This summer, I spent a couple of weeks in Trento, the capital of the breathtaking Trentino region in Italy, for the Traverse 2019 conference. Post-conference, six of us had an opportunity to visit the rest of the region on an “Adventure Girls” tour facilitated and curated by the conference along with Visit Trentino and Visit San Martino. Our first stop: the adrenaline-pumping Via Ferrata route “Val di Scala” in the captivating Valle del Vanoi.

I was so excited to take on Via Ferrata again. The last (and only) time I've ever done it was when I lived in France in 2005. It was an intensive route (we climbed for 3.5 hours and 800 m up a cliff), and while at the time it was more than I bargained for, in hindsight I only remember the empowering feeling I felt reaching the top and conquering that mountain and all my fears.

I also remember that while it was fun (at the end!), I spent the whole time climbing being so scared, I forgot to be present and enjoy the ascent and the experience itself.

Girl rock climbing via ferrata style, attached to a steel cable by equipment.
Via Ferrata in the Rhône-Alpes region in France in 2005.
An overview of the Ferrata Val di Scala route loop.

This time, I was determined to enjoy every bit of the experience and the beauty that this region had to offer.

We made our way to the beginning of the route, close to the Caoria village in Valle del Vanoi, to meet our – Alpine Guides and get harnessed in. Since we were staying at the beautiful Brunet – The Dolomites Resort in Fiera di Primiero, we were a mere 15-minute drive away.

Our route was the fairly new “Ferrata Val di Scala”, considered an educational route ideal for beginners and families who want to experience the adventure before trying more difficult routes.

Here's everything you need to know about completing the Ferrata Val di Scala route in Trentino.

What Is Via Ferrata?

Via Ferrata is an Italian term that stands for “iron path”, and is essentially a mountain climbing route equipped with a steel cable that traces the route, which climbers use to secure themselves as they progress. The cable is periodically anchored in the rock, with pegs generally bolted every 1 to 10 meters apart. Alongside the cable are steel rope steps, Tibetan bridges, and small wooden bridges.

woman crossing a steel cable bridge in valle del vanoi trentino
Tibetan bridge made of steel ropes | Credit: Valentina Cappio

Each climber has a harness, helmet and a via Ferrata kit consisting of a lanyard and two carabiners, which connects to the harness. The carabiners are used one at a time to connect to each portion of steel cable, making the climb safe and limiting any potential fall.

The easiest (and least exhaustive) way to complete a route is to rely on your leg muscles to push upward and to resist the urge to use your arm muscles to pull yourself up.

woman climbing a steel rope cable during ferrata val di scala in trentino

Val di Scala Route

Val di Scala is easily accessible by car and runs in parallel to the Val de la Scala stream, making the climb exciting and beautiful. It starts at 700 meters above sea level, ascending about 200 meters and consisting of two parts, as most Via Ferrata routes do. The first part is the climb upwards, and the second is a hike downhill to the starting location.

The route starts with a vertical climb of 30 meters to reach the Tibetan bridge crossing. After the bridge, the scenery changes considerably and the route ascends obliquely, hugging the stream. I love waterfalls so much, so climbing alongside one 100 meters felt very special.

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We then had to cross a small wooden bridge to get to a small plateau where we can rest a bit and enjoy the scenery. The last portion of the climb came as we had to climb for 75 meters next to a big, beautiful, waterfall.

Once at the top, you are rewarded with a great panoramic view as well as a great angle of the entire waterfall you just climbed alongside.

You can reach the car after a 20-minute hike downhill to make it back to the parking lot.

The climb is the perfect combination of ease, challenge, fun, and intrigue. The entire loop takes about 1 hour and a half, depending on your pace and how many times you stop to take pictures.

What To Bring When You Via Ferrata

There are many via Ferrata routes in Italy, especially in the Trentino area. Most routes are clearly labeled and can be done independently, though I recommend going with an Alpine Guide, if only to not have to get your own equipment. However, there are many other benefits to not doing it independently aside from that.

Our group had two guides from the Mountaineering School Aquile di San Martino. They brought us equipment and helped us put it on properly, and were very helpful along the way as they ensured we were all safe and comfortable throughout the hike.

You may also want to bring a waterproof action camera (I used my GoPro Hero 7) and your preferred mount so you don't have to worry about dropping it throughout the climb. I used a wrist mount so I can have flexibility, but a helmet mount works well too. You can get them both in a handy 50-piece kit.

You should also wear a good pair of hiking boots so you can have a great grip on the steel steps as well as on the trek back.

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The Best Time to Via Ferrata

The best time to go on a via Ferrata adventure is between spring and fall. Depending on the weather and the chosen route, June to October would be ideal to venture out.

The start and end of the season can vary from season to season, and it's best to call an Alpine Guide to inquire and book before planning your trip.

My Amazon Picks for Adventures in Trentino

You may find the following books and maps useful when planning your adventure trip to San Martino.

Ferrata Val di Scala on the Map

Via Ferrata Routes in Trentino

There are a number of routes in Trentino you can choose from, created for every skill level. Whether you want an easy route to try with your family, or trace pirate footsteps on the smugglers' route, there's a route for everyone. Check out the tours below.

Other Adventures in Trentino

Trentino is an extremely diverse and beautiful region. Aside from via Ferrata, there are many more adrenaline-pumping adventures you can have on your trip, such as canyoning, sleeping in a mountain hut, hiking in the Dolomites, or relaxing at the innovative QC Terme spa in the heart of the mountains.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you purchase anything through them. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. If you have any questions about any of the companies linked, contact me. For more information, read the disclosure policy.

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