The Tre Cime di Lavaredo (aka in German, Drei Zinnen) are the symbol of the Italian Dolomites. They are part of the Sesto/Sextener Dolomites. The massif stands alone with no other peaks in the immediate vicinity, which accentuates its height and beauty. While the name indicates three towers, there are actually six named towers, from West to East:
Torre Minor is climbed when climbing the Preuß Crack on the NE Face of Cima Piccolissima. In addition, many of the pinnacles have names and routes. The map below was drawn by SP member Gangolf Haub.
The normal routes on Cima Grande and Cima Piccola attract the most climbers, because of the easy approach and relatively easy routes. The Cima Piccola is also free of snow sooner. These routes have been polished smooth and rockfall triggered by climbers is an ever present danger.
The routes listed in this main page serve only as an overview of the more popular or important ones. For more detail, consult a guidebook, specific route pages and/or other sources.
Bolzano (Bozen), Italy and Innsbruck, Austria have airports and are major train terminals. From either of these cities, drive or take a bus or train to Bressano (Brixen). Drive or take a bus/train to San Candido (Innichen) on Road E66 from Bressanone (Brixen). The main road runs from Bressano through Brunico to Cortina d'Ampezzo. From there, one crosses Passo Tre Croci to reach Misurina. Or one can turn off north of Cortina at Carbonin to reach Misurina. There is a bus from Cortina The road has an expensive toll for private transport. Apparently you can avoid the toll if you get there before 7am.
There is parking practically at the base of the massif at the Auronzo Hut and a wide trail leading from there to the approach trails and other huts.
Buses do not go everywhere nor is the schedule always climber friendly so you may prefer to have your own car. We have found it cheaper to arrange car rental from the US. I can't say if this is true if you are coming from a different country. We have gone by train to Innsbruck and rented a car there. Rent the smallest car that meets the need. The roads in the Dolomites are narrow, exposed and winding with few guard rails. Bicycling is very popular and you are also sharing the road with tourists with poor mountain driving skills and tour buses. Parking occasionally is problematic. It seemed to be much easier to get around with a little car. Be aware that because car theft is supposedly a problem in Italy, most rental places want you to have a credit card with a limit equal to the car's value or buy special insurance. They will require you to rent and use a steering wheel block as well. Gasoline in Europe is really expensive (easily triple of US gas prices), but the distances are mercifully very short.
It's about a 2 hour drive from Innsbruck to the Dolomites. The freeways in Italy are toll roads. If you are in a hurry, they are excellent and the tolls not too expensive. However, if you want to see the countryside and/or if your budget is tight, use the main roads that parallel the freeway. With a decent road map (or printing out Mapquest maps) navigation is easy. Everything is well signed. The roads everywhere were in good shape.
The Cima Ovest (Westliche Zinne) has many fine routes including the NE-ridge, the Cassin-route and the Swiss route. While the rock is polished on these routes, other routes (although not less worthwhile) are still in a more natural state. The rock is mostly solid and compact, and it has a very good grip.
The first ascent was by Michel Innerkofler with the tourist G. Ploner on 21. August 1879. Another popular route, the NE-ridge (Demuth Kante) was climbed by Demuthm Lichtenegger and Peringer in 1933. 2 years later, there was a big conflict concerning the first climbing of the North Face: Hintermeier and Meindl fixed ropes for the roof-traverse, but did not finish the route. Cassin and Ratti instead used those ropes, destroyed them after wards and proceeded to finish the route. The first direct route through the North Face in 1959 saw a similiar competition between Schelbert/Weber and Bellodis/Franceschi. Most recently, climbers have been looking to develop new free climbing routes.
Ordinary Route From Auronzo hut to the start, 45 min. 350 m vertical, UIAA II (YDS 5.2 ish) 3 hours.
NE Ridge From the Lavaredo hut to the start, 45 min. 500m, UIAA VI+ or V+/A0, 5 hrs.
North Face (Cassin Route) 1 hour to start from the Lavaredo hut. 450 m of UIAA VIII- or VI-/A2 9 hrs.
NW Ridge (Spigolo Degli Scoiattoli or Squirrel's Ridge) Lorenzi, Michielli, Ghedina and Lacadelli in 1959. The Scoiattoli di Cortina (Squirrels of Cortina) is one of the more important climbing teams in the area. Same start as for the Cassin Route. 450 m A2/V+ 8 to 15 hours. A slow party may have to bivouac.
Descent Basically the Ordinary Route , marked with many cairns, 1.5 hours.
The Cima Grande (Grosse Zinne) is the middle and the highest tower of the group. It provides a route for everybody: the nice and easy, but very polished normal route, some famous pleasure climbing routes of middle and higher difficulties, and many very difficult, extreme routes. The North Face has always been a symbol of highest difficulties of extreme climbing.
The first ascent was already in 1869 by P. Grohmann with the guides F. Innerkofler and P. Salcher. The alternative easy route on the South Face, the Mosca Chimney, was first climbed in 1903 by Mosca and Stuger. It is common to climb the Mosca Chimey and descend the regular route.
In 1908, the famous NE-edge (the so-called "Dibona-Edge") was climbed by R. Eller solo. Because this ascent was unknown for a long time, the route bears the name Dibona, who with Stubler climbed it in 1909.
In 1913, H. Dülfer and W. von Bernuth opened the magnificent W-face-route.
On the 13th and 14th of Augut, 1933 Emilio Comici and the brothers G. and A. Dimai climbed the North Face by the Comici Route. The North Face Direct (Haase Route) was first climbed by Brandler, Hasse, Lehne and Löw, July 6-10, 1958.
South Face (Ordinary Route) 40 min to start from the Lavaredo hut. 200 m of UIAA II (YDS 5.2 ish), 2.5 hrs. This route ascends the left hand side of the South Face.
Mosca Chimney From Lavaredo hut 40 min to start. 200m of climbing UIAA III (5.4) 2.5 hours. Much of the route is the same as the Ordinary Route. It leaves the South Face at the first terrace and ascends the L side of the South Face and then rejoins the South Face at the second terrace. It is popular to climb this route and descend the South Face Route.
NE Ridge (Spigola Dibona) From Lavaredo hut to start, 40 min. 550m UIAA IV (YDS 5.5 ish) 4 hrs.
West Face Classic Dolomite chimney climbing. From Auronzo hut to start, 45 min. 350 m UIAA V (YDS 5.8+) 3.5 hrs. It is possible to avoid the summit and end the climb 230 m sooner, since the last pitches connect into the Mosca Chimney route.
North Face (Comici Route) This is a popular and classic climb. A very early start is recommended. The lower-mid parts of the route until the 25 m traverse are the most difficult (almost everywhere V and VI) the last 150 meters are, technically easier (III and IV with some short passages of V) However, by then climber is often a "little" tired so that difficulties seem higher in the upper section than they really are. 40 min to start from the Lavaredo hut. 500m UIAA VII or VI/A1. 8 hrs.
North Face Direct (Brandler-Hasse Route) 40 min from Lavaredo hut to start. 500 VI/A3 12 hrs.
Descent The Ordinary Route. The start is marked by a cairn and red mark. Several rappels and some scrambling. UIAA II, 2.5 hrs.
The architecture of the Cima Piccola is more broken up than those of the Cima Ovest and Cima Grande. The slender summit tower is located on a big pedestal, which drops vertically on all sides. It has a clear-cut foresummit in the SE. The pedestal is connected with the Punta di Frida and the Preuss tower at the Forcle di Frida. All ascents are exposed and provide wonderful rock with very good grip. The rock is hard and very polished in the popular routes. on lesser known routes, one can find crumbling passages.
The guides Michel and Hans Innerkofler from Sexten climbed the Cima Piccola for the first time on 25 July 1881, thereby setting a new standard for climbing. The first ascent by women was undertaken by the Duchess Ada von Sermoneta in 1882. In 1884 Ludwig Purtscheller, Emil and Otto Zsigmondy and Heinrich Koechlin were first to climb the Cima Piccola without a guide. The first ascent in winter was by Theodor Wundt and his companions in December 1892. Like the first ascent of this mountain, the first ascent through the North Face was pioneering work: Sepp Innerkofler climbed the North Face solo and without a rope, almost until the summit, before he descended. He then brought up (together with his brother Veit) the client Hans Helversen. At that time, the guides wore only nailed wooden clogs! The E-face-chimney, which is today almost forgotten, was considered one of the most difficult climbing routes of the group for a long time. It was directly climbed 1909 by Kurt and Ernst Kiene. Emilio Comici, Mary Varale and Renato Zanutti climbed for the first time the famous and very exposed Yellow Edge, "the characteristic, magnificent, yellow overhanging rock, which falls down to the depth below the obelisk of the southern foresummit almost unpossibly slender and slime like an awl" (Berti).
SW Face (Ordinary) From Aurozo to start 20 min. 300 m of UIAA III (YDS 5.3), 2 hr.
North Face - East Chimney From Lavaredo hut to base 40 min. 450 m of UIAA IV (YDS 5.6) 2.5 hrs.
NW Ridge From the Lavaredo hut about 2.5 hrs to start. 280 m UIAA VI+/A1. 9 hrs. Very hard free climbing on poor rock, not often done. First ascent by Comici and Mazzorana in 1936.
South Arete - Spigolo Giallo (Yellow Edge) This famous route takes the arete direct to the lower summit( Anticima). See the attached route page for more details.
Egger/SauscheckSee route page for further information
Descent A series of rappels (anchors in place) that closely follows the ordinary route. 2 hrs.
Punta di Frida
SE Ridge First climbed 1948 by Del Veccio and Zaccaria. From Lavaredo Hut 15min to base, 300m, VI A1, 6 hrs.
SE Face Direct Comici, Fabian, Cottafvi and Pompei, 1934. 15 min from Lavaredo Hut to base, 300m, VI+ or V+/A1, 6 hrs.
Descent West to a chimney and rock steps that lead to the Forcella di Frida, from there an easy rock ramp on the south side leads east (L) to a rock ledge that leads towards Cima Piccola and a scree hollow. Rappel 20 m to the scree slopes below.
This tower is also known as Torre Preuß or Preußturm.
NE Face (Preuß Crack) Preuss and Reilly, 1911. A classic free climb. From the Lavaredo Hut 15 min to the base. 200m of UIAA V, 2.5 hours.
SE Face Cassin, Vitali and Pozzi, 1934. 15 minutes to the base from the Lavaredo Hut. 250 m of UIAA VII or V+/A0, 4 hours.
Descent Is by the Dulfer Couloir. Rappel anchors are in place and most sections are less than 25m, but 45 m rappels will make the descent faster and safer. Very exposed to rockfall.
Late Spring through Autumn. There are hiking and ski trails around the massif for winter and early spring outings.
When Fred and I attempted the Große Zinne in early July 1995, we were turned back on the upper ledge by snow. The three lower towers were snow free, but very crowded. Check current conditions when selecting which climb to do! Avoid weekends and main holiday seasons and start very early if you want to avoid crowds.
Camping, hostels, hotels and condominiums abound in the valleys all around the Dolomites.
There are three huts:
Rif. Auronzo (Auronzo hut) - 2330m
A hotel which is situated on the S-side of the 3 Zinnen. One can drive to it from Misurina and there is a large parking place for day trippers.
Rif. Lavaredo (Lavaredohütte)- 2344 m
A little, private hut which is situated near the Patternsaddle, southern below the Kleine Zinne. About 30 minutes from the Auronzo Hut. Many climbers camp near here.
Rif. Locatelli alle Tre Cime ( 3-Zinnen-Hütte) -2405 m:
A big hut at the Toblinger Riedl. It is situated between the 3 Zinnen, the Paternkofel and the Dreischustergroup. 45 minutes from the Lavaredo hut on the north side the massif.
Weather can be very unstable in the Dolomites. Sudden storms will turn the smooth rock very slippery and the chimneys and gullies into raging torrents. Always check on the weather before setting out on longer climbs. Do not let the ease of approach lull you into false security - you can die of exposure within sight of the parking lot!
Dolomite weather and web cams
Carta turistica/Wanderkarte, 1:25000 no. 2: Misurina, Tre Cime di Lavaredo/3 Zinnen
Kompass1:50000 no. 58: Sextener Dolomiten
Sextener Dolomiten extrem - Alpenvereinsführer
ISBN: 3 7633 1255 2
These pictures are also good. Please review what has been posted before adding more - many of these are the same view over and over again. Good climbing shots would be appreciated.
Continued maintenance of this page in memory of the former maintainer, Rahel Maria Liu, who was killed in a storm on the Innominata Ridge of Mont Blanc in August, 2004.