I must say it again: It is very unproper to call the whole area south of Tagliamento river Prealpi. Its summits are high and the whole area is a very desirable mountaineering destination. But on the other hand the naming is understandable. Italian naming uses the name Prealpi for mountains in the whole southern part of the big arc of Alpes. So, let's stick to the official naming.
The Nature Of Mountains
In the Eastern Alps the southern chain is mostly made of limestone, dolomite and similar non-metamorphous rock structures. So, also the Carnic Pre-Alps are similar to the Dolomites to their west and the Julian Alps on their east. More specifically - their very western mountain chain (Cima dei Preti - Monfalcon - Cridola) is a true Dolomites world. Wild, sharp towers, as beautiful as any other area in the 'true Dolomites'. That's why this group is also dubbed as Dolomiti Friulane or Dolomites beyond Piave (Dolomiti d'oltre Piave). Very similar to the area, a bit north-east of it, the chain above Val Pesarina is often dubbed as Dolomiti Pesarini. To attract tourists today almost every rock is called 'dolomiti'. But the Monfalcon area justifies this name completely.
East of Val Cimoliana Carnic Pre-Alps are more like the rest of Carnic Alps. The first groups: Monte Pramaggiore, Monte Turlon and Monte Cornaget are still densely packed with summits. More towards the East the summits are more and more stand-alone or in separate mountain chains.
The whole area of Carnic Pre-Alps is very lonesome, on many places this is a true mountain wilderness. I'm sure there are still many worthwhile places where no man hasn put its foot yet. All the highest summits are great panoramic points (though they are are hard to reach), the lower parts of mountains are covered with dense vegetation. In the valleys crystal clear rivers flow, their riverbeds are often long and wide white scree fields, seen from the summits almost like glacier flows. Above the valleys there are many green meadows. On these mountain pastures old and picturesque shepherds huts are standing, some of them today are converted into mountaineers bivouacs. All the lakes in the group are in or close to Tramontina valley and are of artificial origin.
Parco Naturale Dolomiti Friulane
Parco Naturale Regionale delle Dolomiti Friulane.
Once there, don't click the link to the parc page, but follow the links to English chapters.
Establishing a natural parc here was really a great idea. Yes, the real Dolomites on the other side of the Piave river are great. One of the greatest mountain areas in Europe. But nature is not preserved there. Once and forever it's gone in its original form, with the exception of few areas. So we can only hope that the wilderness of 'Dolomiti Friulane' will be preserved. And, if anything, we can admire how this big area is protected. It stretches from the main crest on the West almost to the valley of Tramonti on the East, and from above the Tagliamento river on the North down to the forehills near Cimolais, Claut and Andreis. The central office of the parc is in Cimolais, info poits are in many other towns around the parc.
Attached to this natural parc is also the beautiful area of the Cellina canyon below the lake of Barcis. The road along the canyon is now closed (in renovation), the canyon parc info point is by the lake of Barcis.
Geography of Carnic Pre-Alps
Only two roads cross the northern part of Carnic Pre-Alps, both in its eastern part. From Ampezzo in the valley of Tagliamento the road goes towards the South over Passo di Monte Rest, 1060m. The road is generally good, but narrow and hard to maintain after winter damages. I found it often closed even in summer. The second pass is even further to the East - Sella Chianzutan, 955m, and is less significant for tourist transfer.
Just to slice the whole area into smaller groups and so make the chunks smaller to swallow, I propose the following grouping - from the West towards the East (I have no idea if this is justified officially - it's just upon a look on the map):
1. Cima dei Preti - Monfalcon - Cridola Range (west of Val Cimoliana and Passo Lavinal, 1972m)
2. Monte Pramaggiore Group (between Val Cimoliana and Val Settimana, so between Passo Lavinal and Forcella Lareseit, 1749m)
3. Monte Cornaget Group (between Val Settimana and Val Tramonti, so between Forcella Lareseit and Passo di Monte Rest, 1060m)
4. Monte Verzegnis Group (between Val Tramonti and Val d'Arzino, so between Passo di Monte Rest and Sella Chianzutan, 955m)
5. Monte Piombada Group (between Val d'Arzino and Tagliamento, so east of Sella Chianzutan)
Let's see some of the most characteristic features of each group.
Cima Dei Preti - Monfalcon - Cridola GroupSee also Fabrizio's great 'subgroup' page: Spalti di Toro - Monfalconi!
Fabrizio: Spalti di Toro - Monfalconi group
As already said this is the highest and most beautiful group of the whole Carnic Pre-Alps. It is 'pure Dolomites'. With a few exceptions of side mountains and fore-summits all peaks in the group are hardly accessible. Some ascents are of UIAA II degree (if you find the easiest passages), all others are harder. Marked paths are mainly crossing the saddles and notches of the group. Some paths are also very hard, requiring climbing skills. Others are protected, real dolomites ferratas. And all of them are very worth to ascend, because even if not reaching the summits you are all the time moving through a very picturesque mountain world. With marked paths only a few side summits are accessible.
The chain and its side ridges has from the South towards the North the following more important summits:
M. Borgà, 2228m. Marked path n°393 from Casso.
|La Palazza, 2210m. Marked path n°381 from Casera bedìn ( Val Zemola ), M. Zita, 2191m. Easy ascent on the SE crest from Casera Bedìn. Not marked path.|
Cima dei Rodi Segre, 2132m. Ferrata crosses its summit.
|M. Duranno, 2652m. One of the highest summits in Carnic Pre-Alps. Alpinistic ascent with difficulty around the II UIAA degree with a passage of the III+ degree. Ferrata ascends only its western shoulder - Spalla del Duranno, 2234m.|
|Cima Cadin di Toro, 2386m, Pala Grande, 2385m, Cima Toro, 2355m. Summits in a wild ridge west of the famous Val Montanaia. A marked path crosses the ridge north of Cima Toro.|
|Campanile di Val Montanaia, 2173m. A wonderful landmark of the whole area. No easy ascent to the summit, only to its base.|
|Monfalcòn di Montanaia, 2548m. The crossing point of ridges above Val Montanaia. A marked path crosses the Forcella Montanaia (notch) west of the summit, another one crosses the south ridge (connecting Val Montanaia and Val Monfalcon di Cimoliana).|
|Monfalcon di Forni, 2453m. Another wild, fairy-tale castle, SE of M. Cridola. Normal route is an easy climb of UIAA II+.|
|Monte Crìdola, 2581m. A wild crest mountain in the North, marked path n°346 from Rifugio Giàf through Tacca del Cridola, difficulty around the I/II UIAA degree with a key passage of the II+. First ascended by Julius Kugy and his guide P. Orsolina in August 4th, 1884.|
|Montanel, 2440m. A fore-summit in Cridola's NW ridge. Marked path n°345 from Rifugio Cercenà-Bivacco Montanel ( NW ). Easy ascent with only a short passage of the I UIAA degree.|
|M. Miaron, 2132m. A fore-summit in the northern part of Cridola group. Marked path from Passo della Mauria. Difficulty around the I UIAA degree. Exposed passages.|
Huts and Bivouacs
Besides ordinary huts in the group there are many ex shepherds huts, now used as bivouacs. Some can be used only in emergency, others are well equipped and permanently opened. Check their status in valleys before using.
Rifugio Maniago, 1730m. Stands above Val Zemola, SW below Monte Duranno. Accessible from the parking place above Erto, 1180m in 1h 30min.
Ricovero Casera Bedin di Sopra, 1711m. Stands NW above Val Zemola.
Ricovero Casera Galvana, 1613m. Stands E above Val Zemola.
Ricovero Casera Lodina, 1567m. Stands SE of M. Duranno, above Cimolais.
Bivouac Baroni, 1732m. Stands below the N face of M. Duranno.
Bivouac Greselin, 1988m. Stands S of Cima dei Preti.
Ricovero Casera Laget de Sora, 1871m. Stands at the end of Val dei Frassin, NE of Cima Laste.
Bivouac G. Gervasutti, 1940m. Stands S of Cima Cadin di Toro.
Rifugio Tita Barba, 1821m. Stands NW of Cima Cadin di Toro.
Rifugio Padova, 1287m. Excellend western trailhead for Monfalcon and Cridola group. Reachable by car from Piave valley.
Bivouac Montanel, 2048m. Stands S of the summit of Montanel.
Rifugio Pordenone, 1249m. Stands 100m above the end parking place in Val Cimoliana. It serves all tours in the upper part of this nice valley.
Bivouac Perugini, 2060m. Stands on a grassy shoulder just N of the famous Campanile di Val Montanaia.
Bivouac Marchi-Granzotto, 2152m. Stands NE of Cima Monfalcon di Montanaia.
Ricovero Casera Valbinon, 1778m. Stands on a nice alpine meadow in Val Binon.
Rifugio Giaf, 1400m. Stands in the upper part of Val di Giaf. Excellently serves climbs in the nearby walls and the ascent on M. Cridola. Reachable from Tagliamento valley, the parking place in the lower part of Val di Giaf is on 1025m.
Bivouac A. Vaccari, 2050m. Stands below the N face of M. Cridola, NE of the summit.
Click on the maps below to enlarge: