Category Archives: Dolomites

Refugio Musatti

Trading Wilder Kaiser for the Marmarole

After almost a week in Wilder Kaiser, we feel the need to change the mountain and to diversify our activities. Even though we wanted to see Dachstein, in the end the call of the Dolomites is stronger, and so after a morning swim at the foot of Wilder Kaiser we drive the 250 kilometers which separate Wilder Kaiser from the Dolomites.

We plan to get in places we didn’t see 4 years ago, and I have some ideeas about trail running with a minimal bivouac equipement, and with sleeping and bivouacs which somewhere high above in the mountains. And in some parts of the Dolomites there really are some spectacular bivouacs.

But after the last shady days spent in the north faces of Wilder Kaiser, the moment in which we reach the austrian highways and the italian roads we start to feel the heat wave which has gripped the Alps. Even though after a small getting used to period I have no problem with high temperatures, going fast from cold to hot pisses me off, especially when hot means 34-35 degrees in a car without air conditioning. And come to think of it, the last time we felt such temperatures was almost two years ago, as we discovered that in Germany the thermometer rarely rises above 30 degrees (and when it does it turns into a national catastrophe).

We chose as a refuge for the hot weeked the Marmarole mountains, part of the Dolomites, somewhere between Sorapis, Cadini di Misurina and the Tre Cime di Lavaredo. 

We start up the mountain around 17 o’clock, with a minimal setup which would enable us to sleep at the Musatti bivouac, 2200 meters above sea level, in wild glacier cauldron with just two trails to reach it.

The route starts as steep as the normal routes from the north side of Wilder Kaiser, with a trail which seems to be relatively unmaintained. As we gain some altitude a summer storm closes in,  and by the looks of it we realize that we’re going to get wet to the bone. Our only hope is that it will also end quickly, and and that we’ll have enough time to dry ourselven until we reach the bivouac.

Around we can hear thunder, and we can see the not so distant lighting  and when we’re almost half way up the mountain we see a think cover of rain aproaching us. I only have time to take a quick photo of the impending rain which mixes with the last rays of sunshine before packing the camera inside the backpack, and afterwards up we go through the warm summer rain.

The rain fortunately stops as suddenly as it started, and we finally reach the refuge in an aerie atmosphere, when end of the storm mixes itself with the evening. The refuge is empty, and in a selfish way we’re glad that we have it only to ourselves. And it really is one of the nices places to spend the night with incredible views towards Cadini di Misurina and towards Sorapis.

Taking advantage of the blueish light I take quite a number of photos. Everything is completely still, and the thick wet grass lays thickly covered in the drops of the previous storm. At the same time I’m glad of the fresh and cold air which you can breathe up here, compared with the heat which we had to endure during the day. 

Saying goodbye to Wilder Kaiser, in the perfect bathing spot at the foot of the mountains.

Hope fades before the impeding summer storm.

After the rain.

Just a little before reaching the Musatti bivouac.

Mountain flowers, thick with raindrops.

And the Musatti bivouac.

The view from inside.

Looking for tomorows trail

To bad for the tights which ruin an otherwise good shot.

The 2 in 1 window-door.

IAn evening wish.

The blue hour.

Dolomites Cristallo

Searching for the trail in the Marmarole

We wake up late in the morning, and as we exit the spartan hut we are greeted by a clear blue ski with a burning sun which predicts a hot day. The Musati bivouac hut sits in a wild glacier cauldron, 1200 meters above the winding road which descends from the Passo di Tre Croci.

The via feratta starts almost behind the refugee, and even though the terrain seems too rough for running I hope that the mountain path will actually turn into a running trail at one point. But as the advance, crossing ridge after ridge we encounter the same combination of via feratta, a lot of gravel and wild and barren landscape. During the entire day we meet exactly 3 tourists, on a Saturday with perfect weather. And so we find that besides the overcrowded trails around Cortina d’Ampezzo you can find wild places even in the touristic Dolomites. One the way we meet several times mountain goats, which are better suited for the terrain in comparison with us in our minimalistic trail running equipment.

I completely give up on running after descending a long slope with moving gravel, which turned out to be a relatively painful experience for my exposed ankles. And so we  continue for the rest of the day first towards the Voltolina bivouac and then back to the car. My hopes of trying out the Dulfer route in the Cima Grande are shattered when Mihaela starts to complain about her knee, so we plan a friendlier tour around the Tre Cime di Lavaredo.

Charmed by the beauty of the place.

With Cristallo in the background.

In the middle of a rock kingdom.

The typical dolomite landscape.

Looking towards Cadini di Misurina.

The end of the day.

Privind catre Cadini di Misurina

Running around the Tre Cime di Lavaredo

It’s the ninth day on the mountain, and the ninth day with perfect weather. And even though all the days really full we haven’t reached our saturation after a couple of months in the flat lands around Berlin. Days have passed since we’ve spent our last day in a camping, and we’ve spent in high places before, or doing wild camping. Even though it is technically not allowed in the Dolomites, if you keen an eye open for good spots and if you don’t bother anyone you should be ok.

It’s really fascinating how fast the body changes when you send time in the mountains. The mountain hardens you without knowing it, and it really doesn’t matter what you do, and just the effort of climbing a peak is sometimes enough. If you add mountain running or climbing the effect is greatly amplified. And with each day gone by, you become more adapted to the place where you spend your time.

You can do the same thing while living in flat place, but at least when doing things in the mountains the effect is an added effect, as your also having a lot of fun in the process. Each time your running on a trail, or when your sitting in a belay waiting for your climbing partner your eyes and your soul are free to wander as they please.

We’re going to take a day off at one point, but not today. We’re really close to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, and I want to go with Mihaela on a running trip around them. The temperatures for today are as hot as ever and we plan our trip so that we’re going to spend the hottest part of the day above 2000 meters. I take a longer round to the Cime, running on a high ridge with comes from the south, and after meeting up at the base of the impressive walls we spend some time in the shade watching teams climbing and young children bathing in the small ponds at the base of the towers.

Unfortunately the air wasn’t really clear, and the the normal way around the towers is packed with people, a world away from yesterday’s trekk through Marmarole where we’ve met just one person in beautiful Saturday. 

We descend on the Rienza valley, leaving the classic tourist trail behind, and after a 1000 meter descend we get back to the car on another small valley which leads to the place where the tax road to the Cime starts.

Covered in salt after a really hot day I find one of the nicest bathing places I’ve found up until now in the mountains, and I end the day with a refreshing bath in the cold stream. One one hand there is the crystal clear blueish water of the stream, the lush green of the surrounding grass, and the white walls of the Cadini di Misurina, one couldn’t wish for a better setting.
After an uninspired climb to the Sella towers, hoping for an evening climb we spend the night wild camping. Somwhere around Tofana di Rose.

The Tre Cime di Lavaredo, as seen from the south.

And the massive rock faces of the northern side, who knows, maybe one day….

Looking for the shade.

Idilic setting.

The perfect bathing place.

A natural Jacuzzi and frozen smile.

Following the winding trail.

And pushing the world a bit of it’s orbit.

The evening view from the Sella Towers