A while back a friend of mine posted a video on her instagram tackling one of the many via ferratas in the Italian Dolomites. At the time I was making the plan for my journey. I promptly asked her which one was it.
Her answer was: Torre di Toblin, along with the assurance that it was an easy one.
What she forgot to mention is that she used the easier exit route to climb both ways. Today I will share with you the complete route, and it wasn’t so easy after all!
Via Ferrata Torre Di Toblin: The Stats
Time required: 2-3 h from the Locatelli hut
Elevation gain: ca. 200 m / 650 ft
Route difficulty: intermediate
Via Ferrata Torre di Toblin bears another, official name – “delle Scalette”, however everyone I met, including the staff at the nearby rifugio calls it Torre di Toblin. It leads to the top of the mountain of the same name. The translation from Italian is the Tower of Toblin.
The route bore witness to many atrocities of the First World War. The summit of Torre Di Toblin was used by the Austrian soldiers as an observation post.
More Italian and Australian soldiers died from exposure, starvation and avalanches during the Mountain War of 1915-17 than in actual combat.
Don’t let the mere 200 meters elevation gain fool you. It was the very first via ferrata I did in the Dolomites and I honestly thought it will be my last.
The snow and ice prevalent on the trail at the end of August! (yup, that’s mountain weather for you), certainly had a lot to do with it.
Getting to the start of the via ferrata
The ferrata starts behind rifugio Tre Cime/Locatelli – one of the most photogenic mountain huts I’ve stayed at in the Dolomites.
Since the hut is a popular destination amongst hikers visiting the Dolomites, there’s a lot of routes you can take to reach it. I recommend purchasing Tobacco map nr 10 to study them all.
The quickest and easiest way is to begin at rifugio Auronzo. There is a private road you can drive on to reach it, but it’s not cheap. The cost is 30 Euro for a car and 45 for a campervan!
If you are looking to save money public transport is a great option. There is a bus running from the nearest town Misurina or Cortina D’Ampezzo to Rifugio Auronzo during summer season.
Alternatively, you can park your car at lago D’Antorno and take the bus from here. It only costs 8 Euros round trip. There is an ample, though run-down free car park, on the opposite side of the road from the lake.
From Rifugio Auronzo follow path nr 101, along the south face of Tre Cime and across Forcella Lavaredo – one of the iconic photography spots in the Dolomites, all the way to Rifugio Locatelli. It’s part of the Tre Cime circuit – a busy day hike in the Dolomites. You should reach the hut in 1-1,5 hour.
Accommodation in Misurina Or Cortina D’Ampezzo
As mentioned previously Misurina is the closest town, but it’s tiny and the hotels here book out well in advance. If you want to be as close as possible make sure to book ahead.
Alternatively you can book a hotel in Cortina D’Ampezzo, the next biggest town and a great hub to base yourself in if you plan on exploring the Dolomites. It takes around 40 mins to drive from Cortina to rifugio Auronzo.
Below are a few of my recommendations for accommodation in Cortina
Via Ferrata Torre di Toblin brief route description
Take a rest at rifugio Locatelli and get ready for the fun ahead! The ferrata starts directly behind the hut and it is marked with signs.
For around 20 minutes you will be walking upward until you get a clear view of Torre di Toblin straight ahead of you. I remember looking at it for the first time and telling myself “I am crazy to even think I can make it to the top”.
You then have to loop clockwise around the tower, along the narrow ledge to its north side. The mountain will be on your right hand side the whole time. Eventually you’ll come to a halt and notice a set of cables going straight up. Up until now It was easy, but the challenge is about to begin.
This is where you can put on your harness and attach your lanyard.
Via Ferrata Gear Essentials
To protect your head from any potential rockfall set off by climbing groups above you, or any other head injuries.
Aim for a lightweight harness, which will be comfy to wear between the cable protected sections when you are hiking.
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.
Developed specifically for via ferrata scrambling, the lanyard provides shock absorption in case of a fall.
Since it was my first ferrata I’ve ever done I found the first few meters of the cable section really difficult. As luck would have it, we experienced a decent snowfall couple of nights before and the melting snow froze overnight.
Because the route faces north, it hardly sees any sun. A perfect recipe for icy conditions.
After navigating through gullies, along ladders and holds for around 40 minutes I made it to the top, relieved and in one piece. Considering I had zero prior ferrata experience I thought I did really well.
I know today that it was certainly not the best pick for my first ferrata.
The descent is along the eastern wall and takes only 45 minutes. It’s also A LOT easier than the way up and some people choose this as the ascent & descent route. I wouldn’t however recommend it, because it can create traffic and passing people when attached to a cable isn’t much fun.
Once you are back at rifugio Locatelli you can either walk back the same way or complete the loop around Tre Cime and opt for route nr 105.
I also highly recommend an overnight stay in the hut and ticking off the nearby via ferrata De Luca/Innerkofler the next day!
If you are thinking about completing this via ferrata and have more questions, write them in the comments below. I always answer! You can also check out my Italian Dolomites Guide, where you will find many articles about photography locations, via ferratas and hikes.