The symbol of the Dolomites: the 3 Cime of Lavaredo

The Tre Cime di Lavaredo (Drei Zinnen in German), located on the border between the extreme north of the province of Belluno and the Tre Cime region in Alta Pusteria in the Alto Adige, are perhaps the most famous mountains in the world, the most photographed and the most present on postcards and calendars around the world. Easily accessible and historically important, they have always been a popular tourist destination for nature lovers for the panoramas offered and for their unique structure. Over the decades, they have attracted many climbers, mountaineers and in recent years lovers of free climbing and sport climbing. On the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, there are in fact many classic climbing routes, of any grade, that have been created.

At the center of the province of Belluno, they were for a long time “owned” by the municipality of Auronzo, but starting from 1752, the Tre Cime di Lavaredo were divided into two: the northern part has now become the responsibility of the municipality of Dobbiaco , the southern one of the municipality of Auronzo.

Height of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo

The colors and the characteristic shape of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo are an icon. The “three dolomite fingers” that rise towards the sky are in fact a unique show of its kind. They consist of three massifs, the Grande, which is the central one of 2999 meters; the Cima Ovest of 2973 meters; and the Small one of 2857 meters.

Flora and fauna of the Tre Cime

Along the paths that surround the most famous peaks of the Dolomites, you can admire numerous species of flowers and animals. Among the flowers you can see the alpine thistle, the blue-eyed campanula, the yarrow of Clavena, the alpine poppy with deep yellow petals, the grass with violet-violet petals, the mountain dandelion, the silene of the sources with five-petal white flowers, the stellar sassifraga that grows near the water, the hybrid buttercup, the showy widow’s widow, the dwarf rhododendron, the Germanic gentian, … on which lie different species of butterflies, like the vanessa of the nettles, the brown-haired alpine hermit with white circles, the vanessa peacock eye with intense colors, the common zenith and the rarest Apollo of the Alps with white wings and red and black ocelli.

Among the animals are the alpine chaffinch, marmot, alpine chough, the rare imperial crow, the chamois, the red fox.

In the summer on the Tre Cime di Lavaredo

There are numerous paths that can be undertaken starting from the three refuges – Locatelli, Auronzo, Lavaredo – suitable for every type of walker, different ponds that can be admired. For those more trained, there is the excursion that leads from Rif. Auronzo to Rif. Locatelli with a ferrata at the top of Monte Paterno. The Three Peaks are also furrowed by the Alta Via n.4.

They can also be reached by mountain bike: there are several itineraries that allow you to approach or reach them. One of these is, for example, the tour of the three lakes, a 60-km loop route with departure and arrival in Dobbiaco passing through the lakes of Dobbiaco, Landro and Misurina and then ascending to the Auronzo and Lavaredo refuges.

For those who love the great challenges, they will find their own bread to face the climb that leads to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, a stage several times in the Giro d’Italia: short and unforgiving, starting shortly after the Misurina lake and arriving at the refuge Auronzo. You must take the private road that deviates from the state 48bis and go up for 7 km. The real climb starts after the toll: 4 km and 700 meters with an average gradient of more than 10% and a difference in height of 473 meters.

Important summer run is the Suedtirol Corsa Tre Cime Alpin starting from Sesto and arriving at the Tre Cime.

The Tour of the Three Peaks

Once you reach the base of this triptych, you can embark on a beautiful hike, the Tour of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, a 9.5 km long loop route that can be covered in just over 3 hours, not too tiring and with very little difference in height. Parked the car at the Rifugio Auronzo begins the hike along the flat dirt road n. 101 leading to the opposite side of the mountain. A nice sunny stretch from morning to evening along the scree.

After about 15 minutes you reach the church dedicated to Mary Help of Christians and the stele dedicated to Paul Grohmann, and from there the Lavaredo refuge. From here you can choose whether to follow the path at the base of Torre Piccola up to Malga Lunga or if you take the dirt road up to Forcella Lavaredo (45 minutes). When you reach the fork you can see the Locatelli refuge in the distance. The show is disarming: you can see in all their grandeur the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, the Croda dei Rondoni, the Monte Mattina, the Teston Rudo, the Sasso di Sesto, the Croda Passaporto and Monte Paterno. From here go down some paths that lead to the north side of the triptych to get to the opposite side, where there are alpine lakes. Continuing we reach the Col Forcellina, then after the scree, the Forcella di Mezzo and finally the car park where the car is located.

The shelters around the peaks

There are three refuges near the Tre Cime, Antonio Locatelli, Lavaredo and Auronzo.

The Locatelli refuge , in the Tre Cime Natural Park in South Tyrol at 2,450 meters, can be reached from the Auronzo mountain hut along the path n. 101, or on a challenging route from Val Fiscalina or Lake Landro in three hours. Here, you can visit a small chapel and the Piani lakes.

The Auronzo refuge is located in the municipality of the same name at 2,320 meters. Splendid views of the surrounding mountains, the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, the Cadini di Misurina, the Cristallo mountain, the Croda dei Toni, the Val d’Ansiei and the Misurina lake. It is a point of support for the tour around the Tre Cime, for the Alta Via n.4 and for the via ferrata De Luca-Innerkofler.

The refuge can be reached from the Misurina lake on the toll road, or always from the lake in an hour along a path that runs along the road. Or in 4 hours with the path 1104 along the Val Marzon; from the Locatelli refuge in an hour and a half; from the Zsigmondy-Comici hut in three hours or through the Bonacossa path from the Fratelli Fonda Savio hut in 2 and a half hours.

The Lavaredo refuge is located at the foot of the triptych at 2,344 meters in the Auronzo Dolomites. It can be reached from the Auronzo refuge along path 101 in about 20 minutes; from Auronzo di Cadore along the Val Marzon on path 1104 in 4 and a half hours; from the Locatelli refuge on path 101.

Mountaineering and via ferrata

In addition to being a destination for hikers and tourists, the Tre Cime di Lavaredo have always attracted passionate climbers and intrepid mountaineers. Its peaks began to be explored starting in 1860. The first climber was Paul Grohmann, accompanied by the guide Michel Innerkofler, who also climbed the two smaller peaks. The first routes were classified as 1st and 2nd grade and remain today within reach of many climbers.

The real boom begins just before the First World War with Angelo Dibona, Paul Preuss and Hans Dulfer who open V grade cataloged streets. After the Great War, the most stoic undertaking lies with Emilio Comici and Giuseppe and Angelo Dimai who climbed the north face of Cima Grande. Subsequently, Comici gave life to one of the most famous climbs, that of the Yellow Spigolo along the south slope of Cima Piccola, of VI degree. In the following decades the very direct at the Cima Grande and the Cima Ovest are opened.

Many via ferratas and climbing routes are open and still practicable today, such as Via Egger, the normal streets, Via dei Camini, Via Cassin, the numerous Comici streets, the Spigolo Dibona, the Direttissima dei Sassoni, the Via degli Svizzeri , the Way of the Italians or the Spigolo degli Scoiattoli …

In recent years, the Three Peaks have also been the scene of free climbing and sports activities of maximum difficulty: IX degree. In 2011, Olzer and Kleindl, two intrepid alpinists, crossed the empty space between the individual peaks on a slackline.

Tour of Italy

The Auronzo Refuge has been repeatedly stages of the Giro d’Italia. Many battles were fought here. The ascent to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo was introduced for the first time in 1967 to celebrate the expansion of the military road dating back to the First World War. The first to pass was Felice Gimondi, but the stage was canceled. The following year is Eddy Merckx in pink jersey to cross the finish line.

In 1974 he won José Manuel Fuente, while in 1981 he was the Swiss Beat Breu. The 1989 stage sees the winner of the Colombian Luis “Lucho” Herrera. The last arrival at the Tre Cime di Lavaredo dates back to 2007 with the Trento-Tre Cime di Lavaredo / Auronzo stage, where the modenese Riccardo Riccò won under a powerful downpour.

In the winter on the Tre Cime

Even in winter you can admire these three famous peaks: those who are trained and enjoy a good physical shape can climb to the Tre Cime with snowshoes. A challenging tour of 6 hours and 13 km which has as its starting point the Val Fiscalina near Sesto. From here you get to the Fondo Valle hut at 1,548 meters, turn right to the Val Sassovecchio, passing in front of Cima Una. Continue to the Rifugio Locatelli (closed in winter).

Another nice excursion with snowshoes is the one that starts from Lake Antorno: you arrive at the toll booth for the Tre Cime, continue to the Rinbianco hut and then climb up to the Auronzo hut. From the lake you can also start with ski mountaineering or get to the triptych on comfortable snowmobiles with the possibility of returning to the sled.

History: the First World War

The Three Peaks have always been important. Historically they were an important area of ​​clashes during the First World War, between 1915 and 1917 the peaks represented the war front. As evidence of this period, many trenches, barricades and tunnels are still visible today.

In 1974 the Tre Cime di Lavaredo were also spectators of a sad event: the fall of a Bell 206 helicopter, which remains in a memorial plaque made up of helicopter blades.

The legend

A legend tells that to establish the territorial boundary between the municipalities of Dobbiaco and Auronzo, two girls would have to leave the two countries to sing the rooster, but the girl of Auronzo punctured the cock to anticipate the song and set off before defining the line boundary further north than expected, near the Marogna bridge.


For their grandeur and the breathtaking view they offer, the Tre Cime di Lavaredo have been the stage for films, short films, commercials and TV series, as for example in the thirteenth episode of the first season of Agents of SHIELD, entitled Il treno .

In May 2017 they hosted the shooting of the eighth episode of the Star Wars saga – The Last Jedi. They are also found in the video game Far Cry Primal, in the video clip Up & Up of Coldplay in 2016 and in that of 2012 by Amy McDonald.


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