Day 5 of our Dolomites Alta Via 2 trek took us on the Marmolada in the morning and then to Passo di San Pellegrino.

Malga Ciapela

Malga Ciapela is a small resort right next to the highest mountain in the Dolomites, the mighty Marmolada. We didn’t find the resort very exciting but wanted to stay there for the night to be able to take the cable car from there to Punta Rocca, Marmolada – after all, if you’re there, this is in my opinion something you should do as long as the weather is decent. No point going if you can’t see anything from up there, though.

Much to our liking the weather was absolutely perfect when we woke up at the hotel Tyrolia. After a couple of long days in snow and rain this was a very welcome development. Our plan was to make the Marmolada trip and then hike all the way to Passo di San Pellegrino, our next stop on our Dolomites Alta Via 2 trek.

Trip up the Marmolada

After breakfast we made our way to the cable car base station. We bought our tickets and waited for the first ride up along with a bunch of other people who had the same idea. The ride up is in three parts and, therefore, takes a while.

At the second highest station (Serauta station) is the Great World War Museum of Marmolada. Being free of charge, it’s worth a visit. It in the same building as the cable car and the exhibition is focused on warfare up on the glacier and mountains during World War I. This, by the way, is the highest museum in the world, at about 3000 meters! More info here: http://www.museomarmoladagrandeguerra.com/en/

Needless to say, the 360 degree panorama at the top takes your breath away. We were especially awed by the Sella Group we had crossed in a snow storm a couple of days earlier. Here you are also on top of the Marmolada ski area, where the “la Bellunese”, a 12km ski run starts. That’s 12 km with an altitude difference of 1810 meters!

On our way down we visited the museum and then made our way back to our hotel to pick up our gear and start our climb up to the Forca Rossa.

Long, long climb to Forca Rossa!

Forca Rossa is about half way to Passo di San Pellegrino and it’s all uphill to get there. Malga Ciapela is at 1450 meters and Forca Rossa 2490 so you’ll be facing more than a kilometer’s worth of vertical! Although it’s not really “that much”, it turned out to be surprisingly strenuous for us. It was a really hot day and somehow our backpacks just seemed much heavier than on the previous days…

You start off by going through a camping area and then up a dirt road, trail number 610. Further up you continue on a path originating from World War 1, an easy walk but all uphill – trail number 689. The trail ascends in a forest and you eventually pass a small village called Franzedàz. As you continue the path gets narrower and steeper, until you finally reach the top at Forca Rossa.

Ascent from Malga Ciapela

Ascent from Malga Ciapela, climbing to Forca Rossa

Approaching Forca Rossa

Approaching Forca Rossa, Malga Ciapela way way down in the background

Forca Rossa

This is a place to take a well-deserved break and eat any lunch if you carried some with you. We only had some muesli bars and chocolate with us, but I would have paid a lot to get a proper sandwich. Here the view opens up South to Pale di San Martino, and the impressive south wall of the Marmolada to the North. Looking back where you came from, you can see Malga Ciapela more than 1000 meters below.

Wildlife on the Forca Rossa

Wildlife on the Forca Rossa

Looking ahead, you see paths winding down towards Passo di San Pellegrino. You start down on number 694 but then you need to choose between continuing on 694, the Alta Via dei Pastori or 670, the Dolomiten Höhenweg. On the Tabacco map we used, the former is marked Alta Via 2 but confusingly on a Kompass map, the latter. They both end up in the same place so there’s no major navigational error to be made, regardless of how you choose. We had the Kompass map so we chose path 694, the Pastori.

Alta Via dei Pastori

After ascending more than 1000 meters, the gentle descent from the 2490 meters at Forca Rocca to 1907 meters at Passo di San Pellegrino was a relief. It’s no frills and an easy walk.

Surrounded by all kinds of beautiful views, we had a major Wow! moment when we ran into a really large herd of horses, just grazing on the pastures. This was unexpected even though even our book had mentioned them. I didn’t do a proper count but there were quite a few of them. With Pale di San Martino in the background this was really something we enjoyed!

All in all, this really was an enjoyable stretch with beautiful views and not much physical strain.

Horses Near Passo di San Pellegrino

Horses Near Passo di San Pellegrino, on Dolomites Alta Via 2

Rifugio Fuciade

The path leads down to Rifugio Fuciade at 1982 meters. Link to their website: http://www.fuciade.it/ , which unfortunately does not have an English language version. If you had taken the climbers’ variant of the Alta Via 2 (see here: link to previous day), this is where the trails meet up.

The Cicerone book says this is an upmarket restaurant and a popular family destination. I agree on both counts. It was crowded! Not just the Rifugio itself but also the area around it. People sitting around, people walking, people congregating. I’m not sure what was going on, but after the quiet of the mountain trail this was almost uncomfortable.

We managed to find a table at the restaurant and had a very much overdue lunch.

On the way to Passo di San Pellegrino

On the way to Passo di San Pellegrino

Passo di San Pellegrino

The rest of the way to Passo di San Pellegrino was an uneventful walk down a road that leads down from Rifugio Fuciade. Along the way there would have been an option to visit or spend the night at Albergo Miralago (http://www.albergomiralago.com ) but we chose to walk all the way down to the Pass but looking back, I think it might have been a more “authentic” experience to stay here.

Passo di San Pellegrino is a high alpine pass that links Moena to the west and Falcade to the east. There’s a ski area here, Alpe Lusia, which is a part of the Dolomitisuperski system (http://www.dolomitisuperski.com/en) .

There’s a bunch of hotels and, of course, ski lifts but that’s about it. Similar to Malga Ciapela, I think this is a much, much livelier place in the winter. We got a room at Hotel Cristallo (http://www.hotel-cristallo.com/), ate dinner there and slept well. Nothing bad to say about the hotel!

Some Things to Consider

A couple of things I want to point out if you do this:

  • If you do the Marmolada trip in the morning, I recommend buying some lunch to go. If you go in the morning it will be too early for lunch when you come down. Then, by the time you reach Rifugio Fuciade, it will be rather late and you’ll most likely be starving.
  • Get your maps in advance. If you’ve been reading this series of posts, you’ve heard me complain about not finding a map for our Day 6 in Malga Ciapela and me being dumb enough to not have bought one already in Brixen where they were readily available. Well, I could not find the missing map in Passo di San Pellegrino either, so continuing on Alta Via 2 from here would not happen.

Summing it Up

This was a really nice day altogether. Obviously the great weather contributed and after the previous days of snow and rain, this was a great mood lifter. It was really sad, though, that for the lack of a map we were not able to continue. We had planned a really long hike for the next day – all the way to Rifugio Rosetta – for our final day on Alta Via 2. That did now not happen.

Considering our options, we decided we would go to Moena, a town West from here, where we could get transport back to Brixen to our car. We could have taken a bus but decided to walk instead. Our Day 6 of Alta Via 2 was no longer on the Alta Via 2 but Alta Via Bruno Federspiel instead!

For this section of the Dolomites Alta Via 2, you need:

Check out the other posts about our Dolomites Alta Via 2 trek:

We’re you here? Do the horses look familiar?