Eight days into our trek around the Bernina Range, we took a little train and bus detour and visited Val Masino in Italy on the southern end of the same greater range. The mountains around here are sometimes referred to as the Val Masino Alps, or the backside of the Bergell or Bregaglia Range. Renowned in climbing circles, Val Masino is a unique and spectacular valley surrounded by soaring vertical granite peaks. We spent a couple nights in San Martino, the village at the heart of Val Masino, then hiked up to Rifugio Gianetti for a night, then over a pass and down Val Codera. Continue reading >>
In early September we flew to Zurich, Switzerland, took a train to St. Moritz, then embarked on a 9-day trek around the Bernina Range in the Rhaetian Alps. Named after the tallest peak in the range, Piz Bernina, the Bernina Range is a rugged and heavily glaciated mountain range along the border of southeast Switzerland and Italy. Our clockwise route took us across into Italy then back to Switzerland again, staying in alpine huts every night along the way. Continue reading >>
The Rosengarten is a group of mountains in the Dolomites with a dense cluster of exceptionally jagged peaks. 10 years ago I did two hikes through this range, and since then I’ve longed to return for some better photography and more challenging via ferrata climbing. Last week Claudia and I did just that, spending four days trekking, climbing, and photographing our way through the mountains. See lots more photos below! Continue reading “Ferrata Trek in the Rosengarten”
Last week Claudia’s father and brother drove down from Dresden to join us in the Dolomites in northern Italy for a fun week of hiking and climbing via ferrata routes together. The via ferrate are climbing routes with fixed cables and ladders, and by using a climbing harness with two short ropes with locking carabiners, it’s possible to safely climb exposed routes without technical climbing skills.
See lots more climbing shots from our week in the Dolomites below! Continue reading “In the Dolomites”
This morning I woke up early and drove from San Martino to Arabba, enjoying the awesome Dolomiti views the whole way. Upon arriving in Arabba, I quickly reserved a room here, then immediately went to the ski hill! I had no idea what to expect, and was delighted to hear that the entire Dolomiti Superski area was open, and that I would be able to do the Sella Ronda, a famous and unique ski route that links four ski areas and circumnavigates the entire Sella Group of mountains via 42km of pistes and something like 12 chairlifts and gondolas (I lost track). This is a novel concept to me, and although the terrain is mostly cruising groomers, I enjoyed covering so much ground on my snowboard, and gawking at the incredible Dolomite spires and walls all around. And of course I found a few powder stashes along the way!
Here are some highlights from the route:
Marmolada, 3343m, one of the biggest peaks in the Dolomites.
Chairlift under a couple of the rugged Sassolungo peaks.
An awesome sunrise behind Cimon della Pala and the Pale di San Martino this morning from Passo Rolle on my way out of town. Gotta love it!
This afternoon I repeated my efforts to photograph Cimon della Pala. I felt like luck was with me today, for various trivial reasons not worth mentioning but nevertheless noteworthy to me. Again I parked at Passo Rolle and skied up the ski slopes in the midst of the clouds. Sure enough, halfway up the slopes I could see some clearings and soon the Cimon della Pala broke out of the clouds in all its glory!
I didn’t get the wild orange light and swirling clouds of Monday, but what the hell, I’m stoked. Is this an epic scene or what??!! It looks like some peaceful snowy meadows just got shafted by a pissed off chunk of earth!
The low clouds rolled in at sunset, but I waited for while anyways. They broke again later at dusk, revealing the Pala in the mist.
It would be cool if I could show a series of all the photos I took this evening. These are only a few that I picked from the batch. Throughout this week I’ve noticed how the clouds open and close around these peaks, and I know that this area would be a paradise for time-lapse photographers!
I’m finally feeling satisfied with my time in San Martino, and to be honest I am also at this point satisfied with dedicating so much effort to photography… time for some snowboarding! Tomorrow morning I’m headed to Arabba for the opening day of the ski hill there… hopefully there should be plenty of powder waiting for me!
Sunrise view from Daniela’s deck, looking towards cloud-covered Mezzano. Not too shabby to see right out of bed!
I am in the town of San Martino di Castrozza this week. I was here during my first visit to the Dolomites six years ago, and this was one of my favorite spots. The Dolomites boast many amazing jagged peaks, but the peaks of the Pale di San Martino range are impressive even by Dolomiti standards. And perhaps the most impressive of these peaks is Cimon della Pala, a rugged 3184m peak that towers over Passo Rolle and the town of San Martino far below. I’ve never seen a peak that has so many faces as the Cimon… depending on your altitude and angle of view the shape of the peak morphs into entirely difference profiles and characters. Here’s a photo of the same peak in the summertime, from a different angle, for example.
I feel obliged to mention that this beautiful peak crushed my spirits on my first day here on Monday… though really it was my own fault. Continue reading “Cimon della Pala: oh the Heartbreak”