A pearl in the Dolomites, a jewel (un) ward by the Finger of God

Hiking to the Lake Sorapis for an unforgettable view!

Hiking to the Lake Sorapis is an unforgettable experience. The view from the top is simply breathtaking. The lake itself is a beautiful turquoise color and is surrounded by mountains. The hike itself is not too difficult, but it is a bit strenuous. It is definitely worth it though, because the view from the top is simply stunning.

The marvelous turquoise waters of Lake Sorapis (or Sorapiss or Sorapìs, originally Sorapíš in Ladin), attract thousands of tourists every year. Unfortunately, like other destinations that can boast fantastic scenery, the uncontrolled influx of crowds is seriously endangering the integrity and harmony of the place.

The danger is not given only by the quantity of people who go to Lake of Sorapiss, but above all by the rudeness and lack of civic sense of many people, who, regardless of the beauty of the place, abandon all kinds of waste in this little corner of paradise.

In addition, the easiest access route still has some exposed sections that often put in difficulty the tourists less accustomed to mountain trails. More and more often we meet along the path attractive damsels with shoes that are nothing short of inappropriate, frightened children, dogs on a leash or varied groups that create big traffic jams and long queues.

It is clear that everyone has the right to move freely in the mountains, and therefore it is not easy to find a solution to what is becoming a real problem.

The appropriate authority has been looking for a solution for some time, starting with the lack of a parking lot of adequate size at the beginning of the path, where we find an endless column of parked cars on the state road.

The exaggerated attendance of the Sorapis Lake area is creating major problems of hygiene, cleanliness and public decor.

Indeed, by leaving waste on site and camping without respect for the particular nature of the place, the masses of tourists create serious ecological damage and disfigure the beauty of this magnificent environment.

The Finger of God and the Lake Sorapis

Although a more careful surveillance of the area was put in place by the Forestry Carabinieri, in addition to what both the forest guards of the Regole d’Ampezzo and the manager of the refuge already do, it was realized that the Regole (rules), as owners of the entire area, and the Police forces little or nothing can do to solve the problem.

An interesting proposal, in my opinion, is to place a small prefabricated kiosk on the road that from Passo Tre Croci climbs towards Lake Sorapìs, at the point where the forest road turns into a path.

The purpose of the kiosk would be to adequately inform visitors, for example about the travel time and the necessary shoes, to sensitize them to correct behavior, to collect a couple of Euros for each hiker, as a toll for the path that leads into the private property of the Regole d’Ampezzo, for the use of the car park (if and when this will be done) and to finance the cleaning and decoration of the path and the shores of the lake, including the transport of waste, by helicopter if necessary.

But the first step is up to us: is it really so difficult to bring our waste downstream? Why leave your physical needs in plain sight on the shore of the lake, or at the side of the path, and not use the services of the refuge? And again, and I am a witness, is it really necessary to go up to Lake Sorapiss with an inflatable boat? 🙁

The small lake is one of the most beautiful hiking destinations in our mountains, but the incivility of many risks forever ruining this pearl set in the Sorapìs rock.
Please reflect on what you have read so far and set out with responsibility and awareness on the path that from Passo Tre Croci takes you to Sorapis Lake, a real jewel guarded by the Finger of God.


The path to the Lake Sorapis

The access routes to the Sorapis Lake are numerous. Here I describe the easiest way, although in my opinion it is not the most profitable from a landscape point of view.

In addition to this, the route I am going to describe presupposes the return along the same way: much better would be the circular route, through Forcella Malquoira (or Marcoira), which however is only suitable for expert hikers.

Arrival (or beginning) of the path to the Sorapis Lake

GETTING THERE

From Cortina: reach Passo Tre Croci, via the SR 48, and continue for about 200 meters until you reach the well-marked start of the path that leads to Lake Sorapis.
From Auronzo: always along the SR 48, when you arrive at the junction for Misurina-Passo Tre Croci, turn left towards Cortina until you find, just before the Pass, the aforementioned beginning of the path.
From Dobbiaco: via the SS 51 di Alemagna, turning left (east) in Carbonin, on the SS 48bis to Misurina, from where you continue towards Paso Tre Croci.

ITINERARY

The route is really well signposted and it is almost impossible to get lost, just follow the signs for Rifugio Vandelli , trail no. 215. Leave the car and walk slightly downhill on the forest road, which soon turns into a path. The route, in its first half, develops in the woods with slight ups and downs, at the base of the Cime di Malquoira.

After about an hour of walking, a metal ladder allows you to gain altitude.
Although a handrail, with a protective function, makes the climb safe, the height and exposure of the artifact can intimidate those who do not love heights. It is precisely here, in fact, that the first hitches are created.

Continue on the path, now partly cut into the rock of the steep bastion of the Cima del Làudo Est. Another exposed stretch, however equipped with a metal rope, marks the end of the “difficulties”.

Continuing slightly uphill, the path winds through sparse larches and grandiose extensions of pines, finally taking you near the Vandelli Refuge.

Just before reaching the refuge, the signs show you the way to follow to get closer to Lake Sorapis, which is less than a minute from here.

An exposed section of the path to Lake Sorapis.

And behold, a few more meters and without any warning you will see the splendid turquoise lake. The small lake of Sorapìs is truly wonderful, and its pastel color leaves everyone speechless. Its water, as stated in the Park site, is clear at certain times of the year while in others, when the melting runoff from the glacier above affects the silty horizons of the ground, the water is turbid and milky, but of equal color. Coming from the glacial waters of the Sorapìs, the water has a constantly low temperature.

The body of water is located in a natural amphitheater formed by majestic walls.
From the Cime di Marcoira to the Punta Nera, the Croda Marcora, the severe north face of Sorapis, the Monti di Caccia Grande and the Tre Sorelle, where Emilio Comici and Giordano Bruno Fabjan opened, in 1929, one of the first routes VI grade in the history of mountaineering.
In the foreground, behind the lake, the Finger of God makes a fine show, an imposing rocky spire that seems to guard it.

Now it’s time to rest, enjoy the show and contemplate so much beauty.

Maybe take advantage of the kitchen of the refuge to consume a little something, also thinking about those who work there, who are not there only to collect the waste abandoned around the lake.


Details of the ascent to Lake Sorapis

  • Beginning of the path at an altitude of 1791 m.
  • Arrival – Lake Sorapis altitude 1923 m.
  • Positive difference in height in the outward journey about 220 m.
  • Positive difference in height on the way back about 70 m
  • Length of the outward journey to Lake Sorapis 5.2 km.
  • 2 hours is the average time for the ascent to Lake Sorapis.

Difficulty

The route, while not presenting any real technical difficulties, includes some exposed sections and is not suitable for those suffering from vertigo and those who are uncomfortable when the height and exposure are fully perceived.

Map

Equipment

Hiking shoes recommended!
The route develops largely in the sun and the heat is felt; despite this we know that the weather in the mountains can change quickly (beware of storms and lightning in the mountains): a waterproof windbreaker should not be missing in your backpack.
The use of a via ferrata kit is recommended for children and for the more fearful.

Curiosity

The lake is dug into the rock and devoid of surface emissaries; in fact, its waters reach by underground the great rocky threshold of the glacial shelf, exiting in the waterfall “el Píš” . The term Píš (read pisc , from “piss”, urinate) is very common in the toponymy of the Ladin area to indicate waterfalls and cascades.
From this name derives that of the mountain group “Sora el Píš”, that is, above the El Píš waterfall. During the winter season the many waterfalls freeze, allowing fans to practice ice climbing.

Note

As I wrote above, the excursion to Lake Sorapis is very popular. If you can, to fully enjoy the beauty of the place, come and visit it in a low season, and preferably not on weekends.
But if that’s not possible, leave early in the morning, even if you will still run into a lot of people on the way back.
And if you don’t want to leave early, keep in mind that the parking lot near Passo Tre Croci is crowded; I therefore recommend that you take advantage of the bus service from the Cortina bus station.

Support points

Vandelli Refuge – Tel. 0435 39015
Son Zuogo Restaurant at Passo Tre Croci – Tel. 327 6651191

Cartography

Tobacco Topographic Map n. 03 – Cortina d’Ampezzo and the Ampezzo Dolomites – scale 1: 25,000

The Lake Sorapis in late autumn

Sullo sfondo le Tre Sorelle e Monti di Caccia Grande


Frequently asked questions about Lake Sorapis

Where is Lake Sorapis located?

Lake Sorapis is located in the Dolomites, in the municipality of Cortina d’Ampezzo.

What is the starting point for Lago di Sorapis?

There are many paths that lead to the Sorapis Lake. The shortest and least tiring route is along path no. 215, starting at Passo Tre Croci.
Alternatively, if you are afraid of emptiness and prefer a less exposed path, you can park your car at the Hotel Cristallo in Fedèra Vecia, on the road that connects Auronzo to Misurina. Here the path n.217 takes you directly to the Sorapiss lake. The route does not present any difficulty but, after the first section is removed, it is steep and much more tiring. The difference in height to overcome is over 600 meters, while from Passo Tre Croci the meters are just over 200.

How long does it takes to Lake Sorapis?

The average time (round trip) is 4 hours, starting from Passo Tre Croci.

It is difficult to go to the Lake Sorapis?

It is not difficult, but you must be used to walking in the mountains and not be afraid of emptiness. Some sections of the trail are very exposed.
On the most difficult stretch there is a steel cable that acts as a handrail and to which you can secure yourself, if you are afraid, with a lanyard.

What is the color of Lake Sorapis due to?

The particular color of the water is due to the minerals that dissolve in the water and to particular natural chemical and bacteriological characteristics, the subject of studies and analyzes by the University of Trento.

Can you go around the Sorapis Lake?

To go around the lake, without going too far from it, you have to overcome an exposed passage where you have to climb the rock for a few meters. 
Alternatively, if you are not a climber, you need to walk a little more and pass along the high path above the lake.

How deep – big is Lake Sorapis?

The maximum depth of Lake Sorapis is 2.60 m. Its surface measures 2.5 hectares.

It is possible to swim in the lake of Sorapis?

NO! On 1 August 2019, the mayor of Cortina, Giampietro Ghedina, issued the ordinance banning bathing, with fines of up to 500 euros. Bathing could not only compromise the delicate natural ecosystem of the lake, but pose a serious danger to people.  The seabed is not visible, and there is no rescue service for swimmers.

Where to eat at Lake Sorapis?

The Alfonso Vandelli refuge, a few steps from the lake, offers excellent dishes. Or at the Tre Croci Pass, on the Cortina side, at the small Son Zuogo restaurant you will find a rich variety of typical dishes of our valley, all strictly genuine and homemade!

MTB: can you go to Lake Sorapis by bike?

NO, it’s forbidden! And if that’s not enough for you, consider that the path is sometimes very narrow and exposed, and you would endanger the hikers you meet along the way.

Weather: what’s the weather like today at Lake Sorapais?

Lago del Sorapis weather live.


Enrico Maioni Mountain Guide Dolomiti

Enrico Maioni

Certified Mountain Guide, with a wide know-how of the Dolomiti.
I was born in the heart of the Dolomites, where I live and work to this day.
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