To reach this amazing place by car, leave Brunico and head towards the Aurina Valley. Before approaching Tures, turn left at Molini di Tures-Mühlwald and drive all the way to Lappago di Sopra-Oberlappach, at the end of the Valley. There is a parking area at the lake, which will cost 7 euros. In alternative – if like us, you refuse the easy way out – you can leave the car before the gate and reach the lake by walking a parallel track to the road. This path is actually worth its own if you have a lot of stamina and don’t mind an extra half hour on top of the 7 hour Alta Via. This small stretch coasts the river and climbs into the forest, it is a beverage point for friendly cows and a great place to soak your feet in cold water on the way back.
When you reach the lake, walk to the far coast on the right and follow directions to Rifugio Porro – Chemitzer Hütte on path #26. Climb the zig-zag way into the forest, and then, gaining altitude, cross the grassy slopes and pastures, reaching the hut at 2419 m. – this will take you about 1.30 h. Good break for water or coffee (I always like to get a stamp on my notebook at every Rifugio I come across), but don’t stop for too long: the journey awaits.
Alta Via #1 extends at the feet of the Gran Mesulè – Moseler mountain and the Punta Bianca – Weisse Wand. It begins with some stretches equipped with ropes, this path is constructed on grey rock blades, dominated by marmots. Move towards North and reach a high plane excavated by the ancient glaciers. Suddenly you find yourself in the shade and into another planet. Grey boulders lying here and there, tiny blue lakes and a mystic rock spiral captures our eye. Regardless of time or distance still ahead of us, we can’t help ourselves but stop and take loads of pictures, with the Zillertal Chain on the background, defining the boarder between Italy and Austria.
Cross a wooden bridge over a small glacier stream and then its uphill again. When the tiredness starts hitting, finally you come across an enchanted sparkling lake. The sun is warm and this is the perfect place for lunch brake. We did this route in September, so it wasn’t crazy hot and crowded, and we really enjoyed warming up our backs and chilling our feet in the lake, with fresh local cheese and dried tomatoes sandwiches.
When back on the path, we start heading towards South-West and the Neves lake comes back into our sight, with the Fundres Chain to our right and the Dolomites to the South. For about an hour and a half we walk on steep rocky and grassy slopes. The final effort before reaching the Rifugio Ponte di Ghiaccio – Edelrauthütte is crossing a narrow bridge on the wall of a river fall, equipped by wired ropes. Although no equipment is necessary for the safety of this crossing, it does make your heart beat. Crows flying around welcome you to this brand new hut at 2545 m. (it’s on my bucket list, I’ll definitely sleep there next time). Enjoy a refreshing cup of Apfelschorle or a nice meal with eggs, speck and potatoes on the wooden balcony or in the modernly furnished interiors. Path n. 26 takes you downhill across boulders, then green pastures and finally forest and the lake in less than an hour.
Note: This is an Alta Via that you can hike in the opposite direction as described it in this article. It is a frequent option to start by walking from the lake the way up path #26 to the Rifugio Ponte di Ghiaccio and then head towards Rifugio Porro. Our choice was determined by the fact that the path from the lake to Rifugio Ponte di Ghiaccio is the steepest part of the whole Alta Via (and an exhausting stretch to do upwards with little rewarding panorama) and preferred to do it as an ending part (smoothly and overlooking the lake). But doing this part at the end could also mean putting a lot of stress on your knees, so choose one direction rather than the other based on your personal needs and preferences.
Nicole & Matthew