The Puez Odle range is relatively compact. It is bordered to the south by the Gardena valley (Grödnertal in German; Gherdeina in Ladin), to the east by the Val Badia/Gadertal, and to the north by the splendid and unspoilt treasure of the Val di Funes (Villnössertal).
The Puez Odle lie at the heartland of the Dolomites region, in an area where three languages are spoken: Italian, German and Ladin – an old language of Roman origins that mixes Latin and Germanic words, and which has many local variants (each valley speaks its own version, even though there does exist a standard Ladin).
So, do not be surprised to see signs with three different place names as you enter a village!
The main summits comprised within the system are Sas Rigàis (3,025 m), Sas de Putia/Peitler Kofel (2,875 m), Col de Puez/Puezspitze (2,725 m), Sassongher (2,665 m; see below) and Col de la Soné (2,634 m).
The area is characterized by two types of landscape, representing the typical image of the Dolomites: the northern area is dominated by two massifs standing alongside each other, the Odle d’Eores/Aferer Geisler with the Sass de Putia/Peitler Kofel and the Odle di Funes/Villnösser Geisler with the Sas Rigàis.
These two groups document the original, isolated Dolomite reefs, which have now become jagged peaks, displaying also powerful ramparts and imposing monoliths made of Main Dolomite.
The Sas Rigàis provides a cross-section of the geological history of these mountains, which goes from the arid plains and lagoons of the Permian era to the tropical reefs of the Middle Triassic.
At the respectable height of about 2,500 metres, the southern section (Gardenaccia) is occupied instead by a vast karstic plateau, adorned with high Alpine meadows and dotted with magnificent tiny icy-cold, jewel-like lakes – such as those of Crespeina and Ciampac.
These are surrounded by the immense forests that skirt the Puez Odle, which evidence suggests once grew much higher up in altitude (as witnessed by the fossilized trunks found in the local glaciers).
Above this plateau – a karst tableland characterized by grey rocks in an almost lunar landscape – there are some pyramids of dark rocks (such as the Col de la Soné, made up of Puez marls from the Cretaceous period) that stand out amidst whiter Dolomite rocks.
These contribute to add further interest and make even more precious and unique a system which already displays such a wealth of peculiar sights and unique features in terms of landscape and geology. Amongst these, to be seen are also the works of natural erosion at the so-called Arch of the Stevìa (Arco della Stevìa).
The documentation on the period in which atolls and tropical reefs dominated the landscape is didactically exhaustive, while more recent events related to the phase of sinking that took place during the Jurassic and Cretaceous – that led to these areas becoming deep pelagic sea-mounts – are well-represented and beautifully revealed, still easily visible and clear to this day.
The forms of relief (orography), in particular, are linked to the structural features of a high-energy relief in the northern section, and of a markedly limestone plateau (karstic) morphology in the southern sector.
Numerous are also the geo-morphological (morpho-climatic) vestiges, generated by the glaciers, which give evidence of ancient variations in the climate, with forms connected to either glacial genesis or to landslide phenomena dating back several thousand years, but nevertheless still very active today.
Roaming in Reinhold Messner’s First Roaming Ground
The Puez Odle are also the original home of Reinhold Messner, one of the world’s greatest climbers, who was born and started his career in these mountains – his ‘backgarden’, as he would put it.
He is the last and most celebrated in a line of enthusiast mountaineers, whose tradition goes back to the 1930s.
If the Puez Odle are above the common run of Dolomite massifs in the eyes of climbers, it must come as no surprise that they are also highly rated for their scenery.
Roughly speaking, the skyline is dominated by the huge saw-tooth peak of the Odle/Geisler to the north, and the massive block of Puez to the south.
Many kinds of rock formations are on view: the Badia/Gadertal valley runs approximately north-south, marking an important boundary between the Eastern and Western Dolomites and displaying Tertiary folds that resulted from the collision of the African and European plates.
As well as showing evidence of the Quaternary glaciations, this valley boasts also the San Cassiano/Kassian Formation, visible to the south of Pedràces – a fossil-rich seam which draws collectors from all over Europe.
Other highlights include the wild Vallunga, known as one of the most unspoilt glacially carved valleys in the Dolomites.
As usual in the Dolomites’ heartland, the area is also quite well-endowed in terms of the presence of mountain huts; amongst these can be counted Rifugio Genova/Franz-Schlüter-Hütte (2,306 m), near Passo Poma (Kreuzkofeljoch; 2,340 m); Rifugio Firenze/Regensburger Hütte/Utia de Ncisles (2,037 m), on the Alpe di Cisles; Rifugio del Puez/Puezhütte (2,475 m): all these are useful bases for an ascent on the surrounding peaks, but also for less demanding excursions. There are also two minor huts, Rifugio Stevìa (2,312 m) and Rifugio Malga Brogles (2,045 m).
All of the previous mountain huts are within the Puez Odle Natural Regional Park; some other are situated at its margins, such as Rifugio Passo delle Erbe/Ütia de Börz (2,002 m), by the omonimous pass (Passo delle Erbe/Würzjoch; 2,004 m) or Rifugio Zannes (Zanser Alm; 1,685 m); these are conveniently located at strategic entry points.
The Sassongher is a mountain of the Eastern Dolomites; it is 2,665 m high. It belongs to the group of the Puez Odle, within the Puez Odle Nature Park. It dominates – with its imposing summit – the villages of Corvara and Colfosco, in the Alta Val Badia/Gadertal.
To access the summit of Sassongher from Colfosco one can reach by cable car the Rifugio Col Pradat (2,038 m) and then gain Forcella Sassongher, from where one climbs to 2,665 m of altitude. It is also possible to reach the top from Rifugio Gardenaccia (2,050 m), first with a track to Forcella Sassongher, then from Funtanacia through the Val Juèl until the Forcella, and finally to the summit – or alternatively from Rifugio Puez (2,475 m) until the Passo di Gardenaccia; from there to Forcella Sassongher and up to the summit.
In terms of mountaineering history, it is ascertained that in ancient times farmers and hunters would climb and cross the mountain in order to go from valley to valley, but from a more historical point of view, it has to be remembered the ascent of the southern wall, carried out by Joseph Kostner – an Alpine guide from Corvara – in the summer of 1900.
Nature Park Puez Odle: an “Open Book” on the Earth’s History
Founded in 1978, the Nature park Puez Odle/Puez-Geisler extends to Passo delle Erbe/Würzjoch (2,006 m) in the north, Passo Gardena/Grödner Joch (2,136 m) in the south, Val Badia/Gadertal (Longiarü, Antermöia/Kampill, Untermoj) in the east and Val di Funes/Villnößtal and Val Gardena/Grödnertal in the west. The northern portion of the park encompasses the Odle di Eores/Aferer Geisler (2,654 m), the Odle di Funes/Villnösser Geisler (max. elevation 3,025 m) and the Sas de Pütia/Peitlerkofel (2,875 m), while the southern portion comprises the highlands of Gherdenacia, Sassongher (2,665 m), Puez (including the Vallunga/Langental; max. elevation 2,913 m) and the Cir mountains.
The park was enlarged in 1999 and now extends over an area of around 10,722 hectares belonging to the municipalities of Badia/Abtei, Corvara, Funes/Villnöss, S. Martino in Badia/St.Martin in Thurn, Ortisei/St.Ulrich, S. Cristina in Gröden/St. Christina and Selva di val Gardena/Wolkenstein in Gröden. Apart from Val di Funes/Villnösstal, all of the park’s other communities are Ladin: Santa Crestina/St. Christina, Sëlva/Wolkenstein, Badia/Abtei and Corvara in the south; San Martin de Tor/St. Martin in Thurn in the east.
The Nature Park Puez Odle/Puez-Geisler, which counts as one of the nine Dolomites-UNESCO sites, contains all of the rock types, sediment strata and weathering forms that are characteristic of the Dolomites. The park’s karstic highlands, majestic rock faces and rolling Alpine pastures – set off against bizarre looking backdrops of cleft mountains, valleys formed by extreme erosion and dark coniferous forests – contribute to create a multifarious landscape that is rarely found in such a small area.
The park is part of the European-wide Natura 2000 sites that were established under the EU’s FFH Directive (92/43/EC) and Bird’s Directive (2009/147/EC). These sites aim to promote habitat, flora and fauna conservation, to which end the province of South Tyrol has also commissioned so-called management plans.
Landscape Flora Elements
Rock and soil, together with altitude and micro-climate, determine flora biodiversity.
Forest Belts and Dwarf-shrub Heaths
Forest belts are found solely on the verges of the Nature Park Puez Odle/Puez-Geisler. Around Sas de Pütia/Peitlerkofel – especially at the Passo delle Erbe/Würzjoch mountain pass and in Selva della Rodella/Rodelwald – extensive stands of Cembra pine (Pinus cembra) are found, whose rejuvenation rate is the highest in South Tyrol. Noteworthy here are also the stands of spruce trees (Picea abies) in the Putiawald forest and the larch trees near Halsl.
Alpine roses (Rhododendron ferrugineum and R. hirsutum) grow on the western cliffs of the Sas de Pütia/Peitlerkofel. At the head of Val di Funes/Villnöß, magnificent groups of Cembra pine advance as far as the scree at the foot of the Odle/Geislergruppe. The Vallunga/Langental is home to a (somewhat thinning) forest of spruce and larch (Larix decidua), with some of the younger trees growing at heights of nearly 2,400 meters. This is followed (at higher altitudes) by Dwarf mountain pine (Pinus mugo) and the abundant blossoms of the flora that accompanies them. The undergrowth is composed in fact of such shrubs as Mezereon (Daphne mezereum), Daphne striata, Winter Heath (Erica carnea), Alpine Roses (Rhododendron ferrugineum and R. hirsutum) and many different types of berry bearing bushes.
Mountain Meadows and Pastures
Windflowers (Anemone sp.), Snowbell (Soldanella sp.), Bird’s Eye Primrose (Primula farinosa) and Crocus (Crocus sp.) grow on the Zannes/Zans Alpine pasture in springtime, while the blue and red coloration of plants belonging to the Labiatae (Mint) and Scrophulariaceae (Figwort) families predominate in summer.
Whorled Lousewort (Pedicularis verticillata), Monkshoods (Aconitum sp.), Corn Lily (Veratrum album), Spiny Thistle (Carduus spinosissimus), Black Vanilla Orchid (Nigritella rubra and N. nigra) as well as Spotted Gentian (Gentiana punctata) all grow on high mountain pastures.
Crocus (Crocus vernus) and Meadow Saffron (Colchicum autumnale) can be seen as the year’s first and last blossoms respectively on the Compaccio/Kompatschwiesen and Putia/Peitlerwiesen Alpine meadows, which in summer are covered with resplendent carpets of Arnica (Arnica alpina) and Red Clover (Trifolium pratense). Crocus and Dolomite Yarrow (Achillea oxyloba) grow in soil dampened by snow.
The larch fields in the upper reaches of the Longiaru/Kampiller valley and the floor of the Vallunga/Langental are particularly rich in flowers – most notably Dwarf Alpenrose (Rhododendron ferrugineum and R. hirsutum), Lady’s Slipper Orchid (Cypripedium calceolus), Martagon- (Lilium martagon), Orange- (Lilium bulbiferum) and St. Bernard’s Lily (Anthericum liliago).
Alpine Meadows, Scree and Dolomite Rocks
Around the Sas de Pütia/Peitlerkofel are grasslands with Cushion Sedge (Carex firma), while on the dry slopes are found stretches of Blue Moor Grass (Sesleria caerulea). On the steep slopes sheltered from the wind Edelweiss (Leontopodium alpinum), Dragonmouth (Horminum pyrenaicum) and Beaked Lousewort (Pedicularis contorta) grow, while the northern part of Sas de Pütia/Peitlerkofel boasts abundant populations of Butterbur (Genus Pinguicula) and Rhaetian Poppy (Papaver subsp. rhaeticum). Thick carpets of trailing Willow (Salix alpina; S. reticulata) and Mountain Avens (Dryas octopetala) are also observed, while Dolomite Cinquefoil (Potentilla sp.) grows on rock ledges.
In the meadows south of Sas de Pütia/Peitlerkofel, Bellflowers (Campanula sp), Blue Alpine Daisy (Aster alpinus) and Mountain Thrift (Armeria alpina) are found. Round-leaved Pennycress (Thlaspi cepaeifolium subsp. rotundifolium), Alpine Flax (Linum alpinum), and yellow Alpine Poppy (Papaver alpinum) cover the scree of the Odle de Funes/Villnösser Geisler. The plant communities of the rock ledges (also known as “Caricetum firmae”, from the Sedge Carex firma) are home to the smallest varieties of plants belonging to the Saxifragaceae (Saxifrage), Gentianaceae (Gentian) and Primulaceae (Primrose) families. Edelweiss (Leontopodium alpinum), Alpine Wormwood (or White Genepi, Artemisia rupestris) and Horned Rampion (Physoplexis comosa) grow on the rocks of the Vallunga/Langental, and particularly in the Val di Chedúl/Chedultal.
Most wild game is found in the grassy stands of Dwarf pine in the Vallunga/Langental, in the Odle/Geisler group, in Aferer Ruefen and in the environs of Forcela da l’Ega. Roe-Deer (Capreolus capreolus) and Red Deer (Cervus elaphus), which prefer open meadowland and feed on scrub on the sunny wooded slopes of Zannes/Zans Alpine pastures in winter, migrate from the Putia/Peitler region to the Valle di Luson/Lüsental via the Passo delle Erbe/Würzjoch.
The Eurasian Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo), which is the largest owl in South Tyrol, has been observed several times in the Vallunga/Langental. Black Grouse (Tetrao tetrix) can be spotted in the thin forests of the Vallunga/Langental, around Malga Cisles/Cisles Alm Alpine pasture and at the Passo delle Erbe/Würzjoch, while Wood Grouse (or Western Capercaillie, Tetrao urogallus) use the forests at the foot of Sas de Putia/Peitler Kofel above all as mating grounds.
Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros), Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe), Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis) and White-winged Snow Finch (Montifringilla nivalis) nest on the Alpine pastures and in the belts of dwarf shrubs. Rock Ptarmigans (Lagopus muta) are observed all year round in the Gherdenacia highlands and around Stevia. Common Raven (Corvus corax) and Alpine Chough (Pyrrhocorax graculus) build their nests in the crevices of Dolomite rocks. You may be lucky enough to glimpse a Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) in the cliffs around Furcela de Mont da l’Ega/Wasserscharte, in the Odle/Geisler mountains, in the Vallunga/Langental – or soaring high in the air.
Alpine Marmot (Marmota marmota) can be found on the western slopes of the Cir mountains, and at Medalges and Cisles Alpine pastures. Colorful butterflies and beetles are also observed in the environs of Gampen, Cisles and Medalges Alpine pastures.
The Human Factor
The Val Gardena/Gröden and Val Badia/Gadertal valleys
The Ladins, who are considered the most ancient people of the Alps, were among the Romanised natives known as Rhaetians who, at the beginning of their migration to the Alps, settled the length of the Alpine range from Carnia in the east deep into Switzerland in the west. During Medieval times, Germanic, Italic and Slavic peoples from the north, south and east restricted the areas of Rhaetian settlement, causing these peoples to either withdraw to the most inaccessible valleys or be assimilated within the cultures of their new rulers. This is why the only three territorially separate Rhaeto-Romanic enclaves that still survive today are the Dolomite Ladin, Friuli and Romansh area (in Switzerland).
Due to the high population density of the Ladins, in relation to their agricultural production, the natural resources of the area had to be intensively exploited, even at high altitudes. Intensive forest use, therefore, provoked landslides and erosion that continue to this day – particularly in the Val Badia/Gadertal.
Beginning in the 16th century, wood carving developed into a domestic tradition able to provide part of the population with a second source of income, and had become so widespread by the 19th century that Cembra pine stands had to be placed under strict protection.
The Passo Gardena/Grödner Joch leads to the upper Val Badia/Gadertal, where small groups of houses known as ‘viles’ in the Rhaeto-Romanic language constitute the valley’s traditional settlement pattern. A few farmhouses are usually situated around a small village square containing a community well and an oven: the need for protection, a strong community feeling – as well as the need to use the scarce arable areas parsimoniously – have led to this settlement pattern, which is possibly one of the oldest in the Alps.
If you start out from Longiarü/Campill, in the Nature Park Puez Odle/Puez-Geisler, you will come upon the ‘viles’ of Frëina, Seres and Miscì (groups of traditional farmhouses), as well as eight working grain mills along the stream that use an ingenious system of locks, wooden channels and gates.
The landscape here – apart from its natural beauty – also exhibits the effects of the social and cultural history of the people who have settled in these valleys. Until a road was built in 1892, the inhabitants of the Val Badia/Gadertal were completely self sufficient; they had to grow their own food and deal with all the other necessities of life on the little land available in the valley. The delicate balance that was maintained between crop farming (barley, oats, rye, wheat, beans and hemp) and cattle breeding constituted a closed system that kept the valley’s farmland managed in a sustainable way.
It has been proven that this sophisticated system was already developed during the High Middle Ages. It is still applied by some farms and has enabled the Ladins to survive down through the centuries. Moreover, most Ladin farmhouses are still made of wood and stone to this day, as they have been for centuries.
These mushroom-shaped buildings with sloping roofs contain a cellar; on the ground floor are found the living quarters and a kitchen that are built with bricks, then whitewashed. The upstairs bedroom areas and the attics, which are made of wood, have a sorà (a type of balcony) on two or more sides that is also used to dry fruit.
Amazingly, the dizzying pace of economic development over the past half century or so has had barely any impact on the ‘viles’. Only a short distance away from the ski resorts, a living example of medieval culture has been preserved virtually intact on the valley’s steepest slopes – a place where elderly individuals still go about their daily business in the way that they have always done. Various government programs have been instituted to provide funding and protection for the ‘viles’, in the hope of enabling them to adapt to socioeconomic change.
The Nature Park House Puez Odle/Puez-Geisler
The Puez Odle/Puez-Geisler Nature Park was the last one of South Tyrol´s seven Nature Parks to get its own Visitor’s Centre. On 29th December, 2009, Nature Park House Puez Odle/Puez-Geisler – the Visitor’s Centre for the Nature Park – opened its doors. The centre’s cubic, two-story building made of papyrus coloured concrete is located in the village of S. Maddalena di Funes/St. Magdalena in Villnöß.
The mission of the Nature Park House Puez Odle/Puez-Geisler is to provide visitors with information about nature and on how to make their visit to the reserve both enjoyable and informative. An aerial walkable photograph that visitors can view from above provides an overview of Nature Park Puez Odle/Puez-Geisler and its various landscape features.
The “Dolomites Hands-on” exhibition area focuses on the geology of the Dolomites, which is the park’s main topic area. The gallery contains representative types of rocks and strata in their characteristic forms. Stereoscopes installed in the gallery enable visitors to see what the scenery really looks like. There’s much to discover in the “Nature´s Cabinet of Wonders” on the upper level, including birds’ nests, animal tracks, bird feathers, animal hides, antlers – and much more.
In the “Conquering the Mountains” area, Reinhold Messner – probably the world’s most renowned Alpinist (who grew up in Funes/Villnöß) – narrates in a short film his experiences concerning the Alps. The “Mountain Cinema” offers a daily and weekly program of selected nature film productions. And of course the new film on the Nature Park Puez Odle/Puez-Geisler, titled “Nature Park Film Puez Odle/Puez-Geisler”, can also be viewed at the Puez Odle/Puez-Geisler Nature Park House. This film contains a magnificent series of images that show you the wonders of the Nature Park Puez Odle/Puez-Geisler.
The Zannes/Zans Interpretive Nature Trail
The Zannes/Zans interpretive Nature trail, which is located in the far reaches of the Funes/Villnöß valley, is South Tyrol’s first wheelchair accessible interpretive Nature trail, and enables visitors to discover the natural and man-made landscapes of the Nature Park Puez Odle/Puez-Geisler.
The three kilometre-long trail takes you past farmland, virgin forests and blossom-filled Alpine pastures, and ends at the imposing peaks of the Odle/Geisler mountains. The trail’s 15 stations – some of whose interpretive signs are in Braille – provide information concerning the history and the natural wonders of the area.
From the parking lot in Zannes/Zans, the trail leads through the Piuswiese meadow to a game reserve, then past a lime kiln to Kelderer Wiese refuge and the Forester’s house, and finally back to the Zannes/Zans parking lot. The maximum upward slope is eight percent, and there are several rest areas along the way.
The names of the various stations – “Please-touch Mountains” and “Nature’s Concert Hall” being just two examples – reflect the type of information available at each stop. The stations also provide information concerning the park’s flora and fauna, and about how humans have affected the landscape in the farthest reaches of the Funes/Villnößtal valley.
The wood sculptures at some of the trail’s stations were created by disabled artisans at “Der Kirschbaum” workshop in Bolzano/Bozen. The “Blindenzentrum – Centre for the Blind St. Raphael, Bolzano/Bozen” translated the texts into Braille.
Suggested Routes for Nature Trails and Hiking Routes
Malga Zannes/Zanser Alm (1,676 m) – Malga Gampen/Gampenalm (2,068 m) – Rifugio Genova/Schlüterhütte (2,303 m) – Passo Poma/Kreuzkofeljoch (2,344 m) – Cresta di Juac/Kamm des Juàc (2,421 m) – Malga Medalges/Medalgesalm (2,294 m) – Ciancenon/Tschantschenon (1,932 m) – Malga Zannes/Zanser Alm (1,676 m).
From S. Maddalena/St. Magdalena the road that runs along the right side of the Rio di Funes/Villnöß rivulet leads to the Zannes/Zans parking lot (1,676 m), which is the starting point of this route. From the parking lot, follow the Rio Caserill/Kaserillbach rivulet (marker no. 25) to Kirchwiese, where on the right is the beginning of trail no. 33, which leads to Malga Gampen/Gampenalm (2,068 m). Proceed on paths nos. 31-33 to the Rifugio Genova/Schlüterhütte refuge (2,297 m) and on to Passo Poma/Kreuzkofeljoch (2,344 m). Then take trail no. 4A, which goes down to connect the Forcella di Putia/Peitlerscharte pass with the Puez mountains. Carefully climb the scree slope to the Cresta di Juac/Kamm des Juàc (2,421 m; markers no. 3 – Dolomite Highway no. 2), where there is a sensational panoramic view. The trail then leads to Malga Medalges/Medalgesalm and Kreuzjoch (both 2,294 m). Take the steep descent to Ciancenon/Tschantschenon Alpine hut (path no. 6; 1,932 m), which takes around an hour, then continue towards the entrance to the valley until you reach the Zanse Alm-Gampenalm forest road fork. You then take the Adolf-Munkel-Weg trail (marker no. 35), which leads upwards through forests and grasslands on the left side of the valley. Exit this trail at the Glatschalm fork (1,902 m), which is located just under the northern face of the Odle/Geisler. From there, return to Zannes/Zans on a very steep trail (marked no. 36) that traverses spruce and Cembra pine forests.
Longariü/Kampill (1,397 m) – Serés (1,568 m) – Passo Poma/Kreuzkofeljoch (2,344 m) – Sasso della Croce/Munt dla Crusc (2,300 m) – Rifugio Genova/Schlüterhütte (2,303 m) – Passo Göma/Gömajoch (2,106 m) – Longariü/Kampill (1,397 m).
Take the road from S. Martino in Badia/St. Martin in Gadertal in the Badia/Gadertal valley to Longariü/Kampill (1,397 m), which lies in a side valley of the Badia/Gader stream. Here take trail no. 4, which leads up through pastures to the Sères farms (1,568 m), where you turn left and head towards Passo Poma/Kreuzkofeljoch (2,344 m). Bear left and continue following trail no. 4 to the pastures on the southern slopes of Sasso della Croce/Munt dla Crusc (2,300 m). Continue on to Passo Poma/Kreuzkofeljoch, where Rifugio Genova/Schlüterhütte refuge (2,303 m) is located.
The second part of the route takes you north from Passo Poma/Kreuzkofeljoch to the Forcella de Pütia/Peitlerscharte pass (marker no. 4). Bear right at the first fork (path marked no. 35) and head towards Sasso della Croce/Munt dla Crusc meadows. The trail goes uphill and downhill a number of times and finally leads back to the Sèresbach rivulet and the Cialnèur meadows. Continue on this same trail to Passo Göma/Gömajoch (2,106 m), which is an easy walk and from which you can see the summit of Sasso di Putia/Peitlerkofel in the foreground. Then turn right, and descend – following path marked no. 9 – back to the starting point, Longariü/Kamphill, which will take around an hour and a half.
Selva di val Gardena/Wolkenstein (1,569 m) – Passo Cir/Cirjoch (2,465 m) – Passo di Crespèina/Crespèinajoch (2,531 m) – Forcella di Ciampac/Ciampacjoch (2,359 m) – Rifugio Puez/Puezhütte (2,481 m) – Vallunga/Langental – Selva di val Gardena/Wolkenstein (1,569 m).
Take the Dantercèpies chairlift from Selva di val Gardena/Wolkenstein in Gröden (1,569 m) to the Passo Gardena/Grödner Joch area. From there, follow the path marked no. 12A along the foot of the Cir mountains/Cirspitzen to trail no. 2, which starts at Grödner Joch and leads up in steep turns to a corrie and to Passo Cir/Cirjoch (2,465 m). After a gentle descent to the Val de Cédul/Chedùltal across a gravel area, the trail leads up to the Passo di Crespèina/Crespèinajoch (2,531 m). From there proceed past the Lago di Crespèina (Crespèina lake) to the Forcella di Ciampac/Ciampacjoch (2,359 m) pass. Continue along the western edge of Gherdenacia past the intersection of trail no. 4 from Colfosco/Kolfuschg and the trail from Gherdenaciajoch. From the Passo di Crespèina/Ciampacjoch it takes about an hour to reach Rifugio Puez/Puezhütte refuge (2,481 m), always on path marked no. 2. From there descend into the Vallunga/Langental on trail no. 2 at first, then on to no. 16 (turn left at the junction). At the next fork, take to the right on path marked no. 14 and follow it all the way to the Dantercèpies chairlift station in Selva/Wolkenstein, which you will reach in around three hours.
Ortisei valley station/St. Ulrich (1,254 m) – via funicular railway to Seceda summit station (2,457 m) – Rifugio Troier/Troierhütte refuge (2,280 m) – Rifugio Firenze/RegensburgerHütte (2,046 m) – Col Raiser refuge (2,104 m) – Baita Gamsblut/Gamsbluthütte refuge (1,952 m) – S. Giacomo/St. Jakob (1,566 m) – Ortisei/St. Ulrich (1,235 m).
From the Ortisei/St. Ulrich lower station (1,254 m) take the funicular railway to the summit station of Seceda (2,457 m). From there, it is an easy hike on path marked no. 1 to the highest point of the route – the Alpe di Seceda/Seceda Alm (2,518 m) – from where there is a panoramic view that extends from the main Alpine ridge to the southern Dolomites, all the way from the Ortles/Ortler in the west to the Tofane in the east. Keep on trail no. 1, which runs along the foot of the Odle/Geisler, to Rifugio Troier/Troierhütte refuge (2,280 m) and on to the Iman lake. You then continue on to the Alpe di Cisles/Cisles-Alm and Rifugio Firenze/Regensburger Hütte refuge (2,046 m). Then follow trail no. 4 to Col Raiser (2,125 m), Rifugio Col Raiser/Col Raiser Hütte refuge (2,104 m) and on to Baita Gamsblut/Gamsbluthütte refuge (1,952 m). Continue downhill on this trail (no. 4) through the Bosch de Frëines woodland and S. Giacomo/St. Jakob (1,566 m), to finally head back to the funicular railway valley (lower) station in Ortisei/St. Ulrich.
To now finish off with a quote, Dino Buzzati (a renowned Italian writer of the second half of the 20th century) wrote in 1956, in Le Montagne di Vetro (The Glass Mountains):
«Come closer, please; examine this spectacle which is without a shadow of doubt one of the most beautiful, powerful and extraordinary things that this planet has to offer. (...) Are they rocks or clouds? Are they real or is it a dream?».
Well, these beautiful mountains are there waiting for us to find out ... .
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