Via Ferratas In The Italian Dolomites

Via Ferrata Bolver Lugli In The Pale Di San Martino Group

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Via ferrata Bolver Lugli leads into the heart of the Pale di San Martino group and is characterized by three main sections, each with increasing technicality.

The final section is pure bliss for a keen scrambler. It offers lots of cable time and outstanding, albeit intermittent, views south of Monte Rosetta. All while 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. Some segments are challenging and exposed, so you need to be sure-footed to tackle them.

With that being said, climbing experience isn’t required on any of the via ferratas; it requires proper equipment and an adventurous spirit!

Via Ferrata Bolver Lugli: Map & Stats

  • Distance: 10 km / 6.2 mi
  • Elevation gain: 1220 m / 4000 ft
  • Time required: 4-5 h
  • Route difficulty: Advanced (C/D)

Where does the via ferrata Bolver Lugli Start?

Via ferrata Bolver Lugli in the Pale di San Martino Group.

This article describes the route from the top of the Col Verde Gondola in San Martino di Castrozza.

The top of the Rosetta gondola is where you will end your adventure. 

You must purchase tickets for 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.

The first easy section of the via ferrata Bolver Lugli
The first easy section of the via ferrata Bolver Lugli

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 southeastward 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 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 path. Resist the temptation to fill your memory cards with photos from here; the view becomes substantially better the higher you go.

Climber along the via ferrata Bolver Lugli in the Italian Dolomites

Via Ferrata Bolver Lugli: Route Description

The climb’s base is wide and open, providing ample room for all-sized groups to gear up. It should be reached in about 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.

Gaining elevation quickly
around half way up the ferrata

Eventually, as you enter the third section and the climbing becomes grade 4 technicality, the route 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, I found that the quickest advertised descent is down climbing the same route. Still, due to the exposure and technicality, I strongly advise against it to avoid unnecessary risk. 

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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 comfortable skiing or snow surfing, the descent is quick when each step turns into five as you slide down.

The upper parts of the via ferrata Bolver Lugli
The upper parts of the via ferrata Bolver Lugli

WARNING: EXTREME DANGER

After ‘sliding’ down for 10/15 minutes, a central rock island 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 you pay attention and follow the clear signs, you will be fine. 

After descending for another 15 minutes, looking backwards will showcase the potentially dangerous situation.

The spires along the way
The spires along the way in the upper section

For most of the summer, the route switches between snow and a rocky path before opening up in the Val Delle Comelle. On a clear day, by looking northeast, you can 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. A 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 no. 022 and studying it before your departure. 

Via ferrata Bolver Lugli the upper section

Although the route culminates at the busy cable car station near Monte Rosetta, the via ferrata 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!

Near the Bivouac Fiamme Gialle at the end of via ferrata
Bivouac Fiamme Gialle in the Pale di San Martino Group

Shop my via ferrata gear essentials

Black Diamond Helmet

Rockfall is a significant concern on via ferrata routes. Unbeknownst to you, other climbing groups above you may accidentally dislodge a small rock and send it down the mountain. If it hits you on the head, it could have serious consequences. A helmet on your head (not inside your backpack) is necessary.

Shop on: Amazon (Worldwide) / Backcountry (US)

71gKk4U+f2S. AC SL1500

Black Diamond Momentum Harness

Another must-have on a via ferrata route is a climbing harness. A harness works as an anchor point for your via ferrata lanyard. Try it before your trip to ensure it fits snugly without limiting your movements. Aim for a lightweight harness that will be comfortable to wear between the cable-protected sections when hiking.

edelrid basis cable kit special via ferrata set

Edelrid, Camp or Black Diamond Via Ferrata Lanyard

A via ferrata lanyard connects the climber and their harness to the cables along the route. Its two arms and a hidden extra coil work as an energy absorption system in case of a fall. The two carabiners at the end of the lanyard clip into the cable. Make sure the carabiners are equipped with the palm squeeze mechanism. It’s the safest and most comfortable.

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91P0f6XnFML. AC SL1500

Black Diamond Crag Gloves

The gloves protect your hands from cuts and scratches you may otherwise get if you haul yourself on the cable without them. I prefer full-finger gloves for extra protection against blisters. If your hands sweat quickly, go for the fingerless version.

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salewa womens wildfire edge approach shoes detail 6

Salewa Wildfire Edge Approach Shoes

This is my go-to pair of hiking shoes for more accessible trails or via ferrata, where I don’t need extra ankle support. They provide excellent grip on the rock and are very durable.

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reeloq

Reeloq Smartphone Securing System

If you want to take great photos on a via ferrata without worrying about losing your phone, Reeloq is the best tool for it. It’s a smartphone-securing system that allows you to use your phone on any adventure. This has been a great addition to my tool arsenal.

Shop on: REELOQ

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2 thoughts on “Via Ferrata Bolver Lugli In The Pale Di San Martino Group”

  1. Hello and thank you for all the amazing information that will be very helpful for our trip! We are looking to start at the base of the Col Verde Gondola, do Via Ferrata Bolver Lugli, stay the night at Rosetta, hike to Pradidali for the next night and finish in Val Canali.

    We are trying to figure out where to park out car and if it will cost. Would it be best in San Martino di Castrozza to find free parking or park at the bus stop in Val Canali for free and take the bus to the start?

    Reply
    • Hi Emily! Thanks for stopping by. Sounds like a great plan. When in Pradidali you can do the via Ferrata Porton and Nico Gusela. I write about this traverse in my hut-to-hut guide for the Pale Di San Martino range.
      As for your question, it depends on what your plan is after the hike. Personally i prefer to have the car waiting for me at the end so I can avoid commuting when I am tired and sweaty after hiking for a few days. But if you plan on returning to San Martino Di Castrozza anyways then you can just leave the car parked there. There are parking possibilities in town. Park4nite is a great app to look for those. I hope that helps!

      Reply

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