjunction with outstanding, albeit intermittent, views south to Monte Rosetta. All whilst coiling around the spires between Cimon Della Pala and Croda Della Palla.
This is one of the advanced via ferratas I have done in the Dolomites. What it means is that some segments are challenging and exposed. You need to be really sure footed to tackle them.
With that being said, climbing experience isn’t required on any of the via ferratas, just proper equipment and an adventurous spirit!
Via Ferrata Bolver Lugli – The Stats:
Distance: 10.2 km / 6.3 mi
Time required: 4-5 h
Elevation gain: 1220 m / 4000 ft
Elevation loss: 640 m / 2100 ft
Where does the via ferrata Bolver Lugli Start?
This article describes the route from the top of the Col Verde Gondola in the town of San Martino di Castrozza.
The top of the Rosetta gondola is where you will end your adventure.
You will need to purchase tickets which will allow you to take the col verde gondola up and the Rosetta gondola down. As of 2019 the cost for both is 23 Euros. Tickets can be purchased directly at the bottom terminal.
The first gondola leaves at 08:20 AM. Considering the sunrise in the summer can be earlier than 05:30 AM, an 08:20 start can already be late for those trying to miss the midday heat.
An alternative ascent is from the non-operational Malga Fosse di Sopra, a short 10 minute drive North from San Martino di Castrozza. From there, follow path nr 712 south eastward to the start of the route.
This alternative approach takes roughly 45 minutes and is perfect if you don’t want to be tied to the gondola schedule.
For those who choose the first option, after being quickly whisked up in a few minutes to the top gondola station, the approach route starts a few meters away from the upper terminal on path nr 706.
It’s an uneventful approach on a clear and obvious path. Resist the temptation to fill your memory cards with photos from here, the view becomes substantially better the higher you go.
Shop My Via Ferrata Gear
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 Bolver Lugli: Route Description
The base of the climb is wide and open and provides ample room for all sized groups to gear up and should be reached around 30 minutes from the top of the gondola.
The climbing begins unchallenging but rewarding with plenty of good footholds and big bucket handholds. The route alternates between unprotected hiking and cable protected scrambling.
This first section provides a warm up for the tougher middle section, which is reached via a few switchbacks on a good scree slope. This is when the views become more rewarding and the scrambling becomes tougher. Don’t worry though, with excellent footholds it’s never too complicated.
Eventually as you enter the third section and the climbing becomes grade 4 technicality, the route really starts to come alive. The use of staples, pegs and ladders during this last push, and the fact that it is almost all protected, make for a great ascent.
Eventually all good things come to an end and the climb finishes around 3 hours after starting. A short 10 minute walk then takes you just above 3000m to Bivouac Fiamme Gialle. A great place for some rest and recuperation after 3 hours of ascending.
After reading several books and internet forums, the quickest advertised descent is down-climbing the same route but due to the exposure and technicality I strongly advise against it to avoid unnecessary risk.
A far more logical descent continues toward Passo del Travigno, where a short extension to the summit of Cima Della Vezzana (3192m) is possible.
The return heads down the Valle di Cantoni, where snow lingers most of the year. For those of you comfortable skiing or snow surfing, the descent is quick when each step turns into 5 as you slide down.
WARNING: EXTREME DANGER
After ‘sliding’ down for 10/15 minutes, a central island of rock becomes close, head for it. DO NOT CONTINUE ON THE SNOW TO THE LEFT OF THIS ISLAND.
The narrow valley changes pitch quickly and funnels into a tight gully, eventually culminating into a cliff where an icy waterfall can be heard. A slip, and then an inevitable slide above this waterfall, on the snow has killed several people.
After the island, follow the red arrows and stick to the right, back onto the rock. Don’t worry as long as pay attention and follow the clear signs you will be fine.
After descending for another 15 minutes, a look backward will showcase the potentially dangerous situation.
For most of the summer season, the route then switches between snow and a rocky path before opening up in the Val Delle Comelle. On a clear day, by looking northeast you will be able to see Monte Cristallo and even the southern faces of Tre Cime!
After a short ascent up to Passo Bottega you can now decide to descend 700m back to the Col Verde Gondola Terminal via some uneventful switchbacks or continue further around for another 15 minutes on path 716 to reach Rifugio Rosetta after another 15 minutes. The refuge is a great place for a final rest, a cold beer or a warm apple strudel.
The refuge is only a 10 minute walk away from the upper terminal of the Rosetta cable car. Energy permitting, the summit of Monte Rosetta is roughly 30 minutes away from the Rosetta gondola station and well worth it.
To better understand the whole route I recommend purchasing the Tabacco Map nr 022 and studying it before your departure.
Although the route culminates at the very busy cable car station near Monte Rosetta, the via ferrata itself is relatively quiet.
The beauty of it is the challenging but fun 3 hour ascent with lots of cable time, climbing steeply on the eastern faces of the Pale di San Martino group between monumental spires, surrounded by 3000m peaks.
If like me you are a sucker for good views, you will love it!
Where to Stay In San Martino Di Castrozza
As I mentioned previously, the small mountain town of San Martino di Castrozza is the gateway to exploring the Pale di San Martino group and the perfect location to base yourself in for a few days if visiting the Italian Dolomites.
Apart from this via ferrata you can also check out the day hike to Passo Del Mulaz or go for the longer Pale di San Martino Traverse. Short on time? Visit Baita Segantini near Passo Rolle, a location I consider to be one of the most iconic photography spots in the Dolomites.
Below you can find a few of my recommendations for hotels and hostels in the area.
If you are looking for more via ferrata routes, a photo spot location or hikes, make sure to visit my Italian Dolomites Guide, where you will find dozens of articles on these topics.
Post any questions in the comments section below. I answer all of them personally!