August 30, 2018

THE WALK ALONG THE WARTIME TUNNELS OF LAGAZUOI

During the First World War, there was bitter fighting here in this rugged, rocky mountains between the Austrians and Italians. Soon after war was declared, the more inferior Austro-Hungarian troop retreated into this part of the Dolomiti mountains to wage a high-altitude war at almost 3,000 meters. It soon turned into a tunnel war as both sides dug, in abandoning frontal assaults which was useless in the mountains. So the aim was to blast off the enemy from the peaks with the one occupying the higher elevation having the advantage. It must’ve been hellish for the soldiers of both sides who fought not only the enemy but also the cold, hunger and altitude sickness.

 

Today, Lagazuoi is one of the most popular places to visit in the Dolomites with hikers from all over the globe coming to enjoy the numerous hiking trails with stupendous views all around the soaring peaks. The extensive tunnels and trenches are still there preserved for posterity and some even still have gun emplacements. We took the cable car up 2,750 meters to Rifugio Lagazuoi which had a lovely terrace outside the large restaurant. The views right there and then were already pretty awesome and they got better as you walked by sheer, vertigo-inducing rocky ridges that skirted the faces of the different mountains.

The way leading down to the tunnels.
A Cross commemorating the dead from both warring nations.
Some parts of the trail were wide and easy to walk.
Reaching the peak at the end of one trail head.
Some parts were hard to climb and you had to scramble for a secure foothold.
Old fallen snow still remained on some of the slopes.
An awesome view opened up when the sun came through the heavy clouds.
Signposted trail pointing you to the remnants of the Great War.
A gun emplacement inside one of the numerous tunnels.
Not for the claustrophobic.
Sandbags by the edge of the ridge which was a lookout point to the valley below.
Imagine yourself rolling down bombs to hit the enemy convoy way down below!
The restaurant at the Rifugio that served great strudel!
Fog covers the cable car station below.
I had to shoot quickly as the sun played hide-and-seek.
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