If you type “The Dolomites” into the Google image search engine, the famous Seceda ridgeline will be one of the first photos to pop up in the results.
This iconic photography spot attracts many visitors throughout the year. As intimidating as it seems to a regular hiker, one of its summits – the Sass Rigais, is accessible along a relatively easy via ferrata of the same name.
Via Ferrata Sass Rigais: The Stats
Time required: 6-8 hours
Elevation gain: ca. 920 m / 3020 ft
Route difficulty: beginner
Where to start?
To get to the beginning of the route you will need to ride a Col Raiser Gondola first.
The gondola is located in the small town of Santa Cristina in Val Gardena. There are signs all over town directing you to it. There is a big parking lot right at the bottom of the gondola alternatively you can also just walk from the town centre.
The gondola stays open throughout the summer season from the start of June until mid-October. The return ticket costs 20 Euros. For current lift times and prices go directly to the website.
It’s also possible to hike directly from Santa Cristina, but that means adding another 3 hours and over 600 meters of elevation to an already long day, so unless you are planning an overnight stay in one of the backcountry huts, take the gondola.
Make sure to get the first lift of the day to take advantage of the best weather. Afternoon summer storms are consistent in the Dolomites, especially between June and August.
Via Ferrata Sass Rigais: Route Description
From the Col Raiser upper gondola station follow the signs for Malga Pieralongia (a Malga is a high-altitude restaurant). It’s a steady upward path with a gentle incline.
You should reach it in under an hour. Make sure to stop a few times and take in the views of Sassolungo behind you.
Next, take path no 2B signed for Sass Rigais until you reach a fork with a sign. One pointing to Sass Rigais Est (East) and the other to Sass Rigais Sud (South).
It’s possible to reach the summit of Sass Rigais along both paths, but after talking with the owners of the nearby hut where I stayed the night before, I decided to go counterclockwise and take the Eastern route up, followed by the Southern route coming back down.
The Eastern route takes you first on a zigzag scree path in a wide gulley – Val D’la Salieries. After around 1 hour you will reach an airy col between the summits. La Furcheta to your right and Sass Rigais to your left.
This is where you should put on your harness and helmet. Follow the red paint marks for another 45 minutes, along the cable section all the way to the summit. The climbing is pretty straightforward and not too challenging. This is one of the best beginner via ferratas after all!
To best visualize the route I recommend equipping yourself with Tobacco map no 05.
The summit is quite small but spacious enough to hold a massive cross right on the top. A constant reminder that you are in Italy where the Catholic religion has a strong presence.
From the top, you can look down to Val di Funes and even spot the tiny Saint Giovanni church – one of the iconic photography spots in the Dolomites.
To your East is the summit of La Furcheta. At 3025 metres it’s as tall as Sass Rigais. Far in the valley below you will be able to see the Col Raiser gondola where you started.
In order to avoid repeating the same route you can descend along the Southern route. This part is easier, albeit quite steep and unpleasant at times, due to loose rock. You might not need your lanyard as often but I would still recommend keeping your helmet on in case some hikers behind you set some rocks loose.
You should reach the fork dividing the route to East and South after 1,5 hour from leaving the summit.
Now you will stand in front of another choice. You can take the same path back to the gondola or follow the path nr 13 to Rifugio Firenze for some well-earned food and a glass of cold beer! You will need ca. 30-45 minutes to reach it.
I stayed three nights in this rifugio back in October when exploring the area and it quickly became one of my favourites! The owners are friendly and the food is delicious! From Rifugio Firenze it takes 30 minutes to walk back to the gondola.
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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