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Dolomites Trekking

Dolomites Trekking

Excerpt:
Sample route guide


Contents | Introduction | Route options and when to go | With a group or independently? | Sample route guide | Minimum impact trekking


RIFUGIO FANES/LAVARELLA TO RIFUGIO LAGAZUOI [MAPS 4-5]

[Tabacco map 03] A day of thrilling scenery and wonderful trekking starts off in rather subdued fashion, with an easy climb up to the Passo di Cimo. Here, a whole new vista opens up of the peaks to the south ‘mountains that you'll be visiting on this trek. More surprises await as you continue along the mountain road down to the picturesque Malga Fanes Grande, revelling in isolated splendour at the head of the valley, from where it's possible to see the Marmolada peering up above the end of the valley, a foretaste of the spectacular vistas to come.

The first really good view of the Dolomites’ largest mountain and other, neighbouring giants comes when you leave the valley floor to climb the slopes
of the Fanes group on your left. As you make your way through the pine shrubs, behind Cunturines (the line of mountains across the valley) the square block of the Sella massif slowly appears; with the Puez, separated from Sella by the narrow Passo Gardena, showing itself as you progress a little further along the trail.

By the time you reach the large bowl of scree towards the end of the climb, however, you'll be thinking not of the views but solely of reaching the cleft in the rockface ahead. This is the Forcella del Lago (2486m), from where the Marmolada once again puts in an appearance and you can also see the way ahead, virtually to the end of the stage: a steep descent to the pretty Lago de Lagazuoi, and a path from there heading up the rocky slopes opposite.

People talk of the descent to the lake as if it is frightening. It isn't. Indeed, I think this path is one of the best maintained and most remarkable on the entire AV1, and a wonderful example of how to build a safe and sturdy trail on some very uncompromising ground, in this case an exceptionally steep gully covered with loose scree. At the foot of the descent the path leads you across more scree, this time above the Lago de Lagazuoi, which you reach by taking the path heading down to the right about a third of the way along the traverse. The lake itself is shaped like a comma – and suitably enough provides a welcome pause in the stage before the long march to Lagazuoi begins. About ten minutes below it lies the Rifugio Scotoni (tel 0471 847330; 1985m). A little place with just 19 beds that could prove useful if the weather becomes inclement.

Though not to everyone's taste and certainly a bit of a relentless schlep, the aforementioned climb up from the lake has some interesting attractions. There are the views back to the Forcella del Lago and ahead to your destination, the Lagazuoi cable-car station. Then, in the Parco Naturale delle Dolomiti d'Ampezzo, there is the first evidence of the heavy and prolonged fighting that took place around here during WWI: a few caves, bits of old timber and other detritus, and plenty of shattered and blasted rock. it's a foretaste of what's to come later on, and a reminder that the mountains were not always as serene and peaceful as they now appear.

There's much more evidence of the war further on at the end of the stage, where a zig-zagging path takes you to the ruins of barracks, officers’ quarters, lookout posts and gun emplacements, all hollowed out of the rock. This is the Museo all�aperto della Grande Guerra (see box below), the Open-Air Great War Museum, which runs along what was once the Austrian front line. Some great signboards explain in English what each ‘exhibit’ is, what it was used for and what the conditions were like for the poor benighted soldiers. The highlight of the museum, however, is the Galleria Lagazuoi, described in the box above.

Rifugio Lagazuoi (tel 0436 867303; web www.dolomiti.org/lagazuoi; 2752m) itself is a large and popular place, understandably so when you consider that it's just a bus and cable-car ride away from Cortina, and the fact that it has made the most of its lofty position and great views with a large outdoor terrace – a great place to sit, put your feet up and reflect on the walk just completed. The panorama from the front of the 70-place rifugio takes your breath away – a 180 degree-plus sweep of magnificent mountains, from the Croda Rossa to the east round to the Sella in the west, with the Marmolada now fairly dominant in the distance to the south-west. Accommodation at the rifugio starts at €20 for a bed, plus another €8.50 for breakfast, or it's €42/51 for demi-pension in a dorm/room.

By the way, do remember to book ahead if planning to arrive at the weekend. If it's already full, you can take the cable-car (every 15mins from 9am to 5pm, or 4.40pm uphill; €8, €11.20 round trip) down to Passo Falzarego, and from there try heading to the Rifugio Valparola (tel 0436 866556; 2168m) 2km to the north (with prices starting at €30 for B&B, €50 for demi-pension), or take a bus into Cortina (see p79) and try your luck there. Buses run from Passo Falzarego at 9.10am, 10am, 11am, 12.20pm, 1.20pm, 5.05pm and 7pm; in the other direction they run at 9.05am, 9.15am, 10.15am, 11.15am, 12.35pm, 4.10pm, 5pm and 6.20pm.

Dolomites Trekking

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