It’s a long day and whilst the cable time is decent, both the approach and descent are lengthy. Thankfully though, there is no shortage of good views rewarding your every step.
The main highlights of this route include a 500m World War 1 tunnel, a series of exciting ledges, a huge amphitheater of rock, the summit of Tofana di Rozes (3225m), and the Fontananegra saddle with the Giusanni mountain hut built right on top of it.
Giovanni Lipella is classed as one of the advanced via ferratas so before adding it to your Dolomiti bucket list, make sure you have the proper experience and equipment to tackle it!
Via Ferrata Giovanni Lipella – The Stats:
Distance: 16.5 km / 10.25 mi
Time required: 6-8 h
Elevation gain: 1300 m / 4265 ft
Route difficulty: advanced
Where does the via ferrata Giovanni Lipella start?
This article describes the loop from Rifugio Angelo Dibona. From Cortina, the drive should take no longer than 30 minutes.
Rifugio Dibona can be reached by driving up a small and gravel private access road, providing your vehicle is no higher than 2.45m (there is a barrier at the turn-off from the main road). There is ample gravel parking next to the hut where you can leave your car for the day.
If you have the luxury of having a friend who can relocate your vehicle, or you plan on using public transport, then you can summit Tofana di Rozes as part of a traverse from Rifugio Lagazoui to Rifugio Pomedes. I’ve outlined a brief description of this alternative route at the end of this post.
Bring the Tabacco Map nr 03 with you for either of these routes and study them beforehand. I always do that to ensure my own safety in the mountains.
Via ferrata Giovanni Lipella route description
The approach leaves behind Rifugio Dibona’s hut on a wide track and slowly gains elevation before reaching a small hut where path nr 404 seemingly begins.
With Monte Antelao to your back, be careful not to break your neck straining for a good view as you pass sections of a huge rock that make up the base of Tofana di Rozes.
The path undulates and meanders for around an hour and a half. It’s not often I say this as generally I find the routes in the Dolomites to be very well marked, but somehow I did manage to miss the start of the cables. Luckily I had my GPS with me, which brought me back on the right path.
Learn from my mistake. Look out for the two memorial plaques pictured above. They mark the start of the via ferrata and the tunnel entry.
Whilst initially, it is unnecessary to fully kit up, as you will be going into the tunnels, the wide base below the first ladder provides plenty of room for it. At the very least put on your helmet and the head torch. You will definitely need them!
Two ladders mark the tunnel entry. From here you will continue a 500-meter-long subterranean tunnel ascent up a long straight staircase.
It is damp and dark inside so make sure to put another layer on before entering the tunnels. Bringing gloves isn’t a bad idea either (I always bring my climbing gloves with me).
Upon emerging back into the sunlight, it’s still another 15 minutes to the start of the real scrambling. After the tunnels, the path loses a lot of elevation so it may be a bit counterintuitive to be walking down when the target is the summit high above you.
A lot of desired lines can be seen venturing off to indistinct rock faces in search of the route, but if you stay on the main path, the start will be soon visible on the right-hand side.
The climbing is of decent grade but not strenuous, to begin with, there are many areas where meltwater pours over a black rock that creates slipperily, but always well-protected, traverses.
On a hot day, you’ll be welcome to a quick shower.
As the pathway widens, you pass under a thick overhang, round a scenic corner, and begin to climb more steeply. The climbing is still not too strenuous.
WARNING. Because of the aforementioned wet conditions and due to the route being North facing, it’s not uncommon for some sections to be icy, especially in the early season, when there is still a lot of snow present, or late in the season when the temperatures at night plummet below freezing.
Eventually, you’ll reach a fork marked with “Cima” to the right and “Cantore” to the left. The latter makes for a handy escape route if the weather takes a turn for the worse.
“Cantore” refers to Rifugio Cantore which lies just below Rifugio Guissani but has not been operational for many years. “Cima”, which translates to the summit in Italian, is your route and refers to the peak of Tofana di Rozes.
The path then heads diagonally up a section known as the ‘amphitheater’ and contains some short vertical ascents. This is certainly the hardest part of the climb.
Above these, the route plateaus and combines with the hiking route along a scree slope up to the summit of Tofana. From Rifugio Dibona to the summit, it should take around 4 to 5 hours (3 if you are a mountain goat).
Although this last part of the ascent up to the summit isn’t exciting, the views from the top of Tofana are phenomenal so the scree-ridden switchbacks are somewhat of a necessary evil.
Around 10 minutes away from the summit you will be able to spot the massive iron cross.
Once you’ve had your fill of summit vistas begin the walk down. Initially, the descent retraces your previous steps before it continues on equally as horrendous scree switchbacks to the Fortananegra saddle. Trust me when I say this, your legs will burn.
Rifugio Giusanni is a beautifully located mountain hut built right on the saddle. You will be able to spot it on the descent from the summit. Bring some cash and enjoy a cold pint or proper warm meal from the hut’s restaurant. You gotta love the Dolomites for their hut system!
From here take the very wide, well-trodden path nr 403, all the way back down to Rifugio Dibona, where you started. You should reach it within 60-90 minutes of leaving the Giusanni hut.
Via Ferrata Giovanni Lipella as part of a traverse
If you don’t have a car to get to Rifugio Dibona you can change the route slightly and start the hike from Rifugio Lagazuoi – one of my favorite Dolomiti huts!
There is a public bus from Cortina to Passo Falzarego, where you can either catch the gondola up to the refuge or hike up via the Lagazuoi tunnels.
I’d recommend that you stay overnight at the Lagazuoi hut to ensure an early start the next day. Breakfast at the hut is usually served around 7 am.
From the hut head east on path 401, followed by 402 then 404 to the start of Via Ferrata Lipella, complete the ferrata with the summit extension. As you head down on path 403 from Rifugio Giusanni, keep left and venture onto Sentiero Astaldi, a protected walk with a Smith/Fletcher rating of 1A.
Afterward, a quick 5-minute walk takes you to Rifugio Pomedes where you can get the chairlift down straight to Rifugio Pie Tofana and a bus back to Cortina.
This route is slightly longer and involves an overnight stay in the hut, meaning you might have to carry a few extra things with you.
If you are thinking about this via ferrata and still have questions to which you can’t find answers in this article. Make sure to post them in the comments below. I answer all questions personally!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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. When you order Reeloq through my link you will receive 10% discount.
Shop on: REELOQ (Europe only)
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