Today I want to talk to you about a beautiful circular hike: the ascent to Monte Cadini, also known as Croda de r’Ancona, passing through Busc de r’Ancona (the hole of Croda de r’Ancona) , starting from the Alemagna State Road along a lesser-known trail.
As I mentioned, the route follows the famous Busc de r’Ancona (pronounced Buš de r’Ancona, with the Š sounding like the “sh” in English) , takes you to the summit of the eponymous peak, descends to Malga Ra Stua, and continues on to Son Pouses. From there, the trail descends to “Tornichè” (St. Uberto), where a dirt road leads to the Podestagno roadman’s house. Ultimately, in a short time, you will gain the bridge over the Ru de r’Ancona, the starting point of our fantastic mountain hike.
This hike is reserved for experienced hikers.
The first part of the trail has some short sections that require secure footing on gravelly terrain.
There are furthermore a couple of easy scrambling sections.
The complete hike is relatively long, but it can be shortened by handling two cars .
1. From Ponte de r’Ancona to Busc de r’Ancona.
The starting point of our wonderful trip is the parking lot near the bridge over the Ru de r’Ancona (1,493 m), more precisely at km 113.200 of the Strada Statale 51 of Alemagna. The place can be gained in less than 10 minutes by car from Cortina, in the direction of Dobbiaco. Looking up to the north, the Busc can already be seen from here.
The trail enters the woods on the other side of the road. In a minute, a feeding trough is encountered, where the guards of the Dolomiti d’Ampezzo Park provide, when necessary, the distribution of salt and fodder for roe deer and deer. With numerous zig-zags, the trail quickly gains altitude until reaching the first exposed section of the ascent.
The panorama is certainly not disappointing, from Val Padeon to the distant Sorapis, the Tofane di Mezzo and di Dentro, Valon Bianco and Val di Fanes… a sight, especially today, when the autumn colors embellish these places even more.
We have now arrived in sight of the first Italian fortifications. In one of these, an inscription on the cement column bears the name of Lieutenant Meneghetti.
His heroic behavior during a military action on Monte Piana was made known with a solemn commendation: “He demonstrated a high sense of duty, firmness, and courage in leading his and another company remaining with only one officer; he protected with fire the withdrawal of the nearby units, collected the wounded and left the combat lines last.”
In the narrow cavity, we also find a book, placed here recently, which lists the names of the few hikers who pass along this path. Now the first difficulties of the ascent begin. The term “difficulty” will make experienced hikers smile, but I consider it appropriate to point out to those who are not experienced that some sections of this trail to Busc de r’Ancona have exposed passages on loose terrain.
And even from the Busc to the top of the Croda de r’Ancona, it is necessary to be able to move with ease on steep terrain. In addition, just before attaining the summit, a very short section of grade I requires the use of hands to overcome it.
We continue to climb, following the faint track and the few small cairns that support us identify the right way. Along the way, we find other war stations and galleries, from which we can enjoy a lovely view of the mountains to the south of the Croda d’Ancona. Shortly, we emerge on Ra Ciadenes, the large spur that slopes down to the east of Croda de Ancona.
Up to this point, one could have arrived more easily by going up the Val di Gotres until just before Forcella Lerosa (2,010 m), where, near a large Swiss stone pine, a rock on the left with faded indications “Ancona” indicates a path that leads precisely to Ra Ciadenes.
But let’s get back to us. We proceed briefly among the shrubs, following the visible path towards the visible summit. Right now the most delicate part of the ascent begins: initially, we carefully cross a small rocky jump and then climb up to reach the magnificent Busc de r’Ancona (2,160 m).
Until now, we have climbed a difference in altitude of about 660 meters. Looking out of the Busc de r’Ancona window, you can observe the steep gully that I descended when I was just seventeen with some friends and my cousin Ernesto, who describes its path precisely on this site.
Legend retains it that the creator of the hole in the rock was none other than the devil, forced to flee from the Valley of Ampezzo after attempting to subjugate the population to his will.
After a well-deserved break, it’s time to head towards the most challenging section of the ascent. From Busc de r’Ancona, there are 200 meters of elevation gain left to reach the summit of Croda d’Ancona. Seen from here, the ascent appears hindered by some rocky walls, but in reality, only a few meters of basic climbing will be necessary to achieve our goal.
2. From Busc de r’Ancona to Croda d’Ancona.
After leaving the spectacular natural arch, a slight uphill path leads to a thicket of shrubs and a narrow channel that must be crossed with some elementary difficulty. We directly ascend the grassy slope until we gain the ridge again. In the distance, to the east, the Tre Cime can be seen, and below us the Val di Gotres and Ra Ciadenes, and part of the path we have just traveled.
Now the path to follow is more visible. Climbing up a grassy slope and then with a rocky jump, we reach a ledge, to be traversed briefly. Going around the next rocky ridge, we reach the last ascent of a few meters on easy rocks with handholds and from there easily to the summit cross of the Croda de r’Ancona (2,366 m).
The strategic position of the Croda is confirmed by the countless galleries, positions, and military trenches present on both access routes. The view from up here is wonderful, and the panorama spans 360 degrees: the majestic Croda Rossa d’Ampezzo, the Cristallo and Piz Popena, the Valle d’Ampezzo and the Tofane, Col Bechei, Croda del Becco, and down below, Malga Ra Stua, our following destination.
3. From Croda de r’Ancona to Son Pouses.
I have already described in detail, but in reverse, the route that connects Malga Ra Stua to our summit. For this reason, I will limit myself to reporting the highlights of the first part of the descent.
From the summit cross, the numerous cairns make it easy to identify the path that descends along the western side of the mountain. Passing by numerous positions and trenches, memories of a painful page in our history, you reach a cross on the shoulder below (2,154 m).
The cross at an altitude of 2,154 m
Here, the path turns decisively to the right (north) and descends first with some easy steps on easy rocks, and then continues with a continuous and linear long traverse downhill. With a few steps in the sparse larch forest, you come to a clearing, which you cross until you approach the old military road that leads to Malga Ra Stua.
From Ra Stua, follow the briefly paved road. In a moment, at the first hairpin turn, follow the well-marked path on the left that leads to Son Pouses. The path, initially slightly uphill and then long and flat, comfortably heads us to the edge of the woods. Now, with a short descent on rocky terrain, you come to another crossroads. Even here, clear signs invite us to climb again, up to the beautiful viewpoint of Son Pouses.
In the tremendous years of the Great War, Son Pouses proved to be a strategic point to prevent the advance of Italian troops to the north. You can learn more about this topic by reading the post Son Pouses, the stronghold of the “Standschützen.”
Wandering a bit among the remains of the fortifications and galleries of Son Pouses, an attentive eye will discover an interesting relic: the two-headed eagle emblem, symbol of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The one-headed eagle was already used by the Romans as a symbol of command. In our case, the two-headed eagle, with two separate heads down to the neck and facing in two opposite directions, identifies the union of two empires.
And if you look up to the sky, with a bit of luck you might see a real eagle soaring above you, a majestic bird of prey that also nests in the mountains of Cortina.
4. From Son Pouses to the starting point.
Let’s continue on our journey now. After a well-deserved break, the descent begins, sometimes steep but without difficulty. In about twenty minutes you gain the base of high limestone slabs, equipped by the “Scoiattoli di Cortina” for climbing. It was precisely on the rocks of this cliff, in the 1980s, that the first sport climbing routes in Cortina appeared. The characteristic of this crag, compared to others in the area, is the type of rock: it is not dolomite, but a beautiful limestone with vertical slabs and bellies.
Once past the cliff, the path continues through the woods, and soon reaches its end, on the paved road that leads up to Ra Stua. Going downhill on it, in a couple of minutes, you reach a parking lot. Right here, on the left (east), you will find a dirt road (closed to vehicles) that you will have to follow uphill for 800 meters until you reach the Podestagno roadman’s house.
Now you only just have to follow the state road for exactly one kilometer, finally returning to our car and closing the loop in an area of the Dolomites that is little frequented but rich in history and wonderful views.