The Sciliar, Catinaccio and Latemar range is one of the most articulated and evocative in the Dolomites, and one of the nine sites that collectively form the serial Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage Site.
«Looking backwards through an opening at one of these dark corners, we saw again the Latemar precipices, which we had lost sight of since leaving Welschnofen [Nova Levante]. They stood high in the air, and bathed in sunlight; their front worn into a singular resemblance to the pipes of a gigantic organ».
These were the words written in 1864 by Josiah Gilbert and G. C. Churchill – two Englishmen who traveled the Dolomites' region and gave one of the first existing accounts of it in "The Dolomite Mountains".
The Sciliar-Catinaccio range today is protected by the Natural Park Sciliar-Catinaccio/Naturpark Schlern-Rosengarten – an area of 6,796 ha located in the western Dolomites. The reserve was instituted in 1974, the first of seven parks now composing the network of Natural Parks of South Tyrol; together with the protected area of the Alpe di Siusi/Seiseralm (described below) it forms a much vaster territory. The two most famous peaks comprised within the perimeter of park are Punta Santner and Punta Euringer, while the Sciliar/Schlern section has its maximum elevation at Monte Petz (2,563 m). Only since 2003 was the Catinaccio also included as part of the Nature Park area.
Situated at the centre of the Nature Park Sciliar-Catinaccio, the Sciliar massif has different accesses: from the val di Tires, from Siusi, from Fiè allo Sciliar/Völs and – most notably – from the Alpe di Siusi.
On the plateau at the summit is found, at 2,457 metres, the Rifugio Bolzano/Schlernhaus, where superbly panoramic views on the Dolomite giants of Sella (Piz Boè, 3,152 m), Sassolungo/Langkofel (3,181 m) and Catinaccio/Rosengarten open up. The geographic limits are, clockwise, the valle Isarco/Eisack, the Forcella Denti di Terrarossa, the Passo Alpe di Tires and the val di Tires itself.
Unlike other ranges, the Sciliar (Schlern in German) is not dominated so much by mighty, stand-alone mountains, but rather characterized by a fantastic combination of mountain groups: innumerable swarms of sharp pointed peaks, bold jagged towers, pinnacles and vast rock faces that lit up with magical colours at dawn and dusk, illuminated by the iridescent pink and reddish lights of the rising and setting sun (a phenomenon known as ‘enrosadira’, described below). The whole area is also dotted with magnificent lakes reflecting the surrounding peaks.
This particularly spectacular landscape, of exceptional scenic value, is characterized by extremely distinctive mountain shapes, whose profiles have gained legendary status and are now being recognized throughout the world for their beauty.
Such sights include the Vajolet Towers (“Torri del Vajolet/Vajolettürme”), the Latemar Bell Towers (“Campanili di Latemar”) and the impressive rock cliffs of the Sciliar/Schlern itself – one of the massifs that lend their name to the system.
The Sciliar/Schlern – and, for that matter, the Catinaccio/Rosengarten too – are in all respects rocky ridges facing NW over the natural terrace that opens up on to the Tires/Tiers and Isarco/Eisack valleys, bounded to the south by the valleys of Fassa and Duròn (in Trentino).
Among many others, the main summits of this system comprise (from the highest): Catinaccio d’Antermoia/Antermoi (3,002 m), Catinaccio /Rosengarten(2,981 m), Cima Scalieret (2,887 m), Croda di Lausa (2,876 m), Campanili di Latemar (2,842 m), Cima val Bona (2,822 m), Molignon (2,820 m) Torri del Vajolet/Vajolettürme (2,813 m), Roda di Vael/Rotwand (2,806 m), Corno d'Ega/Eggentaler Horn (2,799 m), Schenon (2,791 m), Cima di Terrarossa/Roterdspitz(2,580 m) and Punta Santner/Santner Spitze (2,413 m).
Depending on the viewpoint from which they are being observed, these mountains change their appearance radically, while always maintaining peculiar contour lines and a distinctive profile.
The Sciliar/Schlern, for example, when seen from Bolzano/Bozen appears like a giant monolith with a flat top, from which two distinct, separate pinnacles stand out side by side: these are Punta Santner ('Santner Point') and Punta Euringer ('Euringer Point') – forming a view so famous that it has become one of the emblems of South Tyrol.
However, when seen from the Alpe di Siusi/Seiseralm this same massif shows on the contrary an impressive escarpment that joins the meadows and pastures at its base, following neatly the same angle that once linked the atoll to the underlying sea-bed.
Archaeology has recently managed to establish, thanks to specific research and pollen analysis, that the vast plateau on the summit of this mountain had already been extensively used during the Bronze Age, both for cult and for the exploitation of high altitude pastures.
During August 2011 two landslides detached from the Cima Euringer (2,394 m): the first dragged to the valley floor three boulders of great dimensions, while the second had major dimensions. In total, the material that detached itself from the mountain was quantified in about 2,000 cubic metres of rock.
The traditional name of the mountain is attested since the 16° century as Schlernkhofl, in 1567 as ‘auf dem Schalern’ and in 1700 as Schlern. It has both a Pre-German and a Pre-Roman base, to be identified in *sala; that is "ditch, brook, canal", which refers in primis to Schlerngraben (Sciliar ditch or moat) and secondly to Schlernbach (Sciliar brook; stream). The Italian form – Sciliar – was introduced by Ettore Tolomei, and doubles the Ladin denomination of Schiliáar.
Some basic information is given here also on the Catinaccio/Rosengarten, which forms an important part of the system; however, more detailed information on this beautiful mountain – so important also for its myths and legends – is given in a dedicated page.
The Catinaccio/Rosengarten itself is configured like an endless series of peaks and sharp needles radiating from the core nucleus of the Vajolet Towers/Vajolettürme (2,813 m), which in turn illustrate the movement of the advanced part of an ancient island that progressively sank into the sea – an event dating back to 240 million years ago!
A particularly spectacular feature of this mountain is the constant change in the colour palette – as the day progresses – from pink and red at dawn to orange, purple and mauve at dusk.
This phenomenon is known as ‘enrosadira’ in the Ladin language – a natural feature that has given rise to numerous legends, and effectively helped to turn this mountain into the elective home of King Laurin (‘Re Laurino’ in Italian), one of the most mythical figures in the Dolomites’ saga.
In fact, the German name of Catinaccio (Rosengarten) says it all: ‘Rose Garden’, as this mountain is said to have taken its name from a legendary, petrified garden which would be – according to legend – responsible for the particularly bright colours of the rocks.
These colours – more vivid perhaps than in other mountain ranges of the Dolomites – include unusual vermilion, madder pink and crimson hues (and a lot of nuances in between) recalling rose blossoms, especially at sunrise and sunset.
The Costalunga Pass/Karerpass (1,753 m) offers the most extraordinary view on this range; from here the ancient, isolated atoll – a lone peak with the horizontal lines of the lagoon sediments and the sloping profile of the escarpment still visible – is reflected in the still waters of the tiny jewel of Lago di Carezza/Karersee (Carezza Lake).
The fact that the outcrops are so easily accessible; the large quantity of fossils that were found in the area, coupled with the relationship between volcanic and carbonate sediments – all this contributes to make these mountains one of the most important areas in the world for study and reference regarding the stratigraphy of the Triassic.
This system is characterized by a significantly unique morphological geo-diversity, generated by the coming together of the energy of the relief (contour lines), the great variety of structural forms and shapes connected with deformations of the terrestrial crust (tectonics and lithological types) and the sheer diversity of rocks that can be found there.
In addition, there is abundant evidence of climatic variations from the glaciations – and even before (Pre-glacial). We also have to mention the wide range of morpho-dynamic elements linked with gravity (gravitational processes).
As we have said already, the splintered peaks of the Sciliar/Schlern rise like a huge rampart, providing a backdrop to the provincial capital of Bolzano/Bozen; alongside, sentinel-like, stand the rock pinnacles of the Dente dello Sciliar – the ‘Tooth of the Sciliar’.
But unseen from the city – and indeed from anywhere else below it – is the Alpe di Siusi/Seiseralm: an undulating, mesmerising plateau of tree-dotted meadows which intermingle with the surrounding peaks.
The Alpe di Siusi
At an average height of 2,000 metres, this green jewel is set within a casket of mountains that make it one of Italy’s largest and most beautiful areas of high Alpine meadows.
The Alpe di Siusi is situated on the western side of the Dolomites, at an average altitude of 1,850 m, and it is extended for 52 square km between the Val Gardena to the north, the Sciliar massif to the south-east and the Sassolungo (3,181 m) group to the north-east.
It is an Alpe, an ‘Alp’; in other words, a location where ‘alpeggio’ is practiced (the animals graze freely in a natural setting), and it is among the vastest areas of its kind in Europe, subdivided as it is into numerous parcels, from which the farmers have always obtained hay for their ‘masi’ – the self-sufficient farm units typical of this region, generally located at lower altitudes or on the valley floor.
Most of the plateau is renowned for its spring and early summer blossoms, while some other parts are turned into marshland – equally important habitats – by rain and melt-water. The eastern side of the Alpe di Siusi is comprised since 1975 within the boundaries of the Sciliar-Catinaccio Nature Park.
Towns and Villages
The Alpe di Siusi belongs to the municipality of Castelrotto/Kastelruth. It has, comprised within it, two main settlements: Compaccio/Compatsch (1,825 m), which is located at the entrance of the ‘Alpe’, while Saltria (1,700 m) is a small community 4 km away. Among the two are scattered dozens of ‘baite’ (wooden cabins), some of which are also open to the public as inns or restaurants during the summer and winter seasons; some even offer accommodation.
The area is quite rich in infrastructures geared towards both summer and winter tourism, and it is connected to the surrounding ski areas of Ortisei/St. Ulrich (in the Val Gardena) and Siusi (town) through ski-lifts – whose massive presence raises however some issues of environmental concern.
The Alpe di Siusi can be reached by car from the road that connects Castelrotto to Siusi and the Sciliar (this road is in fact private, and there are limitations to the traffic from 9am to 5pm) or by bus from Monte Pana in the municipality of Santa Cristina Val Gardena (in some months of the year this road is completely closed to private traffic). The ‘Alpe’ is also reached by two cable-cars: Siusi - Alpe di Siusi (with the lower station at Siusi town and the arrival station above Compaccio/Compatsch) and Ortisei - Alpe di Siusi (with the lower station in the immediate vicinity of the centre of Ortisei).
Brief Outline of Winter Tourism in the Area
From the first decades of the 1900s, the gentle slopes of the Alpe di Siusi have begun to be frequented by people passionate about the newly discovered winter sports. In the summer of 1934, the opening of the Ortisei - Alpe di Siusi cable-car allowed to reach the vast plateau not just on foot. Very soon, the number of visitors to the ‘Alpe’ grew significantly; in January 1938 the first ski slope was inaugurated. It was in fact a ‘slittovia’ (sleigh run), very much similar to those already in function in some resorts of the Alps of Piedmont. The sleigh run led to a small hut then known as Giogo/Joch. During the 1940s the first chair lift, with single seats, was realised: it started just below Monte Piz and took skiers to the now disappeared Rifugio Icaro, which was about 2 km from the upper station of the Ortisei - Alpe di Siusi cable-car.
During the period after WW2 the number of ski lifts grew exponentially. In 1961 the sleigh run of the Giogo/Joch was substituted by a mono-seat chair lift. Thanks to the extraordinary view that could be enjoyed at the arrival of the lift, it was renamed Panorama. By the end of the 1960s, the ski area had taken the current dimensions; to this followed a phase of continual renewal of the infrastructures, which carries on still today. In 1988 the mono-seat chair lift Panorama was substituted with a four-seat chair lift – the first in the area.
In 2002, the cable-car Siusi-Alpe di Siusi was inaugurated, which has allowed a better link between the Alpe di Siusi and the underlying village. In 2006 the two-seat chair lift Paradiso was substituted by a six-seat chair lift; the same happened in 2008 to the four-seat chair lift Panorama: the six-seat chair lifts thus appeared also on the Alpe di Siusi. In 2009 the mono-seat chair lift Puflatsch/Bullaccia was substituted by a combined six-seat mixed system chair lift/cable-car (sometimes also referred to as ‘telemix’) – the first of this type to be inaugurated in the Dolomites.
From the Alpe one can enjoy unhindered panoramic views at 360°; clockwise, from the north: the Sass de Putia (2,873 m); the Puez-Odle group (3,025 m); the Gran Cir; the Sella group (3,152 m); the Sassolungo (3,181 m) and Sassopiatto (2,995 m); the Marmolada (3,343 m); the Pale di San Martino (between 2,500 and 2,800 m), the Vajolet towers (2,813 m); the Catinaccio (Rosengarten) group (2,981 m) – with the highest peak of Catinaccio d'Antermoia (3,002 m) – and finally the Sciliar itself (2,450 m).
Even if the Alpe di Siusi/Seiseralm may sound tame by Dolomite standards, it nevertheless offers pastoral walks beside verdant streams; also, most of the development is concentrated in the northern section, leaving plenty of wilder scenery to explore in the south – especially in the Tires/Tiers valley. Spectacular, too, are the gorges that come down towards the villages of Fiè/Völs and Siusi/Schlern.
What Else to See in the Sciliar Area
The rocks of the Sciliar/Schlern are among the oldest in the Dolomites, and contain an abundance of not only fossils but also of minerals – the most direct fruits of past volcanic activity.
In the eastern sector stand the bizarre towers of volcanic rock known as Denti di Terrarossa – the ‘Teeth of Red Earth’.
The area centred around the Sciliar/Schlern is also a place of historical interest, inhabited since ancient times and known locally as the ‘Mountain of Destiny’.
Prehistoric remains have been found in its many caves – most notably in the Buco dell’Orso/Bärenloch (the ‘Bear’s Hole’) – while in the vicinity of Albergo Frommer, at an altitude of nearly 2,500 metres, has been discovered what in all likelihood is a former site of ancient Pagan worship.
The main mountain huts to serve the area are Rifugio Bolzano/Schlernhaus (2,457 m), on the Sciliar/Schlern plateau near the peak of Monte Petz (2,563 m) and Rifugio Alpe di Tires/Schutzhaus Tierser Alp (2,440 m), located instead on the Catinaccio/Rosengarten, at the foot of the Denti di Terrarossa/Rosszähne, from which two vie ferrate ('iron ways') can be accessed.
These two mountain huts are conveniently located inside the Sciliar-Catinaccio Nature Park (Naturpark Schlern-Rosengarten), but there are other important structures situated outside the Park. These include Rifugio Bergamo (Grasleitenhütte; 2,134 m), in the Ciamin valley and under the summits of Torre del Principe and Pizzo di Valbona (2,802 m); Rifugio Vajolet (2,243 m), at the 'Porte Neigre' (the 'Black Doors'), right under the Vajolet Towers; Rifugio Antermoia (2,497 m), in the glacial valley with the same name; Rifugio Gardenaccia (1,949 m) and Rifugio Roda di Vael (2,283 m), both used as a base for excursions and ascents on the Catinaccio/Rosengarten.
The Sciliar-Catinaccio Nature Park features prominently also in the thematic trails known as ‘Culturonda Dolomythos’: a series of 12 cultural routes – devised by the province of Bolzano/Bozen – which contain all the main features that can be admired in South Tyrol, divided by theme.
The Nature Park Sciliar-Catinaccio/Schlern-Rosengarten
Ancient Cultures and New Perspectives
The Sciliar/Schlern mountain is an impressive formation which, together with the Santner and Euringer columns (Punta Santner and Punta Euringer), counts as one of the major landmarks of South Tyrol. The Catinaccio/Rosengarten massif, with its countless pinnacles, is also renowned beyond the borders of South Tyrol. One of the Catinaccio/Rosengarten massif’s peaks – known as Catinaccio d’Antermoia/Kesselkogel – rises to a height of 3,002 meters. The park contains the towns of Siusi/Seis, Fié/Völs, Tires/Tiers as well as the Val Ciamin/Tschamintal forests.
The park is part of the European-wide Natura 2000 sites, which aim to promote habitat, flora and fauna conservation, to which end the province of Bolzano/South Tyrol commissioned so-called management plans.
On the Siusi/Seis, Fié/Völs and Tires/Tiers sides, Sciliar/Schlern is framed by mixed coniferous forests. The Forest of Castelvecchio/Hauenstein, situated in northeast Siusi/Seis, mainly consists of Spruce (Picea abies) and Larch (Larix decidua) and – to a lesser extent – of Scots’ Pine (Pinus sylvestris), Fir (Abies alba), Ash (Fraxinus excelsior), Birch (Betula pedula) and Mountain Ash (Sorbus aucuparia). The Laghetto di Fié/Völser Weiher (Fié pond), which is also located inside the park, is surrounded by Scots’ Pine woods. On the Fié/Völs side there are Cembra pines (Pinus cembra) too. The rear portions of Tschafon and Ciamin/Tschamin valleys are covered with high lying forests of Spruce, Larch and Scots’ Pine. The most secluded parts of these forests are densely covered with berry bearing dwarf shrubs and are populated by Western Capercaille (Tetrao urogallus). Woodpeckers (Subfamily Picidae) and Owls (Family Strigidae) are found in the vicinity of old stands of trees, while birds such as Crossbill (genus Loxia) and Willow Tit (Poecile montanus) are typical denizens of the mountain forests surrounding the Sciliar/Schlern region.
Alpine Pastures and the Ciapit/Tschapit Meadows
Legends and bog findings suggest that the Sciliar/Schlern Alpine pastures and the Sciliar/Schlern area were completely covered by coniferous forests for thousands of years. These forests, which reached an altitude of at least 2,200 m, fell victim to slash and burn agriculture; the resulting pastures now form a colorful carpet of heath lands, meadows and boggy areas.
Flora of the Alpe di Siusi/Seiser Alm
The spring bogs and rivulet beds provide a home for Bird’s Eye Primrose (Primula farinosa) and Butterworts (genus Pinguicula), as well as for numerous species of moss, sedge, cotton grass and rush. However, development measures and the use of fertilizers have seriously damaged the extraordinary flora of the Alpe di Siusi/Seiser Alm and have reduced the area’s size. On the plateau, Purple Mountain Saxifrage (Saxifraga oppositifolia), Crocuses (Crocus sp.), Anemones (Anemone sp.) and Snowbell (Soldanella sp.) are among the earliest flowering plants. Alpine rose (Rosa pendulina) grows in areas where no grass is cut. In terms of birds, Black Grouse (Tetrao tetrix) are observed near the timberline, while Alpine Chough (Pyrrhocorax graculus) often fly close to mountain huts in search of food.
Dolomite Rock and Detritus Cirques
The fact that the peaks and rocks of the Sciliar/Schlern mountains towered above the fir forests already during the period of maximal ice age glaciation enabled plants – the so called ‘endemics’ – to survive the glacial period: such was the case with many Bellflower (Campunula) species and Devil’s claw (Physoplexis comosa). Typical representatives of Sciliar/Schlern flora also include Vitaliana primuliflora, Facchini’s Saxifrage (Saxifraga facchini), Dolomite Androsace (Androsace alpina) and Mountain Thrift (Armeria alpina). In terms of fauna, Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) and Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) are often observed at the Nature Park Sciliar-Catinaccio/Schlern-Rosengarten; Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) build their aeries in the park. Alpine Chough (Pyrrhocorax graculus), Common Raven (Corvus corax), Eurasian Crag Martin (Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and Alpine Swift (Tachymarptis melba) also nest in the rock faces of Sciliar/Schlern (some birds, however, are present only as a breeding summer visitors).
History and Legends
The sub-Alpine highlands of Fié/Völs, Siusi/Seis and Castelrotto/Kastelruth, which are located just outside the park, were already inhabited in prehistoric times. Several findings in Umes/Ums and Aica di Fié/Völser Aicha prove that there have been human settlements in this area since the bronze age. The most valuable finding of the area, however – known as the Sword of Castelvecchio/Hauenstein – was found inside the park at the foot of Sciliar/Schlern. Findings at Monte Castello/Purgstall and Plörg suggest that the beautiful view from the Sciliar/Schlern attracted people even in prehistoric times. The rock fortress of Castelvecchio/Hauenstein was the home of the late-medieval poet and bard Oswald von Wolkenstein (see also the page ‘Culturonda Dolomythos’ for more information on Oswald von Wolkenstein).
Generations of mountaineers have practiced on the rock faces of the Sciliar/Schlern mountain. A century ago the legendary refuge Schlernhaus (known in Italian as Rifugio Bolzano) became a jumping off point for South Tyrol’s Alpine association Alpenverein.
Some of the world’s finest skiers descended their first slopes at the Alpe di Siusi/Seiser Alm; later on, the pioneers of South Tyrolean tourism built the first ski lifts there, and human civilization took possession of these mountain heights at an ever increasing pace. In the early 1970s, this evolution was brought under control by a land use plan for the Alpe di Siusi/Seiser Alm: the plan called for a reduction in vehicular traffic and building construction, and for the protection of still-intact areas through the establishment of South Tyrol’s first Nature Park. Initially there were loud voices of protest, as farmers feared for their existence, hunters for their game and the tourist industry for their hotel and ski lift projects; and yet, only a few years later, the town of Fié/Völs took it upon itself to apply for an extension of the park’s surface area.
Interpretive Nature Trails
Interpretive Nature Trail “Sentiero dei Geologi”/Geologensteig
The Geologensteig interpretive nature trail counts as one of the most fascinating places to hike in the Dolomites – a fact attested to by countless articles in scholarly journals. The trail offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the park’s geology and immerse themselves into this fascinating world.
The path begins at Bagni di Razzes/Bad Ratzes, and takes one to Malga Prossliner/Prossliner Schwaige; from there
to Schlernbödelehütte refuge and then
back to the starting point. During the hike, you’ll have the opportunity
to see the various geological strata close up and gain an understanding of how the Dolomites were formed. The Nature Park brochure contains a detailed description
of this trail and its ten stations.
Trail length: 9,5 km; walking time: 3,5 hours.
Interpretive Nature Trail "Oswald von Wolkenstein”
The Oswald von Wolkenstein interpretive nature trail is a 15-station loop-hiking trail in Nature Park Sciliar-Catinaccio/Schlern-Rosengarten. The trail provides an excellent introduction to the relevant historical background and local events, and underscores the importance and goals of Nature Parks for landscape conservation in South Tyrol.
The Castelvecchio/Hauenstein forest, with its two ruins, is an example of this, and bears testimony to the centuries-old relationship between man and nature. A trip back to the time of Oswald von Wolkenstein makes for an exciting journey into the past: the trail is suitable for hikers of all ages, as the various stations provide numerous opportunities for kids to have fun and learn a great deal at the same time, while adults can get acknowledged with the life of the multi-faceted bard Oswald von Wolkenstein. It’s best to begin your hike in the parking lot of the Siusi-Alpe di Siusi/Seis-Seiser Alm cable railway station, from which the path first takes you towards Hotel Saleg and then continues on from there (see also the page ‘Culturonda Dolomythos’ for more information on Oswald von Wolkenstein).
Trail length: around 3,5 km; walking time: around 60 minutes.
Suggested Routes for Virtual Nature Hikes and Hiking Routes
If you’d like to visit the best lookout points in the Nature Park Sciliar-Catinaccio/Schlern-Rosengarten, then you will definitely want to consider taking a closer look at one of our proposed hikes through the unique natural and man-made landscapes offered by the park.
Needless to say, though, the best way to discover the nature parks of South Tyrol is by experiencing the “real thing” first hand!
Route 1: Alpe di Siusi/Seiser Alm (Compaccio/Compatsch 1,842 m) – Malga Saltner/Saltnerhütte (1,835 m) – “Sentiero dei Turisti”/Touristensteig – Rifugio Bolzano/Schlernhaus (2,455 m) – Rifugio Alpe di Tires/Tierser-Alp-Hütte (2,444 m) – Forcella dei Denti di Terrarossa/Rosszahn-Scharte (2,497 m) – Hotel Punta d’Oro/Goldknopf Hotel (2,078 m) – Alpe di Siusi/Seiser Alm (Compaccio/Compatsch 1,842 m)
Leave the parking lot near Compaccio/Compatsch and walk south on the service road, from which you will fork off to the right after a short while (at marker no. 10). You then take another service road (marker no. 5), which extends from Malga Frommer to Saltnerhütte refuge (1,835 m). Then, the hiking track known as Touristensteig (marker no. 1) takes you – via many twists and turns – through a terrain full of Dwarf Mountain pines (Pinus mugo). Around three hours after leaving Compaccio/Compatsch you will reach Rifugio Bolzano/Schlernhaus refuge (2,455 m), from which an almost flat track (marker nos. 1-4) leads across the plateau. After reaching the Western side of Roterdspitze, the serpentine trail will take you to the upper edge of Bärenlochtal valley at the end of Tschamintal valley. From there the trail (marker no. 4) takes you through murky Wengener Laven to Tierser-Alp-Hütte refuge (2,444 m). The way back from the Alpe di Tires/Tierser Alp to the Alpe di Siusi/Seiser Alm (marker no. 2) begins with the ascent to Roßzahn-Scharte (2,497 m), then a serpentine trail leads you down to Goldknopf Hotel (2,078 m); finally, a wide service road to the left (marker no. 7) takes you past Panorama Hotel back to the starting point on the western side of Alpe di Siusi/Seiser Alm Alpine pasture.
Route 2: Bagni di Razzes by Siusi/Bad Ratzes bei Seis (1,205 m) – Rio Freddo/Frötschbach – Malga Prossliner/Prossliner Schwaige (1,744 m) – Rifugio Schlernboden/Schlernbödele-Hütte (1,693 m) – Bagni di Razzes/Bad Ratzes (1,205 m)
This loop trail, which takes you along the traditional geologists’ trail in the Frötschenbachschlucht area, begins at the parking lot in Bagni di Razzes/Bad Ratzes near Siusi/Seis (1,205 m). The trail (marker no. 1) at first takes you to the right, through the forest, along the Frötschbach rivulet. After a short while the trail forks, with the right fork leading to Schlernbödelehütte refuge, while the left fork (marker no. 1a) is called Proßliner Steig. Take this latter path; the Proßliner Schwaige is located there, at a particularly lovely section of the Siusi/Seiser Alpine pasture, and offers a stunning view of the Sciliar/Schlern mountain. Continue along this same trail (marker no. 1a; then no. 10, to the right), which will lead you through a small hollow to the “Sentiero dei Turisti”/Touristensteig (marker no. 1), which originates at the Altopiano dello Sciliar/Schlernhochfläche plateau; from there, proceed toward Schlernbödelehütte refuge. On reaching the locality of Kehren, descend to Frötschbach, where you close the loop; turn left, and then head back to the starting point at Bagni di Razzes/Bad Ratzes (1,205 m).
Route 3: Bagni di Lavina Bianca/Weißlahnbad bei Tiers (1,175 m) – Val Ciamin/Tschamintal – Rifugio Alpe di Tires/Tierser Alp (2,444 m) – Rifugio Bolzano/Schlernhaus (2,455 m) – Orsara/Bärenfalle – Bagni di Lavina Bianca/Weißlahnbad (1,175 m)
From Tires/Tiers a road leads to Bagni di Lavina Bianca/Weißlahnbad and then to the parking lot near the Nature Park House Sciliar/Schlern by the Stegen sawmill (1,175 m). This is the starting point for your hiking trail (marker no. 3), which leads to the Val Ciamin/Tschamintal valley, across the rivulet several times and ends at the entrance to the narrow and steep Bärenloch (literally, “the Bear's Gap”). Follow the trail through Bärenloch (marker no. 3a), then turn right on trail no. 4 and cross the steep terrace up to Tierser-Alp-Hütte (2,444 m). (See route no. 1 for a description of the crossing of Altopiano dello Sciliar/Schlern plateau from Tierser-Alp-Hütte to Rifugio Bolzano/Schlernhaus). It takes around 2 hours to get to Rifugio Bolzano/Schlernhaus (2,455 m) with trail no. 4 (on the last section turn left on path no. 1). From there, a steep trail (marker no. 2) leads down in a southeasterly direction to Bagni di Lavina Bianca/Weißlahnbach and Tires/Tiers, along the northern slope of Monte Cavaccio/Tschafatsch to Bärenfalle; the descent through the Bärenfalle is rather steep, but not difficult. Return to the starting point by walking through the Val Ciamin/Tschamintal valley forests.
Route 4: Parking lot in S. Cipriano/St. Zyprian (1,135 m) – Plafötsch (1,566 m) – Malga Haniger/Haniger Schwaige (1,908 m) – Passo Nigra/Nigerpass (1,689 m) – S. Cipriano/St. Zyprian (1,135 m)
This route features panoramic views of the Catinaccio/Rosengarten mountain, plus it crosses forests and fields that vary greatly from each other. At Passo Nigra/Nigerpass you can take a bus back to S. Cipriano/St. Zyprian. Trail no. 7 begins at the parking lot (1,135 m), from which you head uphill towards Plafötsch Alpine pasture (1,566 m) through fields and forests. This cultivated meadow, which offers a panoramic view of Catinaccio/Rosengarten, is the first opportunity to stop for refreshment or a meal. After continuing along trail no. 7 for an hour or so, you will come upon Hanicker Schwaige (1,908 m) – another suitable place for refreshment. But before you do, take a few moments to admire the renowned Vajolet columns (or ‘Towers’). The trail ascends slightly after Hanicker Schwaige – via fields and forests – to the foot of Catinaccio/Rosengarten. Here you’ll find panoramic views on the Catinaccio/Rosengarten and Latemar mountains, as well as over the Tires/Tiers valley. After about half an hour take the left fork in the trail (path no. 1) towards Baumannschwaige and Passo Nigra/Nigerpass (1,689 m) – another good place to stop for refreshment – from where you can return to the starting point via trail no. 1A and thus close the loop, or take the bus back to S. Cipriano/St. Zyprian. If you’d like to hike this trail and do less amount of climbing – 300 m less to be exact – you can take this route in the opposite direction by starting at Passo Nigra/Nigerpass, which you can reach by bus.
And now, let us finish off with another quote from "The Dolomite Mountains":
«Imagine a gigantic amphitheatre or jagged, cleft precipices, shooting 3,000 feet above the spectator out of a depth far below him, and reaching, in the Rothewand Spitze (sic), to the height of 10,200 feet above the sea. Let the arms of this amphitheatre stretch forward so as to embrace nearly one half of his horizon, shutting him up to the one view of a stern, desolate, barren face, that presents itself on all sides. Let successive masses of débris descend from the base of this long line of precipices through the whole sweep of its circuit, and threaten to occupy the entire basin below, while still leaving a small patch of bright green pasture, on which a dark spot is identified as a chalet: all this imagined will still give but a very inadequate idea of the impressiveness of the scene».
What else is there left to say? One really has to come here and see for oneself!...
Copyright © 2012 Italy-Tours-in-Nature