It's already February, the snow has fallen profusely and now the weather gives way to clear days, very cold but which guarantee breathtaking views of our splendid Belluno Dolomites.
Today, Giorgia and I reached Misurina, with the aim of taking the Col de Varda chairlift and then proceeding on snowshoes towards the Città di Carpi refuge. We reach the chairlift parking area, turning right onto a side street off the main road, just after the Pio XII Institute in Misurina. There is already something not right: the parking lot is almost empty and, strangest thing, the chairlift is stopped! We get out of the car and gusts of wind start hitting us. Perhaps this explains the reason. We find a chairlift operator who answers our question about the reason for the closure with a curt: "wind!".
We do not lose heart and confirm the ascent, changing the objective and aiming for the Col de Varda refuge. Legs shouldered and we take the CAI 120a path in a south-east direction, adequately signposted with even the image of the final refuge.
It's already late in the morning when we start the climb but the temperature, although there is a cloudless sun, is around 1-2 degrees. Already from the first meters an icy wind blows down on us at irregular intervals and cuts the skin on our cheeks, the only discoveries. You gain height by skirting the ski slope, which would be the true summer path, wide and fairly constant. For some stretches we are forced to proceed straight ahead under the chairlift pillars. Definitely a shorter route but slightly more demanding than the normal non-winter route. In any case, thanks to the snow, we are able to proceed quite easily: in some points we find more icy and relatively slippery spots, interspersed with wider progressions on fresh and very comfortable snow. We didn't even bring snowshoes with us as the track is widely beaten and easy with boots alone.
We proceed in the whitewashed fir and larch forest in a fairytale setting, only the impetuous wind dismantles this idyllic landscape. We advance steadily gaining 250m in altitude and starting to notice the thinning out of the vegetation. We are at an altitude of about 1950 meters and we begin to glimpse distinctly the peaks of Cristallo and Piz Popéna behind us, heading west. In short we are first at the capital and immediately at the crossroads for the Città di Carpi refuge. The trees leave room for a sort of large plateau from which the Cristallo group can be admired in all its splendour, towards the south it is possible to enjoy the magnificent Sorapiss group with the characteristic basin from which one can imagine the Vandelli refuge and the its turquoise lake. To the south-west you can see the Ampezzane peaks of the Tofana di Rozes, the Cinque Torri and the Nuvolau.
Col de Varda
Misurina, Veneto, Italy
Rifugio Col de Varda
We continue the climb reaching the final part of the ski slope. Last piece of marked difference in height, made insidious and annoying by the strongest wind of the day. We are in a shady gorge, with no sun, the temperature is well below freezing at this point. The wind doesn't help progression. What's more, the copious snow doesn't even allow us to have the consolation of seeing a piece of shelter. However, we know that it is there a few tens of meters uphill from us. The snow crunches like never before under our boots, the wind raises pungent crystals that stick to the harness that keeps us warm as much as possible. We pass the last curve to the left and we arrive at the plateau with the arrival of the chairlift. The refuge stands out with its bright yellow there in front of us. The sun is once again there to warm us, the wind almost absent. We say hello to a beautiful white big dog hooked to a snowmobile which reciprocates by joyfully wagging its tail.
We enter the refuge and resume temperature. Wherever you find a seat, there is the possibility of seeing an exceptional panorama of the splendid Dolomites that surround us. We earned a nice regenerating lunch! A nice barley soup, polenta, melted cheese (even a slice of Sacher) and we're ready to go back to Misurina. We go out and stop for a moment to admire the legendary view before us. The snow-capped peaks of Cristallo and Piz Popéna seem to have chimneys that spew white smoke: even up there at high altitudes the wind is no joke today! The Cristallino di Misurina hides the Val Fonda behind it, together with the Rauhkofel. Shifting your gaze, you notice Monte Specie, Monte Piana with a light splash of white and the mammoth Rautkofel (Mount Rudo).
We then go down the same route as the climb, making a small detour in the direction of the Città di Carpi refuge to get a better glimpse of the Sorapiss. Fortunately, the wind does not bother us on the way back and we enjoy the descent. Back at the parking lot we want to take a couple of photos of Lake Misurina, but here the impetus of the wind seems the same as we found in the immediate vicinity of the Col de Varda refuge!
Thus ends this beautiful excursion immersed in the snow and in the beauty of Misurina, a true pearl of our Dolomites. An excursion suitable for everyone: about 1 hour and 15 minutes for the ascent and about 40 minutes for the descent. Bring snowshoes in case of fresh snow. The route is constantly trodden by many people and the Col de Varda refuge is a perfect destination for refreshment with excellent delicacies even in the winter season!
Tourist - Itinerary on narrow streets, mule tracks or wide paths. The routes are generally not long, do not present any orientation problems and do not require specific training if not the typical one of the walk.