Guest article: #MBdolomates – with the G-Class in the Dolomites.
Photographers on the road.
Thick fog blanketing green meadowland, coniferous forests against a backdrop of rugged peaks, mountainous clouds suspended above shimmering lakes – this is South Tyrol at its best, as seen through the lenses of the German Roamers. The professional photographers will go to any lengths for the perfect shot. The German Roamers have been exploring South Tyrol – and now, they reveal where to find the very best light, the most stunning views and the brightest night sky. Johannes Höhn and Max Münch, part of Germany’s best-known Instagram photo collective, spent seven days exploring Italy’s northernmost province, along with four friends and two G-Classes. The six Roamers set off from Cologne and headed for the mountains via Stuttgart and Bolzano. And what would you most likely call friends who go exploring the Dolomites together? Correct – Dolomates – #MBdolomates.
Shifting down a gear.
Narrow passes snake through the mountains. Serpentine driving at Würzjoch, for instance, demands full concentration, with guard rails often the only barrier between the road and the abyss. But all the effort is definitely worthwhile – snow-covered peaks, untamed valleys and endless miles of pasture abound, with a wonder of nature waiting around every corner. But what about shifting down a gear from time to time to deal with steep inclines? “No problem at all,” asserts Johannes. “Quite the opposite, in fact. It gives us far more time to focus on the scenery. We stopped all along the way to take pictures and to simply enjoy the view. But obviously we gave the cars a chance to show what they’re made of.”
Capturing the last of the light.
The Vajolet Towers soar majestically into the sky like craggy cliffs. The rocky peaks dominate the skyline above the Schlern-Rosengarten natural park – an area prized by walkers and climbers alike. “We set off in the afternoon from the Kölner hut in search of the best light,” recounts Johannes. And they were successful – bathed in the red glow of the evening sun, the climbers witnessed the full splendour of the peaks. But what about the hardships of the five-hour climb, via fixed rope routes and sharp descents, loaded down with equipment? Not an issue. “When we reached the top, we were utterly exhausted. We had absolutely no energy for celebrating,” recalls Max. “We were totally blown away by the amazing view. It’s an indescribable feeling to get to the top and experience the last sun rays. We just sat there and revelled in the scenery. This absolute peace, the remoteness, the light. Every step was worth it.” He is still fascinated, “But no camera can capture what you feel in a moment like that.”
Deep-green fir trees and snow-white mountains are reflected in the surface of the Karer Lake, lying there so calm and unspoiled, it could be made from glass. “I would never have thought that lakes like this existed in Europe,” says Johannes in amazement. “Only in Canada have I ever seen so much beauty in one place.” If you get there early enough, you can witness how the morning sun bathes the Latemar group in rich red hues. “One peak after another changes colour until finally the whole valley is aglow.” Max is bowled over, too: “That’s exactly what the German Roamers want to show to people. There are wonderful things right on our doorstep. You don’t always have to jump on a plane to see breathtaking scenery.”
Reaching for the stars.
The Dürrenstein hut stands on the Plätzwiese surrounded by rocky slopes and rolling pasture. This is a place where you not only can stop en route to the Dürrenstein summit, but can spend the night as well. “The view from the bedroom was breathtaking,” says Johannes, “the panorama was simply stunning.” In the evening, the photographers walked to the Strudelkopf to watch the sunset. From the low grassy mound they had an unhindered view of the surrounding summits – including the Three Peaks, the Dolomites’ iconic rust-red landmark. By night, the Plätzwiese, which is part of the Fanes-Sennes-Braies natural park, is plunged into darkness with zero light pollution. “The Milky Way was so bright above us,” recalls Johannes, “we couldn’t get enough of it.”
A snack with friends.
Anyone who has gone to the effort of climbing a mountain has definitely earned a visit to one of the rustic huts. Fortunately, their landlords are always well-prepared for guests and are happy to provide exhausted walkers with hearty local fare such as Käsenocken (cheese dumplings) and Kaiserschmarrn (a sweet, pancake-based dessert). “The feeling of having achieved something with your friends and then rewarding yourself is one of the best in the world,” says Max. As far as Johannes is concerned, it’s not just the food and the view that make a visit to a hut in South Tyrol so unique: “If you’re lucky, the landlord offers you a schnapps, too. Although, unfortunately, it means you can’t drive a G-Class for a while afterwards.”