Cristallo Glacier

Crossing from Val Fonda to the Tre Croci pass

Today's weather forecasts have been confirmed: a splendid day without clouds, ideal for today's excursion. Today's companion, as well as the creator of the itinerary, is the A.D. of the company I work for, my friend Diego. Not even a week ago he proposed this excursion to me, he detailed the route, difficulties and possible unexpected events: as you can see from the next lines, I would have been a fool not to accept! Departure shortly after Misurina, at the Marogna bridge. Today's goal is to cross the Cristallo glacier until you reach the saddle and descend towards the other side, up to the Tre Croci pass. Today's route starts immediately with the imprint of exploration, a canyon in Val Fonda welcomes us to this side. The valley is a succession of canals full of water interspersed with currently dry pebbles that allow us to continue. This leads to an altitude of just over 1900m where you can admire a splendid waterfall formed by the melting of the glaciers above: that of Cristallo and Popena. Here is the first very challenging point. At first you need to have a considerable sense of orientation and experience to be able to channel yourself on the right path to access the ascent and overcome a real rocky barrier. All the guides we studied spoke of a few meters of climbing inside a narrow cliff, but the reality turned out to be much more challenging. The rock jump does not have much difference in height (about 100m) but the bottleneck wound on a bed of a stream full of water and, therefore, with slippery and dangerous rocks. The climbing, as we knew, was free, without safety ropes, but the presence of boulders without many holds or even unstable, made this passage the most difficult of the day. After the rock jump we celebrated as if it were a peak! At this point the panorama opened with the splendid view of the fork and the glacier in the background. On the other side, the Val Fonda just traveled with Lake Landro at the bottom. Galvanized by climbing, we walked the stretch of approach to the glacier much more relaxed. At an altitude of 2351m we recorded the beginning of the first tongue of the glacier, the western one facing the Cristallo.




19.60 KM

Hike type



1366 mt

  • Mountain

    Monte Cristallo

  • Address

    Cortina d’Ampezzo, Veneto, Italy

  • Altitude

    2774.00 m

  • Refuges

  • Information

A little above, at an altitude of 2391m, we recorded the oriental language towards the Popena. Last efforts and at an altitude of 2490m the real Cristallo glacier begins. Harness, carabiners, rope, crampons, helmet and ice ax and we are ready for the climbing rope to the saddle. A brilliant glacier full of debris on either side. In fact, we witnessed some discharges, one in particular of a medium-sized boulder that rolled on the track traveled a short time before! Maintaining a more central route allowed us to stay safer, the ice held up well and, apart from some small longitudinal crevasses, we found no unexpected. After about 1h 30m from the start we reached the saddle: a vertical rock blade with a breathtaking view towards the Sesto Dolomites on one side and the Sorapiss on the other. A short stop and we went back down into the return gully which turned out to be hell from the first meters. In fact, several jumps of unstable and brittle rock appeared immediately, which forced us to make a commitment and maximum attention in order not to risk slipping for several meters in the scree. Every time the path became a little more comfortable, a new difficult or recently collapsed section required maximum attention. Up to an altitude of 2300m where we encountered the last effort of the day: a massive landslide literally canceled the 3 paths created over time to descend. Now there is only a large dry shore populated by imposing boulders in precarious balance and held together by simple gravel. Beyond this split about twenty meters wide you could see the beautiful green path and the end of the difficulties. Also in this case, cold blood, head on shoulders and sure-footedness made us overcome the terrible obstacle, following a small track among the most “stable” stones. Finally we were able to relax and face the last kilometers towards the Tre Croci pass in carefree company. Once we got to the pass, we truly achieved the incredible and unrepeatable feat in front of the Cristallo and its glacier!
For an even more complete view, I invite you to read the technical report of my friend Diego, great companion of this fantastic adventure!

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Expert Hikers with Equipment - The equipped routes (or via ferrata) are indicated, they require the use of self-insurance devices.