Together with Peitlerkofel the Geisler Group is the northwestern outpost of the Dolomites. Well known - from any Dolomite book or calendar are its famous north faces that drop for 1000m or more into the Villnöß valley (Val di Funes). The Group consists of a multitude of towers of almost all sizes that are topped by the two main summits of Sass Rigais and Furchetta which both reach the same height of 3025m (sometimes 3030m are claimed for Furchetta). Besides the peaks the famous passes and cuts between the subgroups and towers of the group make up part of its fascination.
When hiking in the area keep in mind that the north faces always carry snow and ice late in spring and even summer. Though you might not be aware of it when you start from the Gröden (Val Gardena) side you must account for slippery conditions. Moreover ice keeps falling off the summit blocks so that climbing and hiking through Forca Pana or Forca di Mesdi may become a quite dangerous affair (speaking out of experience).
As stated above Sass Rigais is one of the two highest summits of the Geissler group. In sheer size (circumference, whatever) it is much larger than Furchetta. Though it has an imposing north face climbers prefer Furchetta, due to the crumbling composition of its rock. Plus, there are three ferratas onto Sass Rigais which all are rather easy so that the summit can become pretty crowded, especially in the summer months (July and August are worst). You just don't want to climb in "tourist induced rockfall".
On the other hand the common hiker/climber like myself here has one of the few opportunities to ascend a 3000m Dolomite peak without too many problems. The normal ascend starts from Val Salieres between Sass Rigais and Furchetta, the other two start from Forca di Mesdi on the western side. Sass Rigais is renowned for the views from its top that can be compared to the ones from Peitlerkofel.
Take the Brenner motorway A22 to the exit of Waidbruck (Ponte Gardena). Turn onto S242 east either to St. Ulrich (Ortisei) or St. Christina. From St. Ulrich you can take the cablecar to Seceda (2518m), the westernmost summit of the Geisslergroup. From St. Christina you can take the lift to Col Raiser (2102) on Cisles Alpe. From both cable cars you need to hike to Col de Coi (2301m), where the trails into Wasserrinnental (Val Salieres) and Mittagstal (Val Mesdi) start.
A second possibility is to take the motorway to Feldthurns (Valturno) and go east into Villnößtal (Val di Funes). From Zanseralm at its end (or from any of the villages in between you can hike to and through Mittagsscharte (Forca Mesdi).
The Geisler Group belongs to the Natural Park Puez Geisler. Therefore within park boundaries any building activities are prohibited. Flowers, berries, mushrooms, minerals have to be left in their environment. Camping is prohibited and cars have to be parked in the official lots.
There are no fees for climbing, however you might have to be prepared for a small parking fee on the cable car parking lots and in Villnöß.
When To Climb
As with all Dolomite summits the best time is May through October but winter ascents are possible as well. Best time in my opinion is September or October since appartments are easily to be had and weather often is finest.
Hotels and Appartments
There are quite a lot of hotels and appartments to be had in the region of Gröden and Villnöß. In the summer months you most certainly will need reservations. Good entry points are the following pages: