AV1 day 2: Rifugio Averau to Rifugio Passi Staulanza

My prayers for good weather were answered and today has been sunny but not hot. After too good a meal last night, we woke with slight hangovers, had breakfast with plenty of fluids and set off.

It was immediately uphill to Rifugio Nuvolau (2575 metres) perched high on a rocky outcrop, with 360 degree views. Despite the sunshine, it was still frosty in the shade when we got there, and there was a sprinkling of snow on some distant peaks.

Just after the rifugio the path disappeared over the ridge, dropping steeply down. Thankfully there was a cable and ladder to help us. I was a bit worried when I saw Italians coming up wearing full via ferrata kit, but it was fine, so long as we didn’t look down!

We then headed over undulating rocky terrain until we met a second protected path, starting with a ledge then a steep gully. The views after this were stunning.

The path had been quiet until the second via ferrata but now got busier and busier. We stopped for a drink at Refugio Passo Giau (2236 metres) then followed a path uphill to Forcella Giau (2360 metres). We were a bit frustrated by the crowds but, thankfully, managed to pass the slowest groups.

From here it was downhill through a lovely green basin with plenty of flowers. It’s been interesting how the landscape has changed today from rocks and boulders to meadows to forest and scree.

After having lunch by a babbling stream, it was back uphill to another col, Forcella Ambrizzola (2277 metres). From here we could see Cortina, which we visited last week.

After this there were two more cols… Forcella Col Duro and Forcella Roan… it’s been a long day and we’ve walked 18 kilometres on difficult terrain. No wonder I’m tired!

I had hoped for a cold drink and ice cream at Rifugio Città di Fiume on our final, long downhill stretch; however, the queues were so long we decided not to bother. The final 3 kilometres seemed to take a long time. It was hot by now and the rocks and tree roots on the forest path were doing their best to trip me up. Then we left the forest onto a path on the scree with Monte Pelmo towering above us.

Finally, we reached Rifugio Passo Staulanza (1766 metres) where I’d booked a room. I collapsed on a bench outside while John went to check in. Despite dozens of emails since I booked this trip pre Covid, they had no record of us! Thank goodness there was a spare room!

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