Mount Pelmo Circuit
End: San Vito di Cadore
Distance: 26 miles (42 km)
Time: 4 days
Surface: Well-Maintained Mountain Trails, Gravel Paths
Ever since anyone can remember, the eastern face of Mount Pelmo, the mountain that separates the Val di Zoldo from the Boite Valley in northern Italy, has been known as Caregon del Padreterno – “the doge’s seat” – because of its distinctive wide glacial cirque in the shape of a giant chair. It dominates what many consider to be the most beautiful mountain in the Dolomite range. There are two summits on Mount Pelmo – 7,335 feet (2,236 m) and 10,393 feet (3,168 m) – and they rise majestically over its 1,000-foot-high (305 m) rock faces.
The circuit can be done in either direction, and there are three huts spaced evenly around it that can provide either a bed for the night or a refreshing meal to help you on your way. After completing a circuit of Pelmo, you can then consider doing the same with neighboring Mount Civetta (10,564 feet/3,220 m), with its pinnacles and chiseled summits, beautifully reflected in the waters of Lago d’Alleghe, and complete a rough figure eight. If you begin in the west at Alleghe and head eastward to finish at the town of San Vito di Cadore, you will be guaranteed a smorgasbord of memorable views.
The English-born author and mountaineer John Ball was the first to summit Mount Pelmo in September 1857, and what he wrote in his travelogue, A Guide to the Eastern Alps, in 1868 is still true today: “From whichever side you look, but above all from east and south, a gigantic fortress of the most massive architecture appears, not broken up into minarets and pinnacles like most of its rivals, but defended purely by the highest of sheer bastions.”