The last tour from refuge to refuge this year. It’s quite something when you know that the summer season in the Alps is coming to an end. One by one, the huts are going into hibernation…. One by one is actually a good keyword for the tour – because in the last week before the tour 3 participants called in sick. Therefore, we started the tour with 4 participants from the DAV, Bremen section, plus a guide.

But it really was a tour of superlatives: I had already done large parts of the tour last year. Somehow I seem to have missed out on the most beautiful parts. Back then, I had modified the initial stage (due to difficulty) and the final stage (due to a strike in public transport). This time, changes to the route resulted from the available refuges – changes that enriched the tour incredibly. But one after the other.

After the group having become so small, we suddenly had two large maisonettes for 5 people – 3 ladies and 2 gentlemen. Of course, there was plenty of space and a princely base camp for the first 2 nights in St. Cristina. We spent our introductory tour on Sunday in the best weather on Monte Selvia. It wasn’t particularly busy there, while around Seceda and Col Raiser it was a hustle and bustle.

On Monday it got serious: After a hearty breakfast at the local in St. Cristina (excellent!) we took the cable car to Col Raiser… and there the tour began. The path to Forcella Sieles had just been repaired and re-marked by the nature park staff after last weeks’ erosion due to heavy rain – really great!

Everyone mastered the subsequent wire rope section on the ridge, including a big step over the abyss. Some time later we had our well-deserved lunch break at the Puez refuge. Then we headed towards the Rifugio Gardenaccia. There were always new views in the direction of Fanes – Sennes, we crossed a lonely plateau… and just before we reached the refuge, a marmot allowed us to take close up pictures – how cute!

Probably the best half board was waiting for us…. à la carte food for all three courses – delicious!!! The next day then took us via Corvara to the associated ski area. This takes some getting used to after a long rather quiet day, and definitely not the participants’ favourite day on this hike. We can do better than that! On the other hand, the Hotel Ai Pini was, as always, a very hospitable place an won “best breakfast of the tour”.

The Fanes-Sennes plateau on the next day was hidden after some time in increasingly dense clouds. After a while, it also started to rain. Nevertheless, the fog cleared sufficiently to allow marvelling at the magnificent mountains – and we also had a brilliant panorama from the window of the Pederü. However, we especially remembered the cyclist who carried his bike and heavy panniers up the climb to the Col de Locia. He did this in stages and had to walk up and down several times. I wonder if he made it. We did not see him again.

Up the steep military road the next morning and on to the longest and most challenging day. Just under eight hours walking time to the Dürrenstein refuge on the Prato Piazza. Again, one superlative after the next: the crags behind the Seekofelhütte, wide views of other Dolomite peaks all around, the big rockfall in front of the Rossalm, the first glimpse of the Three Peaks…. glorious!

After a restful night at the Dürrensteinhütte, we set off for the Tre Cime. We use an alternative route via the Rifugio Auronzo. In addition to the panorama of the peaks “from behind”, this route also offers a lovely ascent along a river, with a great place for a lunch break. At the toll station we cross the road, and then we go up to the Auronzo refuge. At the top we almost feel like we are in London on Oxford Street…. It is full of people who have come up by bus and car and are enjoying the mountain on a Friday afternoon in fine weather. Needs getting used to!

It’s great that the Lavaredo refuge is not that far away and that people are gradually leaving the mountain – so we have the peace and quiet in the evening – and the almost solitary Tre Cime experience the next morning. As we are already at the top and also leave before 8 o’clock, we only have a few fellow hikers – and it stays that way until the descent to the Comici refuge – enough time to enjoy the panorama. Full of impressions, we descend into the valley – well over 100 hikers still meet us on the ascent despite the midday hour. The civilisation we return to feels unreal – and there is a lot of melancholy as we board the bus and train to head back towards Bolzano.

The original tour can be found here.

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