Hidden Cortina: 9 concealed routes in the Dolomites

Cortina has a silent, hidden side, made of seldom-visited locations, evocative for their silence.

They are ideal for people searching for the beauty of solitude, in contact with nature.

Discover them with the local mountain guides Guide Alpine Cortina, who are ready to accompany people who appreciate authentic Alpine settings along nine “secret” guided itineraries. These routes offer views on stunning panoramas and secret corners and include the exploration of unique geological formations and strategic spots discovered during the First World War.

ven when we think we know a place perfectly, there is always something we have missed: a hidden corner, an unbeaten path, an unusual glimpse, a story never heard. The dense network of trails and ledges that intertwine on the vast territory of Cortina leads anywhere, or nearly so. Careful management of the territory has protected it from excessive exploitation, preserving marvellous places – sometimes unknown even among locals. Perhaps they are sometimes not easy to access, but worth reaching. Hidden Cortina, the new initiative of the mountain guides Guide Alpine Cortina, aims to take lovers of the Queen of the Dolomites to the discovery of secret worlds of authentic beauty. Hidden Cortina features nine guided itineraries to be explored with adventurous spirit, respecting nature and its inhabitants.


1. Mount Fumo or Rauchkofel

An Austro-Hungarian outpost during the Great War, this is a secondary peak between the valleys Val San Sigismondo and Val Fonda: a theatre of fierce combat, it is of particular interest for the exposed route and the presence of military garrisons.

Total ascent: about 700 m

Time required: 5 hours

Difficulty: moderate

Equipment required: rope, equipped climbing route kit, helmet


2. The hidden cable car on Mount Forame

On the Mount Cristallo group there is a secondary peak that can be reached using the Renè De Pol equipped route: this is the Forame peak. But there is an alternative route which follows the cable car stations and, running between a trench and a small fort, leads to the destination.

Total ascent: about 700 m

Time required: 6 hours

Difficulty: moderate

Equipment required: rope, equipped climbing route kit, helmet


3. The Polin ledge

This route follows the path of Alberto Polin, a local soldier who, during the First World War, discovered and conquered a semi-concealed ledge that provided access to a strategic point overlooking the Travenanzes valley from the Tofane mountains, enabling the Italian troops to organise their supplies. It starts from the mountain lodge Rifugio Dibona: you flank the Tofane mountains from the gully Forcella Col dei Bos, and then go down into the Travenanzes valley and back up using the via ferrata route Scala del Minighel, the first equipped via ferrata in Cortina d’Ampezzo and the Dolomites. From the ledge, you climb the gully Forcella Fontananegra, continue to the mountain lodge Rifugio Giussani and then carry on until you return to the starting point. If you would like to try a more Alpine path, you can take the “ferrata sabotata” (the “sabotaged ferrata route”), which starts near a cave and reaches the southernmost extremity of the Polin ledge.

Total ascent: about 900 m

Time required: 7 hours

Difficulty: moderate/difficult

Equipment required: rope, equipped climbing route kit, helmet


4. El Beco Longo

An unexpected peak in the enchanted forest near the Rocchette di Prendera and Ruòibes (or Zoco) crags, that can even be reached from Cortina by electric bicycle. A few metres of rock-climbing are needed to reach the peak, but the view is so spectacular that it is well worth the effort. You can complete the hike by reaching the mountain hut Malga Federa by means of an easy track.

Total ascent: 400 m (700 m if you continue to Malga Federa)

Time required: 4/6 hours

Difficulty: moderate

Equipment required: helmet, rope 


5. Mount Taburlo

A peak situated at the southern extremity of the Val di Fanes valley, Mount Taburlo is an unfamiliar but evocative mountain, first climbed in 1906. The route begins at the entrance to the Dolomiti d’Ampezzo Park and then reaches the Alpine hut Casone di Antruiles: from there, a long uphill walk leads to the peak, along a bridleway and a series of ledges that were equipped by the Austro-Hungarian army at the start of the Great War.

Total ascent: 800 m

Time required: 6/8 hours

Difficulty: moderate

Equipment required: helmet and rope for some exposed sections


6. The Fanes cascades

Between the waterfall Sbarco de Fanes and the like-named malga mountain hut at Fanes Grande, on its right bank the river Rio Fanes has carved all sorts of cavities, with many cascades, stream pools and rapids that are an invitation to dive in. Less well known than the waterfalls further downstream, the Fanes cascades are well worth visiting, offering a pleasant (though not always easy) walk in the forest that ends near the small mountain hut Malga Fanes.

In the morning, the location Sbarco de Fanes can also be reached by jeep.

Total ascent: 300 m

Time required: 4/5 hours (or 3 hours using a jeep on the outwards route, available in the morning only)

Difficulty: easy

Equipment required: equipped climbing route kit (if you want to visit the Fanes waterfalls)


7. Mount Rudo

The Mount Rudo hike takes you to perhaps one of the largest and best-preserved lines of World War I fortifications. From the top of the mountain, there are excellent views of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo peaks.

The route, which starts close to the fort near Hotel Tre Cime, is challenging: it calls for good intuition, strong legs and sufficient water in your bottles. But the views are well worth the effort.

Total ascent: about 1,300 m

Time required: 8/10 hours

Difficulty: difficult

Equipment required: an approximately 20 m rope


8. The San Marco rock

This unusual route near the Tre Cime di Lavaredo peaks enables you to see some of the trenches and forts built by the Italians during the First World War. It starts from Lake d’Antorno, from where you walk to the mountain hut Malga Rin Bianco. Here you start walking uphill, between Mount Baranci and some fine viewpoints looking over the Val Rienza valley. After reaching the peak, from the gully Forcella dell’Arghena there are splendid views of the north face of the Tre Cime (this is the only section in which you may meet some other hikers), and then you go back down along the valley named Valle dell’Acqua, returning to the starting point.

Total ascent: 800 m

Time required: 5 hours

Difficulty: moderate

Equipment required: alpine climbing equipment is not necessary


9. Punta Nera 

Punta Nera is a peak that dominates the southern entrance to Cortina, and it can be seen from the entire Ampezzo valley. However, as it is lower than the mountains Sorapiss and Marcora, very few hikers consider it a worthwhile peak. But in actual fact, it is the highest peak of the Ampezzo branch of the Sorapiss mountain group, and it provides superb though little-known views. The easiest route starts from the Faloria cable car and flanks the Tondi peaks. Proceeding uphill on an easy track on scree, you reach the gully Forcella Punta Nera, from where, with a few short sections of rock-climbing, you reach the peak. After returning to the gully, you can continue along the equipped route leading to Lake Sorapiss, then reaching the Tre Croci Pass. From here, you can return down into the valley by bus.

Total ascent: about 700 m

Time required: 7 hours

Difficulty: difficult

Equipment required: equipped climbing route kit, helmet, 30m rope


For furhter info and reservations: www.guidecortina.com/en


Preview photo by Paola Dandrea



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