Conquering The Terrarossa Peak Along Via Ferrata Sentiero Massimiliano (Maximiliansteig) In The Italian Dolomites

Every time I read that there is a ridgeline traverse in the description of a route, whether it’s a hike or via ferrata, I immediately add it to my list. Why you may wonder?  Because they always offer the best views-to-effort ratio. When I first read that Via Ferrata Sentiero Massimiliano runs along the Terrarossa ridgeline it quickly made its way onto my Dolomites adventure bucket list. 

Everything to know about Via Ferrata Sentiero Massimiliano (Maximiliansteig)

Via Ferrata Sentiero Massimiliano 2

Via ferrata Sentiero Massimiliano (in German: Maximiliansteig) is one of 6 iron paths in the Rosengarten Mountain Group. The two nearest towns, where you can start the approach to reach the ferrata are Siusi and Campitello di Fassa.

Via Ferrata Sentiero Massimiliano: the stats counting from the Alpe Di Tires Alpine Hut

Via Ferrata Sentiero Massimiliano 29
  • Distance: 4.4 km / 2.7 mi
  • Elevation gain: 389 m / 1276 ft
  • Elevation loss: 394 m / 1293 ft
  • Time required: 3-4 hours
  • Route difficulty: intermediate
  • When to go: June – October
  • Map required: Tabacco map no. 029 (Rosengarten) or Tabacco map no. 06 (Val Di Fassa)

Getting to the start of Via Ferrata Sentiero Massimiliano (Maximiliansteig)

Via ferrata Sentiero Massimiliano begins directly behind Rifugio Alpe Di Tires (Tierseralp hütte). There are a few options to choose from to reach the hut. I marked them all on the map above. Please note that all distances are one way.

To better visualize the routes, it’s always a good idea to have a hiking map with you. For the Via Ferrata Sentiero Massimiliano and the hiking routes leading to its start, you will require the Tabacco map no. 029 or no. 06. 

TIP: Click on each trail and a window with a description will pop up.

Option 1: Top of the Siusi gondola to Rifugio Alpe Di Tires across Denti Di Terrarosa saddle

  • Distance: 7.8 km / 4.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 657 m / 2154 feet
  • Elevation loss: 63 m / 208 feet
Forcella Denti di Terrarossa 1

From the town of Siusi take the Alpe di Siusi Gondola up to Compatsch. From there follow path number 7, then path number 2. The total time to reach the rifugio from Compatsch is 2,5 hours one way.

Option 2: Top of the Col Rodella cable car to Rifugio Alpe Di Tires

  • Distance: 11.8 km / 7.3 miles
  • Elevation gain: 430 m / 1413 feet
  • Elevation loss: 443 m / 1454 feet
Col Rodella To Alpe Di Tires 1 1

From Campitello di Fassa take the Col Rodella Cable car, then hike first toward Rifugio Sassopiatto then in the direction of Alpe Di Tires. This is my favorite approach to the hut. A part of it intersects with the Sassolungo Circuit hike.

Option 3: Rifugio Micheluzzi to Rifugio Alpe Di Tires

  • Distance: 7 km / 4.4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 592 m / 1942 feet
  • Elevation loss: 0 m / 0 feet
Col Rodella to Alpe Di Tires 1

From the village of Campitello in Fassa Valley you can take a taxi to Rifugio Micheluzzi and then hike for 2 hours along path no. 532 across Duron Valley.

TIP: It’s possible to combine option 2 with 3. You can choose one for the approach to the hut and follow the other route when getting back down to Campitello di Fassa.

Via ferrata Sentiero Massimiliano as part of the Rosengarten Traverse

Rosengarten traverse 101
Terrarossa ridgeline visible in the distance when coming from Passo Molignon

I reached Alpe di Tires hut from rifugio Passo Principe (2,5 hours) where I stayed the night before, whilst doing the traverse of the Rosengarten group. This route only makes sense if you are planning a multiday backpacking trip.

Where to stay overnight when planning to tackle Maximiliansteig?

Rifugio Alpe Di Tires 1

I recommend an overnight stay in the Alpe di Tires hut when attempting the Via Ferrata Sentiero Massimiliano. Otherwise, you will be looking at a very long day in the mountains (10+ hours). It’s a very popular hut, so make sure to book your bed in advance.

TIP: Stay 2 nights in Rifugio Alpe Di Tires and tackle the nearby Via Ferrata Laurenzi the next day. It is another ridgeline traverse.

Via Ferrata Sentiero Massimiliano: Route Description and my personal experience

You will find the signs for Maximiliansteig right near the hut. After short but intense 15 minutes, you will reach a narrow gully. Because the gully stays in the shade most of the day, it’s prone to icing. The day I picked for the traverse of the via ferrata Sentiero Massimiliano was only a couple of days after a snowfall.

At the start of October, the temperatures during the daytime are still relatively high but at night they often plummet to below zero Celsius, melting the snow during the day and then freezing it again overnight. This is the perfect recipe for some icy conditions in a few places, including the gully which stays in the shade during day time. 

After the gully crossing you will quickly reach a col from where you’ll get an aerial view of Alpi Di Siusi. After a section of cables, you will arrive at the first of two summits on today’s agenda: The Dente Grande di Terrarossa (2653 meters). 

Marmolada’s south face – the highest peak in the Dolomites, as well as Catinaccio – the highest summit of the Rosengarten group, which we bagged the day before, are visible in the distance. You will also get the first clear view of the entire ridgeline and the Terrarossa peak. So tantalizingly close, yet a fair bit of work away from reaching. 

Via Ferrata Sentiero Massimiliano 34

The undulating ridgeline, with intermittent cable protection, is fun to tackle and easy to follow. The prominent red paint marks are easy to spot. Providing the weather conditions are good. When traversing the ridgeline you are constantly surrounded by jaw-dropping views.

The ridgeline traverse shouldn’t take longer than 30-40 minutes before you reach the last push to the summit. Thankfully, cables have been installed in the most difficult sections. Make sure you take full advantage of them. Some parts with big drops on either side can make your head spin.  

If for some reason you are not feeling your best, or the weather has turned for worse, this is where you will encounter the escape route back to the Alpe Di Tires, clearly marked with the “Notausstieg” sign. It means Emergency Exit.

Due to icy conditions along the route, there was more than one time when we thought about turning back, but I’ve got to admit, I had a little bit of summit fever. The prospect of returning after already putting in all that work, didn’t seem too appealing.

In the end, we decided to push through and hope the conditions will improve.  As a result, my gloves got soaking wet from grabbing onto snow-covered rocks and cables, but after a few more cable sections we were on the top of the Cima di Terrarossa. Tired, but happy we made it in one piece and just in time for sunset.

We hung around to watch the sunset then quickly rushed down back to the hut, taking advantage of the last bit of light. The path is visible from the summit, and so is the refuge.

45 minutes later we were back at the hut drinking hot chocolate and already planning our next via ferrata in a couple of days. The whole route (excluding the time at the summit) took us 3 hours to complete. 

Other via ferratas in the Rosengarten Mountain Group

Shop my via ferrata gear essentials

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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! 

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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 on 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.

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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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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. I prefer full-fingered gloves for extra protection against blisters.

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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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If you want 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.

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Other regions in the Dolomites worth visiting

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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.

2 Comments

  1. Hello,

    I was wondering if it is possible to start the hike from Ortisei. I am staying in Rifugio Firenze the night before. Do you know if the chairlift in Ortisei will take you to Compatsch or will it add extra time to the hike to Alpe di Tires?

    • Hi Maxwell. The gondola from Ortisei won’t take you to compatsch but up to Alpi Di Siusi. It will be around 1 hour extra to walk from there to Alpe Di Tires. Longer, but most certainly doable in a day. I hope that helps!

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