Pioniersteig - Sentiero dei Pionieri

Page Type
Südtirol / Alto Adige - Belluno, Italy, Europe
Route Type:
Hiking, Scrambling, Via Ferrata
Summer, Fall
Time Required:
Half a day
Hike and Scramble

Route Quality: 1 Votes

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Pioniersteig - Sentiero dei Pionieri
Created On: Nov 9, 2009
Last Edited On: Nov 9, 2009


Höhlensteintal / Val LandroHöhlensteintal with Pioniersteig to the right

During WW I the summit plateau between Monte Piana and Monte Piano was of the utmost strategic importance as it overlooked (and still does) one of the major north-south routes of the eastern Dolomites, the road through Höhlensteintal / Val Landro. Also, the border between Austria and Italy ran across the plateau, so that trouble had to be expected. Early on the Italians took the slightly higher summit, Monte Piana in the south, easy to reach across a well structured slope. In a huge effort the Austrians took the northern summit, Monte Piano and dug in there, creating numerous caves in the ledges of the upper part of the north face. They established a mule trail along the very steep north and west faces of the mountain to support their positions and this mule trail has survived up to this day, rightly named after the pioneers, who suffered to create it.

Pioniersteig / Sentiero dei Pionieri is one of a handful of routes up the mountain and it is easily one of the most popular ones. It starts in Höhlensteintal / Val Landro near Dürrensee and climbs in endless, ingeniously created switchbacks up the north-western side of the mountain. Exposure is moderate but there still are a few protected sections. In the topmost part it branches into three different routes, one of which has been closed in recent years due to rockfall. The remaining routes are Sentiero Bilgeri, a short ferrata across the topmost part of Monte Piano and the upper Pioniersteig which takes a more relaxed approach. Both recombine at Toblacher Kreuz the big summit cross on Monte Piano.

Getting There

Dürrensee and StrudelköpfeLooking down on Dürrensee - across the valley are the Strudelköpfe

The best starting point for Pioniersteig is the Restaurant Drei-Zinnenblick on SS51 Alemagna between Toblach / Dobbiaco and Cortina d'Ampezzo

From the West (Brenner Motorway A22)
  • Leave the Brenner Motorway near Brixen / Bressanone and follow SS49 to the east through Pustertal / Val Pusteria.
  • At Toblach / Dobbiaco turn southwards onto SS51
  • Park your car across the road from the Restaurant Drei-Zinnenblick
From the North There are two possible roads:
    • From Kitzbühel over B108 through the Felbertauern Tunnel to Lienz
    • Then southeast to Oberdrauburg (B110)
    • Turn on to B100 west into Pustertal.
    • Go through the city of Lienz until you get to Toblach / Dobbiaco.
    • At Toblach / Dobbiaco turn southwards onto SS51
    • Park your car across the road from the Restaurant Drei-Zinnenblick
    • From Salzburg along motorway A10 to Spittal.
    • Turn west on B100 to Oberdrauburg, Lienz and Toblach / Dobbiaco.
    • At Toblach / Dobbiaco turn southwards onto SS51
    • Park your car across the road from the Restaurant Drei-Zinnenblick
From Udine
  • Take A23 north to exit Carnia.
  • Turn off onto SS52 which leads through several detours to Innichen / San Candido
  • Turn east on SS49 to Toblach / Dobbiaco
  • At Toblach / Dobbiaco turn southwards onto SS51
  • Park your car across the road from the Restaurant Drei-Zinnenblick
From Venezia
  • Take motorway S27 north towards its end near Belluno.
  • Turn onto SS51 towards Cortina d’Ampezzo and on to Toblach / Dobbiaco.
  • Park your car across the road from the Restaurant Drei-Zinnenblick

Route Description

Route ProfileRoute Profile
  • General:   - Start altitude: 1390m   - Summit altitude: 2325m   - Prevailing exposure: West   - Type: Steep hike, moderate exposure in a few passages   - Protection: Several short (5m) cables
  • Effort: 1100m
  • Power: 2 - Steep
  • Psyche: 2 - Moderate exposure
  • Difficulty: 2 - Steep hike
  • Orientation: 1 - Easy
    WW I Soldiers  CemeteryWW I Cemetery
    From the parking lot at the restaurant Drei-Zinnenblick turn eastward, following the valley of the Rienz River. After several hundred metres you a dirt road crosses the trail. Turn right, head for the banks of the river and cross it. On the far side a signpost marks the best spot to scramble out of the river bed and reminds you that the route is prone to rockfall and that helmets are required. The path now quickly leads to the base of the mountain, where it starts to ascend through the west face.
    Pioniersteig - Sentiero dei Pionieri
    Monte Piano
    Pioniersteig - Sentiero dei Pionieri
    The first 300m run through a loose pine forest, which obstructs the views back down into the valley. But soon the trees remain underneath while the trail keeps on winding through the face. There are several narrow section and in one place a big step has to be climbed with the help of a cable. A view back reveals the course of the route.
    Pioniersteig - Sentiero dei Pionieri
    Pioniersteig - Sentiero dei Pionieri
    Pioniersteig - Sentiero dei Pionieri
    A butress is passed on the eastern side and as you head towards its top you realize that a soldiers' cemetery is located on its top. A short line of crosses has been set up in memory of the Austrian soldiers who lost their life here. Across a chasm you can still see the positions, they held in thiss place, though most of them have crumbled away. Also, in this place a trail turns off, which runs through the north face of Monte Piano. However, the route has been closed due to recent rockfall.
    WW I trench
    Rienz Valley
    Toblacher Kreuz
    Höhlensteintal / Val Landro
    Pioniersteig stays in the west face of the mountain and steeply climbs towards the top. After another 100m of elevation a signpost points to the starting point of the ferrata, Sentiero Bilgeri. The ferrata takes the direct line towards the summit while Pioniersteig takes a more relaxed approach, still remaining in the west face. A scree covered ledge - the most scary section of the trail - has to be passed and after several more switchbacks you find yourself in one of the WW I lookouts, right underneath the summit. A mine leads directly to the top, however, the staircase has started to crumble and the mine is certainly no fun for tall people. A second possibility is a staircase on the outside of the mine, which ends in one of the trenches which cover the summit plateau between Monte Piano and Monte Piana. Scramble out of the trench and turn northward for the summit cross.

    Essential Gear

    Hiking gear and - depending on the hiking traffic - a helmet. The route is dangerous because of rockfall, created by other parties so go there without helmet only if you expect nobody above you.

  • Pioniersteig - Sentiero dei Pionieri

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