Tre Cime di Lavaredo – climbing in the Dolomites

Cima Ovest, Cima Grande, Cima Piccola: the Tre Cime di Lavaredo offer unrivaled climbing in the Dolomites. gives an overview of some of the routes that have become milestones in the history of mountaineering, such as Spigolo Giallo, Via Comici – Dimai, Via Cassin, Hasse Brandler, Spigolo degli Scoiattoli and many others.

The Tre Cime di Lavaredo are three huge freestanding limestone towers, unique not only in the Dolomites, but also in the rest of the world. Their yellow-tinged north faces host numerous alpine routes, many of which, thanks to their difficulty and natural beauty, have become true classics. Almost all of them, even the old escape routes, have been freed up, becoming milestones in the history of mountaineering. The initial sensation when climbing this stratified dolomite can be disconcerting; the rock is actually loose in many places. Fortunately, the most popular routes have now been cleaned up. The climbs have a lot of pros, especially the older aid routes, but not all in-situ gear is trustworthy. Popular routes such as Spigolo Giallo best avoided in the height of summer as they can be dangerously overcrowded.

Hasse Brandler

First ascent: Lothar Brandler, Dieter Hasse, Jörg Lehne, Sigi Löw, 1958
Former important escape route that goes directly up the north face of the Cima Grande. Whatever the style of ascent, the course, because of its 18 lengths, is very tiring and therefore requires a certain physical condition. Most belays are bolt-protected and locations have plenty of gear, but not all stakes are reliable.

Via Comici – Dimaï
First ascent: Emilio Comici, Giuseppe & Angelo Dimai, 13-14/08/1933
Via Comici is the classic example of climbing in the Dolomites. Although difficult if climbed unaided, its popularity is justified by its beauty and excellent rock.

Via Dulfer
First ascent: Hans Dülfer, Walter F. von Bermuth, 1913
The cold west face welcomes via Dülfer, a direct and elegant line, a little less busy than the other routes. It’s relatively short, considering it’s on the Cima Grande, and is solid UIAA 6 with some slightly harder moves on the second court. The upper chimney serves as the backdrop for an almost obligatory shot of climbers silhouetted against the sky and shadowy walls.

First ascent: Kurt Astner, Kurt Brugger, 1998
Modern bolt and peg road to the left of Via Comici. The top is loose and less protected, so most climbers descend halfway.


Via Cassin
First ascent: Riccardo Cassin, Vittorio Ratti, 1935
A beautiful course, one of the classics of the Dolomites. Exposed and sustained climbing up to 7a, on fairly solid rock.

Spigolo Scoiattoli
First ascent: Albino Michieli, Lorenzo Lorenzi, Gualtiero Ghedina, Lino Lacedelli, 1959
An aesthetic and exposed alignment on the imposing NW ridge which emerges at 7a. The rock is quite solid, except for the first pitches that it shares with the Via Cassin.

Italo Switzerland

First ascent: Candido Bellodis, Beniamino Franceschi, Albin Schelbert, Hugo Weber, 1959
The route climbs the center of the wall via the imposing overhangs. Help was used on the first ascent, but nowadays it’s free at 7b. Either follow the original line at the top or, recommended, go up the Cassin.

Spigolo Giallo
First ascent: Emilio Comici, Mary Varale, Renato Zanutti, 1933
Every year, hundreds of climbers flock to the Spigolo Giallo. Few routes have such a perfect line and few routes are so crowded. It is best to climb it out of season and preferably avoid it on weekends. The difficult sections at the start and near the finish follow a nice line near the ridge, while the less interesting middle section climbs to the right.

Muro Giallo

First ascent: Stefan Glowacz, Kurt Albert, 1996
Modern and demanding sports course on the overhanging yellow wall to the left of the Spigolo Giallo.

Via Cassin
First ascent: Riccardo Cassin, Luigi Pozzi, Gigi Vitali, 1934
The short yellow wall overhanging the Cima Piccolissima is pierced by the demanding Via Cassin. All loose wedges of this stratified dolomite have been cleaned. The route faces SE and is therefore climbable before and after summer.

LINK: access all rock climbs of Tre Cime di Lavaredo in the database

Getting There
The ideal starting points are Cortina d’Ampezzo and Auronzo. These can be reached from the north through the Pusteria Valley, or from the south by first taking the motorway (A27) to Longarone and then following the state road north. Both trailheads lead to Misurina, from where a private toll road winds its way steeply almost to the base of the south faces of the Tre Cime. Park the car at Rifugio Auronzo, located at the end of the road and sleep here or at Rifugio Lavaredo, accessible by following the path for 15 minutes under the majestic south faces that contain, among many other famous routes, the Spigolo Giallo. The two huts, nestled almost at the base of the towers, offer good accommodation and should be booked in advance.

From the book Climbing in the Dolomites, traditional and sports routes around Cortina, 2004