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

If you want a unique view of the famous Three Peaks (Tre Cime), unobscured by the crowds they attract, then via ferrata De Luca/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 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

Rifugio Tre Cime - Locatelli and the summit of Paternkofel
Monte Paterno/Paternkofel looks very intimidating.

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. 

The views along the via ferrata De Luca/Innerkofler
The views along the via ferrata De Luca/Innerkofler
The remnants of the tunnels from World War I along Via Ferrata De Luca - Innerkofler
The remnants of the tunnels from World War I

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. 

Via Ferrata De Luca - Innerkofler Information
Forcella del Camoscio along the route
The views along the via Ferrata De Luca - Innerkofler
The views along the via Ferrata De Luca - Innerkofler
The Summit of Paternkofel along the via ferrata De Luca - Innerkofler
On the summit of Monte Paterno/Paternkofel with Croda Passaporto behind me
Tre Cime as seen from the summit of Monte Paterno along the via ferrata De Luca - Innerkofler
Tre Cime as seen from the summit of Monte Paterno

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. 

Cima Cadin and Rifugio Lavaredo from the summit of Monte Paterno
Rifugio Locatelli and the summit of Torre di Toblin visible in the distance

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! 

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.

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

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.

18 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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)?

    thanks!

    • 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!

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