Summiting Tofana Di Rozes Along The Via Ferrata Giovanni Lipella In The Italian Dolomites

Via ferrata, Giovanni Lipella circumnavigates the distinct peak – Tofana di Rozes. It belongs to the Tofane group and stands proudly above Cortina d’Ampezzo.

It’s a long day, and while 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 500-meter-long World War I tunnel, a series of exciting ledges, a huge rock amphitheatre, 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 one of the advanced via ferratas, so before adding it to your Dolomiti bucket list, ensure you have the proper experience and equipment to tackle it! 

Via Ferrata Giovanni Lipella: map & stats:

  • Distance: 16 km / 9.94 mi
  • Elevation gain: 1100 m / 3608 ft
  • Time required: 6-8 h
  • Route difficulty: advanced (C/D)
  • Type of route: circuit

Where does the via ferrata Giovanni Lipella start?

Tofana di Rozes in the late afternoon sun during the autumn season in the Italian Dolomites
Tofana di Rozes in the late afternoon sun during the autumn season

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 gravel private access road, provided 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. 

Suppose you have the luxury of having a friend who can relocate your vehicle, or you plan on using public transport. In that case, 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 safety in the mountains. 

The initial approach from rifugio Ivano Dibona to the start of the via ferrata
Cinque Torri, Croda Da Lago and Mount Pelmo visible from the approach to the via ferrata Ivano Dibona

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 view southward to Cinque Torri, Monte AverauRa Gusela, and Southwest Marmolada, the Queen of the Dolomites, is equally impressive as the slabs above.

The World War I commemorative plaques near the tunnel entries
The World War I commemorative plaques near the tunnel entries

The path undulates and meanders for around an hour and a half. It’s not often that I say this, as I generally 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. 

While 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 head torch. You will need them! 

The second ladder entering the tunnel along the via ferrata Giovanni Lipella
Via ferrata Giovanni Lipella - the tunnel exit

Two ladders mark the tunnel entry. You will continue a 500-meter-long subterranean tunnel ascent up a long, straight staircase from here.

It is damp and dark inside, so make sure to put on another layer before entering the tunnels. Bringing gloves isn’t a bad idea either (I always bring my climbing gloves with me). 

Everything you need to know about via ferrata Giovanni Lipella in the Italian Dolomites
Scrambling up the first cable-protected section

Upon emerging back into the sunlight, it’s still another 15 minutes before the start of the real scrambling. After the tunnels, the path loses a lot of elevation, so it may be a bit counterintuitive to walk 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 soon be visible on the right-hand side.

The views along the via ferrata Giovanni Lipella
The views along the via ferrata Giovanni Lipella

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 climb more steeply. The climbing is still not too strenuous.

WARNING. Because of the aforementioned wet conditions and the route’s North-Facing orientation, 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. 

traversing along the ledges on the via ferrata Giovanni Lipella
traversing along the ledges

Eventually, you’ll reach a fork marked “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.

Getting close to the fork
Signs for rifugio Cantore along the escape route and Cima meaning summit of Tofana di Rozes

The path then heads diagonally up a section known as the ‘amphitheatre’ 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 4 to 5 hours (3 if you are a mountain goat). 

Climber along the via ferrata Giovanni Lipella
My nervous smile on the steep sections

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. 

The section called 'The Amphitheatre'
The scree slopes on the last push to the summit

Once you’ve filled your summit vistas, begin the walk down. Initially, the descent retraces your previous steps before it continues 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 cash and enjoy a cold pint or proper warm meal from the hut’s restaurant. You gotta love the Dolomites for their hut system! 

Hiker on the summit of Tofana di Rozes looking at the peaks of Tofana di Dentro and Tofana di Mezzo in the Italian Dolomites
Tofana di Dentro and Tofana di Mezzo from the summit of Tofana di Rozes

From here, take the very wide, well-trodden path nr 403, back down to Rifugio Dibona, where you started. You should reach it within 60-90 minutes of leaving the Giusanni hut. 

Tofana di Rozes the summit impressions
Tofana di Rozes the summit impressions
Tofana di Rozes the summit impressions
Rifugio Giusanni on the Fontananegra saddle on the descent from the summit of Tofana di Rozes

Via Ferrata Giovanni Lipella as part of a traverse

Tofana di Rozes as seen from rifugio Lagazuoi - via ferrata Giovanni Lipella
Tofana di Rozes as seen from rifugio Lagazuoi

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 favourite Dolomiti huts! 

There is a public bus from Cortina to Passo Falzarego, where you can catch the gondola up to the refuge or hike up via the Lagazuoi tunnels. 

I recommend staying overnight at the Lagazuoi hut to ensure an early start the next day. Breakfast at the hut is usually served around 7 a.m.

From the hut, head east on path 401, followed by 402 and 404, to the start of Via Ferrata Lipella. Complete the ferrata with the summit extension. As you head down path 403 from Rifugio Giusanni, keep left and venture onto Sentiero Astaldi, a protected walk with a Smith/Fletcher rating of 1A.

Afterwards, 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. 

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 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 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. 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 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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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.

10 Comments

  1. Hey, great reading your articles

    These routes look epic, have my first trip to Dols this summer and am looking at trip mid holiday starting in Cortina with an overnight at Pomedes and then Lagaziou and wondered if this routes works as a solid hike and mix of via ferrata joining them up

    Any help or info would be amazing and really appreciated and any GPXs would also be AMAZING

    Thanks

    Warren

    • Hi Warren. You posted your comment twice (have to be approved first) so I deleted the other one. Pomedes and Lagazuoi offer great access to following via ferratas: Ra Bujela, Punta Ana, Tomaselli & Giovanni Lipella. The last 3 are advanced via ferratas, and very demanding. All routes are very well marked on the Tabacco map no. 03 dolomiti ampezzane. I hope that helps!

  2. Hello! Do you know of where I can find the most up-to-date conditions of the trail? I am thinking about doing this Ferrata on September 30 or October 1. I know that is right at the end of the season so was hoping to find a way to monitor conditions before I set out.
    Thanks!

    Joseph

    • Hi Joseph. Currently it is the middle of September and we have unseasonably hot weather. I will be very surprised if by the end of September the snow arrives, but you never know. You can check the webcams for the Frecia nel cielo gondola which goes to one of the peaks in the Tofane group. It will give you a good indication of what the weather is like there at the moment.

  3. This is a great guide! Thank you so much!
    I was wondering if there is a way to connect from this and make it a multi-day trip (looking at at least 4 nights between huts). For example, do you there is a way to connect from Rifugio Giussani to the via ferrata Marino Bianchi? Or maybe somewhere on the via alta 4 (although that might be too far)?
    Thank you

    • Hi Davide. It is absolutely possible. One bus ride would be required in between but you could connect Giovanni Lipella, with Marino Bianchi, then Giro del Sorapiss (or Vandelli ferrata which is in fact on AV4). I do offer custom-designed itineraries and consulting for my readers for a fee. If you are interested write to me an email.

  4. Amazing writeup. I haven’t looked into the details on this yet and figured it was worth just asking here first. If we were to do Via Ferrata Giovanni Lipella as part of a traverse is this typically done one way Rifugio Lagazuoi –> Rifugio Pomedes?

    I’m wondering if it can be done in the opposite direction. Rifugio Pomedes–>Rifugio Lagazuoi. Due to hut availability we are staying in Rifugio Pomedes the first night and then Rifugio Lagazuoi the next. If this is not possible we will just do hiking and other Via Ferratas in the area and drive between the huts.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Austin. You absolutely can start at rifugio Pomedes then hike to the start of Giovanni Lipella then do the Ferrata and head over to rifugio Lagazuoi or if that is too much then you can finish at Dibona, walk down to the road and catch a bus to Passo Falzarego then a gondola up to Lagazuoi. Without the bus, you are looking at a quite long day as after completing the ferrata you would still have to hike up to Lagazuoi, but in my eyes it’s doable. There is another via ferrata in the area called Cesco Tomaselli. I haven’t done it yet, but it’s supposed to be a great one (albeit a difficult one). It can be done as a day trip from rifugio Lagazuoi. I hope that helps! Let me know if you have more questions!

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