A trip into the heart of the World Heritage site of the Dolomites, through System 1 (Pelmo, Croda da Lago) recognised by Unesco. The Mondeval plateau offers several points of cultural interest, including the site where Valmo (the remains of a hunter from 8000 years ago) were found, and is also fascinating from a naturalistic and geological point of view, with an extraordinary environment shaped over the course of millions of years.
The start of the recommended route is at the top of the Giau Pass, along path no, 436 for the Giau Saddle. An easy, slightly uphill slope through lush pastureland and plateaus takes you over the saddle and the valley of Zonia, where you’ll be likely to spot some splendid chamois. From the saddle of Col Piombin (2239 m), in a highly distinctive morainic environment, the only steep, brief climb of the route begins, up to the Giau Saddle (2360 m), where you’ll be rewarded by extraordinary views, both towards the Nuvolau Averau group and the Tofane and towards the Mondeva plateau, with Monte Pelmo in all its imposing splendour.
Path no. 436 also runs around the high walls of the Lastoni di Formin on the one side and, on the other, the "città di pietra", or city of stone, a little group of erratic boulders resembling a lost stronghold, and Baste Lake, with the Pelmo reflected in its waters, much loved by photographers from all over the world. It then crosses the Mondeval plateau, with its endless green pastures and erratic boulders, home to numerous marmots. It was here, at the foot of a large boulder, transported downstream during the glaciations, that the remains of Valmo, or Mondeval man, were found; today, the remains of this nomadic hunter from the Mesolithic, along with his funerary accoutrements, can be seen in the Vittorino Cazzetta Museum in Selva di Cadore, Val Fiorentina, where visitors can learn more about his story.
Once you reach the Ambrizzola Saddle (2277 m), surrounded by larch and Swiss pine trees, clearly visible is Federa Lake, beside the Palmieri Croda da Lago Refuge (2046 m), which you can reach from the saddle in about 40 minutes (1 h 30 mins there and back). An easy, virtually flat route leads to the Col Duro Saddle (2295 m), and from there you can go back down towards the Città di Fiume Refuge, accompanied by views of the Pelmo. Once you reach the abandoned Prendera mountain hut (2138 m), continue down along path no. 458 to the Roan Saddle (1999 m), and then along path no. 467, walking slightly up and down through pastureland to the Città di Fiume Refuge (1918 m) at the foot of the delightful Monte Pelmo and Col de la Puina. From there, continue down to the SP 251 provincial road, where the itinerary ends.
This route requires good coordination from an organisational point of view, because the departure point does not coincide with the arrival point. To return to the departure point, you can use public transport (see www.dolomitibus.it) or the Zoldobus shuttle, which, upon request, leaves in the morning from the Città di Fiume car park for the Giau Pass, at the start of the path (info, costs and bookings +39 348 6700786 or www.zoldobus.it).
Thanks to the Val di Zoldo section of the Italian Alpine Club for their invaluable collaboration in preparing the material.
Val di Zoldo is waiting for you