6 - 7
FATMAP difficulty grade
This is a rather moderate full day round hike that brings you close to some of the magnificent giants surrounding Cortina d’Ampezzo.
Although the route is not the most demanding, it is still a long one, has a technical descent and a strenuous ascent and requires good weather as you are crossing some rocky terrain that gets slippery. You can start up at any point in Cortina and walk up through the forest slopes up to Passo Tre Croci (amazing panorama of the Cristallo group) or you can just take a public transportation bus to the pass and start your hike there (the buses start running around 9:00, which is pretty late as storms are very frequent in the afternoons). After reaching Passo Tre Croci you can see a parking lot and behind it a path that is marked with Rifugio Vandelli.
You take the path and slowly start ascending on the woody slopes, traversing at some point a massive gully that can be snowed up.
On your left the valley runs very low and at some point the path runs very narrowly over a height of several hundred meters.
The path is secured with metal cables and gratings but this more difficult section is very short.
There are post WWI fortifications here and it’s possible to take a look into a bunker on the way. Rifugio Vandelli is reached after 90-120 mins and it lies in a very picturesque glacial circus of Sorapis.
The Sorapis lake is just around the corner and its azure waters are mesmerising. You can actually swim in the lake and there is a wild beach area on its southern shore. You can encircle the lake on either side and take a break before the most strenuous part of the hike – the pretty steep and rocky ascend to the Punta Nera pass. The landscape changes dramatically and you are taken into the usual Dolomite moonscape of crumbled rock, with amazing views of the Sorapis massive. The path is not marked well – there are some stone cairns and usual red-white markings.
Just before the pass there are some artificial grips and metal ropes. At the pass the vista towards West opens with views of Cortina d’Ampezzo, the Tofanas group. From the pass you start a very technical descent towards the North traversing steep slopes and screes.
This section is the most difficult of the route.
Once you go down to the base of the massive, above the forest line, you make a 90 degree turn to the East and then another 90 degree turn to the north to bring you back into the forest and return to Passo Tre Croci. There the hike ends as it is easiest to just take a bus down to Cortina (unless you are very late – then you have to hike downwards for another 60-90 mins).