Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dolomites Day 3: up to the Col de la Pieres

We had seen this peak at the end of the Puez massif quite nicely on both of our previous days of hiking. A hike promising great views that we could start directly from our flat was too good to pass up.

We get a late start (9:45) since we have to head to the grocery store first to get lunch supplies. The path starts pretty steeply out of town, through the woods for a while, and then turns to head up the Palota, the "Express" route up to the Steviahütte. This heads steeply up through the trees to the face of the Steviola, and then snakes its way up the face. The views are great, the temperature is good, we make excellent time: after an hour we're 600m up on the plateau. The path leads us across the plateau, around the end of the impressively narrow gorge down from the St. Silvesterscharte, and then up the other side to the Steviahütte. The hut is open, but it looks like they're closing up for the season, so we continue on (it's too early for a beer anyway).

After another bit of climbing we enjoy a sandwich break in the sun, with views out over most of Day one's hike as well as the Sella and Langkofel massifs. Up a bit more to the Pizascharte with its steep path down to the Regensburgerhütte and then around the bowl under the grass slopes of the Muntijela to the scree slope at the end. We have some fun during the stretch trying to pick out the path that leads up to our peak. The way through the scree slope is clear, but beyond that it's tough to really see. The path ends up being quite fun: steep but not particularly scrambly, secured by cables (not really necessary) in a couple of spots. They've clearly put a lot of effort into the trail.
The view from the top is spectacular. It's also not particularly windy... crazy! We head to the cross to have another sandwich break and enjoy the views before heading up a few meters higher to the true peak, where we have an amazing 360 degree panorama. There definitely are bonuses for going to the tops of things. ;-)
The path leads us steeply down, including a bit of scrambling, towards the Forces de Sieles saddle. From there it's down the scree slope (mostly frozen since this area won't see the sun again until next summer) into the valley below. On the valley floor we decide, with regrets, that it's really too late in the day to do the loop through the Roascharte and Wasserscharte, so we just head down the valley. Along the way, the sun on the grass ridge above is too much to resist, so we scramble up and enjoy our last sandwich in the sun, goggling at the teeth at the end of the Geislergruppe and wondering how difficult the klettersteig to the top of the Sas Rigais really is... the views from there must also be really nice. Ah well, that's for another day.
The path leads us down the rest of the valley to the nicely situated Regensburgerhütte (also still open), and then further down to Wolkenstein. We get back to the flat with our legs nicely tired and our eyes quite full. :-)

From the track: 15.1 km, 1345m height change.

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