Sunrise Hike on Sella Pass – Italy

This week’s journey takes me back to one of my favorite hiking adventures of 2016: a frigid sunrise walk, accompanied by my parents, across Italy’s spectacular Sella Pass (German: Sellajoch, Ladin: Jëuf de Sela or Jouf de Sela, Italian: Passo Sella). This remarkable trail – located in the Val Gardena between the provinces of Trentino and South Tyrol – offers breathtaking views of several iconic alpine peaks, including the Sella Group, Sasso Lungo and the Odle massif.

We based our two-day exploration of the region in nearby Sëlva, a lovely roadside village within a 10 minute drive of the pass. For many years, this region was part of Austria, and today retains much of its Tirolean charm. German is more widely spoken than Italian here, and most sites have two names; the local language, Ladin, also survives, and is spoken by long-time residents. The valley is famed for wood carvings, widely sold in shops and boutiques throughout the Val Gardena, and for its world-famous pistes and racing trails.

My parents and I set out from our hotel roughly 30 minutes before sunrise on the morning of our hike in early October. We parked our rental car at the pass and began to slowly ramble along a small footpath winding northwest toward the Sella Towers. Skies were clear and the air was bitterly cold (as evidenced by the frost clinging to the grass and plants along the trail), but as we turned to take in our surroundings, we were met with the most awe-inspiring sunrise on the spires of the Sasso Lungo. Our hike was short – only 30 minutes, limited somewhat by both freezing temperatures and the elevation (2,200+ meters) – but filled with sights unlike any we’d ever experienced. Please enjoy the views of our journey in the photos we captured below!

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Thank you for joining me on this adventure in the Dolomites! – B. June

Next week’s journey: Winter in Eastern Washington – USA

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