Snowshoeing in the Dolomites

Manuel Demetz
Winter , Snowshoe

Snowshoeing in the Dolomites

Walking in a winter wonderland

Winter walking has a long tradition in the Dolomites. Centuries before the first ski lifts drew visitors to Val d’Ega in winter, locals headed out to explore the natural landscape wearing “ciaspole”, the Italian word for snowshoes, to provide buoyancy in the deep snow. Their walks would take them into the forests, along the streams and up onto the sunny plateaus overlooking the peaks of the Catinaccio and Latemar mountains.

An easy-going winter activity

Snowshoeing is quick and easy to learn, but we recommend hiring a guide for your first adventure. Local knowledge on the best trails and views can make all the difference between trudging around in the cold and enjoying the best the region has to offer. In the evening there is then plenty of time to sit down with a hot drink and reflect on the best moments from an action-packed day. 

The benefits of local knowledge

We begin our adventure by the Lago di Carezza at the foot of the Latemar mountains. Its iconic blue waters are covered by a thick layer of snow in winter. Rocks with tiny snow hats have transformed the landscape around the lake into a sculpture park curated by Mother Nature. We set off heading north-east, crossing over a narrow footbridge spanning a deep ravine. “This bridge was made by local men from solid steel,“ says Ferdinand reassuringly as we head further and further into the forest.

The sound of silence

We follow a few tracks left in the snow left by other walkers, but Ferdinand knows the area like the back of his hand anyway. After a while we turn off the trail, leaving the tracks behind us, and head out on our own route past several snow-covered huts framed against the peaks of the Catinaccio mountains. We have been walking for a while now and are high above the valley floor, but Ferdinand is just getting started. “Off to Frin,” he cries with a friendly smile. As we pass the Moseralm hut, the landscape opens up to reveal fabulous views of the Latemartürme, craggy rock formations stretching into the sky.

A hut with a view

We make our way from the Moseralm along a forest trail towards the Nigerpass. Here, on a small plateau above the valley floor, we find a wooden hut. “This area is known as Frin – it’s one of my favourite spots in Val d’Ega,” says Ferdinand. There is no need to explain why – warm sunshine and amazing views of the Dolomites stretching as far as the peaks of the Ortler-Cevedale massif and the Brenta massif make for a magical experience. The perfect place for a quick rest. Ferdinand pulls out a hipflask filled with local schnapps. We both take a hearty swig and let our eyes wander slowly across the horizon before setting off again.

An imperial history

I find the slow pace of snowshoeing to be the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of daily life. Slowly, step by step, we make our way across the landscape, arms and legs moving in unison as we head towards a memorial erected above the village of Nova Levante dedicated to Empress Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary, known as “Sissi”. Hugely popular among her people, she was a frequent visitor to Val d’Ega in the 19th century, when the region was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. “Sissi liked spending time here on her own. It was her favourite place in the Dolomites,” says Ferdinand.

Did you know …?

The final part of our walk flies by – before I know it we are already back at the bridge we crossed over this morning. Throughout the day Ferdinand has regaled me with facts and stories about Val d’Ega. Did you know, for example, that the wood from north-facing fir trees is particularly valued by instrument makers for its special properties? Back at the car there is time for a mug of hot tea and a final shot of schnapps before we load our equipment into the boot and head back off to civilisation. After three hours exploring Val d’Ega on foot, we are tired by happy. Thank you, Ferdinand.

Manuel Demetz

Planning new routes, testing new bikes, discovering new valleys and mountain trails – these are Manuel’s true passions! His bike is almost always on his mind – not just when he works as a Content Scout at clicktext, the South Tyrolean agency for corporate content...