Sassolungo and Sassopiatto: Two Distinctive Peaks at the Heart of the Dolomites.  

The Sassolungo

The Sassolungo, known as Langkofel in German and Saslonch in Ladin is the main peak of the massif bearing the same name, situated between the Val Gardena and the Val di Fassa, in the heart of the Dolomites. The toponym means ‘pietra lunga’ (long stone), and is meant in respect to the mountain when seen from the northeast and in comparison to the Sasso Piatto (‘flat stone’; see below). The mountain presents itself like a ridge, elongated for about 1 km with a NW to SE direction. On the eastern side of the mountain, in a niche, is placed a statue of a standing Madonna 3 m high, carved by Flavio Pancheri.

General Characteristics

The Sassolungo is considered the symbol of the whole Val Gardena, and on its slopes every year are disputed the important ski races. According to the SOIUSA, this mountain group is to be further subdivided into three sub-groups: (a) the Sassolungo proper, (b) the Sasso Levante and (c) the Sassopiatto.   

The group – besides many needles, pinnacles and minor summits – is constituted by 8 main peaks: Sassolungo (Langkofel, 3,181 m); Spallone del Sassolungo (Langkofelkarspitze, 3,081 m); Punta delle Cinque Dita (Fünffingerspitze, 2.998 m); Punta Grohmann, aka Sasso Levante (Grohmannspitze, 3,126 m); Torre Innerkofler (Innerkoflerturm, 3,098 m);  Dente del Sassolungo (Zahnkofel, 3.001 m); Cima Dantersass (Dantersassspitze, 2,825 m) and Sassopiatto (Plattkofel, 2,964 m).

Mountaineering and Rock Climbing

Despite being a small and not very extended group, this mountain can claim a great quantity of towers and rock boulders that have been the object of great enterprises in the history of mountaineering. The northern wall is one of the great rock walls in the Alps, with more than 1,000 m of gradient – second perhaps only to the northern flank of Civetta.      

The summit of the Sassolungo was reached for the first time in 1869 by the Austrian mountaineer Paul Grohmann, together with the Alpine guides Franz Innerkofler and Peter Salcher; prior to that, there had been various attempts, but the route followed by the first to climb the mountain coincides only for a relatively short stretch with the actual via normale.

The years after the WW2 see a progressive increase in the  number of ascents, with the realization of modern itineraries of great difficulty, which take into account the considerable height of the rock walls. In the vicinity of the summit is  a bivouac, which is the ideal stopping point for the long itineraries along the eastern and northern walls – also in view of the long and laborious descent. The accesses are easier and best approached from Passo Sella.

The Sasso Piatto

The Sasso Piatto (Saspiat in ladino, Plattkofel in German; meaning 'flat stone') is a mountain of the Dolomites, 2.969 m high. It is part of the Sassolungo group, comprised between the Val Gardena and the Val di Fassa. To reach the summit it is necessary to face the Ferrata Schuster, starting from Rifugio Vicenza (2,256 m; see below) or from the Forcella Sassolungo (2,685 m); alternatively, the roundtrip around the Sassopiatto can be done with the Friedrich-August-Weg and is suitable to all abilities, as it follows the base of the mountain with constantly changing views.

Excursions and Mountain Huts in the Sassolungo Area

The summit of Sassolungo can be reached through the ‘Via ferrata’ Oskar Schuster and the via normale, which ascends the mountain from the SW. The other peaks can be reached only through mountaineering (Alpine) ways; however, anybody can can take the path that goes around the group  which can be completed in about 4-5h  with departure from Passo Sella and through the following mountain huts, in sequence: Rifugio Emilio Comici (2,140 m), Vicenza (2,250 m), Sassopiatto (2,300 m), Sandro Pertini and Friedrich August. The overall altitude gradient of this excursion is of about 200 metres.

From Passo Sella or Rifugio Vicenza it is also possible to reach the Forcella del Sassolungo (2,681 m), where is located the Rifugio Toni Demetz; a cable car connects it to Passo Sella. It is possible to ascend on foot to the Rifugio Toni Demetz too, by following the trail that starts right by the cable car station; it is not a difficult ascent but it is quite steep, especially in its final section.     

Rifugio Vicenza

The Rifugio Vicenza at the Sassolungo (in German Langkofelhütte) is a mountain hut situated in the val Gardena/Grödnertalbetween the Sassopiatto and Sassolungo groups at  2,256 m of altitude. It is an ideal base from which to embark on the Via Ferrata Schuster and the roundtrip around the above mentioned peaks, as well as various other climbs on high ground.

History. The Rifugio Vicenza was built in 1903 by the Viennese section of the Austrian Alpine Club, but it was restored – after WW1 – with the economic help of the Vicenza section of the CAI (Italian Alpine Club), to which it was later entrusted.

Access. It is possible to reach the rifugio from Monte Pana (1,636 m) through Pian di Confì (n. 525) in 3h; from Mont de Sëura (2,021 m) through the Forcella Ciaulong (2,113 m), with CAI-marked trail nos. 526, in 1h; from Passo Sella (2,180 m) to Rifugio Emilio Comici at the Piz Sella (2,153 m), with trail no. 526 then through the Forcella Ciaulong (2,113 m), in 2h; also from Passo Sella through the Forcella del Sassolungo in 1,5h; from Rifugio Toni Demetz at the Forcella del Sassolungo (2,681 m) in 40min; from Rifugio Sassopiatto, through paths nos. 9 and 527, in 1,5h.

Ascents: from Rifugio Vicenza it is possible to climb to the Sassopiatto (2.969 m) with the ‘Via ferrataSchuster, in 2,5h. Traverses: from the Vicenza mountain hut it is also possible to reach Rifugio Toni Demetz at the Forcella del Sassolungo (2,681 m) in 1,5h; Rifugio Sassopiatto (2,300 m) can be reached in 1,5h instead. Rifugio Emilio Comici at the Piz Sella (2.153 m) can be accessed through the Forcella Ciaulong/Sattel (2,113 m) in 2h; Rifugio Passo Sella (2,180 m) can be gained through the Forcella Ciaulong (2.113 m), while Rifugio Comici at the Piz Sella (2,153 m) is 2h away.

Rifugio Toni Demetz

The Rifugio Toni Demetz (in German Toni-Demetz-Hütte) is situated by the Forcella del Sassolungo at 2,685 m.

History: the hut was founded by the Alpine guide Giovanni Demetz, who dedicated it to his younger son Toni, struck by lightning on the Sassolungo itself. Characteristics and information: the Rifugio is open summer-only and it can be reached either from Passo Sella (2,180 m), with a walk about 1,5h long, or with the cable car that starts by the same pass; otherwise from Rifugio Vicenza (2,256 m), with an ascent about 1,5h long.

Excursions: the hut is a good starting point for following the trail that goes around the Sassopiatto, which begins by descending the internal valley of the Sassolungo, then skirts the area of Rifugio Vicenza and continues towards Rifugio Sandro Pertini, to then end at Passo Sella again. Alternatively, it is possible to carry out the excursions around the Sassolungo: one first reaches Rifugio Vicenza then continues eastbound, and returns to Passo Sella throught Rifugio Comici. From Rifugio Toni Demetz – always passing by Rifugio Vicenza – one can also reach the beginning of the Via ferrata Schuster.   

The Rifugio Toni Demetz is also a good starting point for the numerous Alpine ways which can be taken around the Sassolungo group.

Rifugio Emilio Comici

The Rifugio Emilio Comici is situated at 2,153 m at the foot of the main rock wall of the Sassolungo and close to the Piz Sella (2,284 m), above the Ladin hamlet of Plan de Gralba, in the municipality of Selva di Val Gardena/Wolkenstein in Gröden.

History: the hut is dedicated to the memory of Emilio Comici, an important name in the history of mountaineering and precursor of modern-style climbing, who died in 1949 in the Vallunga. The mountain hut is located right under the so-called “Campanile del Sassolungo” (Sassolungo Belltower), a pinnacle which Comici climbed a number of times in order to open a new way to reach the summit in 1940. The route – containing difficult passages of 5th and 6th degree  later took the name of "Via Comici-Casara", in honour of the alpinists who opened it.

Characteristics, information and access: the hut is open all year round. The Rifugio Comici can be reached easily from Plan de Gralba through the cable car that gains the nearby slopes of Piz Sella, 2,284 m, from which one can descend to the hut in about 10mins. Also, access is possible from Passo Sella (2,240 m), through an easy and panoramic trail that crosses the ‘city of rocks’ (città dei sassi), in 1h.

Excursions and Traverses. From Rifugio Comici one can reach in about 40mins the città dei sassi – an atmospheric natural area with huge boulders which gives it its name, and rich in trees, created by a fall of rocks from the overhanging walls of the Sassolungo; going past, one can get to nearby Passo Sella, in less than 10mins. The Ciampinoi ski-lift – at 2,280 m – can be reached in less than 1h walk. The traverse to the Rifugio Vicenza can also be accomplished in about 1,5h.     


Return from Sassolungo to Dolomites

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