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 of 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 that we encountered 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 are a lot of routes you can take to reach it. I recommend purchasing Tobacco Map no. 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 euros 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 the summer season.
Alternatively, you can park your car at Lago 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 hours.
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.
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)
Since it was the 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!
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