Day 5 of our trip saw us escape from (most of) the snow for a day in the Pian Delle Comelle, a deep valley on the North side of Pale di San Martino. We left most of our gear at Rifugio Rosetta as this would be around trip, and headed North on Path 756. The views were lovely, with Cima della Vezzana, the highest peak in the area, on our left, and various other mountain groups poking through a layer of cloud ahead.
After an easy couple of kilometres we arrived at Passo Antermarucol and started the descent into the forest towards the village of Gares. However, before reaching the valley bottom we turned left on the Viaz del bus, which sounds like a bus route, but was in fact a barely-used path that wound up and over a small col through some very pretty forest and then along a narrow ledge with occasional lengths of cable for safety and which even featured a small tunnel. The ledge ended in a steep gully which was unfortunately snow-filled, burying the last sections of cable, but after a few awkward moments on the step, hard snow, we managed to escape down the gully to the Pian delle Comelle itself.
The valley was beautiful, with high cliffs, steep canyons and waterfalls on either side, but a perfectly flat floor. We strolled up the river bed, admiring the flower-filled meadows on either side towards the waterfalls and canyons that marked the end of the Pian. After lunch sat on a giant rock, we continued up around the side of the canyon to find a rocky bowl with a couple of waterfalls spilling into it and another large area of snow. We kicked steps up that, and traversed the loose scree above it to regain the path and more cables, taking us up to the next step in the valley, the Pian dei Cantoni. The contrast between the peaceful, flat bottomed Pians and the steep canyons between them was remarkable.
The path (704) continued across the second Pian, this time featuring a group of Marmots shrieking at us, and then climbed again, back into the snow, and eventually back to Rifugio Rosetta. By this stage the cloud had come in and the wind had picked up so we were glad to escape into the Rifugio for a beer before continuing.
The remarkable thing for me was that we didn’t meet a single person the whole day. The valley was stunning, and yet the people in the Rifugio hadn’t mentioned it as a place to visit, and nobody else was there! In the UK it would be a major tourist attraction, I’m sure. For a one day trip in the Pale, I can’t recommend this trip enough.
From the Rifugio, Dave elected to catch the Funivia back to our car in San Martino, while Rachel and I chose to run down the hill. 45 minutes later we were all back at the car for an evening of showers and civilisation before the last two days of the holiday.