Autumn is a transition season, which can reserve the last flashes of summer with windows of sunny weather, blue skies and mild temperatures. These are ideal conditions for moving again among the high Dolomite peaks, on routes and itineraries with a summery flavour.
We are in the beautiful Val di Funes in South Tyrol, famous for being dominated by the iconic profile of the Odle Dolomites. A set of peaks and sharp towers with a unique and unmistakable profile, crossed by steep, narrow and exciting forks.
For this reason, we choose to make a complete ring trek around the main Odle peaks, to admire their different profiles and facets.
The starting point is the enchanting forest path that branches off from the Zanser Alm, from where the first rocky peaks and summits can already be glimpsed. At a certain point, the path narrows and begins to climb up into the meandering forest, from which the clear dolomite walls of the Odle Mountains completely emerge.
On this autumn morning, we walk alone on the path in the early morning light, with a clear sky above us, tinged with an increasingly intense blue. Autumn colours spread through yellow and orange, dotting the surrounding forests.
The first pass we cross is the Furcia pass, at which we are suddenly catapulted from the morning shade of the northern slope of the Odle towards the full sun that is already shining on the Longiarù valley, at the north-eastern end of the Val Badia. The new panorama now before our eyes also offers us the Puez peaks in the foreground, with the view extending eastwards as far as the Fanis Dolomites.
We pass through some truly scenic stretches, with the path becoming more and more flush with the rocky faces. Our gaze is constantly drawn to the sharp, soaring peak of Piz Duleda, which guards the access to the Roa pass, the highest peak on this route, exceeding 2,600 metres.
One of the first autumn snowfalls left a sprinkling of snow that subsequently froze, leaving a layer on which trekking poles support the advance, while boots require additional safety grip thanks to crampons.
The steep ascent of the scree slope at the base of the Roa pass is treacherous, but at the same time rewarding for the scenery that surrounds us. Once past the pass, the panorama unfolds again, this time towards the Roa valley, and the snow-covered Col dala Pieres massif. A long descent thus leads us towards a large plateau at the foot of the south side of the Odle. The sun has meanwhile warmed the autumn atmosphere of the early morning hours, completely dominating this valley.
The path takes us back up to the Mesdì pass, on another steep ascent, this time between wooden steps set into the rock and suspended wooden footbridges. The Dolomites of Sassolungo, Sassopiatto and Catinaccio soar behind us, with the profile of Pelmo mount visible in the distance just before the pass.
The descent then throws us into the Funes valley, along the northern slope already in the shade, where the icy snow bed still requires us to proceed with great caution. The narrow, steep path is characterised by gravel, ice and snow, with our trekking poles providing the additional support and footholds needed for the descent.
The dolomitic scree is cut by the narrow curves of the path, until it softens and launches itself into the green glades surrounding the Odle-Geisleralm lodge, from where the profile of the Odle itself can be admired in its entirety and majesty.
And so, this is a last glimpse of a summer exception, with autumn then reappearing in the afternoon: the sun goes down early, along with clouds that begin to veil the panorama, bringing with them the prospect of the next season ahead, with new colours just waiting to excite us.