Tre Cime and Dobbiaco

I wanted to skip breakfast and head for Tre Cime before dawn to photograph it at sunrise and, secondarily, to avoid crowds. But I was outvoted. Hotel Ambra really did have great breakfasts.

The taxi picked us up at 8:00 AM to take us from Cortina to Tre Cime. The plan was the taxi would return four hours later and take us to our hotels in Dobbiaco. In between it would keep my transfer bag (with an extra camera, a small tripod, and a change of clothes) and a few other things that Jim and Stephen did not need on the hike around Tre Cime. It was a plan which worked quite well and did not cost much more than the 9 bus tickets we would have had to purchase if we followed the original plan and visited Tre Cime the previous day.

We got to the entrance gate at Tre Cime de Lavardo around 9 AM. It was crowded, as expected, at this time of day. Buses were unloading in the huge parking areas. Plus there were many other parking areas well back down the road.

We headed up the road toward Rifugio Auronzo, along with hundreds of other people.

Below is a view looking down the valley in the general direction of Cortina.

We passed Rifugio Auronzo and continued along the trail. The 6-photo panorama below shows a view looking back on the right and forward on the left. In the center is the valley toward Cortina.

Below is a cropped version of the same image.

I’m not sure if that’s fireweed in the photo below, but it looks like it. There are a pair of monuments out in the field above the cliff.

Here is a closer view of the monuments and some of the Dolomites behind them. You can perhaps see people in the field.

We reached the small chapel. Folks were taking photos of it and of themselves.


Photographing toward the sun produced a very pale sky. But photographing at right angles to the sun produced a very dramatic blue sky. This is evident in the photo below of Tre Cime.

There were two paths that lead around Tre Cime. The shorter one passes very close to the towers. We chose the longer route which we thought would give a better view of the towers. Here is a photo from that path. You might be able to see Jim somewhat ahead where the path makes an S-turn.

We reached a point that gave a sweeping view into the valley north of Tre Cime. Below is a 17-photo panorama from this spot.

Twelve minutes farther down the trail Stephen took a photo of me with my iPhone.

I got a photo of another photographer from the same spot. Stephen is to the left in this photo.

We continued along the track heading in the direction of Rifugio Locatelli, Dreizinnen Hut. You can see it in the background in this photo below. Stephen is immediately in front of me and Jim is a bit ahead of him.

Below is another view from along this path. It shows some of the interesting limestone structures up to the right.

We chose to not hike up to Rifugio Locatelli but continue along a lower path which took us down into the valley. You can see us on this trail in the 9-photo panorama below.

We came to a strange rock that made an interesting foreground element. Someone had constructed a wall on one side of the rock.


Below is a 12-photo panorama.

The three image slideshow that follows consists of cropped versions of the previous panorama.


As we headed down into the valley I took the photo below of Tre Cime with my iPhone.

As we dropped down into the valley the foreground changed but the three towers remained as the unchanging elements in the back.

Off to the side was a very colorful mountain framed by some conifers.

We were getting to an area where the sun was behind Tre Cime. The foreground vegetation had red-leaved plants. At one spot we could see a mostly dried up pool at the base of Tre Cime.


Below is a 12-photo panorama of the area to the left of Tre Cime, which is on the right-hand edge of this image.

The slideshow below consist of cropped portions of this panorama. The first four are full vertical crops moving left to right. The second four also move left to right but are tighter crops.

As we climbed out of the valley, we had a different view of Tre Cime.

Along this track we were getting nice views of a different valley to the west.

We crossed a scree slope as we climbed to a set of rails. I noticed something interesting below the left edge of the railing.

Here is a close-up of that feature. It looks like at some time there was a serious uplifting, a fault, in this area.

We got to the railing above that area, and I made this 12-photo panorama. Tre Cime is in the center but its top is cut off.

From near this spot I made a 9-photo panorama looking south.

Below are two cropped pieces of the above panorama.


Below is a 9-photo panorama.

The two images below are cropped pieces of the above panorama. In one you can see Stephen adjusting the harness for his camera.

From this area I made a whimsical 7-photo panorama of me waving down toward a really deep gorge.

We continued around and got to a slope that was filled with cattle.


We were approaching the parking area which would be the culmination of our hike around Tre Cime.

The two images below are cropped portions of the above panorama.

Before we met our taxi, I made another panorama of the parking lot. You can see that Tre Cime is a very popular spot.

If we ever return to the Dolomites, I would like to spend an evening at Rifugio Locatelli, Dreizinnen Hut. This should provide excellent opportunities for sunset, night, and sunrise photos of Tre Cime from a very favorable position. I fantasized what this might look like and edited one of my photos to make it appear that it was taken in the early evening with Tre Cime lit by a full moon.

Our taxi was waiting for us. We had a pleasant ride to Dobbiaco. Here are two photos I snapped from the moving cab en route.

We arrived in Dobbiaco a bit before 2 PM. Because I joined the trip after Jim and Stephen had booked the trip, I had to stay in a different hotel in Dobbiaco. Below is a 2-photo panorama taken with my iPhone from my Hotel Cristallo bedroom window.

Cristallo is an excellent hotel and much closer to the bus stop and town than where Stephen and Jim stayed.

I walked into town to photograph the sites and to buy some bread, cheese, and meat for dinner and for a lunch the first day of our trek. I decided to forgo a fancy sit-down dinner in order to relax, sort my trekking backpack and my transfer bag, prepare my camera gear, and generally relax before the trek. Just outside my hotel I got this photo of a woman riding a bike with the Dolomites in the background.

Walking a short distance into town, I found this interesting hotel front.

In town was Castel Herbstenburg. Here are two photos of it.

There was a pool in what appeared to be the center of town. In the background is the Baptist church, Chiesa San Giovanni Battista.

Here is a views of the side of that church. You can see in the background a tour group had gathered.

Behind the church was a very interesting cemetery. Here are two panoramic photos of it.

Looping around I got another view of the Baptist church.

I walked back south past Hotel Cristallo taking a photo of it with my iPhone.

Looking back toward town I got this view.

Returning to Hotel Cristallo, I took another photo of it.

Back inside I took some photos of the interior of the hotel. Here are three of them.


During and after a dinner in my hotel room I made a number of last-minute photographic decisions. I was already quite settled on what I would carry for clothes on the trek and what would be left in my transfer bag to be picked up at the hotel in Belluno at the end of the trek. But I kept thinking about how I was managing a couple of critical items of my photo gear.

I had been using the second card slot in my cameras to back-up the first card. I decided that since I’d never had a problem with the card failure I would not do this but use the second slot for overflow. I had many cards but feared I would not have enough. This turned out to be a good decision. Although I hate to travel with only one set of images, rather than having them backed up, it worked out fine for this trip.

My second decision involved camera batteries. My initial thoughts were to carry three batteries in my backpack and leave the battery charger in the transfer bag for the end of the trek. At the last minute I decided to trade off one of the batteries for the battery charger. So I took two spare batteries and a battery charger. This was a slight gain in weight, and weight was important to me. However, this turned out to be an excellent decision because I was able to charge batteries at every rifugio, and I certainly did that the whole trek. I would not have survived with only three batteries. What on earth was I thinking when I considered not carrying a charger?

It was an exciting 2 1/2 days in Italy and our trek had yet to begin. Head to the next page and continue on from there to see the adventures we experienced.