Puez-Odle Altopiano


Route: Puez-Odle Altopiano

Area: Alta Badia, Dolomites, Italy

Date of walk: 16th June 2018

Walkers: Andrew, Gilly and James

Distance: 12.5 miles

Ascent: 2,200 feet

Weather: Sunshine and blue skies

Today’s first walk in the Dolomites wasn’t the one that we’d planned, but it turned out to be one of the most memorable of our lives. Our intention had been to follow a route beyond the Gardena Pass, but as chance would have it a major cycle event was taking place and the road beyond the pass was closed until 10.30am.  We had no choice but to park on the roadside just below the head of the pass, and we decided to go for a short walk to the signposted ‘Jimmy’s Hut’ 

As we were plodding uphill we realised that another walk on our to do list passed by Jimmy’s Hut, and so we decided to follow that instead – it turned out to be a good decision. Anyone following this walk is recommended to start from Selva and catch the cable car up to the Gardena Pass, or to start from the head of the pass, as our parking space was a roadside one and the start was improvised. Beyond the hut we climbed steadily uphill to reach a thrilling vantage point at Passo Crespeina, where a vast and awesome landscape revealed itself, including the undulating Puez-Odle Altopiano (Puez plateau). In the far distance we could make out the Rifugio Puez, which was on our route, though we wondered how we would manage to get there safely through such dramatic terrain. 

We followed a path which took us through partially melted snowfields, passing by Lago di Crespeina as we did so. I’ll let the photos tell the story of the long journey to the Rifugio, but eventually we arrived there and some ice cold beer went down a treat. It was now time to descend into the valley, and the initial section was very intimidating – it was hard to envisage how there could be a safe passage down to the valley beside the huge rock faces and seemingly huge drops. As it turned out, the path was steep and loose at times but perfectly safe thanks to the innumerable zigzags which took the sting out of the gradient

We eventually reached some pine and larch woodland and the gradient eased. Further along, we reached the stunningly beautiful pasture of Pra da Rie – every step along the lovely path here was a pleasure. Lower down, we arrived in Selva and from here we took the gondola car, which whisked us back up to the Gardena Pass, ascending nearly 2,000 feet in a matter of minutes (the cable car route is shown on the Maps Page as part of the overall route, and I’ve deducted the distance and height gain from the figures shown above). It just remained to retrace our steps back to the car. It had been a long and tiring 6.5 hour walk, with many ups and downs and twists and turns, but the scenery had been spectacular throughout. Although it hadn’t been the walk we’d planned, the day couldn’t have turned out better

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