Marmolada

The 2,208 hectares of land divided between the Provinces of Belluno and Trento make up the Marmolada system, known as the Queen of the Dolomites. This system includes the highest peaks in the whole region, among them Punta Penìa, at 3,343m above sea level, the highest mountain in the Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage Site, making this system unique for the beauty of its landscape.
Separated from the Sella chain by the Cordevole and Avisio valleys and bounded to the South by the Biois mountain stream and the river Rio San Pellegrino, the Marmolada chain marches on toward the West in the shape of Cima di Costabella, the Monzoni chain and Monte Vallaccia. The system can be divided into two sections, the southern section with Cime d’Ombretta (3,011m), Sasso Vernale (3,058m) and Sasso di Valfredda (3,009m). The highest peaks, Punta Penìa, Punta Rocca (3,309m), Monte Serauta (3,218m), Gran Vernel (3,210m) and Piccolo Vernel (3,098m) are in the northern section.
Marmolada is a mountain of contrasts. The softly rolling contours at its foot, covered in woods and meadows, are abruptly broken by the dizzying height of its upper slopes with their pale calcareous rock and breath-taking crags. The northern face, home to the most extensive glacier in the Dolomite region, slopes down gracefully to the banks of the little lake of Fedaia. The southern face is one of the most challenging routes, much appreciated by the world’s mountaineers: a wall of nearly 1,000 meters, starting from the Val Ombretta screes, standing out against vertiginous peaks. The first ascent of the Dolomites was attempted right here in 1802, when the chaplain of Pieve di Livinallongo, Father Giuseppe Terza, tried to scale its heights with four more local climbers from Agordo, but  died on the way up when he fell into a crevasse.
A picturesque narrow canyon, Serrai di Sottoguda, opens from the slopes of Mount Marmolada, linking the district of Malga Ciapèla with the village of Sottoguda. This route of about 2km, for years the only way  to reach Passo Fedaia, has been designated for some time a nature reserve closed to traffic. The rocky walls of this canyon, reaching up hundreds of meters, have been carved out over the centuries by the mountain stream Pettorina, and, when they ice in wintertime the wall becomes a magnet for ice-climbing enthusiasts with some of the most magical climbs in the Alps.

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The Capanna Punta Penia Refuge, the highest in the Dolomites, is located on the very top of the Marmolada. It was built in the late ‘40s by an Alpine guide from Alba di Canazei who converted the Austrian military garrison that had stood on the summit of the Queen of the Dolomites and dated back to World War I, reusing the materials that the soldiers had carried to this great height. The refuge lies along the Alta Via no. 2 and is much loved by trekkers on the trail from Munich to Venice.

The renowned Onorio Falier Refuge is located in the Ombretta Valley at the foot of the Silver Face, the south face of the Marmolada. The refuge is a favourite destination for walkers on easy hikes, but is also a starting point for more experienced climbers intent on trying one of the 180 routes up the rock face. The refuge affords breathtaking views of not only the Queen of the Dolomites but the summits of Antelao, Pelmo and Civetta, too.

The Serauta Refuge, which can be reached by the cableway with its three sections which goes from Malga Ciapèla to the intermediary station of Serauta, is a great base for visiting the Museum of the Great War in Marmolada, the highest museum in Europe lying at an altitude of 3000 meters, and the Sacred Monumental Area of Punta Serauta. From the refuge you can take the cable car up to the summit of Punta Rocca, right opposite Punta Penìa, the highest peak in the Dolomites (3343m).