Lessons learned and summary:
- 2 passes on this stage (under the Piz Duleda and Col dala Piëres peaks)
- Be mindful of your water supplies and plan ahead
- Second mountain hut – Rifugio Puez
Apparently the sun rises quite early here in the Dolomites. It’s 7 a.m. and we are already awake. We want to pack up and move as soon as possible. Last night was peaceful and despite the occasional slipping down the slope, we had a good night’s sleep. It’s breakfast time…beside flapjack with coffee, I’m also enjoying a wonderful view of the rocky massif towering in front of us. I notice a tiny little zig-zag path leading all the way up to the col. “Holy smoke! I think I see our path“, I comment as I point at the mazy pathway with my index finger. Thomas keeps gazing in the pointed direction for a while, then pulls out his phone with a map and shooks his head “No, that’s certainly not where we’re heading…”
Yes it was…
“Well, then I hope we’re not going to kill ourselves”, I think to myself. The sight of what’s to come makes me a bit dizzy. Unstable rocks and serpentines…Whohooo! Let’s do it. We set off with a fast pace. The first sun rays are already appearing behind the rocky peaks and we really want to make it to the pass before the sun begins to beat down on us.
We meet some new friends on the way – marmots chilling on big boulders. Instead of befriending them, I moon them. I have to take down the base layer pants as I’m getting too hot in them. That’s the typical struggle – cold in the morning, hot and sweaty after few hundreds of meters.
Eventually, the climb wasn’t that bad as it seemed from the distance. When we reach the pass, we feel like winners. Like if we have just accomplished something extraordinary. That’s because we have no clue that this was just a warm-up…foreplay, just a small taste of what’s going to be our everyday reality here. At this point in time, we do not know that we will surmount about 30 similar passes in total on Alta Via 2, the majority of which will be technically more difficult that this one. The ascent will be longer, steeper, harder. At this very moment we also have no idea about all the via ferratas that we will have to climb without proper gear…Ignorance is bliss, huh? Had we known all of this in advance….my guess is we would have…well still not turned around. But had we known what’s coming our way for the last night on trail, I think we would have turned around and run home to the safety. But let’s not skip or spoil. First things first…
After we get through the first pass, we descend to the valley below it. Despite the light and warmth of a sunny day, a strange heaviness hits me in this valley. In addition, we are facing problems with lack of water. With nothing to drink, we begin an ascent to another pass of the day.
The real struggle begins after the second pass. “Killer valey” – arid wasteland with no signs of life. Merciless sun in full swing is grilling us alive and the dehydratation strikes.
A little stream of ice-cold water that we encounter later on is a blessing. We feel a great relief and hapiness. We take as much water as we can carry and move to a nearby droughty ground where we take a lunch-break. Finding a shadow is impossible right now. We can feel that by sitting in the sun we are asking for trouble (heatstroke) but at least we got a chance to dry our things that got wet overnight. Not long after the lunch, we arrive at the mountain hut – Rifugio Puez. We manage to catch the last free table and enjoy some coffee, limón-soda and a beer.
The sun and the two hills we climbed today exhausted us so much that we decide to camp just 2 kilometres far from Rif Puez. I manage to find a perfectly hidden spot with a beautiful view. Such an enchanting spot. I’m happy. Throughout the evening we got a chance to observe a herd of chamois pit-patting over the distant rock as well as sheep herd grazing just few meters beneath us.