Catching Sunrise On The Summit Of Ra Gusela In The Italian Dolomites – Via Ferrata Ra Gusela

Every year thousands of photographers flock to Passo Giau to capture the insanely photogenic Mount Ra Gusela and the curvy road running right at its footstep.

Few realize that the summit of Ra Gusela is relatively easily accessible thanks to the beginner via ferrata bearing the same name.

So put your helmet on, tighten your harness, clip on your lanyard and get ready for some of the best sunrise views in the Dolomites! 

Via Ferrata Ra Gusela: The Stats

Time required: 3-4 hours

Elevation gain: 360 m / 1200 ft

Route difficulty: beginner

Ra Gusela and Passo Giau in the Italian Dolomites
Ra Gusela as seen from Passo Giau

Getting to the start

Via ferrata Ra Gusela starts at Passo Giau. It can be turned into a loop and walked either clockwise or counterclockwise. In this post I will cover the latter. 

The Giau mountain pass can be reached within 30 minutes by car from Cortina D’Ampezzo – the nearest town. Before you set off though, make sure you are a confident driver.

The mountain roads in the Dolomites are very narrow and full of hairpin bends. I have already smashed a side mirror in my van once.

On the weekends the roads fill up with death-wishing motorcyclists who are very keen to overtake you before the crests of hills, turning round blind corners or sometimes both. You know, as if it wasn’t already difficult enough. 

Cotton candy skies at dawn with Mount Averau and Rifugio Nuvolau in the Italian Dolomites
Cotton candy skies at dawn
Col Di Lana at sunrise
Sasso di Stria in the morning light

Via Ferrata Ra Gusela: Route Description

From Passo Giau take the prominent cobblestone path toward Mount Ra Gusela. After ca. 100 metres you will get to a sign pointing right toward Via Ferrata “Nuvolau” (path nr 438).

This is another name the ferrata Ra Gusela is known for and it takes its name from Nuvolau – the second summit the ferrata leads to.

On its top stands one of the oldest and most photogenic mountain huts in the Dolomites. The rifugio bears the same name as the summit it stands on – Nuvolau. 

The ferrata initially scales the eastern side of Ra Gusela and it’s really straightforward. As per usual, it’s marked with red/white paintmarks. The cable protection is intermittent. After around 40 minutes of scrambling you will reach a fork.

The summit of Ra Gusela will be to your left and Nuvolau to your right.

Mount Averau and Rifugio Nuvolau in the first morning light. Guide to via ferrata Ra Gusela
Mount Averau and Rifugio Nuvolau in the first morning light.

I recommend that you first tick off the summit of Ra Gusela. Although two summits in one day may sound like a lot, don’t worry, it isn’t. The elevation changes aren’t too great.

Between Passo Giau and the highest point it’s a meager 360 metres difference in elevation, so it’s not like you will be climbing Everest and Lhotse in one day.

Brace yourself for some jaw dropping views upon reaching the summit. It’s a 360 degree panorama including Tofane, Cristallo and Sorapiss groups. Mount Pelmo, Mount Civetta.  Even Marmolada – Dolomite’s highest peak can also be seen in the distance. Passo Giau, where you started will be visible down below. 

early morning light rays across the Cristallo and Sorapiss ranges. Cortina D'Ampezzo can be seen in the far distance. Via ferrata Ra Gusela
Early morning light rays across the Cristallo and Sorapiss ranges. Cortina D’Ampezzo can be seen in the far distance.

After a break at the summit it’s time to descend along the same path you just came up on, then head over to the other side to the Nuvolau summit and check out the rifugio.

From the summit of Ra Gusela you will be able to spot the path leading to Nuvolau. You will first drop down around 100 metres before climbing up again along series of ladders and few cable-protected sections. 

The hut is a perfect place for lunch before you continue on with your day. 

Who needs a fancy top floor bar in some overpopulated city when, for a fraction of the price, you can sip your beer on an outdoor terrace looking at beautiful views and breathing the crispy mountain air? 

Passo Giau as seen from Ra Gusela summit
Passo Giau as seen from Ra Gusela summit

A pint or two later it’s time to descend. From rifugio Nuvolau continue along path nr 438. This time marked for rifugio Averau. It’s a quick 30 minutes hike down to the hut. Short and painless.

Feeling energetic? You have a chance to extend your day. By adding only 2 hours to the itinerary you can get to the summit of Mount Averau along the via ferrata of the same name

If however you are ready to call it a day, from rifugio Averau follow path nr 452 towards Passo Giau. You should reach your car after 1,5 hour of mostly downhill hiking along a well maintained path.

I recommend getting Tabacco map nr 03 and studying the map before setting off to better visualise the whole route. 

The views along the descent
Cinque Torre and Tofana Di Rozes in the background.
Everything you need to know about via ferrata Ra Gusela/Nuvolau in the Italian Dolomites
Descending to Passo Giau with Ra Gusela behind me

Are you planning a trip to the Dolomites and would like to know more about via ferrata Ra Gusela or anything else? Post your questions in the comments. I will be happy to answer them!

See my Italian Dolomites Guide for more articles about photography spots, via ferratas and day hikes. 

Via Ferrata Gear Essentials

Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet

To protect your head from any potential rockfall set off by climbing groups above you, or any other head injuries. 

Black Diamond Momentum Harness 

Aim for a lightweight harness, which will be comfy to wear between the cable protected sections when you are hiking. 

Black Diamond Crag Gloves

When you haul yourself on a metal cable for half a day your hands will quickly become blistered. My advice is to go for full fingered gloves. 

Camp Kinetic Rewind Pro Via Ferrata Lanyard

Developed specifically for via ferrata scrambling, the lanyard provides shock absorption  in case of a fall.


Hi! I am the photographer and creator of 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.


  1. I usually run and hike in the mountains with trailrunning shoes. Do you think I can use trailrunners also for via ferrata, or is hiking boots recommended?
    Also, I would like to thank you for an amazing guide, which I use a lot for my trips to the Dolomites.

    • Hi Linda. Thanks for stopping by. I noticed that trail running shoes are really popular in the Dolomites, however, do bear in mind that A lot of the trails are very rocky so good toe protection is a must. If that’s what you are most comfortable wearing then go for it. Approach shoes are also a good alternative to heavy hiking boots. Check approach shoes from La Sportiva for example. I hope that helps!

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