After several months in the amazing Italian Dolomites with 6 hours of free time between split shifts, I and my colleagues were always looking for great ways to enjoy the mountains and explore new walks. Fitting some of the bigger walks that were part of the organised walking holidays offered by the company I worked for, into the 6 hours of free time each day was not really possible, however our summer season lift passes that we were given as part of our contract proved to be extremely beneficial when it came to exploring the gorgeous area in which we lived.
A walk that I had spied on my way up to the Gardena pass seemed like it would fit the bill, it wasn’t part of any organised walks, looked fairly exposed and exciting in places and looked like it was short enough to fit into a free afternoon. Al and I discussed it, got the handy map No. 3 out, had a good look at path 666 tracing its route along the edge of the Sella Massif to the Val de Mesdi and decided to set off and see what it was like. We took the usual route from the chalet in Corvara up to the Plans Frara lift just the other side of Colfosco. A short 25-minute walk and about a 12-minute lift ride it gets you to Jimmy’s hut close to the Gardena pass in about 35 minutes. From Jimmy’s hut, there is a short 10-minute descent to the car park at the Gardena Pass where path 666 starts.
As usual in the mountains almost everywhere I walked there were steep ascents and path 666 was no different beginning with a steep 75-100m ascent to the high point of the walk. From here you have excellent views of the Sasso Longo and back down the pass to Corvara in the distance. It had snowed (it was towards the end of the summer season when we walked this path) and we were just above the snow line initially. The snow made the ground underfoot much more slippery than the usual scree type path that it usually was and with a steep, nearly sheer drop off to ones left it can leave you feeling like the path is quite precarious at times. Having said this the views were as usual worth it and the sense of exposure I feel adds to the enjoyment of the walk.
Continuing along path 666 for about 50 minutes with other paths joining it along the way you drop down into the tree line just to the left of where the Tridentina Via Ferrata starts at the waterfall. Even with the recent snowfall, we could see climbers ascending Tridentina showing how popular it is throughout the season (We had done it in the second week in the Dolomites and would thoroughly recommend it to anyone). The path soon joins the Val de Mesdi after perhaps another 20 minutes of hiking with breath-taking views of Sas Ciampac in front of you and a treacherous looking steep descent directly below you.
The descent back down to Colfosco from path 666 is very steep and quite hard on the knees, it seemed as though there had been a landslip recently before we too the route without any clear way markers to follow. We proceeded down following the waterfall down alongside the path it was extremely peaceful and is another good reason to take the walk. After braving the steep descent with some loose scree towards the bottom we ended up in Colfosco, just before the Plans lift. From here it was just a 20-25 minute walk along the relatively flat path back to Corvara.
All in all, it was a fantastic walk, one of my favourite Doms afternoons, made even better by the company of Al who you can see in the photos. At about 3 hours start to finish (including a couple of stops to take photos) it was much quicker than we were expecting, that being said me and Al probably walked at a faster pace than most people do and would allow for a 4-4.5 hour walk at an average pace.