Via Ferratas In The Italian Dolomites

Summiting The Majestic Monte Paterno Along Via Ferrata Innerkofler in Tre Cime Nature Park

Written by

If you want a unique view of the famous Three Peaks (Tre Cime), unobscured by the crowds they attract, then Via Ferrata Innerkofler should spark your interest. Connecting Rifugio Locatelli and Forcella Lavaredo, this via ferrata is the perfect answer to those seeking challenges in the mountains beyond regular hiking trails. This route provides a physical challenge and plenty of fascinating World War I history.

Everything to know about via ferrata Innerkofler (De Luca)

Monte Paterno Via Ferrata Innerkofler 1
Rifugio Locatelli with Monte Paterno in the background

Via ferrata Innerkofler (known by its Italian name as De Luca) is a route that scales the distinct peak of Monte Paterno right in the heart of the Tre Cime Nature Park. Despite the intimidating look of Monte Paterno via ferrata Innerkofler is a beginner-level route.

Via Ferrata Innerkofler (De Luca): the stats

Via Ferrata Innerkofler 24
  • Distance: 9.9 km / 6.15 mi
  • Time required: 5-6 hours
  • Elevation gain: 591 m / 1938 ft
  • Elevation loss: 561 m / 1840 ft
  • Via ferrata difficulty: beginner
  • When to go: June – October
  • Map required: Tabacco no 010 (Dolomiti Di Sesto)

Getting to the start of the via ferrata Innerkofler

  • Blue Trail: Tre Cime Circuit
  • Yellow Trail: Via Ferrata Innerkofler

Via ferrata Innerkofler runs from Rifugio Locatelli to Lavaredo Saddle, parallel to the Tre Cime circuit hike. The best approach to Rifugio Locatelli is to follow the Tre Cime circuit day hike clockwise. That way, you can kill two birds with one stone.

By car

The Road To Rifugio Auronzo 1
the private road leading to Rifugio Auronzo

The Auronzo hut is accessible via a private toll road that is quite expensive (30 Euro/car). The control gate where you can purchase your pass is one kilometre past Lake Antorno. 

By bus

To cut costs and help the environment, you can catch a shuttle bus (line 444) from Dobiacco (Toblach). Tickets need to be pre-booked and paid online in advance. The shuttle operates from the beginning of June until mid-October.

The stages of Via Ferrata Innerkofler (De Luca)

From Rifugio, Tre Cime/Locatelli follow the signs for via ferrata Innerkofler along the path leading toward Monte Paterno. The route can be broken down into four stages.

Stage 1: The tunnels

In the first few hundred meters, you will follow a network of tunnels built during the First World War. You should bring a head torch 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 getting lost in the tunnels is impossible as long as you are going up.

Stage 2: the ledges

This is where the cable protection begins. Make sure to clip in. Unfortunately, people have died along this via ferrata, and a few plaques are mounted to the wall to remind everyone of it. I always say it is better to be safe than sorry.

Stage 3: The summit push

Once you reach the saddle (Forcella del Camoscio), you can 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. 

Stage 4: The descent to Forcella Lavaredo

The descent from the summit follows the same route down to Forcella del Camiosco. From here, follow the signs for Rifugio Lavaredo sharply down a scree path. Pay attention to the path. Due to heavy traffic, it became braided in places, and it’s not too noticeable.

A map (Tabacco no. 10 or Tabacco no. 1) will be handy, 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 the markings and signs are always excellent.  

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 reach Forcella Lavaredo, you will rejoin the Tre Cime Circuit. Follow path 101 first to Rifugio Lavaredo, visible in the distance, then to Rifugio Auronzo, where you started. 

TIP: The via ferrata Innerkofler can be done in reverse, starting at Forcella Lavaredo and finishing at Rifugio Locatelli. I recommend staying here overnight and tackling another nearby via ferrata, Torre di Toblin, the next day. 

Other hikes and via ferratas in the Tre Cime Nature Park

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.

Shop on Amazon (Worldwide) / Backcountry (US)

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.

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

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.

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


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

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) when booking your holiday. Thank you

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below!

20 thoughts on “Summiting The Majestic Monte Paterno Along Via Ferrata Innerkofler in Tre Cime Nature Park”

  1. These guides and photos are amazing! I’ve been dreaming of going to the Dolomites for years and years to hike, and I finally bought my tickets! I’m kinda overwhelmed with all the options so I will do some digging on your site. I can tell so much work went into this, so thank you so much. I’ll def use some of your links to help a girl out. 🙂

    • Hi Camilla. Welcome to my site and thanks for the great feedback. You are not wrong, a lot of hours went (and are still going) into it. I hope you find something for yourself. I would recommend that you look into my article about Val Pusteria and Cortina D’Ampezzo. That might help you decide where to base yourself. You can find them with the search loop. Thank you for using the affiliate links. Let me know if you have any questions.

  2. Thank you Marta for these detailed guides, really helpful! Rifugio Locatelli is booked out for the dates I’m planning on going and I was hoping to do both VF Innerkofler and VF Torre Di Toblin. Would it be too rushed to attempt both in 1 day?

    • Hi Shannon. Thanks for visiting. It depends on your fitness level. Some people are able to smash the distances in no time, others need a lot more time. I simply cannot give you an answer. I know that for me personally, it would be too much. Have you tried other huts, like Lavaredo or Pian Di Ciengia? You might also want to try and get a last minute reservation as no show are pretty common.

  3. Thank you for sharing the the details, we followed the path exactly, and following it wasn’t much trouble, so thank you for all the directions. It was indeed great in terms of views and attractions, view from the peak was also very worth pursuing! The only part we found the most difficult was in fact the part without the ferratas – the piece down from the base of Monte Paterno part towards Lavaredo – there was quite a steep descent on quite crumbly and unstable ground without any ferratas, before we made it to the remaining couple of pieces of it on the side of the cliff. If not for this part, I’d call this route a beginner’s one, but because of it didn’t quite feel like one for us. Hence for those who would like to avoid tricky parts I’d recommend returning via the same route via VF and tunnels after descending from Monte Paterno.

    • Hi Marina! Thank you for visiting and for your feedback. I am sure others will find it useful. The tricky part about retuning via the same route is going “against the traffic”. It will mean you will have to pass other climbers who are going up and this can create an unnecessary traffic.

  4. Marta,
    Thank you for the VF description. I’d think VF Innerkofler is the same as VF via Monte Paterno? Do you think the VF is at beginner level and can be done w/o a guide? We are strong hikers (usually 12-15mi with 3000-5000ft gain and used to rock scrambling and exposed trail), but never did VF. Attempting to try a VF when we hike in Dolomites in early September. We plan to be at Tre Cime on Sept 7-8, and stay overnight at Locatelli. Will rent the gear in Cortina. The direction will be from Forcella Lavaredo to Lacatelli. If the weather is not favorable, we will hike to Locatelli follow the regular circuit. There are 2 normal trails between lavaredo and Locatelli, which one is better? the common (on Alltrails) west one or the east one (or middle one if count the VF route). Thanks.

    • Hi. Yes Via ferrata Innerkofler will often be named after Monte Paterno which it leads to. Unfortunately I can’t give you a straight answer whether you will need a guide or not, but it sounds like you have a lot of mountain experience. As long as you know how to use the gear you should be fine. As for the route it is better if you walk to Locatelli following the Tre Cime Circuit clockwise, then do Monte Paterno the next morning following from Locatelli to Forcella Lavaredo. This is the general direction people follow this ferrata, and also in this direction you will be walking up through the tunnels not down, which makes it easier. As for your last question I am still struggling to understand which trails you are referring to. All hiking trails in the Dolomites are numbered so it would be helpful if you were using the numbers. There are so many trails around Tre Cime that West, East and middle just doesn’t cut it :). I only followed trail 101 and the VF Innerkofler when hiking between Forcella Lavaredo and Locatelli. Both are great, the via ferrata is definitely less busy though. I hope that helps.

  5. Hi Marta, Thanks for posting this very helpful information. My 15 yr old daughter and I are planning to do this via ferrata this summer. Are there a cables protecting the ‘exposed ledges’ toward the end of the via ferrata? This is the only section that would give me pause in doing this via ferrata. Cheers!

    • Hi John! Thanks for visiting. cables are always placed in the most difficult and exposed sections, but there is always an inherent risk via ferrata climbing. All in All, I found VF Innerkofler to be very well maintained, and definitely great for beginners, but we all have different risk tolerance.

  6. This looks amazing – i’m going to try it this summer. Are you aware of anywhere there is a online map I can follow? Alltrails or a GPX Map?

    • Hi Ryan. I started collecting GPX data the following year so I don’t have one for this Ferrata but. To be honest with you, the markings are so easy to follow in the Dolomites getting lost is difficult. I have not once followed anyone’s GPX data. I usually just have a paper map with me to know which path numbers to follow and that’s it. Maps are also usually placed in the huts where you can take a photo of the route you will be following.

  7. Thanks for this info! I’m curious – did you go on this via ferrata with a guide? If not, how did you find/get the equipment needed? And how much did it cost to get the equipment?

    • Hi Kate. No, I did all via ferratas in the Dolomites without a guide. I own my own VF equipment, but it can be rented if necessary, for example in Cortina D’Ampezzo. The cost is around 25 euro/day. Check out the category for via ferratas in my Italian dolomite’s guide, where you will find an article about the best Via Ferrata around Cortina and also a beginner’s guide to VF climbing in the Dolomites. Let me know if you have more questions!

    • Hi Victor. I recommend doing the ferrata the same way it is described here. That way you will be going upwards through the tunnels. It’s always better to go up in the steep tunnel, than down.
      . Scenery wise I also think going the way I described will be better. The best views are hands down from the top of Monte Paterno. I hope that helps!

  8. thanks for this article – its my -#1 resource while planning this hike.

    One question: you mention its Beginner level and the whole trip takes 6 hrs – how much stamina is required on the way up ( mild , medium or strenuous)?


    • Hi Shailesh. Thanks for stopping by and for your feedback. First and foremost, this is partly a hike (to get to the start of the VF) and the rest is via ferrata. The hike part is super easy, often flat or only slightly up hill. Once you get to rifugio Locatelli and the base of the via ferrata is where the fun begins. Technically it’s a very easy via ferrata, but even the easiest via ferrata will be considered a super advanced hike. Basically, it’s a protected scramble. Make sure you have equipment with you. I have noticed that most of the accidents on the via ferratas in the Dolomites happen on the easiest routes because people often don’t take equipment with them and rely only on their hands when holdings onto the cables. From experience, I can say that all it takes is one slip, split of a second and a disaster strikes. Now I am not trying to scare you off. If you have the gear, stay attached with your lanyard to the cables you will be safe. As for the strenuous question, I often find it easier to summit via ferratas because naturally with all the clipping and unclipping I need to go slower, so I am not out of breath so much. I’d say medium stamina is stil needed though. I hope that helps!


Leave a Comment