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Mountain Climbers

10 Aug

Mountain Climbers

They challenge the mountains in ways most people would never attempt. They get everyone’s attention. When someone spots mountain climbers, everyone’s eyes become riveted on their maneuvers. I could barely see these guys with the naked eye, but when I put the zoom lens on the camera, I came up with these shots. I can’t believe how they cling to that shear rock face. Tre Cime is a favorite spot for mountain climbing because it is easily accessible.

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Making my way back to Rifugio Auronzo and the car. I had time to have a cup of tea while waiting for the others to arrive back by the alternate route.

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“I Was There” Postcards

10 Aug

You always have to have some photos that include you, so that you can prove that you were there. Here are mine, taken at the base of Tre Cime from an angle that shows the three peaks.

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See the person climbing up that snow laden scree. Some people do that.


The tour buses arrived.


Tre Cime di Lavaredo.



Follow the Scree

8 Aug

Follow the Scree

Though this walk was more or less flat most of the way, it was still very long. I was always lagging behind the others, because I was the one with the camera. Around each bend or behind each boulder I found a new perspective on this fantastic landscape. The plan was for the three of us to walk the length of the Tre Cime past the rifugio. At the halfway point we would split. Marion and Vladimir would hike around the far side and I would return the way we came. The reason for that was that I have a fear of heights in exposed areas, and the far side had a number of exposed areas. I was happy with this plan, because I could take my time and make detours to take the photos I wanted. I could even take the time to change to a zoom lens. Behold the giants of the earth.


This was a beautiful green plateau with two monuments and in the morning it was a beautiful contrast to the blue hue of the mountains in the distance.

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Tre Cime was also a battleground during World War I, and here are some gravestones of soldiers who never came home.

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I’m feeling on top of the world.


In this rocky landscape tiny flowers still found purchase and provided a dash of color among the rocks.

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We would climb up there next.


We approached Rifugio Lavaredo.

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This was our view as we sat outside to have something to drink.


There had been heavy snows that season, and you can see the high wall of snow along the path.

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Upward, and we left the rifugio behind.

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Another beautiful Alpine wildflower in the rocks.  My only regret was that I never saw an Edelweiss in the wild. They cultivate them and in stores you can see them growing in pots, but it’s not the same thing.


One view of Tre Cime.



One Very Last Hike

8 Aug

One Very Last Hike Day 6! The last day in the Dolomites and the last time to hike with my orange daypack and purple hiking poles. Our destination…Tre Cime di Lavaredo (oder Drei Zinnen, auf Deutsch). English translation from the Italian is the very innocuous sounding “three peaks”, while the translation from the German is “three battlements”. The latter is definitely the more descriptive term, and considering the landscape I traversed and viewed that day, the more appropriate one. We began early in the day because Tre Cime is a VERY popular hiking area, and we wanted to beat the crowds and get a parking place. We found one near Rifugio Auronzo. DSC_0497

There was another parking area below and the first of the tour buses. DSC_0499

We got a good view of Croda Rossa, named for the bright reddish color of the rock. DSC_0500

From here we could look down on beautiful Lago Misurina where we would lunch later in the day. DSC_0501

The parking lot was filling up fast in the early morning. On this mountain the erosion lines were very pronounced.


Then I saw my hike for today. The trail sliced through that slide of scree coming off of the towering monoliths known as Tre Cime. If you can see the tiny white rectangle near the right hand margin, that

is Rifugio Lavaredo. We would walk a little beyond that to the far side of the Tre Cime.





Looking down the scree slide from the trail.

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More Lagazuoi

4 Aug

More Lagazuoi

At the Rifugio I had the time to change to a zoom lens to capture more detail in the surrounding mountains. Here are a few of the photos.

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Top of the World…Lagazuoi

2 Aug

Day 5: Lagazuoi

Here I am on the Rifugio Lagazuoi porch, 2752 meters above sea level. This is one of the highest and most precariously situated mountain inns in the world. They say on a good day you can see as far as Venice. Well, we didn’t see Venice, but the visibility was very good.

Up early in the morning on Day 5 to pack up and move our gear to our next and final location in Cortina d’Ampezzo. But we had much on our agenda before we arrived. First Marion drove us over Falzareggo Pass to the cable car that would carry us aloft to Lagazuoi. The weather had been bad all week at Lagazuoi and we lucked out with a beautiful morning.

Stopping to take a photograph at Passo Falzareggo.


At the base of the cable car looking up Lagazuoi. This photo seems foreshortened and doesn’t indicate how high the mountain station is.


Before we boarded.


Up we go.

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Here are some of the World War I tunnels.

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The mountain station. Cortina wants the Winter Olympics again in 2019.


On the porch of the Rifugio looking at Tofana and the cable car station down the hill. Notice the solar panels on the roof.


This is why I wanted to come to Lagazuoi. The thing that looks like a thumb sticking up on the left is Cinque Torri, another landmark in the Dolomites. To the right and upward are the peaks of Averau and Nuvolau. Behind that the diagonal formation that looks like a sinking Titanic is the Croda di Lago. Our hike for the day was from Cinque Torri to the base of Averau and back.




Pralongià: Zoom Lens (2)

29 Jul

Pralongià: Zoom Lens (2)

The natural balcony of the Bioch Rifugio provided an excellent spot for photography. I changed lenses to see what I could capture with the zoom. Marmolada! Now with some interesting cloud cover.




La Varella.





Then we resumed our hike, so back to the regular lens, and another beautiful view of Marmolada.


The pathway is this photo leads to our next destination: Rifugio Pralongià, the white building in the distance.


Oh, to sit and meditate on Sella.


The hillsides fall away like folds of green fabric.


The truth in a small rundown hut on a mountain hillside.


The dogs loved their hike too.





And the Rains Came

23 Jul



The threatening skies made it look like we were in fact on Golgotha. At this point we began to make our way back down the trail to the chair lift. Climbing up had been taxing on the leg muscles, but going down created great stress on the knees, and there was always the possibility of slipping on the loose scree. We wanted to be back before the skies opened up.DSC_0652

It was always a little adventure to get on the chair lift. The three of us stood in place and the chair lift came up behind us and scooped us up. I liked the knowledge that there was a safety net in case someone didn’t quite make the seat.

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We could look right into a garden, a lovely garden as we reached the town station.


The rain held off until we were almost to the car. We piled in and Donatella drove us to San Martino where the Ciastel di Tor houses the Ladin Museum. Surrounded by mountains the Ladin culture has survived for centuries. Ladin language is taught in the schools and there is a great sense of national pride among the Ladin population. By the time we arrived at the museum the rain was coming down hard and the ground was soggy.


Inside we found some very modern Ladin woodcarvings.


Ciastel di Tor


A typical cooking hearth from the past.


Here is the only Edelweiss I ever saw, one made of silver in a traditional jewelry style.


Wooden toy making.


Traditional painting of chests and wardrobes.


Back once more in Colfosco we said our goodbyes to the lovely Donatella, since Marion would take over as guide for the remainder of the hike.



Our Pilgrimage to Santa Croce

22 Jul


The dubious weather conditions made Day 3 in the Dolomites a bit if-y as far as hiking conditions went. Our plan was to hike up to the pilgrimage church of Santa Croce, underneath the peak of the same name. Donatella was our guide for the day. Here you see her and Vladimir approaching the church from below. You will also see that it was very cloudy, although I thought the cloud cover actually created more atmosphere and depth for photo taking. Following is a photo essay of the journey. We began with a chair lift from Badia. There are actually two consecutive chair lifts to Santa Croce, but we only used the first one, then hiked up the rest of the way.


The chair lift allowed us to have a real bird’s eye view onto the farms on the hillside.


Here is what it looked like to be sitting on the chair lift, camera securely around my neck, feet dangling over fields of wildflowers.


We arrived at the mountain station where we begin our walk. Actually, the guide called it a walk. It felt like a trek or a climb to me. I am still trying to figure out what the teepee is doing on the mountainside in Italy.


As I mentioned, Santa Croce is a pilgrimage church. The Stations of the Cross lead you up the trail to the church. Here is Station #3 where Jesus falls for the first time.


Here is our guide Donatella coming up the path. You can tell judging from the teepee the steep grade of the trail, like climbing stairs, a lot of stairs. In the background is the Sella group, which forms the center of the Dolomite region.


Here was a very unusual crucifix. Notice the absence of a body, but there is a heart, two hands, and two feet. The path at this point ran through forest.


Two more photos looking down the trail to see how far we’ve come. It was a constant steep grade, to me at least, and this was the first day out after being sick in bed with a fever.

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This is the consistency of the rock and gravel we walked upon. It was loose, so there was always a danger of slipping, particularly on the way back down, but I never fell.


Here is the top station of the second chair lift that we didn’t take. Here is a good view of our mountain track and the elevation grade.


Looking back down the valley. The rain  clouds were still present, although we had not had a downpour yet.


I was smiling with the church in view. Forested slopes, green meadows. the stark beauty of the Dolomite rock with its pink cast, and the humble church and rifugio at journey’s end.


At the church looking back.


Interior of Santa Croce.


A stairway leads up to the three crosses.


The rifugio was so welcoming with lovely potted flowers flanking the doorway.


And inside a warm and cozy atmosphere and hearty food for travellers. Vladimir and Donatella.


And me. While we were inside eating, it rained.


But it stopped, when we were finished. We had time to explore the area and take more photos.


The dolomite rock was seabed eons ago. It is made up coral, shells, and the remains of sea creatures. All over the Dolomites you can see erosion at work with the slides of scree falling away from the mountainside. In millions of years will the Dolomites be reduced to giant piles of rubble as the wind and rain and snow do their work? Donatella told me that she and her friends loved to run down the scree slides digging in their heels as they ran.



More photos of this hike still coming.


Where Is My Suitcase?

22 Jun

Where Is My Suitcase?

I wish I could say that my first day in Europe was a charm and everything I dreamed of. Well…it’s hard to be in a happy place when your suitcase didn’t arrive with you. Most of my belongings are missing, all of my clothes except the ones on my back, all of my hiking paraphernalia, shoes, personal items. SwissAir is working on it. Meanwhile, I made the best of the situation by walking around Zurich taking photographs, enjoying the beautiful weather and beautiful day. I had a light lunch along the Limmatquai by the river where I learned that Zurich is very expensive. That lunch cost $55. Here are some photos I took in the Zentrum. Late in the afternoon I wandered into the Predigerkirche near my hotel, and I heard a choir rehearsing for a concert that night. I returned to attend the choir and organ concert later that night and let the resonant sound wash over my sweaty and sleep-deprived body and bring me some serenity. Things have got to look up from here. Did I mention that my first plane landing in Chicago had a near miss? Someone is trying to kill me.

Rooftops of Zurich from my fourth floor balcony.


Zurich Hauptbahnhof


Pledges of love…the padlocks on the footbridge over the Limmat.


The water of the Limmat is so clear is looks drinkable.


Looking across to the Limmatquai.


One of the striking church towers.


Fresh fruit and smoothies.


At lunch along the Limmatquai.


Predigerkirche where the choir was rehearsing.


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