The genuine splendour of nature, just a few kilometres away from the major roads; wide open spaces where wild animals live happily undisturbed, and where you can spot red and roe deer, chamois and marmots; open woodland and pastures in the shadow of the elegant rock faces of the Dolomites: Val di Zoldo is an unspoilt, uncontaminated valley, still wild in some places.
Anyone seeking to approach the mountains here will both find magnificent, close-up rock faces and distant peaks beyond the wild, open spaces, able to transmit a sensation of infinity and freedom, capable of instilling a deep breath.
In the summer, the valley is popular with hikers who set off along the paths of Monte Pelmo, the Civetta and Moiazza mountains, the Spiz di Mezzodì, north of the Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park, as well as the San Sebastiano group. One of the many options on offer is the chance to climb up to the foot of the Pelmetto and take a look at the footprints of the dinosaurs, the prehistoric creatures who walked here 250 million years ago. Other summer options include climbing and via ferratas, as well as sport fishing and mountain biking.
In the winter, the Val di Zoldo, part of the Ski Civetta circuit and Dolomiti Superski, is popular not only with downhill skiers, but also with ski mountaineering and cross-country skiing enthusiasts, thanks to the new Palavera biathlon platform, the only one in the Veneto region. This paradise of fresh, powdery snow is also ideal for those keen to venture along the trails on ciaspe, or snowshoes, or just enjoy the warm, inviting atmosphere of the restaurants and the mountain refuges open in the area.
Between the Pelmo and the Civetta.
The Val di Zoldo nestles among the most significant areas of the Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage site, situated between UNESCO system no. 1 (Monte Pelmo - Croda da Lago) and UNESCO system no. 3 (Pale di San Martino, San Lucano, Belluno Dolomites, Vette Feltrine).
The Mount Civetta (3220 m) - the great wall
The Civetta separates Val di Zoldo from the Agordino area and acts as a beautiful frame to the town of Alleghe.
The north-west face is characterised by an impressive wall, with a vertical height gain of 1200 m and is 4 km long, situated between Cima Su Alto and Torre Coldai. In the mountaineering world it is called “the wall of walls” and along it there are many climbing itineraries. Among these: Solleder-Lettembauer, Philipp-Flamm, the routes Aste and Andrich on Punta Civetta, the Carlesso route on Torre di Valgrande, Bellenzier on Torre d'Alleghe and many other very difficult routes. The small Torrani hut is on the less steep side facing Zoldo.
To the north of the group near Mount Coldai is the Rifugio Sonino al Coldai, and in the middle, on the side facing Alleghe, you will find the Tissi hut.
Origins of name
Mount Civetta was mentioned for the first time in a document dating back to 1665 as Zuita, while it is mentioned in the official cartography from 1774.
The origins of its name are debatable. There are two main theories: the first comes from the Latin name ‘civitas’, in that the side facing Alleghe looks like a fortified city; others observe that the mountain is called Civetta (Zuita) even in the Zoldano area, where the characteristic rock face is not visible, due to the nocturnal bird of prey (‘civetta’ in Italian: owl) perhaps because in the past the mountain was considered cursed and brought bad luck.
The first to reach the summit (1867) was officially an Englishman, Francis Fox Tuckett with the Swiss guides Melchior Anderegg and Jacob Anderegg. In fact, the summit must surely have been reached at least in 1855 by Simeone De Silvestro also called Piovanel, a hunter from Pecol who supplied information to Tuckett.
It is possible that there were others too before, all hunters pushing towards the summit in pursuit of chamois.
Mount Pelmo (3169 m) - the God's Throne
Mount Pelmo is 3.169 m high and separates Val di Zoldo from the Boite valley.
The mountain has a particular shape since it has two main summits which are Pelmo to the north, and Pelmetto to the south 2990m. The mountain’s eastern face is very characteristic where the wide glacial cirque looks like a chair, and this is why it is locally called “el Caregon del Padreterno” (God’s Throne).
At its base there are three mountain huts: Rifugio Venezia-Alba Maria De Luca 1.947m to the east, Rifugio Città di Fiume 1.918 m on the north-west and Rifugio Passo Staulanza 1.766 m to the west.
Mount Pelmo is also famous paleontologically speaking: at its base, at an altitude of 2.050 m, not far from Rifugio Staulanza, a stone with dinosaur footprints was found.
Mount Pelmo was the first summit of the Dolomites to be climbed: on 19th September 1857, the Englishman John Ball reached the summit along what would later become known as Ball ledge. He climbed the mountain with a local guide who did not reach the summit. Ball wrote that he chose Mount Pelmo for his first ascent because it was according to him the most beautiful mountain among the ones he had seen in the Dolomites.
Mount Pelmetto was instead reached in 1896 by the mountain guides Clemente Callegari and Angelo Panciera.
Names and Legends
The mountain’s name in dialect (Pelf) means hairy or covered with trees. A Val di Zoldo legend narrates that once upon a time mount Pelmo was a very green mountain and on top, where today the glacial cirque lies, was a large meadow used by shepherds. Then a catastrophic event caused a rock slide uncovering the naked rock and giving the mountain its current imposing appearance. The tale seems to have some element of truth: two large steep slopes, now hidden by vegetation, bring to mind a huge landslide: this would have blocked the course of the torrent Maè, forming a large lake which dried up leaving the plateau on which Mareson, a village of Val di Zoldo, is today.
Pelmo in literature
"From whichever side you look, but above all from east and south, a gigantic fortress of the most massive architecture appears, not broken up into minarets and pinnacles like most of its rivals, but defended purely by the highest of sheer bastions, whose walls in many points have a drop of more than two thousand feet.
The aspect of its walls is accentuated very much by the fact that, for the most part, the layers are in almost horizontal lines, consequently, many of its steepest walls are crossed by ledges wide enough to allow the passage of chamois and their predators."
(John Ball, A Guide to the Eastern Alps, 1868)