Ferrata Trek through the Rosengarten - Dolomites, Italy - August 2013

The Rosengarten is a group of mountains in the Dolomites with a dense cluster of exceptionally jagged peaks. 10 years ago I did two hikes through this range, and since then I’ve longed to return for some better photography and more challenging via ferrata climbing. Last week Claudia and I did just that, spending four days trekking, climbing, and photographing our way through the mountains.

Alpe di Siusi, Dolomites, Italy, Rosengarten, Alps, photo

The idyllic rolling meadows of Alpe di Siusi, with Sasso Lungo / Langkofel rising in the background.

Dolomites, Italy, Rosengarten, Sciliar, Alps, photo

A view of the Rosengarten from Rifugio Bolzano on Sciliar.

We spent our first night at Rifugio Bolzano (aka Schlernhaus), a castle-like stone hut with a great view of rugged spires of the Rosengarten range… when we could see them through the clouds.

Rifugio Bolzano, Schlernhaus, Dolomites, Italy, Rosengarten, Alps, photo

Rifugio Bolzano

Rifugio Bolzano / Schlernhaus, a castle-like alpine hut with a view of the Rosengarten range, on a wet August morning.

Despite the misty weather, we pushed through our first via ferrata of the trip – the Maximiliansteig - to the Rifugio Alpe di Tires, our destination for the next night.

Dolomites, Italy, Rosengarten, via ferrata, Maximilian, Maximiliansteig, Alpe di Tires, Alps, photo


Climbing along the Maximiliansteig via ferrata, which runs along the ridge of Cima di Terrarossa. In the background you can see the Rifugio Alpe di Tires.

Dolomites, Italy, Rosengarten, via ferrata, Maximilian, Alps, photo

Climbing the Maximiliansteig above Alpe di Siusi in the Rosengarten.

The Maximilian ferrata was a bit of a warm-up, test run ferrata for us to see how we felt about doing a much longer, more difficult ferrata the next day. All went well!

Dolomites, Italy, Rosengarten, Maximilian, Cima di Terrarosa, hiking, Alps, photo

Approaching the summit of Cima di Terrarosa (2655m), with the Rosengarten range rising out of the clouds.

Dolomites, Italy, Rosengarten, via ferrata, Laurenzi, Molignon, Alps, photo

The ridgeline of Molignon along the Via Ferrata Laurenzi.

The big objective of our trip was to complete the Via Ferrata Laurenzi, a long, high, rugged ridge route over the Molignon. This cabled route was rated by our guidebook as much more difficult and committing than any previous ferrata routes we’ve done so far, so we weren’t sure if we could do the whole thing or if we’d have to turn around at some point.

Dolomites, Italy, Rosengarten, via ferrata, Laurenzi, Molignon, Alps, photo

Climbing along the ridgeline of Molignon during the Via Ferrata Laurenzi.

Dolomites, Italy, Rosengarten, via ferrata, Laurenzi, Molignon, Alps, photo

Climbing along the ridgeline of Molignon during the Via Ferrata Laurenzi.

Although the Laurenzi ferrata route is well secured with cables, there are a number of difficult downclimbing sections requiring quite some strength and commitment. Here Claudia encounters the first of these awkward downclimbs. She tried several times and almost gave up before she conquered her fears and pushed through, even though she knew that there were more difficult sections to come. I was impressed and proud of her!

Dolomites, Italy, Rosengarten, via ferrata, Laurenzi, Molignon, Alps, photo

Climbing along the Via Ferrata Laurenzi

Now we’re having fun! This was definitely the finest ferrata route I’ve done so far in the Dolomites. With no crowds either, we could really get into the swing of things. (Nice pun, huh?)

Dolomites, Italy, Rosengarten, via ferrata, Laurenzi, Molignon, Alps, photo

Airy scrambling along the Via Ferrata Laurenzi on Molignon in the Rosengarten.

The via ferrata cabled routes are probably considered lame by serious climbers, but for us mere mortals they provide a taste of the joy of climbing, especially when you resist the temptation to grab onto the cable and just use the natural rock handholds. In this section above, there were no cables anyways… just some very airy scrambling!

Dolomites, Italy, Rosengarten, Rifugio Re Alberto, Alps, photo

The Vajolet towers and Rifugio Re Alberto

The third hut during our hike through the Rosengarten was Rifugio Re Alberto, situated right below the fantastically surreal Vajolet towers (pronounced similar to “violet” with the accent on the “let”).

Rifugio Re Alberto, Dolomites, Italy, Alps, photo

Rifugio Re Alberto

Of course my dream was to photograph the towers with some nice sunset light. In the afternoon I scouted out my favorite spots to shoot from, then after dinner, despite the clouds covering the peak, I returned to my spot, set up my camera, sat there, and waited. About 20 minutes before sunset, we started seeing glimpses of the towers though the clouds, then soon enough the clouds began dissolving into mist just as the ruby glow of sunset illuminated the pinnacles! As the misty clouds swept around the glowing red towers, the scene was so magical I really had the feeling that I was dreaming, and even started to get a little worried that I’d wake up! Claudia and I were speechless… almost in disbelief; and we were both riding high all night after witnessing and photographing such a phenomenal sight.

Dolomites, Italy, Rosengarten, Vajolet Towers, clouds, Alps, photo

Vajolet Cloud Castle

Clouds lift off the Vajolet Towers in the Rosengarten.

Dolomites, Italy, Vajolet, Torri del Vajolet, Rosengarten, sunset, Alps, photo

Vajolet Towers Sunset

Brilliant sunset light illuminates the Vajolet Towers in the Rosengarten as misty clouds swirl off the peaks.

Dolomites, Italy, Rosengarten, via ferrata, Alps, photo

Via Ferrata Santner

One last vía ferrata after the Santner Pass took us to our exit point from the Rosengarten. A hitchhike to Bolzano, three trains, three busses, and one day later, now we’re out of Italy, back in Bavaria sitting in a nice apartment we scored in Mittenwald, Germany. More to come, but for now just a few days here to relax and take a vacation from our vacation!

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