A definitive guide to hiking the Vajolet Towers | The Dolomites, Italy
A stunning display of natural beauty right in the heart of the Rosengarten Group, some of the Italian Dolomites most majestic mountains.
The Rosengarten group in the Dolomites is a concentration of pine-forested peaks that are a haven for climbers, hikers, and skiers from all over the world. And at the heart of this stunning group of mountains are the Vajolet Towers.
With multiple routes to reach these stunning mountain peaks, the hike to the Vajolet Towers is an absolute must on any traveller’s itinerary.
This blog post will cover the three main routes to reach the Vajolet Towers in the Dolomites, Italy.
Route One | From the trailhead at Malga Frommer Alm via Pas de le Coronelle
The trailhead begins at Malga Frommer Alm, a restaurant and chairlift-serviced area with a roadside carpark in South Tyrol. From the carpark, you have two options. The first is to take the König Laurin chairlift from the carpark up to Rifugio Fronza, where you can begin the hike in earnest. The second is to hike the path from the carpark up to Rifugio Fronza on foot. This second option will add about two hours of steep incline along clearly marked paths that switchback their way up the mountain and through some small alpine forests to Rifugio Fronza.
When I did this hike, I went with the first option and paid € 10 for a one-way ticket on the König Laurin chairlift up to Rifugio Fronza, and then hiked down the mountain at the end of the day. Alternatively, you can pay € 14 for a return ticket.
From Rifugio Fronza, sometimes called the Rosengarten Hütte, the hike begins behind the building on trail number 550. The trail is initially steep, with some rock scrambling required (there are ropes in place in some sections for assistance). Before long, you will come to a fork in the path, the way left leads to Via Ferrata Passo Santner, which I will cover in the next section, and the way right leads to Pas de le Coronelle, which is the easier option and the route we will cover here.
From the fork, take the right-hand path along the edge of the mountain toward Pas de le Coronelle. The path is well marked, and you just have to follow the red markings painted on rocks along the way. Before long the path will start to steepen as you make your way up to Pas de le Coronelle. You’ll know you’re close to the top when you reach some wooden steps. Take a rest at the top, 2630 metres above sea level, and enjoy the view, you’ve earned it!
Once you’re ready to go, take trail 541 down the mountain. It starts off steep along a gravelly scree trail but will eventually level out and lead you to Rifugio Vajolet. This is a great place for lunch, with two mountain huts that serve food, coffee, and drinks, plus a big grassy area to rest and relax on if you brought your own picnic. You can also see the towers from here, and the view is incredible, be sure to snap some beautiful pictures while you rest!
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From Rifugio Vajolet, there is one last push needed to reach the Vajolet Towers themselves. You’ll see the path leading up to the base of the towers, it’s about 400 metres up a steep rock scramble section. It’s not very technical or difficult, but you do need to be reasonably fit. Again, just follow the red markings and you can’t go wrong.
Eventually, you’ll reach Rifugio Alberto and the base of the Vajolet Towers. Congratulations! Enjoy the views, enjoy a drink at Rifugio Alberto, and generally bask in the glory of the Rosengarten Mountains. The Vajolet Towers are one of the most popular rock-climbing destinations in the Dolomites, so chances are you’ll see people dangling off them or at their summit.
After you’ve had your fill of the crisp mountain air and stunning views, you can make your way back along the same route to the carpark or follow one of the other routes outlined in this blog post. Alternatively, the mountain huts you encountered along the way also offer accommodation! So, you can spend the night in the mountains and head back the next day. It’s completely up to you!
Route Two | From the trailhead at Malga Frommer Alm via Via Ferrata Passo Santner
The second route to the Vajolet Towers begins the same as the first. Park at the roadside carpark at the trailhead at Malga Frommer Alm. From there, either pay for the König Laurin chairlift to take you up to Rifugio Fronza (€ 10 one way or € 14 return) or hike for about two hours up the mountain to Rifugio Fronza/the Rosengarten Hütte instead.
From behind the Rosengarten hütte, take hiking trail 550 and make your way to the fork in the road outlined earlier. This time, we’ll be covering the route to the left via Via Ferrata Passo Santner.
Take the left-hand path at the fork and make your way along the mountainside, following the red markings. After about 20-30 minutes, you will reach the start of the Via Ferrata Passo Santner. Via ferrata just means ‘climbing route’, and there are many of them with varying difficulties all through the Dolomites. For added safety, you can take harnesses and helmets with you, which is definitely recommended. However, I did this route free solo (without climbing equipment) because I am physically fit and have experience and confidence in rock climbing and scrambling. If you are uncomfortable with heights, don’t feel confident with rock scrambling, or are generally unsure, either hire the safety equipment or take one of the other routes outlined in this blog post.
Via Ferrata Passo Santner is a good challenge for those looking for a little more adventure in their hike. It can get technical in some sections, with rock climbing, scrambling, and the use of ladders and ropes needed to make it to the top of the pass. After the climb, you’ll reach Rifugio Passo Santner at 2734 metres elevation. You can stop here for a break and to enjoy the views or walk just a little further down to Rifugio Alberto and the base of the Vajolet Towers. To get there, go to the big cross just behind Rifugio Passo Santner, from there you can easily see the towers and Rifugio Alberto.
Again, after enjoying all that the Vajolet Towers has to offer, you can stay at one of the huts or make your way back to your car along whichever route you wish!
Route Three | From the town of Pera, in the Pozza di Fassa region
The third route is probably the easiest of the three, as the chairlift from Pera, located in the Pozza di Fassa region, takes you closer to the towers than the cable car at Malga Frommer Alm. From Pera, take the Vajolet one and two chairlifts. They cost €5 each for a one-way ticket or €8 each for a return ticket. If you purchase both at the same time, it will cost you € 16 return. Or, you can hike from Pera for about two hours up the mountain to where the cable car would drop you, the choice is yours.
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From the end of the Vajolet two chairlift, follow the easily visible trail to the right that leads up the mountain. You’ll hike through some beautiful sections of alpine forest, with stunning views of the surrounding mountains that make up the Rosengarten Group along the way. Eventually, you’ll come to two huts that are fenced off. To the right of these huts is a mountain water trough where you can fill up your water, and the path just to the left of that leads up to Rifugio Gardeccia. Rifugio Gardeccia is a great place to stop for a decent rest, with two huts that offer food and drinks, plus a large grassy area where you can enjoy a picnic and gaze at the mountains around you. You can even see Pas de la Coronelle from here.
Once you’re rested, it’s about a 45-minute climb up some steep and gravely roads to Rifugio Vajolet. You can choose to rest here again or continue the climb straight away up the 400 metres to Rifugio Alberto as outlined in route one.
And that’s it. The three main routes to reach the Vajolet Towers right at the heart of the Rosengarten Group in the Dolomites, Italy. Below, you’ll find all the other relevant details to take part in this epic hike.
Everything you need to know
How to get there
Location | Vajolet Towers, South Tyrol, Italy
By car | I hiked to the Vajolet Towers hike as part of my ten-day Italian Dolomites road trip and believe that the best way to get to the start of the hike is by car. The closest city to the trailhead at Malga Frommer Alm is Bolzano. From there, take route SS12 toward Tiers. Continue past Tiers for another twenty minutes along winding mountain roads and you will reach Malga Frommer Alm. To reach Pozza di Fassa from Bolzano, head along route SS241 for nearly an hour. SS241 turns onto route SS48, which will lead you to the Pozza di Fassa region and the town of Pera.
By bus | For information on how to reach the trailhead at Malga Frommer Alm by bus, use this link. Alternatively, if you plan on taking route three and starting the hike from the cable car at Pera in Pozza di Fassa, use this link.
Opening hours | The hike is technically open at all times, depending on the weather of course (see below). However, please keep in mind that some of this hike requires climbing and scrambling at high altitudes, regardless of which route you take, so keep that in mind before taking off in the dark. The chair lift services run from 8 am To 5:30 pm, so if you plan on coming back down the mountain on the chair lift, be sure to arrive back in time.
Cost | The hike itself is completely free. However, if you choose to go via chair lift on any of the routes, you will have to pay a small fee.
König Laurin chairlift from Malga Frommer Alm | € 10 one way, or € 14 return.
Vajolet one chairlift from Pozza di Fassa | € 5 one-way or €8 return.
Vajolet two chairlift from Pozza di Fassa | € 5 one-way or €8 return.
Facilities | Along all three routes you will find mountain huts, known locally as rifugio’s, where you can stop for coffee, food, or even a drink. You can purchase water at these huts, however, route three has two mountain water troughs where you can fill up your bottle for free. On all three routes, there are sections that require some form of rock climbing or scrambling. There are ropes and markers in all of these sections, so you just need to follow them to keep from getting lost.
Duration | Routes one and two are similar in length, roughly 8km’s return, while route three is slightly shorter, roughly 6-7km’s, thanks to the longer chairlift ride. The hike should take you between 4-6 hours return, depending on which route you take, how quickly you walk, and how long you stop for breaks!
When to visit
Time of year | The summer months, late June through to August, are best if you’re after good weather and plenty of colour. The fields and forests are bursting with colourful wildflowers, particularly in Spring, while in Autumn the trees begin to shed their leaves and the forests are turned all colours of yellow and copper. You can do the hike during the winter months, December through to April, but the chances of snow on the paths is very high which is something you need to account for. I did the hike at the start of Autumn and there was still some snow along the hike but the weather was mostly clear and warm.
Time of day | The Vajolet Towers are gorgeous at sunrise, however, the best way to see them at this time would be to stay the night at Rifugio Alberto, right at the base of the towers. Otherwise, the hike is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon, or even a whole day affair if you want to spend longer at each of the huts.
Where to stay
Its popularity for hiking in summer and skiing in winter means that the Dolomites have plenty of places you can call home for the night.
Airbnb | Use this link to see what deal you can find on Airbnb and potentially save yourself up to $55.
Hotel | Use this link to see what hotels are on offer in South Tyrol.
The weather | As with any hike, it’s important to factor in the weather, but particularly here due to the altitudes you reach, and the rock scrambling sections. Even in the warmer months, there is the possibility of snow around the towers, while the via ferrata sections could be extremely dangerous if conditions aren’t favourable. Check whatever weather app you favour and be sure to bring some extra layers in case of emergency.
Equipment | All hiking requires a few essential bits of gear. Decent shoes, a refillable water bottle, a backpack for camera gear and snacks, plus appropriate clothing. If you opt for route two and go up Via Ferrata Passo Santner, then there is some additional gear you might want to consider. You can hire ropes, harness, and climbing helmet from the adventure centres throughout the Dolomites, and you should definitely hire this equipment if you’re an inexperienced scrambler or don’t feel confident at heights. Alternatively, take one of the other routes and you won’t need to worry about the extra gear!
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