Page Type Page Type: Area/Range
Location Lat/Lon: 46.28000°N / 12.58000°E
Additional Information Elevation: 9122 ft / 2780 m
Sign the Climber's Log


Part of the Carnic Alps...Carnic Alps Main Ridge as seen from the ascent to Eggenkofel

The Carnic Alps (Alpi Carniche in Italian, Karnische Alpen in German) are a large mountain range in the Southern Alps, wedged between the Sexten / Sesto Dolomites to the west and the Julian Alps to the east. In the north you find the Gailtal Alps whereas to the south the "Prealpi Carniche" finally drop down to the plain of the Po River. Geologically the Carnic Alps are among the most important and most complex mountain ranges of the Alps (world?), since they are located directly in the region, in which the massive build-up of the Alps occurred ages ago. This results in a complex layering of the different rock composites which gave way to a number of "Geo Trails" where you can inform yourself with the help of displays placed to the sides of the trails. For more geology details, see the section below.

Besides having been the frontline in the forming of the Alps the Carnic Alps Main Ridge in the north of the range was the theatre of battle during World War I. Austro-Ungarian troops fought the Italians here in fierce battles and across the whole ridge you can see multiple proofs of the fighting 90 years ago. You'll find the actual trenches, caves dug into the rock and collapsed (sometimes still standing) forts and positions everywhere. See the Peralba Trip Report if interested in this history. Though the war resulted in a complete upheaval in the political landscape of Europe (especially in the eastern part of the Austrian empire), the actual military gains were minimal. The peace treaties of Versailles and St. Germain did more than four years of fighting. It is interesting - and sad - that the ancient peoples, actually living in the fighting zones, Furlani, Ladini, Rhaetian - had to suffer most and got shifted around in the new landscape without having a word in the proceedings.
The Biegengebirge part of the...The Biegengebirge part of the Carnic Alps as seen from the Rauchkofel summit

Due to the complex geology of the Carnic Alps it is not quite easy to subdivide it into special groups. The general assumption is that there are two subgroups, the Carnic Alps Main Ridge to the north of the range and the Southern Carnic Alps in the south. Both groups, however, are still very large and complex so that in a discussion thread in the Europe forum we decided on the following structure with five subgroups (bold lettering):
  • Carnic Main Ridge
    • 1 - Western Main Ridge (Kreuzbergpass through Plöckenpass)
    • 2 - Eastern Main Ridge (Plöckenpass through Thörl)
  • 3 - Southern Carnic Alps (Upper Piave River through upper Tagliamento River)
  • Prealpi Carniche
    • 4 - Northern Part(Upper Tagliamento River through Cellina River)
    • 5 - Southern Part (south of the Cellina River)

Compare the Interactive Map in the "Getting There" section.

Carnic Alps Geology

As already mentioned in the overview section, the geology of the Carnic Alps is very complex. This is certainly true for the main ridge which runs from west to east along the Gail- and Lesachtal Valleys (actually one large valley which has been named differently in different sections - in the following paragraphs I will refer only to Gailtal meaning both). The valleys are part of the peradriatic fault, the geological boundary between the North African plate and the European one. The fault runs from Lago Maggiore directly through Locarno to Veltlintal, later to Adamello, before it reaches Pustertal / Val Pusteria and Gailtal. In the east it crosses the Karawanke before heading south to the sea again.

In both Pustertal, the valley of the river Drau / Drava, and Gailtal the fault runs directly through the centre, the effect of which can nicely be seen by the difference of the rock composition north and east of the valley. While to the north the Zillertal Alps and Hohe Tauern are composed of solid eruptive rocks (granite, gneiss and the like) to the south most of the mountains are composed of limestone or the limestone-like Dolomite. In the area of the Carnic Alps however things get even more complicated.

What happened? First of all the area was covered by seas twice for long amounts of time. The first of these seas covered today's Carnic Alps in the Ordovicium Age. Sediments were formed and 440 million years ago a first "event" triggered the first build-up of mountains in the area. A porphyry plate was pushed over the sedimentary rocks. Remains of this plate can still be seen along the main ridge.

Erosion did away with most of the built-up mountains. Some 350 - 400 million years ago the second sea started to cover the area and overall it lasted 200 million years. This was the so-called Thetis Sea which also is responsible for the creation of the Dolomites. Huge coral atolls were formed the remainders of which are the mountain groups of the Dolomites. For instance look at the map of Langkofel / Sassolungo in the Dolomites (see below) and you will be able to see the atoll form still.
Langkofel photo_id=79608

200 million years ago the final formation of the Alps began. And here the the Carnic Alps Area again was special. The mountains were kind of folded upwards, but this action took place in the form of waves which often overtook each other. With the waves "breaking" over the fault line the layering of the rocks became more and more complicated. Suddenly (think of it on a geological scale) old layers were sandwiched between younger ones, sometimes even layers of the same age several 100m apart with layers of all ages in between.

And this is what you still can find in the Carnic Alps today. The area around the highest summit, Hohe Warte (2780m) is the most complex, and thus most interesting. It is there that a so-called "Geo Trail" has been created, informing the hikers and climbers about the massive upheaval that took place 200 million years ago. These Geo Trails exist in more than one place so that - while visiting the area - you'll certainly run into one of them.

The Carnic Alps on SP

Since the mountain range is so large and complicated this section is supposed to give you the information about the summits, already posted to SP. The summits are listed west to east.

Getting There

Carnic Alps Main Ridge (West)Carnic Alps Main Ridge (East)Southern Carnic AlpsPrealpi Carniche (North)Prealpi Carniche (South)
Interactive overview map of the Carnic Alps. Click numbers to get to the subrange pages

Since the border between Austria and Italy runs along the northern chain of this large mountain range the itineraries are quite different. While all the important Austrian towns and villages are lined up along the river Gail the more complex structure on the Italian side calls for different approach routes depending were you want to go.

Getting There From Italy
The most important villages / towns in the area are:
  • Getting There by Plane:
    The closest airports are the international airports in Venice (180 km) and Trieste (140 km)
    • Marco Polo International Airport (Venice)
      Take the train to Calalzo di Cadore (3 hours) then by bus to all Carnic Alps villages with Dolomiti bus.
    • Ronchi dei Legionari Airport (Udine)
      Take the bus to all Carnic Alps villages with Dolomiti bus.

  • Getting There by Train:
    Those who travel by train stop at Calalzo, the end of the line from Venice and Padova or at Carnia on the Udine Tarvisio line. Connect to any of the Italian Carnic Alps destinations by frequent bus lines that meet the main trains. So, two possibilities:
    • To Calalzo di Cadore (from Venice direction Belluno, three hours) then by Dolomiti bus to any of the Carnic Alps Villages
    • To Udine (from Venice direction Trieste, two hours) then by Dolomiti bus to any of the Carnic Alps Villages.

  • Getting There by Car:
    • From A22, Brenner motorway, exit "Ora" and then through the Pordoi and Falzarego passes to Cortina d'Ampezzo, Misurina and Auronzo (3 hours - better solution in summer period).
    • From A22, Brenner motorway, exit "Bressanone/Brixen" to Bruneck / Brunico and then to the Carnic Alps over Passo Monte Croce / Kreuzbergpass or "Monte Comelico" Pass/Ploeckenpass (2 hours and half, better solution in the winter period).
    • From the Veneto side take the Venice-Belluno motorway and then go towards Pieve di Cadore.
    • If you come from Friuli leave the Udine-Tarvisio motorway at the Carnia exit and drive towards Villa Santina and Forni Avoltri (45 km.).

Getting There From Austria
The most important villages / towns are aligned along the Lesachtal and Gailtal Valleys. They are :
  • Getting There by Plane / Train
    The nearest airports are the ones at Klagenfurt and Innsbruck, both ocal airports, which are served only sporadically.
    • From Innsbruck take the train to Brixen / Bressanone where you have to change to the line going through Pustertal / Val Pusteria. At Sillian change to the busline into Lesachtal towards Kötschach Mauthen.
    • From Klagenfurt take the train to Villach and on to Hermargor or Kötschach-Mauthen. From there go on by bus to your final destination.

  • Getting There by Car:
    • From the West (Brenner Motorway A22)
      Leave the Brenner Motorway near Brixen / Bressanone and follow SS49 to the east through Pustertal / Val Pusteria. To the east of Innichen / San Candido you cross the Austro-Italian border and follow the road (now B100) to Tassenbach. Turn right (south-east) here onto B111, which runs through Osttiroler Gailtal, Lesachtal and Kärntener Gailtal. All the towns and villages mentioned above are located on this road.
    • From the North
      There are two possible roads:
      • From Kitzbühel over B108 through the Felbertauern Tunnel to Lienz, then southeast to Oberdrauburg and Kötschach-Mauthen (B110), where you turn on to B111 west into Lesachtal.
      • From Salzburg along motorway A10 to Spittal. Turn west on B100 to Oberdrauburg, there south to Kötschach-Mauthen were you turn east on B111.

Red Tape

All over the Carnic Alps you...Gentian

In most of the subgroups of the Carnic Alps you won't find any red tape. An exception is the area around Wolayer See: Biegengebirge, Hohe Warte, Kellerwand. Here the usual restrictions for natural preserves apply. Don't take anything except your refuse with you. As a rule restrictions are more severe in the Austrian part of the Alps. Some of the trails are closed for mountainbiking. You will find notes and marks at the respective trailheads.

Weather Conditions

Quite naturally the weather between the northern Austrian part and the southern Italian part can be quite different. The Carnic Alps Main Ridge serves as a weather divide, especially if the winds come from the north or south. For up to date weather information follow one the links below.


On both sides of the Austrian - Italian border there are a lot of hotels and appartments to be had. While on the Austrian side the relevant info can be found on one site (two links though for the different Austrian states) on the Italian side of the border you will have to look for the single towns and villages on the web. Here is an excerpt for the towns and villages mentioned in the "Getting There" section:


Mountain Huts and Refuges

For the time being the list of huts, refuges and bivouacs won't be complete until all of the five subgroups will have been submitted..

The huts of the Carnic Alps Main Ridge are connected by a well-known hiking trail which often follows the line of the batte in the first world war. Therefore the trail is named as "trail of peace" (Friedensweg - via del pace). There are several possibilities between Ploecken pass/Passo di M. Croce and Sillian or Sexten/Sesto. The route takes 5-7 days.

Here is one possible route described in english.


Rifugio / HutHeightOpenTel.
Carnic Alps Main Ridge (West)
Hahnspielhütte / Rif. Gallo Cedrone2200mall year+39 0474 710078
Helmhaus2420mall yearn.a.
Sillianer Hütte2447mmid June - end Sept.+43 4842 6770 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              +43 4842 6770      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Obstanser See Hütte2340mmid June - end Sept.+43 4848 5422
Filmoor Standschützenhütte2350mmid June - end Sept.+43 664 1127153
Rif. Monte Cavallino1849mn.a.+39 0435 67268
Neue Porzehütte1942mmid June - end Sept.+43 664 4038929
Hochweißsteinhaus1868m mid June - end Sept.+43 676 7462886
Rif. P. F. Calvi2167mall summer+39 0435 469232
Rif. Alle Sorgenti del Piave1800mall summer+39 0435 469260
Rif. Monte Ferro1563mall year+39 0368 3180179
Wolayer See Hütte (ex. E. Pichl Hütte)1959mmid June - end Sept.0043 4715 7752
Rif. Lambertenghi e Romanin1951mall summer+39 0433 72051
Rif. G. & O. Marinelli2120mall summer+39 0433 775143
Untere Valentinalm1200mall year+43 4715 92215
Plöckenhaus1208m all yearn.a.
Carnic Alps Main Ridge (East)
Dr. E. Steinwender Hütte1720mmid June - end Sept.+43 664 1060014
Straniger Alm1479mn.a.n.a.
Rattendorfer Alm1535mn.a.+43 664 5121538
Naßfeldhaus1528mall summer+43 4285 82710
Rif. Fratelli Nordio1210mn.a.n.a.
Freisitzer Alm1718mMay - Septn.a.
Achomitzer Alm1700mJuly - Aug.+43 4256 3163
Southern Carnic Alps
Volontari Alpiri Feltre Cadore1281mn.a.n.a.
De Gasperi1767msummer+39 01433 69034
Monte Siera1606mmid June - end Sept+39 0435 66196
Monte Talm1100msummer+39 0433 69034
Casera Losa1765mn.a.n.a.
Ten. Fabbro1783mmid June - mid Sept.+39 0435 460357
Tita Piaz1417msummer+39 0433 86161
Stella Alpina1331msummer and winter+39 0433 66009
Enzo Mori1320mn.a.n.a.
Monte Sernio1419mall year+39 0433 41410
Grauzaria1250msummer+39 0433 51361
Vualt1168mall year+39 0433 51361
Prealpi Carniche (South)
Rif. C. e M. Semenza 2020mall summer+39 0437 49055
Rif . Dolomieu al Dolada1494mJune - Sept+39 0437 478086
Rif Casera Ditta956mall year+39 0437 879010


Carnic Alps Main Ridge (West)
A. Piva2450m
E. Lomasti1920m
Southern Carnic Alps
Bivacco Arsella – Zandonella2000m
Bivacco Caimi al Cornon2045m
Bivacco Marta Franco2045m
Casera Mimoias1623m
BivaccoDamiana del Gobbo1985m
Ricovero Casera Chiarzò1393m
Ricovero Casera Lavazeit1813m
Ricovero Casera Giaveada o Neveade1684m
Ricovero Casera Tintina1495m
Ricovero Casera Nauleni1639m
Ricovero Valuta1588m
Bivacco Lander950m
Ricovero Zouf di Fau1331m
Bivacco Feruglio1700m
Ricovero Monte Forcella1098m
Ricovero Pian d’Aiars1475m
Bivacco Cimenti1080m
Cjasut dal Sior1752m
Bivacco G. Bianchi1712m
Prealpi Carniche (South)
Biv Scalon 1150m
Ric. Casera del Pian 1810m
Biv. Val Provagna 1123m
Biv. Val Zea 1245m
Biv. Toffolon 1990m
Biv. Pastout 1617m
Ric. C.ra Montelonga 1327m
Ric C.ra La Pala 1200m
Ric C.ra Rupeit 1275m
Ric. C.ra di Giais 1289m

Maps 'n' Books

I have been using maps by Kompass Verlag, which are very good for the hiking trails though they don't show ALL the relevant summits of the area.
  • Lienzer Dolomiten / Lesachtal
    Kompass Map WK47
    Kompass Verlag
    ISBN: 3-85491-053-3
  • Gailtaler Alpen / Karnische Alpen / Oberdrautal
    Kompass Map WK60
    Kompass Verlag
    ISBN: 3-85491-067-3
  • Tabacco Maps, all 1:25000



German Books
  • Hiking and Trekking
    • Osttirol Süd
      W. Mair
      Rother Verlag
      ISBN: 3-7633-4132-3
      Good descriptions with maps covering: Defregger Berge, Villgrater Berge, Carnic Alps, Lienz Dolomites
    • Kärnten
      G. Lehofer
      Rother Verlag
      ISBN: 3-7633-4187-0
      Good descriptions with maps covering: Carnic Alps, Gailtal Alps, Karawanke, Julian Alps (parts)
    • Gailtal – Lesachtal – Karnischer Höhenweg
      Kompass Wanderbuch 982
      Kompass Verlag
      ISBN: 3-85491-500-4
      Good Descriptions with maps and elevation profiles covering: Carnic Alps, Southern Lienz Dolomites, Gailtal Alps

  • Ski Touring
    • Kaerntner Schitourenfuehrer
      Manfred Korbaj
      H. Weishaupt Verlag, Graz. 1992.

  • Climbing
    • Karnischer Hauptkamm
      P. Holl
      Rother Verlag
      ISBN: 3-7633-1254-4
      Excellent overall Climbing Guide through the Carnic Alps Main Ridge.
Italian Books
    ISBN: 88-86928-37-8
    Euro 16,53
    see here how to to buy it
  • ALPI CARNICHE, vol. I - II
    A. De Rovere, M. Di Gallo;
    Guida dei monti d'Italia CAI-TCI; 1988
  • Tirolo Orientale Sud
    W. Mair
    (traduzione: Barbara Schöpf / Denise Brazzioli)
    Rother Verlag
    ISBN: 3-7633-4307-5

Thanks to gabriele.roth for the Italian books ;-)

External Links



Children refers to the set of objects that logically fall under a given object. For example, the Aconcagua mountain page is a child of the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits.' The Aconcagua mountain itself has many routes, photos, and trip reports as children.