Monte Castello History Tour from Fanes Hut — Italy

Post by blogger | January 15, 2013      

Touring in the magnificent Dolomites

Fanes Hut has a seat in one of the most beautiful amphitheaters of the world — majestic peaks of the Dolomites rise up around her. Built in the 1920’s, remodeled recently and meticulously maintained, this refugio combines old world charm with 5 star coziness. Day one of the Dynafit Press Event starts with a ski tour in the morning. We join a group to visit remnants from World War I left behind in this area of the Faines-Senes-Braies Natural Park, Italy.


Guide Franz Perchtold gives the group safety instructions at the start.


Panorama Dolomites - beauty all around us.

We head up to the ridge along an old road that was probably built during the war. Franz, our competent guide, points out a bunker nestled high on one of the ridges. It’s a grim reminder of how good we’ve got it; to be here in our warm technical clothing, easily cruising along on our lightweight skis, touring for fun instead of battle.

We ski under beautiful blue skies on wind affected chunder. Passing magnificent rock, we climb to a small fortress wedged under the lip of large boulder perched on a ridge. Parts of the Dolomites were the front line between Austria and Italy during World War I. Soldiers on both sides excavated tunnels, built bunkers on ridges and fired at one another without really changing the line more than a few feet. Sadly, most soldiers died from avalanches and the elements; some historical accounts say that 2/3 of the casualties among the mountain troops were from the harsh winter conditions rather than battle.


Hiking up behind Rifugio Fanes.

On upper part of Monte Castello, looking approx. northwest at Dolomites.

On upper part of Monte Castello, looking approx. northwest at some of the Dolomites. Larger peaks such as Toffana are opposite direction, the colors and shapes indeed make this easily one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world.

army hut

Wedged on the ridge is a small bunker now used as a climbing and skiing shelter 'hut'.

Another view of the tiny mountain hut on Monte Castello. So classic it blew me away.

Another view of the tiny mountain hut on Monte Castello. So classic it blew me away.


View from the bunker.


Fanes Hut -- Refugio Fanes, elevation 2060 m, on an old military road that connects Pederu with Cortina d'Ampezzo.


Memorabilia from WWI and early skiers adorn Refugio Fanes

The skiing down? Let’s just say it was a bit wind affected and leave it to your imagination rather then pixels. In this case, it’s more about the tour, anyway. Oh, and we’re enjoying some powder now in the Kitzbühel Alps. Normally, that sort of thing would erase memory of a ski trip on less than ideal snow, but in the case of Dolomite, the neurons will stay burned with alpine wonder for a long long time. Check out map below, showing Fanes Hut, Monte Castello is about 4 Kilometers directly south of the hut.

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16 Responses to “Monte Castello History Tour from Fanes Hut — Italy”

  1. delltodd January 15th, 2013 11:13 am


  2. Kyle January 15th, 2013 11:14 am

    Do people in Italy wear their TLT5s to dinner as well?

  3. Joe John January 15th, 2013 12:50 pm

    Wow, that first picture is just awesome. Looks like an amazing destination with the right equipment. Wish I was there right now! Pictures are the next best thing as I try to get some work done. 🙂

  4. Chris January 15th, 2013 1:03 pm


    Nice trip report! This brings back memories. About seven years ago my wife and I spent a month in that part of Italy and a couple of weeks based out of Cortina d’ Ampezzo. Hiked mostly in the National Park and Via Ferrata (iron road) routes in the area, staying at Refugio’s along the way. Incredible routes and beauty mostly left over from WW1 and currently maintained by the Alpine Club of Italy. I actually got tired of taking pictures of stone bunkers chiseled into 45 degree slopes, right in the middle of beautiful mountain ranges, with tunnels and portals out the back so they could shot at their Austrian and Hungarian neighbors. On some routes you could see ten of these a day. Amazing what we’ll do to kill each other. Some of the long, and almost vertical tunnels in the nearby passes are impressive. Nice friendly people and great food and wine in the area.

  5. brian h January 15th, 2013 1:07 pm

    Thanks for including the history stuff. I believe Hemingway said something to the effect that the Dolomite campaign was the greatest waste of life in the whole war…

  6. Lisa Dawson January 15th, 2013 2:30 pm

    War is indeed a terrible, terrible thing. The tour was bittersweet for me. The beauty of the Dolomites was tantalizing , but thinking of the young men who died was very sad.

  7. Paul January 15th, 2013 3:01 pm

    Wow those pictures are gorgeous.

  8. Rob S January 15th, 2013 4:14 pm

    Nice post. The first photo is a spectacular shot!

  9. Pete Anzalone January 15th, 2013 9:35 pm

    Great post and pix Lisa. Keep ’em coming!

  10. Wookie1974 January 16th, 2013 3:34 am

    These days – touring up high there, you have to be careful! The warmer temps have brought old munitions and even a few remains to the surface of some of the snow fields and glaiciers in that area, and also in the Seealpen, another area of WWI fighting.
    Its been documented in some magazines here, and a friend of mine stumbled across a stash of bullets and what appeared to be some kind of mortar or grenade!

    He had a blast.

  11. gringo January 16th, 2013 4:45 am

    Wookie makes a good point.

    -Something US based skiers dont consider is the fact that unspent munitions are a dangerous albeit not frequent reality of skiing in certain parts of Europe. I stumbled across an unexploded Artillery shell near Gotthard pass in Switzerland last year and the Swiss military bomb disposal unit actually sent me 100 bucks and a written thank you for reporting it.
    Also I have a friend from Serbia who has said they cannot ski off piste in his home area for fear of mines from their civil war in the 90’s.

  12. jim knight January 16th, 2013 9:36 am

    It’s worth a visit to the WWI Museum highlighting the Dolomites Campaign while in Cortina.

  13. Lou Dawson January 16th, 2013 10:20 am

    Wookie and Gringo, wow! Now along with your airbag you have to have a ballistics vest…

  14. Fernando Pereira January 16th, 2013 9:20 pm

    “O Gorizia, tu sei maledetta” is a famous antiwar folk song based on a major battle of WWI ( further South from where you are along the old border between Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

  15. Fede January 21st, 2013 3:54 pm

    Wookie, your warning is way too exagerate. It’s absolutely and extremely rare to find nearly un-exploded weapons anywhere in the dolomites where Lisa was touring. First of all because it’s stuff of nearly 100 years ago so not really dangerouse anymore.
    Second there are no glacier left which could have hided stuff except a small one in Marmolada but I can assure you that weapons collectors have been already intensively scanning with metal detectors every mm of the glacier.
    Thrid because all the battlefields have been intensively scanned by weapon collectors and immediately after the war from poor local people trying to get some money in re-selling metal. So don’t worry at all, there’s nothing left.
    I’ve been touring and hiking a lot in the last 20 years and had the luck to find a bullet only once during a mountain bike trip.

  16. palic January 22nd, 2013 6:19 pm

    To Gringo – your friend from Serbia was the most probably talking about Bosna and Hercegovina – there are a lot of mine fields there from the civil war 1992-1995. BUT, most of these areas are 100 % safe during the winter time, when there is a lot of snow. On the other side, it can be very dangerous in the summer time.

    I was already several times in the mountains of Bosna and Hercegovina during the winter time – they are excellent!

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