Maximilianweg is a ridge traverse between Großer Roßzahn, highest summit of the Roßzähne Ridge and Roterdspitze / Cima di Terrarossa, the last outcrop of the Schlern / Sciliar Plateau. Between these two highpoints lies an exposed "knife-edge" ridge, connecting the two. While Maximilianweg is considered to be a Via Ferrata, there are only a few protected sections. Its eastern part, the via ferrata to Großer Roßzahn was established in 1968 while the descent of the mountain and the ascent of Roterdspitze / Cima di Terrarossa was equipped later.
Maximilianweg often is considered one of the easiest via ferratas in the western Dolomites. At a rating of KS3-C, however, it is rated medium. As happens so very often, the unprotected sections are where you will find the real challenges and most of the route is unprotected. Quite often the route is done together with a roundtrip hike from Seiser Alm / Alpe di Suisi, also touching Petz and Burgstall, the two summits to the west of the Schlern / Sciliar Plateau.
Maximilainweg starts at the Tierser Alpl Refuge which you can reach from Seiser Alm / Alpe di Suisi either on foot or by mountain bike. There are also SUV-Taxis that will take you there along the back (eastern) side of the Rosszahn / Denti di Terrarossa Ridge. By foot you can reach the refuge as follows:
- Leave the parking lot near Hotel Seiser Alm in the direction of Hotel Goldknopf / Punta d'Oro.
- There you need to decide whether you want to climb through Rosszahn Pass or take the longer way along the dirt road.
- Both trails finally lead to Tierser Alpl, their duration is similar and both are breathtaking in their views. I would recommend to take the trail through Roszahn Pass and after climbing the ferrata return the other way. Or cross the Schlern / Sciliar Plateau to descend the tourist trail from Schlern / Sciliar.
At the Tierser Alpl Refuge follow the sign to Maximilianweg, which leads to the base of Großer Roßzahn (north-east of the hut). A few protected moves take you around a pillar and into the ascent couloir. Rock quality in the couloir is horrible, the protecting cables are all on either side of the couloir which has to be crossed several times. The crux is close to the exit, where you have to negotiate an unprotected traverse across scree covered rock. Not difficult but the scree keeps moving ...
You exit the couloir to a saddle (views to Seiser Alm / Alpe di Suisi in the north), where the proper ascent of Großer Roßzahn starts. The ferrata climbs almost vertically through the east face of the mountain before reaching a shoulder on the summit ridge. The summit is close but you have to negotiate the ridge without protection, which can be best done by staying beneath it and using steps to its northern side. Thus a second (steeper couloir is passed and you are on the summit of Großer Roßzahn.
Now a few scree-covered switchbacks take you to the west face of the mountain, snaking your way above the abyss of the south-facce. Where the trail ends a ferrata section takes over, a long vertical descent to the proper ridge. It requires a lot of strength and stamina, and gets tricky in wet conditions. As it turns to the north face, this part of the ferrata rarely gets any sun and consequently stays wet for most of the year. After a descent of 150m you are at the base and the proper ridge traverse starts.
There is no protection on the traverse and while it is not difficult it is rather narrow and exposed in many secitons. Roock is brittle and there is a lot of scree lying around. Better take your time here. Usual hiking time for the ridge is one hour. At Roterdscharte / Passo di Terrarossa, the lowest point in the ridge right at the base of Roterdspitze / Cima di Terrarossa there is an escape route to Grödner Höhenweg which accompanies the ferrata in the south.
The ascent to Roterdspitze / Cima di Terrarossa is also unprotected in it first half. You climb across blocks throgh the east face of the mountain before reaching the east ridge proper. A steel cable now protects the allmost vertical section which - similar as with Großer Roßzahn before - leads to a shoulder on the winding east ridge. Follow the ridge towards a small saddle, from where the final ascent to the summit of Roterdspitze starts. A few steps take you across a vertical section, from where youy easily attain the summit.
Descent: To the west of Roterdspitze / Cima di Terrarossa Maximilianweg joins Grödner Höhenweg. You can either return to Tierser Alpl and from there back the way you came or you follow the marked trail to the west, where you have several options: descend via Touristensteig or Gamssteig to Seiser Alm / Alpe di Suisi, visit Schlernhäuser / Rifugio Bolzano or even head onwards to Petz and Burgstall to bad two more summits.