The kingdom of Fanes
2055 m


The legendary kingdom of Ladinia

Half a day's journey from Innsbruck by public transport, hidden in a side valley lies the Fanes, the legendary kingdom of Ladinia. We start our basic snowshoe course in Pederü and slowly hike up the road towards Lavarella and Fanes Hut. The two huts are located on an alpine pasture directly opposite each other and impress with their exceptional hospitality, great comfort and fantastic Ladin cuisine. We spend three nights in both huts and are thrilled. In the end we can hardly decide which of the two huts we liked better.

Pure luxury

The rooms in both cabins are equipped with fresh bed linen and towels. You can shower for free, which guests use until the hot water is used up. Here the paid showers known from typical Alpine Club huts, make sense in my view to encourage people to save scarce water in the mountains. There is Wi-Fi in both huts - a blessing for tour planning, a curse for socializing. There is also luggage transport to and from the valley in the morning and afternoon. We are not used to this from typical Alpine club huts in Germany and Austria and we spend an evening discussing how much luxury is actually necessary on the mountain. Of course, these amenities also come at a price; an overnight stay with half board is a good third more expensive than in the German and Austrian Alpine region, yet the price-quality ratio is still good. While I can do without the luxury of Wi-Fi, showers and luggage transport, I fell in love with the incredible food and breakfast buffet. The landscape itself completely enchants me during the six days that we spend up there and I am already starting to make plans for snowshoe tours in 2025 on our wonderful day-tours through the snow.


A well-known Dolomite legend tells of royal alliances with eagles and marmots and is noticeably ever-present on the high plateau. For example, behind the Lavarella Hut begins the fairytale forest and in the direction of Heiligkreuzkofel you can climb the Fanes-Castle with snowshoes in winter, which is actually reminiscent of a stone castle. Yet first, we devote ourselves to avalanche victim search and spend a whole day practicing using our avalanche transceivers on the Sarenes plateau, directly behind the Lavarella hut. Despite spring-like temperatures in the valley, we still find a meter of snow on the Fanes, which is easy to walk on in the morning. Only in the afternoon we regularly break into the warmed snow cover with our snowshoes when temperatures are above zero and the sun is strong. So we get up a little earlier every morning to take advantage of the best snow conditions on our tours.

The Fanes-Castle

After the course participants have extensively practiced the emergency of an avalanche burial and emergency transport in the bivouac loop, we start planning the tour to the Fanes-Castle, taking into account the avalanche report and orientation in pathless terrain. Behind the Lavarella Hut begins a plateau that is reminiscent of a lunar landscape in winter and, with the Turtle (Col Toronn), the Fanes-Castle and the Heiligkreuzkofel, offers promising and largely avalanche-free tour destinations - a true El Dorado for independent orientation and for making a trail in the untouched snow. The participants only use the hiking map, contour lines and striking rock formations as orientation and retrain their senses, which nowadays are often a bit rusty thanks to Google Maps and GPS. Natural orientation without electronic aids is particularly important to me in training because once you master it, you feel free and, above all, safe in the mountains. When you have to make your own track in winter, you become aware of how slow your progress is when there is no trail laid out that you can follow. Hence, winter gives the mountains a feel of wilderness, which is less experienced in summer. The participants put up a brave fight and navigate tirelessly through unknown and untouched terrain, while I assist from behind less and less as the days go by.

Monte Castello

However, the pure joy of the experience should not be missing from such a training week. So I take the lead again on our last day-tour and we are the first group to leave the hut towards Monte Castello early in the morning. We pass the old military road quickly and settle at a steady pace. Everyone is lost in their own thoughts and all that can be heard is the crunching of the snow. We climb up moderately steep slopes to the Castello and we move smoothly through the terrain as if we were part of it. It feels like meditation to me. These are the big days in the mountains when everything feels right – the timing, the pace and the group. It is therefore not surprising that we arrive at the bivouac box below the striking rock of Monte Castello earlier than planned. It is significantly colder up here, so we only stay for a short time, but we agree to return to the small wooden hut in the summer to bivouac. Only halfway back to the hut we meet a few ski touring groups. Until then we were all alone on the mountain - a rare experience in the very well-known Dolomites.

Yoga at 2000 meters

Back at the hut a very special treat awaits us – hidden away at the back there is a small yurt where yoga lessons are offered every now and then. Today is such a day and I am enjoying the beautiful yoga flow at over 2000 meters. When Daniela, the hut owner's daughter, ends the class with three “Shanti” my heart melts and my eyes become a little moist. Here on the Fanes, I have once again found one of those special places in the Alps to which I will return.

See you soon, beautiful Fanes!

And because it is so beautiful, we do another tour to the Kreuzkofelscharte on our day of departure and enjoy the fantastic view of the Marmolada and the Rosengarten. The descent into the valley becomes a special joy with rented sledges from the hut, which are even free for house guests on the last day. These can be easily manoeuvred downhill, and, like the beautiful landscape, the experiences of the last week pass before the mind's eye once again on the way down.