In The Footsteps Of The First World War Soldiers: Via Ferrata Torre Di Toblin

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

Torre di Toblin - Via Ferrata delle Scalette
Torre di Toblin

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. 

The path toward Torre Di Toblin. Paternkofel mountain and rifugio Locatelli visible in the distance.
The path toward Torre Di Toblin. Paternkofel mountain and rifugio Locatelli visible in the distance.

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.

Via Ferrata delle Scallete information
Walking along the ledge to the other side of Torre di Toblin

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 delle Scalette to the top of Torre di Toblin in the Italian Dolomites
The views along the way

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! 

Shop on: Amazon / Backcountry (US) / Bergfreunde (Europe)

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. 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.

Shop Women’s on Amazon / Backcountry (US) / Bergfreunde (Europe)

Shop Men’s on Amazon / Backcountry (US) / Bergfreunde (Europe)

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, 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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91P0f6XnFML. AC SL1500

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.

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salewa womens wildfire edge approach shoes detail 6

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.

Shop on: Amazon / Backcountry (US) / Bergfreunde (Europe)

reeloq

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)

Information about via ferrata delle Scalette to the top of Torre di Toblin in the Italian Dolomites
The north side of Torre di Toblin where the cables leading to the top begin

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.

Ladders along the North side of Torre di Toblin leading to the summit
Ladders along the North side of Torre di Toblin leading to the summit
Torre di Toblin Summit. Via Ferrata delle Scatelle in Tre Cime National Park
Torre di Toblin Summit, Tre Cime (Three peaks) seen in the distance

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!

The descent along the eastern side
Torre Di Toblin in all its glory

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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.

10 Comments

  1. Hello,
    Excellent website and advice. How easy is it to buy or rent the via Ferrata lanyard in the area? We brought some of our climbing gear (harness, slings, carabiners, helmets) but do not have a proper lanyard. After seeing the images I am starting to think we will need one.
    Thanks for all your advice.

    • Hi Katja. You can definitely rent via ferrata lanyard in Cortina. They also sell them there. There are a plenty of sports shops in Cortina D’Ampezzo. And yes lanyard is a must have on a via ferratas, a staple really 🙂

  2. Hi,

    we have found your guides incredibly useful while researching and hiking through the Dolomites! Quick question, we just completed Ferrata Punta Anna which we were told was an “easy” step up from a beginner to intermediate Ferrata. We found it super exposed, very long, and not very easy! Have you done this one? I can’t find a common grading of it… if you have done it, how would you compare it to toblin?

    • Hi Jeff. Thanks for your great feedback. No I haven’t done Punta Ana yet, but from what I know and read this is one of the hardest via ferratas in the Dolomites, so you have been clearly misguided by someone. I think the grading for Punta Ana is D. It’s definitely advanced. Torre Di Toblin is very short but there are a few tricky sections, however it will definitely be a step down in difficulty level from Punta Ana. Torre Di Toblin was my very first via ferrata ever.

      • Thanks so much for your reply!!
        🫣🫣🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🫢🫢🫢
        Oh my… well that would be the gentleman at La Cooperativa di Cortina… maybe he is sick of travelers! Glad I’m not going crazy, it definitely felt VERY advanced, honestly it was downright scary… We were thinking, “jeez if this one is easy we are done for if we try an intermediate!” Thanks again!

        • No worries. What I learnt over the years is to take the local’s advice with a grain of salt, especially when they say something is ‘very easy’. They grow up in these mountains. Their perception of what’s hard and what is easy is very different to tourists. I am sure he meant no harm, but at the same time he should have definitely known better.

  3. Hi
    If you had time to do only one via ferrata, Which one would you do?
    Torre di Toblin or De Luca/Innerkofler? Or maybe some other one in the area.
    Thanks
    Lubo

    • Hi Lubo. Personally I preferred Torre Di Toblin. As for another one in the area that I liked even more are Merlone and Strada Degli Alpini. You can find both in via ferrata guide.

  4. Hello,

    We will be staying two nights in Zsigmondy hut this summer. Are there any A/B via ferrata from that hut?

    Thanks for your advice!
    Alison

    • Hi Allison. Thanks for stopping by. You can reach the Zsigmundy hut by doing the via ferrata Strada Degli Alpini. It is long, but technically very easy. The views along the ferrata are stunning. I have a guide for it in my VF section of the Italian Dolomites guide. Another one is via ferrata Innerkofler/De Luca, close to rifugio Locatelli and around 2 hour hike from rifugio Zsigmundy. There is also a ferrata around Croda Dei Toni called 12er. I have not done it myself yet, but it’s on my list. You can do it as a circuit from the hut. I recommend that you get the Tabacco map of the Sesto Dolomites (no.10) Let me know if that helps!

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