So, finally, I just got home to Prague from all my travels and I’m back with the first mountain article! This time I went to the Italian Dolomites and I must admit that I liked it even more than the Tatras, and that means something!
I spent 4 days in the Dolomites, but when I think of everything I’ve experienced, it felt like a month! 🙂 I took my mom with me this time, because she’s a great companion for mountain adventures.
On Friday morning, at 6am, we set off from Prague. Because we knew we were going to climb a ferrata, we stopped at Cortina to rent ferrata sets. At about 3pm, we were already parking the car on the parking lot under the mountain hut Rifugio Auronzo, where we started our journey. It’s good to know, that the hut can be reached by car, which can be conveniently parked there, however, you have to pay for using that road from Lake Misurina to the hut. It costs 25 euro/car but I think it’s definitely worth it, because it saves you a lot of walking plus the road itself is beautiful.
We left the car there and started walking. We headed for Dreizinnenhütte, where we planned to sleep. It’s just about 5 km away from Rifugio Auronzo, but we were stopping and taking pictures a lot, so we made it to the hut after about 3 hours.
No wonder we are taking pictures all the time, we were around the most famous (and the most beautiful) rock formation in the Dolomites called Tre Cime. The weather has been quite nice yet, we were starting out with a blue sky, then it gradually got to cloudy, and as soon as we arrived at the hut, it started to drizzle and in the distance it started to lighten a bit.
We arrived at the Drezinnenhütte hut when it was already dark, so we were praying for a room, because of course we didn’t have a reservation. However, in the mountain huts, they can’t tell you to go back because they don’t have a room. If all the beds are full, they give you a mattress and you sleep on the ground.
Fortunately, there were a few beds, so they put us in the little cottage nearby along with four other hikers. We spent around 25 euros per person per night for accommodation.
On Saturday morning, after breakfast, we wanted to climb Paternkofel, to which you can get only by climbing a ferrata. It can be reached directly from Dreizinnenhütte, the beginning of the trail is only a few steps to the left (if the hut is behind you and you’re facing Paternkofel). In the picture, it is the pointy mountain behind me.
Paternkofel looked quite frightening from down there, and it seemed to be so steep, that it’s not possible to climb it, but in some mysterious way, we did it. Interestingly, there are pretty cool tunnels that have been there since the World War I., at the beginning of the route. Nothing for claustrophobic people haha, we often had to crawl on the ground. The final part of the tunnel consists of stairs, so it’s not so bad, but certainly don’t forget the headlights, because of course it’s dark as hell there. Sometimes you could take a look from the little windows and you could see the hut and the lake next to it getting further and further.
It was said in the guide book, that the ferrata could be done in an hour and a half. We did it in two and a half for the same reason as always, haha:) I can’t be objective about how difficult it is, because I’m totally feraless when it comes to climbing, and I have no self-preservation. So I didn’t find it difficult, but there were spots, where if you slipped and weren’t attached to the rope, you’d fall a mile down.
Also, we were climbing with a 15-kg backpack, which I don’t recommend doing, because of the tight spots. We got up there around noon, when there were not many people yet. We had a time advantage ahead of those who started walking from Rifugio Auronzo, since we slept 5 km closer to the ferrata.
And as I wrote on my Instagram, I saw a lot of hills, mountains, rocks and views from them, but this one … This was the most beautiful one yet. I’m definitely coming back, and this time in the winter, when the Dolomites are under snow.
When the summit started to fill with other climbers, we started climbing down the same way we went up and at the hut we had a half-hour break. Then we headed back to Auronzo, but we took a different trail, which was on the other side of Tre Cime, so we did a round trip. If you ever go to the Dolomites, and you’re not a fully ferrata kind of a person, you have to do this 10-km trail, as you see this gem from all angles. The circle around Tre Cime isn’t really challenging, I think the elevation could have been around 300 meters max, and we even saw some children on the way.
In the afternoon we arrived back to our car and drove back to Lake Misurina. The other ferrata, we had planned was called Ivana Dibona. But I found out that I had forgotten a spare battery (and of course the charger as well) for my camera without which I refused to continue, so we went back to Cortina first, with the hope of buying one.
A nice lady in a camera store charged my dead battery for 4 euros, and started heading towards Rio Gere, where we were planning on using the cable car to avoid the boring part of the trail. But on the road leading to Rio Gere, there was a policeman, who informed us that the road was closed, because of yesterday’s flash floods. It was probably the lightning we saw from Drezinnenhütte. Someone even died there, so we went back to Cortina, where we booked a hotel and slept there hoping to go there the next day.
But there was a huge storm at night again, and when we wanted to go anywhere in the morning, half of the roads were flooded and closed. There were 10 reported deaths in the news already. Some were killed by the lightning on the Marmolada glacier, others drowned, and stones fell on the other. I couldn’t believe it, but indeed all the surrounding rivers were running out of the riverbeds, and almost all the trees were broken along the roads.
So we decided to drive a bit further, and take the only road that was open, all the way to a trek called Alpinisteig.
We parked under the cable car station and get on it, in order to save two hours of a boring hike through the woods. As we stepped out of the cable car, it started raining a bit, but we said we weren’t made of sugar and started walking. But after an hour of climbing, the sky got suddenly dark as hell, and lightning started to flash around us in the interval of five seconds. The thunder was so loud that I thought I was gonna get deaf. The pouring rain was so unbearable, that we had to hide underneath a rock.
We stayed there for an hour and a half, and the rain wouldn’t stop. Since we were soaking wet, we started to get cold. It was thirty degrees when we were starting, and by that time it cooled down to about 7. We decided that we would risk it and try to get into a closest hut, which was just a few meters above the cable car upper station. You can imagine how fast we were running down, when it took us an hour and a half to get up and 25 minutes to get down. We sprinted on those places where were no trees. Especially after knowing that the lightning killed two people the day before.
I have to admit that I have never been more scared in my life, and this has made me feel that the mountains are not such much fun as I have been thinking lately. This experience brought me back to the ground again.
When we got into the hut, soaking wet, we immediately awakened a huge interest. The Italian retirees calmly eating their lunches stared at us as if we were coming from Mars, and the waitress wondered if we were all right.
Even though it was only about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, we asked if we could sleep there and spent the rest of the day safe in the hut. The thunder was going until the early morning. After breakfast, it calmed down and a blue sky even came out for a while. We went down by the first cable car, got into the car and headed to the last stop of this trip – to the photogenic Lake Braies, which can be actually reached by car.
But at the turn, which was about 9 km from the lake, a policeman was standing and we were immediately clear what that meant. Even this road was flooded, but it was possible to get to the lake by foot, so after a moment of hesitation, we parked the car at the road and set off for a 9-km walk along the road.
But on the way, we saw flooded houses, ruined roads, cars overturned on rooftops, mud everywhere, crash-barriers looked as if a twenty-ton locomotive hit them, and firemen clearing all the damage.
Lake Braies was full of fallen trees, which were pulled by excavators and the water was muddy – nothing what I saw on the pictures. Even so, of course, it was wonderful. The advantage was that there were no people, haha 🙂
And that’s all from my Dolomite adventures 🙂 For those who want to know, I write it everywhere, but once again, I have a backpack from Quechua, shoes are Adidas Terrex, and leggings by a cross-country skiing brand called Axon. Photos were shot with a Canon 80D and a Canon 10-22mm wide-angle lens.
If anyone was interested in something else, let me know, I’ll be thrilled to answer. And if someone wanted to come back with me in the winter (about November/December), let me know as well! :)))