Connecting rifugio Locatelli and Forcella Lavaredo, this via ferrata is the perfect answer to those seeking challenges in the mountains, beyond hiking trails.
This route encompasses not just a physical challenge but also mental stimulation in the fascinating remnants of several World War 1 outposts.
Via Ferrata De Luca: The Stats
Time required: 3-4 hours from the Locatelli hut
Elevation gain: ca. 300 m / 1000 ft
Route difficulty: beginner
Getting to the start of the via ferrata De Luca/Innerkofler
The fastest approach to Rifugio Locatelli, where the via ferrata starts, is along path 101 running from Rifugio Auronzo. This path is a part of the Tre Cime circuit day hike.
The Auronzo hut is accessible by car via a private toll road. It isn’t cheap (30 Euro/car, 45 Euro/campervan) and the control gate where you can purchase your pass is one-kilometer past Lake Antorno, on the way to the Rifugio.
To cut the cost you can catch a bus from either Misurina or Cortina D’Ampezzo, the two nearest towns, or the bus stop directly near Lake Antorno, opposite the only building (a hotel) you can find nearby. The return trip by bus costs only 8 Euros and runs regularly throughout the day in the summer season.
It then takes ca 1-1,5 hours to walk from rifugio Auronzo to rifugio Locatelli.
Via Ferrata De Luca/Innerkofler brief route description
From Rifugio, Tre Cime/Locatelli follow the signs for via ferrata Innerkofler along the path leading toward Monte Paterno. The first part of the route is broken down into three stages:
1. The tunnels: In the first few hundred meters, you will follow a network of tunnels built during the First World War. You will need to bring a head torch, especially if you want to avoid bumping your head on the low ceilings.
The light coming through a few existing ‘windows’ isn’t enough to guide you through. Luckily there is only one way in and out so as long as you are going up, getting lost is impossible.
2. The ledges: This is where the cable protection begins. Make sure to clip in. Unfortunately, people have died along this via ferrata, and there are a few plaques mounted to the wall to remind everyone of it. I always say it is better to be safe than sorry
3. The summit push: Once you make it to the saddle pictured below (Forcella del Camoscio) you will have the option to veer off the path and summit Monte Paterno. If the weather is good, I highly recommend it. The views from the top are nothing short of spectacular and it would be a shame to put in all this work and not go for the ultimate reward.
The descent from the summit follows the same route down to Forcella del Camoscio. From here you will have to follow the signs for Rifugio Lavaredo sharply down on a scree path. Pay attention to the path. Due to big traffic, it became braided in places and it’s not too obvious.
A map comes in handy (Tabacco no. 10 or Tabacco no. 1), especially if orienteering doesn’t come naturally. I am probably making it sound harder than it is, so don’t worry. I always found it hard to get lost in the Dolomites as markings and signs are always excellent.
Next, after following a series of exposed ledges you will pass the saddle between Monte Paterno and Croda Passaporto. Forcella Lavaredo right beneath Tre cime (three peaks) will now be within your eyesight.
Continue along the ledges, past two short tunnels and around 20 minutes later you will get to the end of the ferrata.
Once you make it to Forcella Lavaredo you need to retrace your steps along path 101 to Rifugio Auronzo where you started.
* Please note that the time provided in the basic info at the start doesn’t include the time to get to Rifugio Locatelli (the beginning of the ferrata) and to get back from Forcella Lavaredo (the end of the via ferrata). The total time is around 6 hours.
It’s possible to do the via ferrata De Luca/Innerkofler in reverse, starting at Forcella Lavaredo and finishing at Rifugio Locatelli. I also recommend staying overnight in the hut and tackling another nearby via ferrata Torre di Toblin the next day.
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.
Shop on: REELOQ (Europe only)
Support my website!
Hi Reader! If you found any of my articles about the Dolomites useful please consider using the affiliate links below (at no extra cost to you) when booking your holiday, or “buy me a coffee” using the widget in the sidebar. Thank you
If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below!