The most beautiful Dolomite Wall of the Dolomites
“…to the south, and close at hand, beheld, to our delight, the great mountain of our mid-day wonderment. All ruddy in the sunset, its pinnacled façade rose like some stupendous cathedral in the vista of the valley, and Caprile nestled at its foot.
That view, favoured certainly at the moment by its suddenness, and by the striking effect of light, remains almost unrivalled in our Alpine experience. The mountain is Monte Civetta.”
J. Gilbert and G.C. Churchill, The Dolomite Mountains, 1864
“The grand facade of the Civetta – a sheer, magnificent wall of upright precipice, seamed from crown to foot with thousands of vertical fissures, and rising in a mighty arch towards the centre–faces the north-west, looking directly up the Cordevole towards Caprile, and filling in the end of the valley as a great organ-front fills in the end of a Cathedral aisle. Towards evening it takes all the glow of the sunset. In the morning, while the sun is yet
low in the east, it shows through a veil of soft blue shade, vague and unreal as a dream. It was thus I first saw it. I had gone rambling out through the village before breakfast, and suddenly the Civetta rose up before me
like a beautiful ghost, draped in haze against a background of light. I thought it then, for simple breadth and height, for symmetry of outline, for unity of effect, the most ideal and majestic-looking mountain I had ever seen; and I think so still.”
A.B. Edwards, Untrodden Peaks and Unfrequented Valleys, 1872
The Civetta (Thuìta in Alleghe and Zoldano dialects) is an imposing mountain range of the Dolomites UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site located in Agordino and in the contiguous Val di Zoldo in the Province of Belluno, Veneto Region, in the Italian Alps. Together with theAgner, Marmolada and Focobon, Civetta is probably the most famous Dolomites peak of the Agordino area and one of the most popular in the whole dolomitic area. Mount Civetta has a height of 3220 m (almost 10564 ft) and it is best known for its unmistakable shape, with its 4-km long imposing (defined by the Italian novelist Dino Buzzati “the most beautiful rocky wall of the Alps“), that surrounds the charming Agordino village of Alleghe and the namesake lake.
According to the SOIUSA International Classification of the Alps, the Civetta is part of the Supergroup of the Northern Zoldo Dolomites, Subgroup of the Civetta; according the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation, Civetta is part of the Pale di San Martino, San Lucano, Vette Feltrine e Dolomiti Bellunesi system, one of the 9 systems officially recognized and protected by the UNESCO.
Given the particular shape and the huge dimension, Civetta became soon a popular destination among the European explorers of the Alps since the dawn of mountaineering in the Dolomites; the fisrt “touristic” ascent to the top took place in 1867 by the English explorer Francis F. Tuckett, however it is well known that the top of the mount was already been reached at least in 1855 by the Zoldano hunter Simeone De Silvestro, who later gave useful information to Tuckett.
And when mountaineering became more and more focused on climbing, starting from the early 20s of the 20th Century, Civetta was among the first mountains to be attacked by dozens of rock climbing pioneers. Its north-western wall, the Venezia and Trieste towers and other walls of the Civetta became the setting of incredible, compelling climbing undertaking, like the opening of the Solleder-Lettenbauer climbing routr(1925), the Via degli Amici (1967) – to which Reinhold Messner took part, the Philipp-Flamm (1957) and many, many others. The north-west wall of the Civetta is commonly known as “the Reign of the VI degree” and it is one of the most renowned climbing destination of the Dolomites. There are three Via Ferratas to reach the top of the Civetta: the Via Ferrata degli Alleghesi, the Via Ferrata Tissi and the Via Ferrata Normale.
Civetta is also a very popular destination for hiking enthusiasts: at the foot of this huge dolomite mountain winds the worldwide known Alta Via delle Dolomiti n. 1 Braies-Belluno and many other fascinating itineraries like the Anello Zoldano; furthermore, the ski lifts of the Ski Civetta ski area allows the guests of the resorts at the base of the mountain to easily reach high altitudes and to walk in the charming natural context of the Dolomites UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. Rifugio Coldai and Lake Coldai are very popular attractions of the area, suitable also for novice hikers.
The Val Civetta, where the Alta Via winds, is protagonist of the annual Transcivetta, the beloved fell running competition of 23 from the hamlet of Listolade (Municipality of Taibon Agordino) to Piani di Pezzè (Comune di Alleghe). Mount Civetta offers 4 mountain huts (Torrani, located close to the top, Coldai, Vazzoler and Tissi); in the area interested by the Ski Civetta ski area (Dolomiti Superski), guests can enjoy many other restaurants and welcoming pubs on the most beautifuls skiing slopes of the world.
Mount Civetta is to all extents and purposes a symbol of the Agordino and Zoldano areas. In Agordino, Civetta can be observed from the Conca Agordina, the Val Biois and, of course, the Val Cordevole. Enrosadira is pretty common on the Civetta, and Alleghe and Caprile are among the best spots from which admiring this extraordinary natural phenomenon.