How to get there:
This description is from the city of Trento (north of Venice along the
main Autostrada A-22 going north to the Brenner pass).
Alternate access from the city of Bolzano further north, as well as from
the winter sports villages Cortina or Val Gardena.
From Trento, drive to the village of Canazei (1463m). The quickest way is north along
A-22 to exit Neumarkt Egma, then east following signs to Cavalese. The road actually bypasses
this village, follow signs for Moena and subsequently Canazei. Driving time is 1.5 hours without
An alternative road is to go north directly from the center of Trento on road SS-12 for about
7km to the village of Lavis. In Lavis, take the road to the right that has signs for several
villages up the valley. This road will connect with the previous route in Castello. This route
is shorter, stays in the same valley, but the road is quite narrow (single lane) in places and
passes through many small villages. Charming, but not for a quick access. Driving time is about
15 minutes longer.
From Canazei, continue through the small villages of Alba and Penia, then uphill
until reaching the dam of Lake Lago de Fedaia (2055m). Turn right here and drive across
on top of the
dam to find parking on the opposite side near/at Rifugio Seggiovia.
Marmolada is towering above.
Alternatively, one can reach this pass on a good mountain road from the resort town Cortina. Route description:3. (successful) Attempt, July 17. 2004:
One can either start from Rifugio Seggiovia or
take the lift from here to
Rifugio Pian del Fiacconi at 2625 meter. The trail connecting these two is
straightforward, but adds about 1.5 hour to the trip. Under stable weather
conditions a hike from the bottom makes most sense, however, with
unsettled weather the lift may save some time and increase the safety
of a climb.
From the top of the lift, take a moment and look at the mountain. The main
glacier towers straight uphill. A very distinct valley with rock on both
sides, but filled with a glacier is just to the right. The route heads into
this glacier. Viewed from below, one will notice an initial gentle section,
then a somewhat steeper hill followed by another gentle section with yet a
steeper section higher up.
Ascend the correct glacier as described above. The slope is not very steep, with
normal summer snow one may prefer to walk without crampons. After the initial
slightly steeper section, there is a second section
that may have more
crevasses near its top. The angle of the slope and the crevasse
situation are likely better if one stays on the left
part of the glacier. After this second increase in slope steepness, the route
heads right in order to connect to the rock part
of the climb. From further
down, one may identify this point by following what looks like a pretty
straight rock ridge (or possible ramp) downwards until it connects with the snow.
There is a picture below showing this more clearly.
The rock route follows a single line of fracture
(a distinct crack or very
tiny gully), from the snow and all the way to a point very near the end of the
ridge above. There are good holds, but the rock is pretty smooth and rounded
full of knobs. The climbing is a very sustained (YDS) class 3 in difficulty,
a stretch of about 200 meter. Nearby terrain is class 4, the easiest
route stays inside the crack all the way. There is absolutely a sense
of exposure, the difficulty may border on class 4 in a couple of places.
The rock part ends at the tip of a snow ridge.This ridge (seen from above) is fairly
narrow at the start, but it gets broader higher up. There is a sense of
high mountain as you see other climbers
still on the glacier below you.
The best route
stays to the left while ascending this ridge. The snow is never steep
and this part of the route is pretty straightforward under normal conditions.
Soon, the summit cross
is visible to your left and a well deserved break
on the highest point in the Dolomites is called for.
From the summit, the top ridge
stretches west with a small shelter
about half way.
you see Punta Rocca (3250m) that I climbed in 2003, it is
clear that any traverse from there to here is beyond what normal people do.
Descend the same route. Incomplete from 1. Attempt, March 29. 2003:
This is incomplete since I did not get to the summit along the proper
route. However, this information may still prove useful as I certainly
understand this mountain much better after this hike.
If the lift from Rifugio Seggiovia (where you parked) is operating, then take
this. At the date of my hike, the lift started at 0830 and a roundtrip ticket
was 7 Euro. (After my experience with soft snow from the day before, the trip
down should not be forgotten.) The lift ends at Rifugio Pian del Fiacconi at
2625 meter. Take a careful look at the mountain slope in front of you. I find
the local map hard to read (as compared with Norwegian maps). There is a distinct
glacier (valley) going up slightly to your right. The rocks on the right side of
this "valley" are very pronounced on the map, but the left side is less distinct (on the map).
In the terrain, this "valley" is quite distinct, one MUST stay to the right (and below)
the rock points that are visible on the glacier towards the horizon.
As it is a glacier, parties should be three
or more and travel roped. As early in the season as March, travel is likely quite
safe, but skis may be needed.
In March, all tracks and footprints headed straight up and slightly left, this
is not the route to the summit of Marmolada. Comments: 1. Attempt, March 29. 2003:
This attempt ran into a couple of problems. I left Trento at 0600, had breakfast
in Canazei at 0730 and got the first ride with the lift at 0830. As soon as I started
hiking, I did notice that there were no traces or steps leading in the correct
direction. Moreover, the snow did not support me, so I fell through as soon as stepping
outside old tracks. After the experience from the day before (see Piz Boè, 3152m),
I was essentially allergic to this kind of conditions. Indeed, skiing conditions, not suitable
for hiking. The fact that this route crosses up a fairly steep glacier that certainly has
(hidden) crevasses did not increase my enthusiasm for conditions where you fall through the
upper snow with little or no warning.
I decided to follow a track that was already made and where the snow therefore supported my
weight. Unfortunately, it became pretty clear that this would take me to Punta Rocca (3250m),
also the top of another gondola coming from the east side (Malga Ciapela, 1450m). I decided
to check if there was a traverse route from this point to the base of the summit of Marmolada,
also called Puenta Penia. Due to bad contours on the map (they are inconsistent) this was not
clear. For some reason the local maps skip contours and despite being scale 1:25.000, it is hard to
make proper judgement of terrain steepness.
The top ridge from the gondola station towards a higher, local summit was nice with spectacular
drops to the south. I explored a possible traverse on the north side of this summit with
the intention of getting back to the proper route, however this slope was steep and a roped
belay would have been in order. Looking at the same area from below supports the conclusion
that one should climb into this glacier "valley" from below, not trying to traverse
into it from the top ridge.
Big clouds started to accumulate around the summit and it started snowing. It had taken
me approximately 2 hours to hike up, I enjoyed the summit ridge as well as exploring the
route west for another hour. The descent back to my lift took slightly less than one hour
and I was back by the car around 1300. 2. Attempt, July 15. 2004:
We arrived at the refugio located at near the dam of Lake Lago de Fedaia on July 14.
After dinner, we went to bed early in order to make an early start the next morning.
I checked the weather around 0600, the entire Marmolada wrapped in clouds, new snow on
the ridges. No way, we could even consider an attempt this morning. We gave up the
attempt right away and headed towards Trento in search of information about
the prominent peak Dodici. Just as we left the base of Marmolado, it started raining.
This just reinforced our decision to move out of the area and look for better luck
elsewhere. 3. Attempt, July 17. 2004:
I did this climb with my son Pål Jørgen, age 15.
After a successful climb of Dodici,
we returned to Alba, a small village beyond
Canazei on July 16. If the weather improved, or at least not
deteriorated, then we were determined to make a third attempt on this
summit. Pål Jørgen and I arrived at the base of the lift
from the village of Alba, around 0730. Clouds and thunder had been present
fairly early the day before, in order to maximize the good use of the
morning hours we had planned to use the first lift in the morning around
We started on a 15 meter light rope, Pål Jørgen leading,
at 0850. Several larger rope parties ascended the glacier above us, having
started from the refugio, but headed for the ridge further east. A first
visitor could easily take the wrong route by following, assuming that the
parties ahead indeed were going for the summit.
Pål Jørgen started out with a murderous pace and despite crossing
a couple of glacier crevasses in a steeper spot than strictly necessary, encountering
a short stretch of blue ice, quickly caught up with
other parties. We were soon at the start of the rock climbing, Dad breathing
hard from the rapid ascent.
We unroped at the base of the rock
and proceeded independently up the rock and further along the snow ridge to
the summit. Arrival at the summit at 1020, a smashing 1.5 hours only. While we
rested, an Italian man (that we had passed on the way up) pointed to
Pål Jørgen and said "Forca, Forca", clearly impressed with his
high altitude, uphill speed. We enjoyed the good weather, fine
panorama views and lunched for
about 30 minutes, then headed down and reached the refugia around 12 noon.
Shortly after we left the summit, it was all engulfed in clouds. Several
parties arriving later, thus missed the exceptional view that
Marmolada offers. The next day, we dedicated to Via Ferrata, by climbing