Rifugio Roda de Vael Walk
Height gain: 781m/2560ft
Technical - *****
Exposure - *****
Navigation - *****
Fitness - *****
- Ideal for: Adults and families with children over 10.
- Things to look out for: Local wildlife particularly the marmots.
- Best time of the year: June to October.
Starting from rifugio Gardeccia take path no. 550 heading for passo delle Coronelle. The walk starts out with a gentle uphill across a meadow, warming you up nicely before the path quickly gains height as it approaches the Catinaccio rock face.
As you go keep an ear out for unusual whistles, it's the marmots warning each other of your arrival. It is common to spot them sunbathing on a rock not too far away from their nest. As you gain altitude the west profile of the Marmolada will come into view to the south east, you can just glimpse the glacier on its north face.
After approximately 90 minutes you will reach a cross point with path 541. Take it heading south and having gained 400m altitude you'll have a fantastic view of Gardeccia, the route you've just walked and the surrounding peaks, Catinaccio on the North and Larsec on the East. Route 541 stays fairly level for approx. 30 minutes allowing you to take in your surroundings before it picks up again, ascending to Passo delle Zigolade at 2550m.
A stunning view of rifugio Roda de Vael and its surrounding meadows opens up in front of you from the summit of Passo delle Zigolade. Follow the path downhill, under a natural rock bridge and across the green fields to the rifugio, approximately 60 minutes away.
Roda de Vael is the ideal location for a lunch break whether you carry your own food or want to indulge yourself with the local traditional cuisine.
After a well deserved rest follow path 545 back towards Ciampedie. Initially quite a steep downhill, it cuts back across the meadow until you reach a gravel track. Don't be tricked into following the gravel track instead you'll continue into the woods on the left. Next stop is rifugio Negritella, 90 minutes away from Roda de Vael. From there it's back to Gardeccia via route 540 weaving back through the woods in just over 60 minutes. Take a minute out to read some of the information boards with details and curiosities on the local flora and wild life you'll see on your way.
All in all this is quite an intense and moderately strenuous walk but your efforts don't go unrewarded, you'll have enjoyed some of the Dolomites most iconic scenery. On a few occasions the path is exposed and cover with loose gravel, you'll love the adventure but do take extra care if you're taking younger children.