Torre dei Sabbioni 2531 m
Torre dei Sabbioni is a superbe and secluded tower of "dolomia" situated inside the West sector of the Marmarole Group, Subgroup Bel Pra – Scotter – Bastioni, in the Eastern Dolomites, between the majestic high summit of Sorapiss 3205 m, Corno del Doge 2615 m and Cima Bel Pra 2917 m impressive ridge. Torre dei Sabbioni stands north-west of Cima Bel Pra and has its own place in the history of mountaineering. It was in fact climbed for the first time in the year 1877 by the guide of San Vito di Cadore Luigi Cesaletti: at that time the interest of the mountaineers was concentrated on the great mountains, but with this climb Cesaletti began the so-called "second epoch" of mountaineering, or that of the smaller peaks. So the first ascent of Torre dei Sabbioni, a very difficult climb for the age in which it was performed, just opened a new era to the mountaineering in the Dolomites.
Torre dei Sabbioni appears small compared to the dolomitic giants that surround it, but instead arouses a certain fear when approaching its walls, formed by layers of Dachstein limestone, and not by the classic "dolomite" that we know well. In the opinion of Wolf (“I Monti Pallidi”, “Pale Mountains”) the name Marmarole could mean – as Marmolada – “splendour”.
“e il sole calante le aguglie tinga a le pallide Dolomiti sì che di rosa nel cheto vespero le Marmarole care al Vecellio rifulgan, palagio di sogni, eliso di spiriti e di fate…”
A bit of history...
Till the middle of XIX century mountaineering activities were directed to the conquest of the highest summits along the easier route. In the year 1877 the alpine guide Luigi Cesaletti climbed unroped the difficult Torre dei Sabbioni, opening a great new page in the history of mountaineering: the beginning of the conquest of the minor but hardest summits. Cesaletti climbed a crux of IV grade UIAA: it was the first time that a climber dealt with such a difficult move and above all unroped and "soloing"
The starting point to get to Torre dei Sabbioni is the little village of San Vito di Cadore m. 1011, 11 km. to Cortina d'Ampezzo, the main town in the area.
Getting to San Vito di Cadore
- From Belluno: follow the road SS 51 towards North, pass Longarone and reach Pieve di Cadore; from Pieve the SS51 turns to left, getting San Vito di Cadore.
- From Bolzano: take the Brennero Motorway towards North, exit Bressanone and then follow the road SS 49 along Val Pusteria, getting to Brunico and Dobbiaco; in Dobbiaco leave the Val Pusteria road and turn to right on the road SS51 entering Val di Landro and getting to Carbonin m. 1432. At the fork road in Carbonin turn to right towards Cortina d’Ampezzo, then San Vito di Cadore.
It's possible to do the approach to Torre dei Sabbioni both from Scotter Hut (2 hour by walking) and San Marco Hut (1 and a half hour by walking). The approach from the upper shelter is half an hour shorter.
Road access to Rifugio Scotter
From San Vito di Cadore 1011 m take a steep road towards NE – in full summer make inquiry about the road opening time – leading to Scotter Hut mt. 1580 (4,5 km. from San Vito) and to the upper parking. During high summer season, when the road is closed, it’s possible to reach the hut by chair-lift (open from the end of june to the first Sunday of september 8-13.30 and 14.30-18), leading at ten minutes by walking from Scotter Hut), or by taxi from San Vito di Cadore. By walking (228 path): 1 and a half hour from San Vito di Cadore to Scotter Hut.
Walking approach to Rifugio San Marco
From Rifugio Scotter 1580 m walk along the white road for a few meters, then turn to left following a good path to San Marco Hut (marks, number 228). The path rises along the wood, reaching in half an hour by pleasant walking the bucolic Rifugio San Marco 1850 m, situated between the groups of Sorapiss, Antelao and West Marmarole – all included in the Unesco World Eritage list - inside a superb natural amphitheatre made by Cima Bel Prà, Scotter, Antelao and Tajola. The hut is a magnificent and panoramic place on Valle del Boite, the gigantic Antelao, Monte Pelmo and Croda da Lago-Rocchette Group.
Approach from Rifugio San Marco - Follow the good path (n. 226) rising towards Forcella Grande 2255 m, a wide saddle between Cima Bel Prà on the right-hand side and Cima Tajola on the left, and reaching the saddle. Torre dei Sabbioni is appearing if you're looking towards North. From Forcella Grande leave the main path on your left-hand side and follow an high and level narrow trail through the scree-slopes, surrounding all the sides of Torre dei Sabbioni and making almost a 360° round.
Cesaletti Original Route report
Summit Altitude: 2531 m
Difficulty: AD inf., max IV- UIAA
Climbing length: 170 m, 250 m. dev.
Exposure: South and East Sides
First ascent: Luigi Cesaletti alone 24-8-1877
Starting point: road San Vito di Cadore – Scotter Hut
Torre dei Sabbioni Cesaletti Original Route
It's the Normal route to summit the tower, a classic and not usual climb, very important in reason of being an absolute milestone in the history of mountaineering in the Dolomites and the whole Alps. This climb is really a thrilling trip all around Torre dei Sabbioni; the climbing difficulty isn't high and the quality of "dolomia" is extraordinarily good. Climbing way is very pleasant, mainly inner, along chimneys, connected by easy and sometimes exposed ledges. Due both to these qualities and the historical value of this route, the Cesaletti ascent can't be missed!
Approach - From Rifugio San Marco follow the good path (n. 226) rising towards Forcella Grande 2255 m, a wide saddle between Cima Bel Prà on the right-hand side and Cima Tajola on the left, and reaching it. Torre dei Sabbioni is appearing if you're looking towards North. From Forcella Grande leave the main path on your left-hand side and follow an high and level little trail through the scree-slopes, surrounding all the sides of Torre dei Sabbioni and making almost a 360° round, skirting at first West Face, then North and East ones and finally rising steeply to reach a great hanging terrace at Forcella Sabbioni, just below the South side of the tower, near a rocky bridge towards Cima Bel Prà. Here it starts the route.
L1 – Climb a short step along a little shallow chimney, reaching the Lower ledge. Follow the ledge 20 meters towards left (facing in), reaching an obvious chimney with a jammed block in its upper part. Belay under the chimney. II, I.
L2 – Up along the chimney leading to the jammed block; climb it on the left side (crux, pegs) and belay soon afterwards. III and IV-, 25 m.
L3 – Climb some easy rocks, reaching a ledge with some cairns (Middle ledge, peg). Follow the ledge 40 meters towards left (facing in). Belay along the ledge (peg and cairn), under another yellow chimney with another jammed block.
L4 – Climb the chimney and belay on a little terrace past the chimney at the beginning of Upper ledge (pegs). II, III, 30 mt.
L5 – Towards right (facing in) follow the ledge, at times covered by a low vault, with some exposed moves (pegs). II, III, 40 m
L6 – Follow again the Upper ledge 60 mt. towards right, reaching a belay under a shallow chimney. II L7 – Climb the chimney, then head towards right reaching a block. Belay. II, III, 30 m
L8 – Easy rocks are leading on the wide and flat summit (little Mary's statue and Summit Book). The view all around over the neigbouring Eastern Dolomites Groups and far off over the Western Dolomites is truly unbeatable!!! It’s one of the best I’d never seen.
Descent: from the top walk towards SE along the wide flat summit reaching an obvious cairn situated near the first equipped belay. Two abseils (10 mt + 50 mt.) lead to the Upper Ledge. Another abseil reachs the Middle Ledge. From here two abseils lead to the Lower Ledge. Follow the ledge towards left – facing out – reaching the last step. Climb the last easy rocks leading to the basal terrace.
There are not particulary restrictions in hiking and climbing. Torre dei Sabbioni and Marmarole Group are situated inside "Dolomiti Settentrionali- Northern Dolomites" area, the Northernmost and the largest of the nine mountain-systems of the Dolomites acknowledged as UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE and require the best care and respect. More info about Dolomiti Unesco World Heritage here on SP in my article: Dolomites living mountains
Unesco official website: Dolomiti Unesco
- Rifugio San Marco m. 1850 (CAI – Club Alpino Italiano Sez. Venezia) – Phone +39 0436 9444 e-mail email@example.com – Open from June to September
- Rifugio Scotter m. 1580 – Phone +39 0436 99035 – open from 20/7 to 20/9 and from 20/12 to 30/3
Best season goes from the end of June to the end of September
ARPAV DOLOMITI METEO Phone +390436780007 fax +390436780008 CENTRO VALANGHE DI ARABBA Phone +390436755711 fax 043679319 e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
"IV grado in Dolomiti" by Emiliano Zorzi - Idea Montagna Edizioni
“Dolomiti Orientali” Vol. I Parte I by Antonio Berti – Guide dei Monti d’Italia CAI-TCI
“Arrampicare a Cortina d’Ampezzo e dintorni –Le vie più belle nelle Dolomiti” by Mauro Bernardi - Athesia Editore
“100 scalate classiche” by Walter Pause
Map: Tabacco n. 3 – Dolomiti Ampezzane 1:25.000