Dolomites-Project Dolomites-Project

Jolana Dandl

Into the heart of the Dolomites – on the #puremountain trail


Forest and fields, houses, rolling hills and mountains on the horizon. That’s the landscape you see at first glance, from my balcony in Upper Bavaria, on the edge of the Alps. But what does it mean to live right in the mountains? Without many houses, large settlements or towns. How does it feel to wake up at over 2,000 meters? How does it feel to be at 3,000 meters and see only mountains all around? These questions and feelings have drawn me to one of the most beautiful mountain areas within our dear Alps: the Dolomites.

In the middle of September, we – my boyfriend Felix and I, as well as my best friend Mary and her boyfriend Johannes – set off in the direction of the Italian Alps. Once out of the Bavarian Prealps, we head into the Inn Valley.

Our trip begins at the foot of the Geisler Peaks. On the very evening we arrive, we do a short hike to watch the sun go down. The peaks are a glowing red against the sky, illuminated by the setting sun. The anticipation for the coming weeks is now fully alight!
The next day, long and beautiful hiking trails lead us a long way around, always in the shadow of the northern flank of the mountain massif. It’s very early in the morning, the car park is still empty. Thin wafts of mist drift over the meadows, in the forest it’s still really chilly. Soon, the jagged outlines rear up before us. We enjoy the first day, take our time, stop for something to eat and chat a lot. The perfect way to get our bearings and absorb everything. We then continue our trip to Val Gardena in the evening and go for pizza together! The next day, we climb up to the famous Seceda. Even though there are always a lot of people there, I wanted to see it for myself. From this point of view, the peaks seem so wild and randomly bent and broken, yet at the same time arranged in such an aesthetic way. The view to the Sella Group and the Sassolungo and Sassopiatto peaks complete this unique panorama.
We spend the night near a small mountain lake, surrounded by trees. With the last rays of the sun and pink clouds in the sky, we all jump into the lake for a little while.

The view from the Seceda has drawn us further to the Sassolungo. While the boys go bike riding the next day, Mary and I hike towards the rocky outlines. Once again, we are overwhelmed by the view. The sun is shining, the air is cold and clear, you can see incredibly far. After another night we decide to drive towards Val di Fassa. Over the pass, the road leads to Canazei. The route there alone is a unique spectacle of beautiful mountain peaks, towers and steep slopes. At the top of the pass, we stop briefly to look back into the valley. What a panorama!

Once we arrive in Canazei, we look for a good campsite so that we can have a hot shower for once and properly rinse off. On this day, we merely take a short bike tour to a nearby waterfall – we can all feel the kilometres and altitude difference of the last few days in our legs somewhat. Apart from that, we fully dedicate ourselves to planning our tour for the next few days and discuss the things that everyone still really wants to see and do. As a result, we decide that we’ll separate for a few days.

Felix and I set off for Rosengarten and Latemar the next morning. Our destination today is a 3000m high mountain in the Rosengarten Group near the Vajolet Towers. The trail leading to the direct summit ascent is a little further, but beautiful. You always have the towers in front of you and are surrounded by high, steep walls at the same time. We pass the Vajolet Hut and climb up to the Grasleiten Pass. Shortly afterwards, the via ferrata to the summit begins. The higher we get, the more breathtaking the view. Blue sky and threads of cloud envelop the mountain tops below us. Once we reach the summit, the entire panorama unfolds. From the highest pinnacle of the Rosengarten, we look down on Lake Antermoia and the Vajolet Towers. It’s possible to gaze far out across the valley to the Latemar Group, as well as to the Marmolada and so many other peaks and mountain ranges. We’re pretty much alone most of the time on the summit and soak up the images in our heads. Then we make our way back again.

After pizza in the evening and a night in Val de Nicolo, we continue to the Karer Pass. There we plan to climb to a pre-summit in Latemar and then spend the night up there, under the open sky. After a short detour to Lake Carezza, we pack our backpacks and set off in the late afternoon. It’s wonderful weather again. The sun is already a little lower and shines golden in the sky. As we're walking, we're always on the lookout for a suitable place to sleep. When we’ve found potential places, we climb even higher to enjoy the sunset from up there. The Rosengarten Group opposite is vigorously illuminated, behind it the Sella Group shines out. The towers and rocky outcrops of the Latemar tower above and around us. We look into deep canyons and a labyrinth of fallen stones of all sizes. But before it gets completely dark, we go to our sleeping place and get everything organised. Already wrapped up in our sleeping bags, we watch the last rays of the sun disappear, bathing the sky in pink and red. When it’s become completely dark, an incredibly clear, starry sky opens up above us. We lie awake for a long time, looking into the Milky Way and searching for constellations – until we drift off to sleep. We wake up the next morning, due to an intense glow on the horizon. A spectacular cloud formation is illuminated from below, which makes it shine towards us in all shades of red and pink. What an amazing sunrise! But the whole thing is quickly over, as the sun rises higher and disappears behind dense cloud. It almost completely clouds over, and even starts to drizzle a little. Our clothes quickly feel clammy and cold. We start making our way back down. As the day looks like it’s going to stay grey and cold and the coming days don’t look any better, we decide – united again as a group of four – to finish the trip off by going to the thermal baths in Merano. There we enjoy our final day and look back on all the things we’ve done. Before going home, we spontaneously check out Salewa’s climbing hall in Bolzano – the best thing to do in the bad weather!

To sum up, you cannot merely say that the trip was incredibly beautiful. But rather, even if no-one or thousands of people had ever been on a mountain, or at a particular place: every experience you create yourself is unique and unrepeatable and thus, nobody can experience it the way you do.

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