Via Ferrata Ra Gusela

Easy and highly scenic “via ferrata” from passo Giau to Mt. Nuvolau. Descent to Rifugio Scoiattoli and visit of the First World War emplacements in the open-air museum.


Suggested period: Daily from May 15th to September 30th

Suggested departure time: 08.30 a.m.

Grade: 4/10

Elevation gain: 350 m

Elevation loss: 680 m

Length: 15 km

Estimated time: 5 hours

Physical effort: Medium

Suggested minimum age: 14 


From Passo Giau take CAI trail 443 to the north, then leave the trail and follow the steep CAI trail 438 on the left up leading to the approach of the first and easiest section of this Via Ferrata. Along its short and not very exposed ledges you gently gain elevation with breathtaking views over the Ampezzo peaks: Cristallo, Sorapis, Croda da Lago, and Tofane.

Shortly, you reach the bottom of a narrow, vertical gully (the only hard section). From here, fairly good handholds and footholds and a metal ladder will help you during the ascent. Once you reach the top of the ladder, a few more easy moves on steps of rock and few metres along the equipped trail lead you to the moon-like landscape plateau (2500m) between Gusela and Nuvolao peaks.

Carefully follow the trail signs across the scree as far as a crest where the second section of the via Ferrata begins. After a demanding stretch, with the help of the iron cable and some iron ladders you will reach the top of Mt. Nuvolau (2575m), near the namesake Rifugio. The unobstructed view is spectacular.

From the Rifugio, take CAI trail 439 descending along the north face of Mt. Nuvolau, facing Mt. Averau (2649m). This 30-minute walk will take you to Rifugio Averau, well-known for its fine cuisine.

Continue the descent on CAI trail 439 towards Cortina as far as Rifugio Scoiattoli, with fantastic views of 5 Torri in front of you. (30mins ca).

Close to the Rifugio, there is the Open-Air Museum of World War 1. The communication trenches are easily accessible to everyone and all the trails are well marked and display information boards in Italian, English and German. To give an authentic idea of what life was like in the trenches during the war, replica scenes have been set up where you will be able to observe where and how soldiers used to build the trenches and the shelter huts used as places to prepare rations, rest the mules, store grenades, rifles and machine guns.

Once you have completed the visit of the trenches, you may descend to Bain De Dones by chairlift and then take the bus back to Cortina.

Did you know…

The headquarters of the Italian mountain artillery regiment were stationed in the 5 Torri area, with the General Staff and the Officers on Mt. Averau. From there, from several observation posts, they would lead military operations on the other side of the valley. In 1915, eight 75mm field-guns were deployed, in 1916, two 149 G howitzers and in September 1917 a 210mm howitzer were pointed towards the Austrian emplacements on Mt. Lagazuoi, Col dei Boss and Valon Tofana.

During the war, king Vittorio Emanuele II often visited the frontline, in particular to attend the explosion of the powerful Italian mine on the Castelletto (July 11th, 1916), briefly described in the following piece:

on July 10th, the King, General Cadorna, General Di Robilant (commander of the 4th Army corp) and General Tarditi ascended Mt. Averau. The detonation was set at 3.30 on July11th…… at the exact time Lieutenant Malvezzi primed the exploders in the communication tunnel. Suddenly, an earthquake shook the mountains, the starry night sky was darkened by an immense cloud of dust and the silence was broken by the deafening roar of an enormous avalanche. Then, all around the Castelletto, rocks were falling down from the Tofana walls, in those endless minutes, those second of distressful and feverish wait. Immediately followed by the roaring thunder of the artillery and the flashes of all the firing from the ring of the encircling mountains, and the hissing of small grenades, and large bullets heavily flying overhead, and dull thuds and blasts…”

Useful Services:

Hotel Passo Giau ( Loc. Passo Giau): 0039 3460696745

Rifugio Nuvolau (Monte Nuvolau): 0039 0436 867938

Rifugio Averau ( forcella Averau 9): 0039 0436 4660

Rifugio Scoiattoli (Loc. Potor): 0039 0436 867939

Rifugio 5 Torri ( Loc. 5 Torri): 0039 0436 2902

Rifugio Bai de Dones ( Loc. Bai de Dones) 0039 0436 860688



5 Torri Chairlift: 0039 0436 4010

It runs daily from June to September, 9.00 am – 5.00 pm


Bus Timetable:

Departure from Cortina bus station: 8.40am – Arrival at Passo Giau: 9.20am

Daily service from July 1st to September 12th,.

Departure from 5 Torri Junction: 13.25 – 17.15 – 18.30 – Arrival in Cortina: 14.00 – 17.50 – 19.05.

Daily service from July 1st to September 12 th.

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