A very long, tiring stage (there are two passes to cross) with technically demanding sections due to the poor conditions of the path: to be tackled in full only by experienced and well trained hikers.
The Rio Bianco valley gives us magnificent views, with a wilderness that seems to evoke the Great North of Jack London.
After walking north from the Gulf of Trieste, we now turn westward, a direction that we will keep for most of the Alpine arc.
Stage not recommended for those who do not have good mountain experience and are not well trained.
The descent from Sella Clinach to the Rio Bianco valley is steep, with exposed and very slippery sections: you need to have steady pace and nerves.
Signage is scarce and you can easily get lost: better follow the GPS.
Risk of ticks.
Water points absent from Rifugio Gortani onwards: bring a good supply.
We begin the climb (about 400 m height difference) on a carriage road, towards Sella Collarice, south of Monte Cocco. From there, the road descends slowly to the Ciurciule plains where we pass Rio Auernig in rapid succession (in the event of a flood, the ford is not easy) and then Rio Malborghetto. We start to climb again (approx. 400 m height difference), always on a carriage road, up to Sella Clinach (where a forest hut with the same name offers shelter in case of emergency).
From the pass, the route changes completely because of its difficulties. We leave the carriage road to take the path (it is necessary to see it) that descends steep and precipitous, sometimes collapsed and very difficult if wet. Many fallen trees need to be overcome with caution.
At the end of the difficult stretch, we reach the valley of the Rio Bianco: the bridge has collapsed and it is necessary to ford the stream. After that, we begin the third (and last) steep climb of the day (approximately 500 m height difference), towards the pass just below Punta Lonas, where the landscape opens up pleasantly. Staying at altitude, we continue in the direction of Monte Cerchio and begin the descent on carriage road.
After a traverse stretch in a dense coniferous forest, we come to Passo Pramollo (state border), where there are hotels and restaurants. Continuing on the asphalted road on the Italian side, at the fourth bend we meet a carriage road that leads us to the enchanting Baita Winkel.
Pontebba is a multilingual municipality (Italian, Slovenian and German): in fact, the Pontebbana stream marked the political and cultural border between Italy and Austria.
In Pontebba begins the Canal del Ferro, a valley so called because, since the ancient Romans, it was used to transport iron and other minerals from the mines of Carinthia to the ports of the Adriatic. It separates the Julian Alps from the Carnic ones.
The krampus is a typical Friulian demonic mask with a terrifying appearance, linked to primitive Christianity and in particular to the feast of Saint Nicholas.
On December 8 the streets of Pontebba are invaded by groups of krampus coming from all over the province to frighten young and old with their whips and cowbells.
It is a pre-Christian pagan tradition, probably linked to the winter solstice.
Bivacco Baita Winkel, below Passo Pramollo: 15 beds, fireplace. It is closed and you need to ask for the keys to the CAI section of Pontebba. Tel. +39 0428 90350
At Passo Pramollo there are several hotels (very touristy).
Starting point reachable by car.
Departure point NOT reachable by bus.
The closest location reachable by bus is Ugovizza, leaving from Udine with a change in Tarvisio.
Here the LINK to check the timetables.
Departure point NOT reachable by train.
The closest location reachable by train is Ugovizza, departing from Udine.
Here the LINK to check the timetables.
Va' Sentiero is a grassroot project, thanks to the spontaneous contribution oft housands of people.
Even the most complicated dream, a 7,000km uphill dream,
can be achieved... together.