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Rifugio Viola > Bivacco Pian del Lago

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Very exciting and varied stage, as well as demanding (for the duration, intensity, and some technical difficulties: it can, however, be split). 

The two passes Dosdè and Vermolera mark the day, they are difficult (especially the second) and rewarding. The highlights of the day are the color of Lake Negro and the Bernina glaciers.

Special Notes

The stage is very tiring and should not be underestimated. We strongly recommend those who are not well trained, to break it at Passo Dosdè bivouac.

The two passes (especially the Vermolera) have steep, slippery, and exposed sections. 

Due to the rocky environment, the signage is not always easy to locate and it is easy to get lost.

The only water points are on Alpe Dosdè and on the mountain pastures at the Laghi di Tres.

when to go
May - October
Suitable for
how to get there
description of the route

We start slightly downhill (about 200 m drop) on Sentiero dei Bracconieri, walking alongside Val Viola. South rises Corno di Dosdè (3,232 m), with its gigantic northern wall. Upon reaching Alpe Dosdè, not far from Rifugio Federico, we begin the long climb (approximately 700 m height difference) along Val Cantone di Dosdè. The first part is almost on sloping ground, on a wide and well-trodden path. Upon reaching the basin that closes the valley, the climb becomes much steeper and the path develops over rubble up to the terminal part, where we pass some large boulders (be careful).

After so much effort, we arrive at Passo  Dosdè (2,824 m), near the Capanna Dosdè bivouac, located in a spectacular position (those who are tired can break the stage here).

We face the steep descent (approx. 200 m drop) towards lake Negro, all on unstable stones: caution is needed. The lake repays for the effort and has the color of the sea. We go around the lake and, on a comfortable path, we continue to descend (approximately 400 m drop) along Valle Ovedo. At the bottom, you can see the Adamello group. Once at the Tres lakes, we take advantage of the fountain (the only one of the entire stage).

We set off again to face the second big climb of the day (approx. 550 m height difference). After a quiet first part up to Lago Venere, the actual ascent begins, very intense and on scree: some slippery stretches can test the nerves. We then arrive at an overhang, from where we walk on the stony ground along the hillside, up to Passo Vermolera (2,732 m): beautiful is the view of the Bernina group and the long ridge in front of it. After catching our breath, we start the pleasant but long descent (approximately 400 m drop). After the first steeper section, the trail signs and the track on the ground disappear: it is necessary to follow the poles planted in the ground, avoiding some swampy areas. Finally, we arrive at Pian del Lago, closed in the mountains: if the sky is clean, the starry sky is assured.

What to know

The Sanctuary of the Mother of Mercy, located in nearby Malghera, is known locally as the Sanctuary of the Madòna de val de Sach or of the Madonna del Muschio: according to local tradition, the Virgin appeared to a shepherd from Bergamo during a furious storm. After rescuing him, She left her effigy imprinted on a rock covered with moss.

What to see

Lake Negro is located in a large morainic basin, just below Passo Dosdè , nestled between Cima Viola and Cima di Saoseo, in a desolate and magnificent environment. It has an intense blue color, due to its remarkable depth.

They say that the lake tells those who sit on its banks the story of a beautiful girl, Viola, and of the young man who fell madly in love with her: the legend gives its name to the Val Viola.

what to eat

Not far from Pian del Lago, it is possible to visit Cascina Toni Grosio that produces excellent cheeses, such as bitto and casera dop

where to sleep

Bivacco Capanna di Dosdè, at Passo Dosdè; 12 beds and blankets. Always Open

Bivacco Pian del Lago, a bit shabby, 6 beds, blankets, outdoor water, and stove. Always Open

Rifugio Malghera, about 1 hour from Bivacco Pian del Lago, on the route of the next stage. Tel. +39 338 638 4629


Starting point NOT reachable by car.

The nearest location reachable by car is Arnoga.

Departure point NOT reachable by bus.

The nearest location reachable by bus is Arnoga, starting from the town of Tirano with a change in Bormio.

Here the LINK to check the timetables.

Starting point NOT reachable by train.

“We arrived exhausted after a walk at 2,800 m, we spend the night in a bivouac mistreated by marmots: Mountain means this as well”

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