If you are visiting Cortina D’Ampezzo – the main hub for exploring the Dolomites and are short on time, for example, have an afternoon departure and want a morning activity, then consider completing the via ferrata Ra Bujela.
The whole route, including the approach, can be completed within 3 to 4 hours making it the ideal half-day adventure!
You can even shorten it to 1-2 hours by using the chairlift assistance, but I will get to it further in my post.
Via ferrata Ra Bujela combines very addictive, near-vertical climbing with picturesque wooden bridges and incredible vistas eastward over Cortina and southward toward Monte Sorapiss and Croda da Lago.
Via Ferrata Ra Bujela – The Stats
Distance: 7 km / 4.34 m
Time required: 3-4 h
Elevation gain: 600 m / 1970 ft
Route difficulty: intermediate
Via ferrata Ra Bujela – The start and approach
The route starts at a restaurant Baita Piè Tofana near the Duca D’Aosta chairlift. The location is a short 15-minute drive from the center of Cortina.
There’s ample parking near the restaurant but it does fill up on a sunny day. If you need (or want) to shorten your approach, you can take the Rumerlo Duca d’Aosta chairlift.
The lift runs from 08:45 to around 16:50, usually from the third week of June until mid-September, and costs 11.50€. You can check the exact times here. It will save you 427m of elevation gain and 1-1,5 hours of your time.
Because taking the chairlift only saves you roughly 60-90 minutes, I have decided to skip it and instead hike to the start of the via ferrata.
The hiking route starts just behind Bar Piè Tofana on path number 407. To begin with, it is a wide-access road. After circa 100 meters, it branches off to the right and follows a windy path through the forest. It’s well-signed and obvious to follow.
After around 20 minutes you’ll leave the tree line, cross a grassy ski run and then undulate underneath the cliffs of Tofana di Mezzo. It’s here that the views become special. The route then zigzags up a scree slope and not before long reaches rifugio Duca d’Aosta at 2095m. This is the perfect time to put on your via ferrata gear.
Via ferrata Ra Bujela – route description
From the refuge, continue uphill to the right where a sign for VF Ra Bujela can be seen on a rock slab. Heading directly toward the base of the towering outcrop of Ra Bujela leads you to the start of the climb.
Keep your eyes peeled for the plaque marking the official name of the climb “Via Ferrata Maria e Andrea Ferrari al Ra Bujela”. The ascent starts immediately in grade 3 but pegs and staples have been cleverly placed to make sure the climbing is never overly strenuous.
Remember this is a via ferrata – prior climbing experience isn’t necessary on these routes, just steady feet, a sense of adventure, and a lack of acrophobia!
If you’re looking for a challenge, try ascending without using the aid of the cable or any of the metalwork drilled into the rock face. Just to clarify, if you take this challenge you should still be clipping in just not using the cable to haul yourself up!
The two bridges, both of which are equally scenic, lie just before and after the halfway point of the ascent. They are an awesome place to admire all the surrounding mountains and the township of Cortina roughly 900m below.
From here the climbing becomes substantially easier on craggy rock of a much shallower pitch. The route eventually leads up to a very small summit, about enough room for a handful of people, but lower pinnacles, which are just as scenic, also make for great vantage points should the summit be occupied.
The most prominent mountain you can spot from the summit of Ra Bujela is Croda Da Lago. There is a fantastic full-day circuit around Croda Da Lago in case you were looking for another adventure out of Cortina. It’s one of my favorite day hikes in the Dolomites!
A fast climber, who isn’t impeded by slower-moving groups or the necessity to take photos, can reach the summit in 30 minutes from the start of the ferrata. A slower group should take anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes.
The descent from the summit initially retraces the ascent but then branches off and down and climbs a short knob before traversing further north to flatter ground. The cable eventually ends and the route turns right and heads down a steep scree slope before returning back to Rifugio Duca d’Aosta.
From here you can take the cable car down, retrace the hiking path of ascent or try a new route by following the wide ski run all the way down to the bottom chairlift station at Bar Pié Tofana.
If you’ve tried a few grade 1 or 2 via ferratas and are looking for something a bit tougher, with great views and a very short approach then this recently constructed ferrata is your best bet.
Whilst quite exposed at times, the route is superbly protected and the moves are well thought through to give the novice and intermediate scrambler a challenging but rewarding few hours on solid rock.
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)
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