Schlern / Monte Sciliar is one of the best known mountains of South Tyrol / Alto Adige and the Dolomites. Its reputation is not due to it's impressive height (which isn't - just some 2500m +) but to the situation as westernmost bastion of the Dolomites, dropping some 2000m towards the Eisack Valley / Valle d'Isarco and Bozen / Bolzano. Also, its shape is unique: a long stretched plateau which suddenly drops vertically on almost all sides. On the northwestern side two huge towers are located - Santner and Euringer - which make the mountain distinguishable from almost any point.
Moreover, Schlern / Sciliar is something of a landmark for South Tyrol / Alto Adige. Even though there are many higher or impressive mountains like Ortler / Ortles, Weißkugel / Palla Bianca or Pflerscher Tribulaun, emotionally Schlern / Sciliar seems to be at the heart of the locals. If you happen to be in the region at the summer solstice and happen to witness the old tradition of "Johannisfeuer", wher huge pires are burned at the base of Santnerspitze / Punta Santner you get a notion of the mystic quality of the mountain. Also, its plateau has been used for farming even in prehistoric times. Several sites have been found, one near the Burgstall / Monte Castello Summit, another near Roterdspitze / Cima di Terrarossa.
As if this weren't enough, Schlern / Sciliar has also been chosen to name the particular type of rock, it consists of: Schlern-Dolomite. It is a type of limestone, similar to what is called Wetterstein-Limestone in the northern Alps but containing a certain amount of dolomite. This type of rock makes up the base of many of the groups of the western Dolomites, namely Pale di San Martino, Latemar, the Geisler / Odle Group, Rosengarten / Catinaccio and Schlern / Sciliar. In general it is rather brittle, resulting in the spectacular towers you can find in these specific groups.
While here on SP (after long discussions) Schlern / Sciliar has been attached to the Rosengarten / Catinaccio Group, in German speaking literature it is considered its own group, thrown in together with Roßzähne / Denti di Terrarossa and Seiser Alm / Alpe di Siusi, Europe's highest and largest mountain pasture. The massiv starts in the east as a single, narrow ridge, which is formed by the towers of Roßzähne / Denti di Terrarossa. After Roterdspitze / Cima di Terrarossa the ridge turns into a broad plateau, which further to the west splits into three distinct ridges:
The southern ridge is separated from the main plateau by the deep cut of Thomastal and Teufelsschlucht and contains
Tschafatsch / Monte Cavaccio (2235m)
Mittagskofel / Cima di Mezzodi (2187m)
Schafköpfe / Testi di Lavina Bianca (2183m)
Nigglberg / Monte Nicola (2128m)
Hammerwand / Croda del Maglio (2036m)
Tschafon / Monte Cavone (1743m)
Völsegg Spitze / Monte Balzo (1834m)
The deep gorge of Seiser Klamm / Gola di Siusi separates the western branch of Schlern / Sciliar from its main (eastern) part. It contains
Jungschlern / Piccolo Sciliar (2238m)
The main branch is the most vsited one (Schlernhäuser / Rifugio Bolzano) can be found here and consiists of
Petz / Monte Pez (2563m)
Burgstall / Monte Castello (2515m)
Euringerspitze / Punta Euringer (2394m)
Santnerspitze / Punta Santner (2413m)
There are more but smaller summits, which barely make it onto topographic maps but which neverthelesss offer some fine climbing routes (see next section). Especially the two northern towers, Santnerspitze / Punta Santner and Euringerspitze / Punta Euringer have been climbed very early on. In 1880 Johann Santner climbed the east face of "his" tower (UIAA III) while four years later Gustav Euringer und Giovanni Battista Bernhard reached Euringerspitze from its south face (also UIAA III). Additionally, quite a number of long routes can be found on the Burgstall / Monte Castello north and west faces.
In winter some of the waterfalls beneath the Schlern / Sciliar north face regularly accumulate enough ice to offer ice climbing options. There are some half dozen waterfalls, some of which reach heights of several hundred metres. See under "External Links" for more information.
Summit panorama towards Roßzähne, Marmolada and Rosengarten Group
Seiser Alm / Alpe di Siusi seen from Burgstall
There is a multitude of hiking trails which surround the mountain and which can be combined in different ways to reach the summit. If you start at any of the surrounding villages elevation gains are huge. Völs / Fié for instance is located at some 900m while the Petz / Pez summit reaches 2564m. Thus, the most popular hike is the one from Seiser Alm / Alpe di Siusi, which you can reach by cable car. But even Touristensteig (tourist trail) scales roughly 1000m. Most, if not all routes combine near the Schlernhäuser / Rifugio Bolzano mountain hut, some 100m beneath the summit of Petz / Monte Pez.
Burgstall and the Roßzähne-Ridge
Touristensteig / Sentiero dei Turisti
Starts at Seiser Alm / Alpe di Siusi and heads across the meadows to the northern base of Schlern / Sciliar passing three refuges. Heads through the north face to the plateau and onwards to Schlernhäuser / Rifugio Bolzano and Petz / Monte Pez. 1100m elevation gain.
Roßzahnscharte and Tierer Alpl
Also starts at Seiser Alm / Alpe di Siusi but heads towards Roßzähne / Denti di Terrarossa, where it heads through Roßzahnscharte, a col between the towers towards Tierser Alpl / Alpe di Tires (An alternative route circles Roßzähne and heades to the refuge from the east.) From the refuge a narrow path leads above the deep cut of the Tschamin Gorge to the Schlern Plateau and a long hike takes you to Schlernhäuser / Rifugio Bolzano and Petz / Monte Pez. 1200m elevation gain.
Gamssteig / Sentiero dei Camosci
From Bad Ratzes / Bagni di Razzes east of Seis / Siusi hike towards Schlernbödelehütte. Here Gamssteig / Sentiero dei Camosci starts, which leads across exposed ledges towards the Schlern / Sciliar Plateau. It combines with Touristensteig / Sentiero dei Turisti right beneath the plateau edge. 1300m elevation gain.
Santnerspitze seen from the very edge of the Schlern Plateau
Teufelsschlucht and Schäufelesteig
Starting in Völs / Fiè, take Knüppelweg to Hofer Alpl, where it turns into Teufelsschlucht (devil's gorge). Either stay in the valley until Sessel-Schwaige / Malga Seggiola an on to Schlern from the south or switch to trail 3, Schäufelesteig at Violer Eck. This latter trail is very steep but very soon wonderful views develop. It leads to the western branch of the Schlern / Sciliar Plateau and from there on to Schlernhäuser / Rifugio Bolzano and Petz / Monte Pez. 1700m elevation gain.
Hammerwand / Nigglberg / Schafköpfe Ferrata
This more adventurous route starts at Tiers / Tires south of Schlern / Sciliar. Take trail 4 to Tschafon / Monte Cavone, from there with trail 9 to Hammerwand / Croda del Maglio. The path leads to the shoulder of Nigglberg / Monte Nicola (summit can be reached in a short scramble), where the ferrata along the Schafköpfe / Testoni di Lavina Bianca Crest starts. Later it leads to Sessel-Schwaige / Malga Seggiola an on to Schlern / Sciliar. 1700m elevation gain.
The Bärenfalle (bear's trap) route starts at Weißlahnbad / Bagni di Lavina Bianca and heads up trail 2 through a narrow gully. It is a very strenuous hike until you reach Tschafatschsattel / Sella Cavaccio. From here you descend to Sessel-Schwaige / Malga Seggiola, from where trail 1 takes you to Schlernhäuser / Rifugio Bolzano and Petz / Monte Pez. 1500m elevation gain.
Bärenloch / Buco dell'Orso to Tierser Alpl / Alpe di Tires
Also starts at Weißlahnbad / Bagni di Lavina Bianca and follows Tschamintal / valle di Ciamin to its end. Here a very steep trail through the gully of Bärenloch / Buco dell'Orso leads towards Tierser Alpl / Alpe di Tires. It tops out onto trail 4 which heads west above the Tschamin Gorge towards the Schlern / Sciliar Plateau and on to Schlernhäuser / Rifugio Bolzano and Petz / Monte Pez. 1600m elevation gain.
The west and north faces of Schlern show a number vertical walls, on which numerous routes have been developed. Most prominent is Santnerspitze / Punta Santner but there are also quite a number of routes on the Burgstall /Monte Castello north face. Routes can be found on the following features / summits:
Part of Schlern's popularity stems from the fact that it is easily accessible. It is very close to the Brenner Motorway A22 and depending on the place you want to use as headquarter (or from where you arrive) you turn of either at the exit Waidbruck /Ponte Gardena to the north or at the exit Blumau /Prato to the south.
There are a lot of possibilities to stay in the region - I can recommend any village on the balcony beneath the mountain. It probably depends on your other destinations:
If you are also thinking of climbing or hiking in Rosengarten /Catinaccio stay to the south in Tiers / Tires or Weisslahnbad / Bagni di Lavina Bianca.
If you are looking for climbs in the Gröden / Val Gardena region you better stay at Kastelruth / Castelrotto, Seis / Siusi or Völs / Fié.
Gröden / Val Gardena is also possible even though distances are longer. St. Ulrich / Ortisei and St. Christina are the closest villages to the mountain.
Red Tape: The Natural Park Schlern - Rosengarten / Sciliar-Catinaccio
Google Terrain map of the Natural Park Schlern - Rosengarten / Sciliar - Catinaccio
In 1974 the complete region of Schlern / Sciliar and parts of Seiser Alm / Alpe di Siusi was protected by a newly established natural park. Since 2003 it has been extended to include parts of the Rosengarten / Catinaccio group so that the park now contains some 7300ha. 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. Moreover between May and October the roads may not be used for car traffic - the hotels, huts and farms are excepted, however.