Tackling Dolomite’s Famous Via Ferrata Brigata Tridentina Al Pisciadu

I had been putting off via ferrata Brigata Tridentina for quite some time and all my research suggesting that it’s one of the busiest ferratas in the Dolomites definitely had something to do with it.

I normally head out to the mountains to seek solitude and whenever I come across someone carrying speakers and playing loud music, I try to give them my best death stare. Either my facial expressions are too soft, or others just simply don’t give a damn, but it never works.

My friend and I started the route relatively early each day and whilst it did seem like we beat the majority of the crowd, we still ran into a lot more people than I normally would on other via ferrata routes which I have done to date.

I didn’t see it as a wasted excursion. On the contrary, I enjoyed myself and whilst the route won’t land in the ranks of my personal favorites, I would still give it a solid 7/10 mainly for the views and enjoyable scrambling!

Via Ferrata Brigata Tridentina: The Stats

  • Time required: 3-4 h
  • Elevation gain: 500 m / 1640 ft
  • Route difficulty: intermediate
Following path no. 666 from Passo Gardena to the start of the via ferrata Brigata Tridentina
Following path no. 666 from Passo Gardena

Where is the via ferrata Brigata Tridentina Located?

Via ferrata Brigata Tridentina has been constructed on the northern slopes of the Sella group, home to another prominent via ferrata – Pössnecker.

The Sella group is also one of the mountain groups crossed on Alta Via 2. Its highest peak – Piz Boé is home to one of the most photogenic mountain huts in the Italian Dolomites. 

Where to stay nearby

The nearest towns are Corvara and Colfosco in Val Badia. Below you can find some of my recommendations for accommodation in the area.

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Pizes da Cier and Passo Gardena from the start of the hike
The road leading to Passo Gardena.

What Is The Best Month To Tackle Via Ferrata Brigata Tridentina?

The hiking/climbing season in the Dolomites is relatively short and it lasts from the 3rd week of June until the end of September (or mid-October in some parts).

Due to the fact that the route faces north, it is prone to icing at the start and end of the season when the temperatures at night can still fall below zero.

Extrapolating, the best months to tackle via ferrata Brigata Tridentina are July, August, and September, however, if you want to see the waterfall which runs next to the route in all its glory, then July would be my pick.

The later it gets in the season the waterfall eventually turns into a little trickle of water.

A climber on the via ferrata Brigata Tridentina with the views  of Sassongher and the towns of Colfosco and Corvara in the background
My friend Magda on the via ferrata with the views of Sassongher, Colfosco, and Corvara in the background

How To Get To The Start Of The Via Ferrata Brigata Tridentina

There are two possible trailheads for via ferrata Brigata Tridentina. The first one is the car park Pisciadu belonging to the Italian Alpine Club, the second is Passo Gardena.

Whilst the latter makes the whole route slightly longer distance-wise, it cuts on some of the elevation gain and loss thanks to it being substantially higher. 

Another advantage of starting at Passo Gardena is that after completing via ferrata Brigata Tridentina, you can take a few hours rest at one of the rifugios located on the pass (rifugio Jimmy is my recommendation), and if the weather allows it, tick off the short but mighty via ferrata Gran Cir for sunset.

The only downside is that the car park at Passo Gardena is paid (5 Euro/cash only) and the fee is collected by not always-so-friendly parking assistants.

Make sure to equip yourself with a map. For this particular route, the Tabacco Map 05 or 07 will do. Both cover the Sella group.

Ascending on the via ferrata Brigata Tridentina
Ascending on the via ferrata Brigata Tridentina

Via Ferrata Brigata Tridentina Route Description

If you choose to start at the CAI carpark take the path no. 29 and follow it for ca. 20-30 minutes until you reach the start of the cables.

If like me, you choose to start at Passo Gardena you will first need to follow the path no. 666 until you reach a fork at the bottom of Val Setus then continue onto path no. 29. This option will take approximately 30 minutes. By the way the impressive Val Setus is where you will be descending to get back to where you started.  

Some signs point to via ferrata Piscadiu which is one and the same as Brigata Tridentina, so don’t let that misguide you.

Climber ascending on the via ferrata Brigata Tridentina in the Italian Dolomites
The escape route on the VF Brigata Tridentina visible down below
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Via ferrata Brigata Tridentina is very well protected with cables, stemples and ladders and as you climb higher along the Exner Tower you gain incredible views over Colfosco and Corvara.

Around halfway up there is an escape route leading to the Pisciadu hut, take it if you have had enough or the weather takes a turn for the worse. Otherwise continue on to the bridge.

The culmination of the cable section is the suspension bridge stretched between Torre Exner and Mur de Pisciadu, which you have walked under just earlier in the day.

After the suspension bridge it’s another 15-20 minutes hike until you reach rifugio Pisciadu. I have stayed here before during my Alta Via 2 adventure, however the experience was ruined by us being placed in a room with 20 Italian men on a weekend getaway. I learnt a new meaning of the word ‘snoring’ that night.

A climber on the suspension bridge between Torre Exner and Mur de Pisciadu on the via ferrata Brigata Tridentina
The suspension bridge marks the end of the scrambling section

The Pisciadu Summit Extension

Once at the refuge you have a couple of options.

If you are thirsty for more incredible views, consider going to the summit of Cima Pisciadu. This adds another 2 hours (return) and approximately 400 meters in elevation gain. The route to the summit follows path 666.

After ca. 30 minutes and a short cable protected scramble, a sign points to the summit. The way up and down follows the same path. 

It’s a short and intense scramble, but really  worth it. From the summit you will be able to look down on both sides of Passo Gardena and on a clear day even see the snow-capped Austrian Alps in the far distance.

The view from the summit of Cima Pisciadu at sunrise - an extension to the via ferrata Brigata Tridentina
The view from the summit of Cima Pisciadu at sunrise

The Way Back To The Car Park

If you would like to call it a day, the return to Passo Gardena will take approximately 90 minutes and follows path number 666 in the opposite direction to the one mentioned above, through a steep gully (protected with cables so leave your VF gear on) then a zig zag descent on a packed scree slope through Val Setus.

Once you reach a fork at the bottom of Val Setus, depending where you started earlier in the day, it’s either straight down on path 666A to the Pisciadu carpark or left on path 666 back to Passo Gardena.

Alternatively if you took a bus to Passo Gardena and would like to get back to Colfosco or Corvara on foot, from rifugio Piscadu you can take the path no. 676 then 651 through De Mesdi valley. This route will take approximately 2,5 hours.

Rifugio Pisciadu and Cima Pisciadu
Descending into Val Setus

Shop my via ferrata gear essentials

Black Diamond Helmet

Rockfall is a major concern on via ferrata routes. Unbeknownst to you, other climbing groups above you may accidentally dislodge a small 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! 

Shop on: Amazon / Backcountry (US) / Bergfreunde (Europe)

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. Make sure to try it on first before your trip to ensure it fits snugly without limiting your movements. Aim for a lightweight harness, that will be comfy to wear between the cable-protected sections when you are hiking.

Shop Women’s on Amazon / Backcountry (US) / Bergfreunde (Europe)

Shop Men’s on Amazon / Backcountry (US) / Bergfreunde (Europe)

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, by reducing the stress on the climber. The two carabiners at the end of the lanyard are used to 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 are meant to protect your hands from any cuts and scratches you may otherwise get if you haul yourself on the cable without them. Personally, I prefer full-fingered gloves for extra protection against blisters.

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salewa womens wildfire edge approach shoes detail 6

Salewa Wildfire Edge Approach Shoes

My go-to pair of hiking shoes for easier 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 be able to take great photos on a via ferrata and not worry about losing your phone, Reeloq is the best tool for it. It’s a smartphone-securing system, that will allow you to use your phone on any of your adventures. This has been a great addition to my tool arsenal.

Shop on: REELOQ (Europe only)

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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.

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