There are certain places that always manage to evoke memories and experiences. They are places that, in their simplicity and purity of nature, represent those mountains behind our homes.
The first night of this new year brought with it a wonderful snowfall, which covered even the lowest altitudes with a thick blanket of white.
We are always on the lookout for wide expanses of snow to cross, and this time we head for the Lavazè Pass, located between the provinces of Bolzano and Trento, separating the South Tyrolean Val d’Ega from Trentino’s Val di Fiemme. The Lavazè Pass (1,808 metres above sea level) is located in an enviable panoramic position, facing the nearby Dolomites of Latemar, Sciliar and Catinaccio, as well as the iconic profiles of Corno Nero and Corno Bianco. In addition, to the west, the view sweeps across the group of endless peaks of the Ötztaler Alps, including some of the main profiles overlooking the Etsch Valley and the Vinschgau Valley itself.
Our easy hike today leads us gradually from the car park of the Lavazè Pass cross-country skiing centre towards the edge of the forest. The snow-covered trees are laden with snow and create an enchanting scenery of pure wonder. Entering the forest, the path winds its way up and down with an easy ascent and descent that is effortlessly tackled, to then lead us into some white, muffled expanses of snow.
The snow surrounds us, and the path continues slightly downhill, then takes a few hairpins bends uphill following the route of the summer forest road. Here, the snow-white winter wonderland does not quite make up for the lack of numerous trees, uprooted by the 2018 Vaia storm. The natural ecosystem still suffers from that passage, although the route then dips back into some areas of denser forest, to reveal white views towards Corno Nero and Corno Bianco, which tower at either end of the nearby Passo Oclini.
The path is mainly characterised by wide tracks on beaten snow, but also allows us several digressions into the freshly fallen snow, where the PowPow winter poles support us in our progress without causing us to lose our balance, managing not to sink into the snow thanks to the provided winter baskets.
The signposts are well in place and easily lead us towards some lodges that are open in winter, particularly Malga Costa-Liegalm and Malga Ora-Auerlegeralm: lodges that are able to offer warm, tasty shelter on these winter days, despite the fact that the January sun is shining today in a sky that is tinged with a clear, cold blue for some stretches.
During our pause, the view easily loses itself in the nearby clear Dolomite walls of the Latemar group, as loaded with snow as we have yet to see them this season. We thus retrace our steps of the outward journey, returning to Passo Lavazè in an atmosphere that gradually takes on new colours. The sun soon sets behind the line of whitened peaks, leaving a fiery trail in the sky. A trail that is tinged with purple and some reddish shades, above the forest and above the peaks, to spread completely around us, almost accompanying us on our way home with a final message.