Through The Spires Of Sassolungo – Via Ferrata Oskar Schuster In The Italian Dolomites

One of the first via ferratas that was appended onto my Italian Dolomites bucket list, because of a photograph I saw on the Internet, was the via ferrata Oskar Schuster. It leads to the top of Sassopiato Peak in the Sassolungo group. 

After a week-long marathon of iron paths in the Rosengarten mountain group,  I gathered whatever strength and determination I had left in me and tackled the via ferrata Oskar Schuster before the fast-approaching winter would disable access to it.

Via Ferrata Oskar Schuster: The Stats

Time required: 6-8 h

Route difficulty: intermediate

Elevation gain: ca. 850 m / 2790 ft

Elevation loss: ca. 1200 m / 3900 ft

Via ferrata Oskar Schuster Information

The start of the via ferrata Oskar Schuster

Passo Sella is a high mountain pass connecting two little towns in the Italian Dolomites: Selva di Val Gardena and Canazei in Val di Fassa. You can reach the pass from either town, the driving time will be similar (between 20-30 minutes).

The funny-looking and slightly old Sassolungo Gondola, right near the top of Sella Pass, marks the official start of the via ferrata. I had some difficulties finding it at first but it is there I promise.

It’s best to type in the Passo Sella Dolomiti Mountain Resort into your GPS. The hotel stands right next to the gondola station. If you are traveling by car, there is a decent size parking lot right near the lift.  

The views along the via ferrata Oskar Schuster

In the summer you can also take a public bus from Selva di Val Gardena. This might be a good option for those who don’t feel too comfortable driving on the windy and narrow mountain roads common in the Dolomites. I smashed the left wing mirror of my van along this road.

Ask for bus schedules in the local visitor center as they change with the seasons. 

The spires along the route
via ferrata Oskar Schuster

The route summary

Once you make it to the bottom of the Gondola station you have two choices. One is to walk along path nr 525 reserved for the purists.

The other is to jump onto the lift and let yourself be taken up to the Forcella Sassolungo. If you go with the first you will easily add 1,5 to 2 hours and extra 500 meters of elevation gain to an already long day. 

I’d recommend going with the latter and saving your energy for the fun parts. In the summer season, the gondola is open between mid-June and the first week of October. You will only need a one-way ticket and the cost is 14 Euros. 

What to expect along the via ferrata Oskar Schuster in the Italian Dolomites
The almost vertical climb

On the top of the Forcella (saddle), Sassolungo stands the Toni Demetz hut (2685 meters), where you will start your hike. You have just gained 500 meters of elevation from the bottom of the gondola and I am afraid I don’t have great news for you. You will now lose most of it.

From the hut follow path no 525 through a scree valley, signed for the Rifugio Vicenza (2253 meters). You should reach it in 45 minutes to an hour. 

Snow along the via ferrata Oskar Schuster
The snow at the start of October

At the Vicenza hut, the path splits. Follow the signs for via ferrata Oskar Schuster up another scree valley, parallel to the one you have just descended. You have now a little over 700 meters of elevation to gain to the top of the Sassopiatto – the objective for today. 

At first, you will be going up an unpleasant scree path until you reach the first cables on your right-hand side. This shouldn’t take longer than 45 minutes. Once you do, it’s time for some fun. 

The views along the via ferrata as you climb higher
The views along the via ferrata as you climb higher

Make sure to look out for the red paint marks along the route. They will keep you right on track. Although the ferrata can be exposed in some places, the cable protection is excellent. As long as you always stay clipped in and watch your steps, you have nothing to worry about. 

In some sections, you will also come across ladders and stemples. They help tremendously with tackling the almost vertical walls. The whole scramble/climb takes around 2,5 hours, excluding the initial approach to the base of the via ferrata.

Make sure to stop from time to time and look at the views! You will be often surrounded by dramatic spires, common for this group. 

From the top of Sassopiato, you can look down toward Alpi Di Siusi, the famous and iconic photo spot in the Italian Dolomites.

To the South West stands the lesser-known Rosengarten group, which you can find via ferratas CatinaccioSentiero Massimiliano or Passo Santner just to name a few. 

Climber along the via ferrata Oskar Schuster in the Italian Dolomites

To descend from the peak follow path nr 527. To better visualize the whole route from start to finish I recommend purchasing a map. The Tabacco map no 5 will be perfect for it, especially if you plan on exploring more of the area. 

The scree path no 527 zig-zags down for around 1 hour to Rifugio Sassopiatto. This is the perfect place to grab lunch and take a rest before returning to Passo Sella. From the hut take the straightforward and gently undulating path no 557. In circa 1,5 hours, you should make it back to where you started. 

Summit of Sasso Piato reached by the via ferrata Oskar Schuster
Last push to the summit

The total time to complete the via ferrata is around 6 hours. If you decide to walk to Forcella Sassolungo at the start, instead of taking the gondola, then you should anticipate finishing it in 8 hours. Make sure to leave as early as possible to avoid the afternoon storms common in the Dolomites, especially between June and August. 

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! 

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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 on 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.

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Shop Men’s on Amazon (Worldwide) / Backcountry (US)

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 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

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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.

4 Comments

  1. Hi Marta, I love your blog so much! Thank you for your amazing content. I will be travelling to Dolomites second half of June. We are looking to stay in Val Gardena in a hut and do a one-day Via Ferrata. Currently (from researching your blog) my two options are staying at Toni Demetz and doing the Oskar Schuster Via Ferrata to Sassopiatto OR staying at Tierscher Alpl and doing Massimiliano. We are after an interesting and intermediate Via Ferrata, and also an authentic hut experience. Would you say you have a preference between these two? Alternatively, any other suggestions? Thank you.

    • hi Ruby. Thanks for your great feedback. Whilst Oskar Schuster is an amazing via ferrata, it does reach almost 3000 meters and it crosses some shaded areas, where snow lingers much longer during the year. Sentiero Massimiliano is a much safer option for this time of the year. Also I prefer Alpe Di Tires to Toni Demetz hut tenfold 🙂 Via ferrata Laurenzi that runs between Alpe Di Tires and Antermoia hut is another great one. I did it in October last year and will be posting a guide for it soon.

    • Hi Izzy. I did this ferrata in the first week of October on the very last day when the gondola was open. Yes, I did encounter some snow and ice because it snowed the week before when I was doing the Rosengarten Traverse. Most of the snow melted, but it stayed in the shaded gullies. I hope that answers your question

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