This classic via ferrata is most famous for the iconic suspension bridge used in the Cliffhanger film. Whilst the bridge, located a stone's throw away from the top station of the Staunies gondola, is invariably busy, the rest of the route is in a remote and beautiful environment. With the exception of the upper part surrounding the bridge there isn't a great deal of wire and much of the route can be considered an exposed ridge scramble through fascinating terrain with a good amount of war history.
The route can be done in either direction though it is arguably best done as an ascent from Rifugio Ospitale to the Staunies lift station. This way the route ends with the best sections of climbing and bridge crossing, but this approach is less popular because of the risk of missing the last lift down. Thus the more popular route from Forcella Staunies to Ospitale will be described here.
Approach - From Cortina, take the Tre Croci Pass (SS48 ) signed towards 'Misurina'. After 8km there is a large parking area on the right opposite the Rio Gere/Son Forca chairlift station. The usual approach is then via the two stage Rio Gere lift system. First the Rio Gere/Son Forca chairlift and then the Son Forca/Staunies gondola. The latter is an experience in itself, be careful getting on and off the lift.
For those not wanting to take the lifts it is possible to ascend on foot via path 206 and then 203 as far as Rifugio Son Forca. From here you have to hack up the large scree bowl directly under the Son Forca/Staunies gondola. This is not recommended; the walk isn't particularly scenic, there is just over 1200m of ascent before you even start the via ferrata and the final scree slope is arduous at best. Just pay the money, you'll be glad you did. The lifts normally open in late June and run until mid September. It is worth checking the exact lift opening times (which vary from season to season) with Rifugio Lorenzi or the Cortina tourist office.
VF - The ferrata starts directly from the top gondola station. Follow good signing to a ladder. Ascend this and pass through a short wartime tunnel to cross the iconic 30m suspension bridge. This leads to a pair of ladders that take you onto a broad ridge. Follow the ridge southwest, with spectacular views, descending the wire with aid of a ladder to reach Forcella Grande. Avoid the path leading off to 'Sentiero Ferrata Renato de Pol' to the north. Instead follow good waymarking for via ferrata Ivano Dibona and Ospitale down another ladder and onto a series of ledges. Traverse these northwestwards until you reach the old wartime barracks, 'Baracca Bivacco Buffa' situated at 2760m. Continue heading west along the well-marked route with sporadic protection until the route turns south to descend a scree gully. At the bottom of this the path forks and you turn right continuing for Ospitale.
The route then continues its descent to the northwest in an increasingly remote environment until you reach more war remains and buildings at Zurlon. Continue to Col di Stombi, a small peak that marks the end of the ridge-line with lovely views of the Val Padeon below. A final steep descent on switchbacks leads to a good track and the main road (SS51 ) on which Rifugio Ospitale is located.
Return - To return, take the Cortina Express, which runs hourly from Rifugio Ospitale to the main bus station in Cortina. From Cortina take the Dolomitibus to the Tre Croci Pass © Rockfax
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