A challenge from days gone by

The long journey across the Brenta Group, through peaks and passes, in 60 hours of mountain life

You might choose to see it as 10 hours a day for 6 days, or simply as 60 hours of mountain life to experience to the fullest. The Via delle Normali, the climbing and trekking route through the Brenta Dolomites which will take you to heights of over 2,900 m along simple, grade-III trails, will give you an immersive experience of mountain life: fatigue, concentration, precision, determination, but also enjoyable moments in the lodges, planning your itinerary and — why not? — getting some well-earned relaxation.

The entire journey takes 6 or 7 days, ideally with 2 overnight stays at Campiglio or Pinzolo. You may also decide to tackle only part of the route, depending on your abilities and your time.

Before setting out on an excursion at altitude, plan your trip with care. If you are inexperienced or you intend to tackle a route graded as technically difficult, then consult an alpine or mountain guide. You should also contact the refuge warden in the area you’ll be visiting for the latest weather information and to discuss whether your route is advisable. Take prudent precautions, wear suitable clothing for your route, and remember to act responsibly in the mountains at all times.

Dolomiti di Brenta - Rifugio XII Apostoli | © Pio Geminiani

The starting point at the XII Apostoli lodge

Your conquest of the 10 peaks begins at the XII Apostoli lodge, or at the S. Agostini lodge in Val D'Ambiez, where you can sleep for two nights.

From the S. Agostini lodge, you can set out the next day to climb Cima D'Ambiez (3,012 m) by the normal way to the south and back down again from the north, spending that night at the same lodge. This offers an instant immersion in the Brenta Group, with all its gullies and crevices.

Dolomiti di Brenta - Cima Tosa avvolta nelle nuvole | © Pio Geminiani

Climbing Cima Tosa

On the second day, you will climb to Cima Tosa from the south by Via Migotti; first, however, you must get to the Bocca di Ambiez, which you used to descend the day before. Cima Tosa is the second highest peak of the Brenta Group, and offers an extensive panorama overlooking the entire region.

You will also conquer Crozzon di Brenta on the same day, following a route along the crest that constantly rises and falls, as well as featuring some snow-covered stretches. If you’ve exhausted your energies, you can spend the night at the Castiglioni hut close to the peak, at 3,125 m; otherwise, you must return to Cima Tosa in order to descend along the east-south-east normal way with its wide steps and single chimney, to reach the Tosa-Pedrotti lodge.

Madonna di Campiglio, Pinzolo e Val Rendena - Dolomiti di Brenta | © Daniele Lira

Campanile Alto and Torre di Brenta

Stage three is dedicated to Campanile Alto and Torre di Brenta. You take the Via del Caminone during both your ascent and your descent of Campanile, in a particularly isolated area. Once you've made your way back to Bocchetta Bassa degli Sfulmini, you must head towards Bocchetta Alta along the south-east wall. Now you can begin your climb to the peak of Torre di Brenta, at 3,014 m.

The subsequent descent is via the north-east wall, first retracing the path taken for the ascent, before reaching the Vedretta degli Sfulmini and making your way from there to the Alimonta lodge.

Campiglio - Dolomiti di Brenta - Arrampicata sul sentiero delle Bocchette Alte | © Pio Geminiani

Cima Brenta

Cima Brenta, the Group’s highest peak at an altitude of 3,151 m, is also located in one of its harshest environments, making it particularly attractive for mountaineers. The normal way is not far from the lodge, in the direction of the Brentei lodge. Approaching from the south, the normal way to Cima Brenta is one of the most rewarding trails: never too difficult, crossing good rock, it is probably the most recognisable and logical of the routes you will cover.

The normal way for the descent heads north until the gully, which grants you access to Bocchette Alte via the Cengia Garbari ledge, then leads the way to the Tuckett lodge.

Madonna di Campiglio - Dolomiti di Brenta - Rifugio Tuckett Quintino Sella | © Alberto Bernasconi

Cima Grosté

From the Tuckett lodge, you must take the Benini trail to get to Bocchetta di Vallesinella. Once you’ve reached the bell tower of the same name at the bottom, you will find the south-south/east normal way you must take both to ascend and descend. Going back the way you came, you need to head further north on the Benini trail to join the way for Cima Grosté, the most northerly peak of the central Brenta Group.

The climb leads you through gulleys, while the descent follows the eastern crest before continuing along exposed ledges with a few chimney descents and meeting up once again with the Benini trail towards the Stoppani lodge.

Madonna di Campiglio - Pian del Graffer - Rifugio Graffer al Grostè | © Pio Geminiani

From dolomite to limestone

The Grosté lodge, the final stop on your mountaineering expedition, is located just below the pass of the same name. The sixth day will see you enter an environment which is noticeably different from the earlier part of your adventure: the rock changes from mainly dolomite to limestone, and the difficulty level also decreases, though of course you must still take care at all times.

From the lodge, take the first stretch of the Vidi Via Ferrata before leaving it when you reach a great cairn. Your itinerary leads you to the peak from the south-east face, along grassy gulleys and loose rock. Thanks to a gap along the way, you can easily change face before climbing to the peak. From the top, you can enjoy a marvellous view of the famous Lake Tovel.

Campiglio - Panorama del Brenta | © Pio Geminiani

Cima Vagliana

From the peak, strike out along the north-west crest, where a route divided up by frequent ledges and crossings awaits you, in a wild and largely abandoned area. An easy final crest brings you to Cima Vagliana, the last of the peaks on the long Vie delle Normali adventure. Turn south to feast your eyes on the spectacle of what you have accomplished: all the peaks of the Brenta Group can be seen from here, including practically the entire route you took to get here.

Your final descent covers grassy and rocky stretches until you reach the Costanzi trail, returning once again to the Graffer lodge.

Via delle Normali

Via delle Normali

Published on 06/06/2023