RIDER: Stefano La Mastra / Davide Russotto

WORDS: Giulia Boccola

IMAGES: Stefano La Mastra

LOCATION: Dolomiti – Italy

“Hey Ste, I spent three days with Betta in the Dolomites, we absolutely must go back there, could you next week?”

“….could I? I should if I ever…come on, let’s go, let’s organise it!”

We didn’t know it at the time, but the weekend we nicknamed DOLOMITI IS CALLING (which we organised at the last minute over a pizza and two beers), turned out to be one of the most beautiful weekends of the whole year.
It began in a rushed moment, in the carpark under David’s house ready to leave, or rather “not ready” to leave. After more than four hours driving, we reach San Pellegrino. We’re at the top, it’s pitch dark and it’s terribly cold. Going to sleep was really complicated, but not as much as waking up…with only three hours of sleep and in arctic temperatures, having to dress and prepare for a 17 km descent was one of the most “technical” experiences of my life.

The next morning is strict, but went as scheduled. After the first few hours the sun begins to warm us and the magic takes over.

We easily cycle through the Cereda Pass, but it’s the Rolle Pass that wins the day prize: snowy, cold and admirable. Obviously late we inexorably continue towards the Marmolada and we also cross the Fedaia. When we reach the San Pellegrino base, the light begins to fade, our eyes meet…we immediately understand that the last monster of the day we will face in the dark and cold again, but this time with 12 hours of fatigue in our legs. Onwards, we take on that last and unforgettable 4 km and energy at 14%.

“We’re at the top, it’s pitch dark and it’s terribly cold.”

We have arrived. Van, Canazei, restaurant, bed. It’s like being at the Hilton Hotel compared to the night before…finally a hot shower and sleep. The benefits of spending your last night in an extra-luxury suite were evident. Both of us were rested even if we were damned late in our planned departure time the following day.

A new day, the Sella Pass climb awaits us. Between stopping to take photos, the mountain passes flow one after the other. Here, God seems to really exist. First the Pass Gardena, then the Campolongo (which later turned out to be a mistake, meaning a late arrival in the dark again that evening). 

“…snow and pornography.”

The Valparola is pure magic, snowy and rocky. Down we go and continue beyond the Giau without stopping for canederli (a type of bread dumpling local to the region, we sampled the day before and unfortunately they did not meet our expectations). Charged with a good rhythm, we are ready to face the Falzarego Pass which gives us false hope to arrive at our destination with some daylight.

We reach the Pordoi base, our final stop. Despite the delays earlier in the journey, our efforts are rewarded – in our last climb we’re spurred on by an unforgettable sunset…the worthy and well deserved conclusion of an absurd, improbable weekend of which we like.

— Giulia Boccola

Eleven alpine passes in two days

From top left to right:

Passo Cereda – 1369m s.l.m.
Passo Rolle – 1989m s.l.m.
Passo Fedaia – 2057m s.l.m.
Passo S.Pellegrino – 1989m s.l.m.
Passo Sella – 2240m s.l.m.
Passo Gardena – 2121m s.l.m.
Passo Campolongo – 1875m s.l.m.
Passo Valparola – 2168m s.l.m.
Passo di Giau – 2236m s.l.m.
Passo Falzarego – 2105m s.l.m.
Passo Pordoi – 2239m s.l.m.

DEPARTURE: San Pellegrino

ARRIVAL: San Pellegrino

LENGHT: 191 km

TOTAL ELEVATION: 4.850 m

DURATION: 1/2 days

DIFFICULTY: hard, excellent training required.

DEPARTURE: Canazei

ARRIVAL: Canazei

LENGHT: 159 km

TOTAL ELEVATION: 4.640 m

DURATION: 1/2 days

DIFFICULTY: hard, excellent training required.

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