Via Ferratas In The Italian Dolomites

Via Ferrata Sass Rigais To The Highest Summit In The Odle Ridgeline

Written by

If you type “The Dolomites” into the Google image search engine, the famous Seceda ridgeline will be one of the first photos to appear 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 relatively easily via ferrata of the same name. 

Via Ferrata Sass Rigais: Map & Stats

  • Distance: 12.2 km / 7.6 mi
  • Elevation gain: 980 m / 3215 ft
  • Time required: 6-8 hours
  • Route difficulty: beginner (A/B)

Where to start?

The path leading to Malga Pieralongia with Sassolungo in the background
The path leading to Malga Pieralongia with Sassolungo in the background

To get to the beginning of the route, you must ride a Col Raiser Gondola first. 

The gondola is located in the small town of Santa Cristina in Val Gardena. Signs all over town direct 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.

Interesting rock formations near Malga Pieralongia enroute to Sass Rigais
Interesting rock formations near Malga Pieralongia

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 plan 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. 

Information about via ferrata Sass Rigais
Hiking through Val d’la Salieries

Via Ferrata Sass Rigais: Route Description

From the Col Raiser upper gondola station, follow the signs for Malga Pieralongia (a high-altitude restaurant). The path is steady and gentle.

You should reach it in under an hour. Make sure to stop a few times to admire the views of Sassolungo behind you. 

Via ferrata Sass Rigais in the Italian Dolomites
Val d’la Salieries with La Furcheta straight ahead

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). 

Both paths allow you to reach the summit of Sass Rigais. Still, after talking with the owners of the nearby hut where I had stayed the night before, I decided to go counterclockwise and take the Eastern route up, followed by the Southern route coming back down. 

Climbers along the via ferrata Sass Rigais Sud
Me tackling the last section of the ferrata

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 is to your right, and Sass Rigais is 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 to the summit. The climbing is pretty straightforward and not too challenging. This is one of the best beginners via ferratas, after all! 

To best visualize the route I recommend equipping yourself with Tobacco map no 05. 

Sass Rigais the summit view
The summit view

The summit is quite small but spacious enough to hold a massive cross right on top. It is 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 can see the Col Raiser gondola where you started. 

Hikers along the via ferrata Sass Rigais in the Italian Dolomites
Hikers beginning the descent along the South side

You can descend along the southern route to avoid repeating the same 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 hours 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.

the descent along the southern side
Interesting rock formations near Malga Pieralongia

I stayed three nights in this rifugio in October when exploring the area; 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 significant concern on via ferrata routes. Unbeknownst to you, other climbing groups above you may accidentally dislodge a small rock and send it down the mountain. If it hits you on the head, it could have serious consequences. A helmet on your head (not inside your backpack) is necessary.

Shop on: Amazon (Worldwide) / Backcountry (US)

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. Try it 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.

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. The two carabiners at the end of the lanyard clip into the cable. Make sure the carabiners are equipped with the palm squeeze mechanism. It’s the safest and most comfortable.

Shop on Amazon (Worldwide) / Backcountry (US)

91P0f6XnFML. AC SL1500

Black Diamond Crag Gloves

The gloves protect your hands from cuts and scratches you may otherwise get if you haul yourself on the cable without them. I prefer full-finger gloves for extra protection against blisters. If your hands sweat quickly, go for the fingerless version.

Shop on: Amazon (Worldwide) / Backcountry (US)

salewa womens wildfire edge approach shoes detail 6

Salewa Wildfire Edge Approach Shoes

This is my go-to pair of hiking shoes for more accessible trails or via ferrata, where I don’t need extra ankle support. They provide excellent grip on the rock and are very durable.

Shop on: Amazon (Worldwide) / Backcountry (US)

reeloq

Reeloq Smartphone Securing System

If you want to take great photos on a via ferrata without worrying about losing your phone, Reeloq is the best tool for it. It’s a smartphone-securing system that allows you to use your phone on any adventure. This has been a great addition to my tool arsenal.

Shop on: REELOQ

Support my website!

Hi Reader! If you found any of my articles about the Dolomites useful please consider using the affiliate links below (at no extra cost) when booking your holiday. Thank you

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below!

8 thoughts on “Via Ferrata Sass Rigais To The Highest Summit In The Odle Ridgeline”

  1. Hello,

    we would like go the via ferrata to Sas Rigais the next week. I would like to ask you, if this hike incl. via ferrata is suitable for children and which way to the top is the best to go with them (8, 10 years). They have both experienced several via ferratas (incl. Monte Paterno for example). I have read that eastern way is usually used for ascent and south-west way for a descent. But I have also read that the south-western way is easier and safer, so I am wondering if it is better to got the same way up and down.
    We would like to take a mountain lift Col Raiser, so I am also wondering, if the whole hike is feasible within the operating hours (8:30-17:00) as it seems to be quite long. Thank you very much for your advice. Best regards Sarka

    Reply
    • Hi Sarka. Thanks for visiting. I wish I could give you a straight answer, but unfortunately I don’t know your kids personally to be able to tell. The climbing parts are very easy on this route. I would say even easier than Monte Paterno. I went up the East side then descended the West side. Plenty of great footholds on the east side to be able to safely climb up. The descent was actually the tricky part because of the loose rock. There are still some cables to hold on to on the descent. If you are not sure whether you can make it within the time frame you can try and book the night at rifugio Firenze then take the gondola back to town the next day. It is a long route though.

      Reply
  2. Hi Marta,
    Thank you for an amazing and very useful website! I did via ferrata Passo Santner today and considering Sass Rigais in the next days. How do you think these compare? In particular I am wondering about the unsecured sections, which I sometimes find even more exposed than the secured parts.

    Reply
    • Hi Linda. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you loved the ferrata Santner. I think Sass Rigais is easier going up but more difficult going down. Also the approach is a lot longer. Given that it has taken me a few days to answer I hope that whichever route you chose you had a lot of fun on it!

      Reply
  3. Hello Marta,

    Thank you for a descriptive post. Can this be done self-guided and can you recommed a place closeby from where we can rent the climbing gear? Thank you.

    Regards,
    Vishwas

    Reply
    • Hi Vishwas. If you know how to use the gear and are comfortable with scrambling then sure you can do it as self-guided. I have. It’s a beginner level ferrata, but make sure you bring a map, or familiarize yourself with route numbers etc.
      As for renting the gear plenty of places in Val Gardena (Ortisei, St. Christina or Selva – those are some of the villages in Val Gardena) offer via ferrata gear rental. Search for nollegio or simply gear rental on google maps.

      Reply

Leave a Comment