Exploring The Rosengarten Mountain Group In The Italian Dolomites Along The Via Ferrata Passo Santner

Via ferrata Passo Santner is a short but exhilarating route amongst the chimneys and gullies of the western part of the Rosengarten group in the Italian Dolomites.

The ferrata leads to one of my favorite views in these mountains – the Vajolet Towers.

A Climbers playground and a landscape photographer’s dream, the Vajolet towers are proof that Mother Nature is the perfect sculptor. 

Via ferrata Passo Santner was a part of my multiday traverse across the Rosengarten Nature Park. If you are looking for a backpacking trip itinerary make sure to check out my other article. 

Via Ferrata Passo Santner In The Italian Dolomites – the stats:

Time required: 2-3 h

Elevation gain: ca. 450 m / 1480 ft

Route difficulty: beginner

Information about the via ferrata Passo Santner in the Italian Dolomites

Getting to the start of the via ferrata Passo Santner

The via ferrata Passo Santner starts at the top of the Laurin Chairlift next to the Rosengarten hut and it’s clearly marked. I recommend purchasing the map Tobacco no 6 beforehand and bringing it along with you to better visualize the trail. 

The roundtrip ticket for the chairlift costs 13 Euros (9 Euros one way) and the return journey can be done within a week of purchasing the ticket. The summer operating times can be found here.

To get to the bottom of the chairlift just search for the Albergo Frommeralm near Carezza in your GPS or google maps. There is a decent size and parking lot at the bottom of the chairlift. 

The view from the top of Laurin Chairlift in Rosengarten, Italian Dolomites
The view from the top of the Laurin Chairlift

Via Ferrata Passo Santner: Route Description

Starting right behind the Rosengarten hut and after a short but intense scramble with some intermittent cables on path nr 542/550, you will reach a fork. Follow the signs left for Passo Santner.

Soon you will emerge onto a path right underneath the western wall of the Rosengarten/Catinaccio group. 

From here you will get a clear view ahead of where the route is leading. After 15 minutes, of mostly flat walking, the path starts climbing steadily again and the fun begins. 

The first leg of the Via Ferrata Passo Santner, right above the Rosengarten hut
The first leg of the Via Ferrata Passo Santner, right above the Rosengarten hut
Via Ferrata Passo Santner information
Climbing the ladder

The ferrata is very well-marked and easy to follow. The cable protection is placed nicely in difficult sections. You will also come across ladders and stencils coming out of the wall. They help tremendously with tackling the tricky parts.  

The route isn’t as exposed as other via ferratas I’ve done in the Dolomites, but still makes up for an exciting excursion in the mountains. 

Red arrows marking the route
The ladder installed in difficult section
Via Ferrata Passo Santner practical information
downclimbing in one of the gullies

Around two-thirds of the way to Passo Santner, you will find yourself in a gully with a fantastic view of the spires, typical for the Dolomites. This is a great introduction to what’s coming ahead – The Vajolet Towers.

Although Via Ferrata Passo Santner is officially marked as 2A in the Via Ferratas of the Italian Dolomites: Volume 1 guidebook, personally I found it more difficult than for example via Ferrata Catinnacio D’Antermoia (marked in the book as 2B).  

For a more thorough route description, I do recommend that you purchase the guidebook. 

The spires on the via ferrata Passo Santner
The spires on the via ferrata Passo Santner

After around 2-2,5 hours you will reach the end of the via ferrata and the objective for the day – Passo Santner. There is a newly built mountain hut right on the pass with amazing views to the West. It’s scheduled to open in the summer of 2019. 

The morning after completing the via ferrata I hiked back up to Passo Santner from the nearby Gartlhütte (rifugio Re Alberto Primero) and photographed a cloud inversion hugging the walls of the Rosengarten group, with only distant peaks peaking above the clouds.

I love it each time it happens! 

Passo Santner - Rosengarten group, Italian Dolomites
Passo Santner – the end of the via ferrata
Cloud inversion on Passo Santner
Cloud inversion on Passo Santner

Directly behind the Passo Santner hut, you will find the continuation of route 542 which leads down to Gartlhütte (Rifugio Re Alberto 1) and the magnificent Vajolet towers standing proudly right above it.

This is certainly one of the most photogenic huts in the Dolomites.

The hut stays open from mid-June until the end of September and if you have time you should definitely consider staying there! It’s privately owned, but typically for the huts in this area, the fees are reasonable and the fact that the price includes food means fewer things that you have to carry in your backpack! 

Gartlhuette and Vajolet Towers viewed from Passo Santner
Gartlhuette and Vajolet Towers viewed from Passo Santner

To get back to the top of the chairlift and to avoid going back the same way, you can use path 542 down to the Vajolet hut, then turn onto path 541, followed by nr 550 via the Baumannpass (Forcella di Davoi) and Tschagerjoch (Pas Da Le Colonele). This should take you another 3-3,5 hours. 

Do you have any questions about the via ferrata? Post them in the comments below and I will be happy to answer! Make sure to also check out my Italian Dolomites Guide, for more photography, hiking, and via ferrata ideas.

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.

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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.

21 Comments

  1. Hi Marta,
    Thanks for all the descriptions and the pictures. My boyfriend and I are going to the Dolomites in September and would like to do a via ferrata. Do you recommend a guiding agency ? We find Pow Rock but there are not a lot reviews about that agency. Thanks in advance !

    • Hi Catherine. Thanks for visiting. Unfortunately I never did any guided via ferratas, so can’t recommend any, but there are plenty of guides living in the Dolomites, whose job is to take tourists on outings. Cortina has some guiding agencies and places in Val Gardena or Val Di Fassa too.

  2. Hi Marta!

    My husband and I completed this route yesterday (absolutely stunning and wonderful adventure, thank you for the route description!), and we found that the Laurin chairlift (now a gondola) has changed its pricing astronomically from what you had posted here a few years ago. We ended up hiking up from the bottom of the lift to Rosengarten Hut which tacked on another hour.

    Thanks again for this wonderful description that guided our great day!

    • Hi Rea! I am glad to hear you liked that ferrata. Thanks for the feedback! I am slowly updating the blog posts with new prices. This one is still on the to do list. You must be fast if it only took you an hour of walking up.

  3. Hi. Thanks for your posts. They are fantastic! I am going to the Dolomites with my family the first week of August. We have never done via Ferrata and I was wondering if we could reach the new hut just hiking. Thanks

    • Hi Veronica. You can hike to Rifugio Passo Santner along the trail via rifugio Vajolet. I am talking about it here.
      There is however a short chain protected section between rifugio Vajolet and Rifugio Re Alberto. It’s not a via ferrata section, but you should take care when hiking up and down along this section.

  4. Hi, Marta, I plan to go to Dolomites this September. I like to hike Via Ferrata Passo Santner. I am interest in take pictures in Sun rise and Sunset. I need to stay at least one night at Gartlhuette Rlfugio Re Alberto. Are there a lot of people? Do I need to make reservation?
    thanks, in advance.
    Jason Lee

    • Hi Jason. I would definitely recommend prebooking the hut as it is a popular one. September is quieter but after the pandemic things got a bit crazy so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

  5. Hi Marta, thank you so much for the incredibly helpful information! My boyfriend and I will be staying at Santner pass hut in September, and would like to do the via ferrata to get there. Is there a place close by to the start near Carezza where you would recommend renting via ferrata gear?

    Thank you!
    Courtney

    • Hi Courtney. Thanks for stopping by. I am stoked to hear you are staying in the Santner Pass hut. You are up for a treat. As for your question try contacting Sport Laurin – Skiverleih & Bikeverleih Welschnofen. It’s a ski rental but they run summer rentals too. If not I know some shops in Campitello di Fassa rent out VF gear, but it’s a bit further into the valley. I hope that helps! Let me know if they do. I am sure other people can benefit from that information.

      • Thanks so much for all the recommendations Marta! Loved this via ferrata (especially the great cafe at Refugio Santner) as well as many of the other beginner ones you posted, a great starting spot for anyone doing there first ones in the Dolomites as I was. A note on timings, I was rushed to do this but did the full loop, including Vajalot, in 4hrs so it’s doable as a half day adventure for those with the legs! Thanks again for the recommendations.

        • Hi Kel! Thanks for the great feedback. Sounds like you really zoomed this route. I had others giving me feedback that they spend a half day going up to Passo Santner alone. Just goes to show it’s all down to individuals, their skills and fitness.

  6. Hi Marta,

    Love your photos! I’ve been reading a ton of your posts while planning our trip to the Dolomites.

    I’m interested in both the hike to Vajolet Towers and Via Ferrata Passo Santner. I’m wondering, is it possible to combine these two in one day? Or do you recommend doing one more than the other?

    • Hi Cassie. Thanks for stopping by. It absolutely is! My description of VF Passo Santner includes the hike to Vajolet towers. You just use it as the exit route after doing the VF. It will be a full day excursion but so worth it! Let me know if you have any more questions!

  7. Did the Passo Santner route at the weekend with my girlfriend, both totally new to Via Ferrata and it was excellent, suitably challenging and exhilarating and unbelievably picturesque.

    Just a quick note on the return time as article mentions 2-2.5hrs. We completed the actual Via Ferrata section up to the Santner Hutte in about 2hr40 expecting the 2.5hr walk down a trail back to Koln Hutte…realistically this walk is 3.5-4hrs as you drop down to Vajolet then have to go back up and over the Tschager Joch pass,, we found the sign at Vajolet stating a time of 2hr20 from that point to be pretty accurate and we were moving pretty quickly. Just something to bear in mind when doing what is a fantastic loop

    • Hi Tom! Thanks for stopping by and for your feedback. I usually give walking times in my posts, they never involve breaks/total elapsed time. It is also a very individual thing. I did however update the post to 3-3.5 hours because you are not the first person to provide me with that feedback. I appreciate your input very much! On another note, I am stoked to hear you had a great time!

  8. Hello
    The articles and pictures are amazing.
    My girlfriend and I are fit and want to do via ferrata
    We go in Val Gardena from Jun 2 to 12
    We do MTB and trail running
    When you say for beginners does it mean we can do on our own without guide?
    Thank you again

    • Hi Guillaume. Thanks for the compliments! All routes whether beginner, intermediate or advanced don’t require having a guide with you. Whether you hire a guide or not is entirely up to you. The important thing is that you know how to use the gear to ensure your own safety. Via Ferrata Oskar Schuster is one of my favourites in Val Gardena. Sass Rigais is a great beginner one so start with this one. A very easy one also close to Val Gardena is Gran Cir. This one would only have a few meters of cabled section. Brigata Tridentina is just on the opposite site to via Ferrata Gran Cir. I hope this will help!

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