Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 46.30761°N / 11.79524°E
Activities Activities: Hiking, Skiing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Elevation: 7654 ft / 2333 m
Sign the Climber's Log


Monte CastellazMonte Castellaz in the first morning light
It was June 2005, our first vacation day, and we had just climbed Monte Mulaz by the long loop trail from Passo Valles. We had been on the summit in a whiteout and had just returned via Passo Mulaz and were descending to Malga Venegiota. Once below the clouds we could see a broad castle-like mountain rising above the vast pasture and the map confirmed the name: Monte Castellaz. Somehow my mind registered that climbing this mountain wouldn’t be possible – all faces vertical and no weakness anywhere.
Castellaz (2.333 mtrs)
Monte Castellaz
The summit block of Monte Castellaz

Whatever convinced me – in 2018, 13 years later, I was surprised when browsing my guidebook and stumbling upon a 3-4h hike from Passo Rolle to the summit of said mountain, effectively circling it using two routes on its western and eastern sides. As Passo Rolle can be easily reached and has several huge parking lots (for the winter ski crowds), the idea was born to go there, climb it and afterwards search for a second target to fill the rest of the day. The second target turned out to be Monte Cavallara on the other side of the pass but that’s another story.

Passo Rolle and the pastures of Malga Venegiota and Malga Venegia are famous for their impressive views of the northern chain of the Pale di San Martino with its two highest mountains, Cima della Vezzana and Cimon della Pala. Especially the latter forms a narrow tower-like pyramid of more than 1000m height. Monte Castellaz is located directly in the sweet spot to the north-west of the chain, thus offering some of the best views you can encounter in all the Dolomites.
Castellaz (2.333 mtrs)
On the summit ledges of Monte Castellaz
Monte Castellaz

As mentioned above Monte Castellaz – like its name implies – resembles a huge castle with big bastions and promontories. On three sides vertical faces prohibit an ascent but to the north there is a weak spot, from which the summit is accessible. It is still a steep and rocky trail which levels out near the summit where the statue of Cristo Pensante (Pensive Christ) guards the remaining ascent to the summit.
Monte Mulaz
Cristo Pensante
Monte Castellaz

In WW I Monte Castellaz was fortified by Italian Alpini to protect Passo Rolle together with similar artillery positions on nearby Monte Cavallara Piccola. The whole summit area is carved out into ledges and the access trails bear witness of that violent time 100 years ago. A bit further down in the north-east face there is even a large cave which was used to host men and provisions. On Malga Venegiota to the east of Monte Castellaz you still can find the foundations of a set of military barracks, which served as bases for the artillery positions on the summit.

Tip: if you are looking to enjoy the amazing panorama, rather climb Monte Castellaz in the afternoon. While morning climbs are far less crowded the sun will be rising behind the northern chain of Pale di San Martino thus spoiling the best part of the 360° panorama.

360° Summit Panorama

360° summit panorama from Monte Castellaz

Getting There

Monte Castellaz in front of MarmoladaMonte Castellaz above Passo Rolle and in front of the Marmolada Group
Starting Point for Monte Castellaz is without a doubt Passo Rolle. You can reach it from different sides as follows: From Bologna / Padova:
  • Take motorway A13 to the exit Padova South or Padova West
  • Switch to SS47 della Valsugana (in the direction of Bassano/Trento) up to Cismon del Grappa
  • Take SS50bis (in the direction of Feltre/Belluno) up to Agana
  • Switch to SS50 to Mezzano, San Martino and Passo Rolle
From Belluno:
  • Take highway SS50 west which will take you all the way to San Martino and Passo Rolle
From Verona or Innsbruck (Brennero)
    li>Take motorway A22 to exit Trento center
  • Switch to SS47 della Valsugana (in the direction of Bassano/Trento) up to Cismon del Grappa
  • Take SS50bis (in the direction of Feltre/Belluno) up to Agana
  • Switch to SS50 to Mezzano, San Martino and Passo Rolle
Alternative from Verona or Innsbruck (Brennero)
  • Take motorway A22 to the exit Egna-Ora
  • Switch to SS48 in the direction of Val di Fiemme and Val di Fassa
  • At Predazzo change to SS50 to Passo Rolle


There is one loop trail from Passo Rolle, which effectively heads up the mountain from the northern side. Several switchbacks take you up to Rifugio Carpanna Cervino to the south of the mountain. A few hundred metres further on the route splits into the western trail, which negotiates the slopes underneath the west face before steeply rising across blocky slopes towards the statue of Cristo Pensante.
Monte Castellaz east face
WW I barracks fondations
Monte Castellaz

Alternatively you can head onwards from Rifugio Carpanna Cervino to Baita Segantini where you have to turn north-westwards, cutting across the slopes of Malga Venegiota. After crossing a shallow valley you come across the foundations of WW I barracks, where the trail starts to rise, to head for Monte Castellaz` north face. A few switchbacks take you past a big WW I cave and up a scree covered path towards Cristo Pensante. From here a few scrambling steps take you to the summit proper.

When to Climb

Catena di LagoraiCatena di Lagorai as seen from the summit of Monte Castellaz
The best seasons to go to Monte Castellaz are spring, summer and autumn. In winter there is quite a bit of skiing action on Passo Rolle and in proper conditions you can tour ski to the summit of the mountain..

Red Tape

The Pale di San Martino Group is located within the park boundaries of the Parco Naturale Paneveggio - Pale di San Martino.

The natural park consists of the area of the Pale di San Martino Group as well as the forest of Paneveggio and the porphyritic Catena di Lagorai. It contains an area of 125 sqare km which in 1987 has been divided in three different levels of protection:
33% of the area have been assigned complete protected areas,
60% are restriced areas while
7% are controlled area.
Still, there is no real red tape around Passo Rolle. This is a ski area, so it seems like almost anything is allowed. While the dirt roads around the mountains are surely off limits you’ll often encounter cars parked at Baita Segantini. The huts and ski lifts also are often served by delivery vans. Bottom line: you rather have to find paths on which you can avoid any upcoming traffic.


For Hotels and appartments have a look at the websites of the towns and villages of the region:

Weather Conditions

Maps & Books


  • Pale di San Martino
    Kompass Map WK 622
    ISBN: 3 8549 1548 9
    Scale: 1:25000
  • Pale di San Martino
    Kompass Map WK 76
    ISBN: 3 8549 1086 X
    Scale: 1:50000
  • San Martino di Castrozza e le zone adiacenti
    Carta delle zone turistiche d'Italia
    Touring Club Italiano
    Scale 1:50000
  • Pale di San Martino
    Tabacco Map 022
    Scale: 1:25000


  • Dolomiten 8
    F. Hauleitner
    Rother Verlag
    ISBN: 978-3-7633-4524-3
  • Höhenwege in den Dolomiten
    H. Dumler
    Bruckmann Verlag
    ISBN: 3 7654 3860 X
  • Dolomiten
    P. Fleischmann
    Kompass Verlag
    ISBN: 3 8705 1409 4



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Pale di San MartinoMountains & Rocks