IntroductionThis is the only "normal" ascent route on Sass dla Crusc from the west, even more frequented than the much easier eastern ascent. It's a fantastic, very scenic hike up with some ferrata sections. From the beautiful Santa Croce sanctuary the route leads you up just below the high, vertical walls, detours them in a long crossing, exits on the high saddle and finally climbs on top by an easy ridge.
On the Swiss Hiking Scale the route would be graded T3, with sections of easy ferrata. Characteristic for the route are long crossings. The upper ones are also quite exposed, but protected with a cable only on more narrow places. Where the band is broader, the route is not protected, so a safe step and absence of vertigo is needed.
On many places the route is exposed, even if the slopes below our feet are nowhere really vertical.
It's really easy to orient, the route is well marked (No. 7 till the notch). See the GPX track in the header!
Till Ju dla Crusc (Passo di S. Croce, Kreuzkofelscharte) we cross the W oriented slopes. The summit ridge is S and E oriented.
Usually the route is objectively quite safe. On our ascent (mid August) it was however just a day after some snow fell on altitudes above 2700 m. In the final crossing below the vertical walls rocks were constantly falling down and looking towards the sky you could see ice crystals falling through the air. So, we were running over that part as fast as we could.
Summer months, normally from July till October.
Good shoes and poles are sufficient. If you'd be able to anticipate rock falls (see above), a helmet is also a good idea. Otherwise the climbers preceding you are nowhere really above you. Less experienced can benefit from a ferrata set.
Santa Croce sanctuary, 2045 m, which can be reached from Pedratsches (Badia) by a chair lift (or on foot in 2 h).
Altitude to overcome:
cca 900 m.
Time for ascent:
3 h (2 h to the notch, 1 h on the summit).
Tabacco. Cortina d'Ampezzo e Dolomiti Ampezzane. 1:25000.
Santa Croce / Heiligkreuz
The tour starts at the beautiful Santa Croce sanctuary
. According to legend, the place was once inhabited by count Volkhold of St. Lorenzen who turned hermit and had ordered to build a church in 1484. Some studies also allow the possibility that the church was built on the place where an even much older pagan temple stood. Later the church was expanded and renovated and in 1718 a sanctuary was built nearby.
From the sanctuary
you start ascending by the path No. 7
towards the walls. Soon it starts crossing the screes
, then it crosses a ravine and when the terrain gets rocky we get already some help from the first cables. The route climbs up on a narrow ledge
Towards the walls
View back on the church
Below the walls
Then the crossing
continues, but on some places we are also climbing
more direcly up by rocky ribs. All more exposed places are secured, but on some less steep places we also need to scramble up
without security devices. After another crossing the last climb brings us up till just below the completely vertical summit walls
. There we continue by a quite comfortable band
, around another edge we reach the last band which brings us soon out of walls, into the broad ravine below Ju dla Crusc
(Santa Croce Pass, 2612 m).
Crossing below the walls
Towards the exit ravine
If you expect to only walk up the last 150 meters, you're mistaken. The terrain is still very steep and the route prefers to keep left
- just to the rocky walls, where the protection cable
On Ju dla Crusc
The south ridge
Gaining the main ridge the scene changes abruptly. A flat, gently slanted plateau
leads towards the summit. On many places the path goes just on the edge
and from there we have really great veiws on the vertical walls. The last good 100 m of ascent then go into the eastern slopes
. The path is winding up over screes and some rocks and is quite easy till the very top of the mountain.
The completely vertical western walls
Along the main (south) ridge
The fastest option to get down to the sanctuary is still the ascent route. But many visitors decide for the longer option - via Forcella Medesc
, 2533 m. This one is situated in the main ridge more towards the SE, so closer to the nearby 3000-er of Lavarella. Even on the Tabacco map (but we have an old one) the direct connection between Passo di Santa Croce (where we likely have left our backpacks) and Forcella Medesc is not drawn. But there is a new connecting marked path (12B). We descend from Passo di Santa Croce just a few minutes and there we notice marks deterring right from the well beaten path No. 7. So we can cross the NE slopes of the main ridge quite high, with only small altitude losses. From Forcella Medesc we descend by a good path (No. 12) towards the SW and later W (we haven't done that part yet). On the altitude of some 2020 m we deter right and a nice, panoramic path No. 12A brings us with only little losses of altitude to the sanctuary. A bit longer, but nice and much easier return variant.
I was hesitating if to create a separate page of this route. Then I remembered a small event which proves that accurate and detailed information can be important. With Jasmina we were slowly climbing up by the ferrata section, each of us carrying a very heavy backpack (with everything in for a 4-day trek). So, a guy caught us and we let him pass by. But then he stopped and said he will wait his friends. A few minutes later we saw him returning. His friends obviously decided not to continue. Even if the route is only medium hard hike up, its difficulties obviously exceeded their expectations.
On the summit