Ever climbed a summit without realizing it? A summit famous for its large wooden hand carved cross? Well I must confess I did and I also confess in not having seen the cross but from afar. The picture above is linked from another page, shot by someone who was more lucky than I was...
Yes, it was a weird day, that July 26th of the year 2005. 'T was very cloudy and there was no reason whatsoever why we went up by cablecar to Sass Pordoi to explore the Sella Group. Everywhere else the weather was worse so maybe this is the reason...
Piz Miara is one of the summits which stand out of the large summit plain of the Sella Group, the Altipiano delle Meisules. All these summits are located at the edge of the plain, Piz Miara on the western side. But here I realize that people who don't know the Sella Group might be at a loss so let me explain:
The Sella Group is a large fortress-like block of Dolomite Rock, almost rectangular in shape with a large flat summit plateau. You might think of two upturned shoe boxes, the smaller one placed on the upper one and you get a good notion of what Sella looks like. Add two large cuts (valleys) both cutting in from the northern and southern sides (Val Lasties in the south and Val di Mesdi in the north) but missing each other by a few hundred yards. A large ledge surrounds the group (remember the small and large shoe box?) and here you have the regular ascent routes: two through the two valleys, two through shorter and steeper valleys and a couple of vertical climbs, cut in half by this large ledge. Of course the image is a bit simplified and doesn't account for the many impressive rock towers you find all over the group but still for an idea it might suffice.
Back to Piz Miara: the summit is part of the Altipiano, the high plain, and as mentioned above is located on the western rim of the plain. It is reknowned for the cross and the fine view of the Sas Lonch / Langofel / Sassolungo Group neither of which we could see during our ill-fated visit to the summit.
Starting from Sass Pordoi as we did the ascent of Piz Miara is easy but very long. You need to negotiate the whole Altipiano circling around the deep cut of Val Lasties. Once in the west of the Altipiano you climb the summit ridge starting at Piz Rotic and hike across Piz Beguz to Piz Miara. On a good day you are rewarded with impresse views down from these summits into the valleys and high plains below. Several couloirs open up and let you catch your breath.
We climbed Piz Miara (for those who might doubt) - my GPS receiver recorded the track and we neatly followed the route even a bit further than Miara but we couldn't see anything since clouds obstructed the view. From the track we missed the summit by a mere 30m (100ft). Needless to say that once back on Piz Rotic the cross on Miara was clearly visible and remained so during the long way back to Sass Pordoi.
By far most of the summiters of Piz Miara take our route only for descent. From Passo Sella there is the well known Pößnecker Klettersteig / Ferrata delle Meisules which heads up the vertical western Sella faces to Piz Selva. From there across Piz Gralba the descent trail leads to Piz Miara and the other ring mountains of the Altopiano delle Meisules.
And yes, Piz Miara actually can be climbed (see next section).
Piz Miara certainly is not one of the major climbing destinations in the Sella Group. Yet there are a small number of routes on its north-west face ranging up to an impressive UIAA VIII!.
There are two possible trailheads: Passo Sella and Passo Pordoi. The easiest one is Passo Pordoi if you take the cable car.