La Varella (also written Lavarella) is the second highest mountain in a Dolomites group with the same name. The nearby standing Piz dles Cunturines is 9 meters higher. La Varella group is like a wreath, encircling a beautuful high plateau of Fanes. While from the Fanes side only the upper part of mountain wreath is solid steep rock, the picture from west, from Val Badia is completely different. High vertikal walls of Neuner, Zehner and Kreuzkofel are a true landmark of Dolomites country. The western side is also the most beautiful side of La Varella, especially when its walls turn red on a sunset light.
On La Varella, from the main crest towards east branches a side crest which divides Klein Fanes and Gross Fanes. The main crest continues towards south-east, where it ends on Piz dles Cunturines. On this crest, on the altitude of 2930m (and peaks are only good 100m higher) you can find a rare natural fenomenon. There's a true small lake - just a few meters from south-west walls - in a rocky, carst landscape. It's a miracle how the water doesn't vanish in these rocks. Otherwise on the Fanes side lakes are numerous. Although these plateaus look like being a pure carst, there is an abundance of water also on the surface.
The ascent on La Varella is not very difficult. The paths are marked. From north a medium hard ferratta comes and towards south the slopes are crumbly, not so steep and in winter also appropriate for tour skiing. But still, the peak is not so very often ascended as for example the most popular Dolomites peaks, which can be overcrowded.
Getting ThereThe north-east approach for Fanes plateau (2040m) starts in Rautal (Valle di Tamores), which is accessible by car from Val Badia. Near Rif. Pederu (Pederu Hut, 1548m) there is a big parking place. From there you ascend first the Fanes Plateau and finally the summit. Because of it's distance this is a one day or one day and a half tour. In the routes section I recommend a bike-and-hike tour, although the benefit of a bike is only for a descent. The Fanes Plateau can also be reached from east, from Cortina d'Ampezzo side.
From north a marked ferratta reaches the peak from Forcella Medesc (2584m), which can be reached from Klein Fanes or from west (San Cassian side).
The other possibility is an approach from Gross Fanes (2150m). This beautiful Alpine meadow can be reached from Rif. Pederu over Klein Fanes, from Cortina d'Ampezzo side through Valle di Fanes or from south, from the road on Passo di Valparolla, over Col Locia (2069m). From Gross Fanes a path turns towards west, reaches the Cunturines Lake (in summer often dry) and finally the crest between La Varella and Piz dles Cunturines. From there you scramble to the peak.
You can orient with the Tabacco map (Carta topografica), No. 03 - Cortina d'Ampezzo and Ampezzo Dolomites, 1:25000.
On mountain maps you will see roads, but keep in mind that they are not open for public traffic. You must either walk or take a Jeep-Taxi. When we reached the peak we saw on the Fanes plateau mountain-bikers (we were also by bikes) so mountain biking is obviously allowed.
The whole area is a natural park, so many activities which could affect nature are not allowed.
When To ClimbSummer and Autumn (July to October) are the best for a hiking or climbing tour, spring (March to May) for a skiing tour.
CampingRif. Pederu (1548m),
Rif. La Varella (2042m),
Rif. Fanes (2060m), open from December 26th to end of April and from June to October. Tel.: 04 74 / 50 10 97.
Cap. Alpina (1726m).
I'm almost sure that camping is forbidden in wilderness (because of a natural park). In valleys there are official camps, but anyway you'll need a car (or bike) to get closer to the mountain.
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