Tag Archives: Dolomites

Land of Fire and Ice

Fire and Ice 

By Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire, 

Some say in ice. 

From what I’ve tasted of desire 

I hold with those who favor fire. 

But if it had to perish twice, 

I think I know enough of hate 

To say that for destruction ice 

Is also great 

And would suffice.

Not Game of Thrones, but Val di Tires in the Dolomites, under the soaring peaks of the Catinaccio.

These ‘Pale Mountains’ have stood, permanent and resolute, since the Triassic era, forever fixed and yet constantly changing. At eight in the morning, as we struggle with our frozen snowshoes in the fresh snow and biting air, the land and sky radiate an underwater blue.

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Later daylight blanches the rock, its ashen face frowning down into the valley.

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However, it is late afternoon when the real show begins. As the sun descends, a stripe of brightness appears across the monochrome tips, soon gaining warmth and colour.

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Stone turns butter and rose, then shocks with a blast of mandarin, acid against the somber sky.

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Then, as quickly as it arrived, it is gone. That Pacific blue floods the scene once more. The cold rises, and darkness shrouds the monster from view.

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Photos: Bothwick and Cro

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Dolomite Days

‘…come take me out of this dull world,
For I would ride with you upon the wind,
Run on the top of the dishevelled tide,
And dance upon the mountains like a flame.’

W.B. Yeats, The Land of Heart’s Desire

‘How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains!’
John Muir

The morning sun greeting the peaks on a mass of dolomite rock is a fine sight on the first day of the new year.

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We take a path in frozen early shadow that climbs beside a descending stream cast into sculptures of ice as it pours over boulders that have journeyed from the same needles and chimneys that rise before us in the distance.

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Later, a sunnier route beside sparkling soft cushions of snow, the click click click of the poles on the icy path seeking out friction and a footing across the stilled stream that has been stopped in its track down the slope.

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These are savage mountain tops rendered sweet by a sifting of confectioner’s sugar; snow has fallen into crevice and gulley, resting on stone, bluff and precipice so that we say ‘Oh, how pretty’ and stop to take a photograph as, for a treacherous moment, we forget our sense of awe.

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The gloaming arrives early here. A blue light issues from the ground, creeping up the glowering rock to extinguish the rosy alpenglow still lighting the tips and jags until all is gloom and frozen shadow once more.

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