“It’s our home, let’s sort it out”

This is what Val Cimoliana, in the province of Pordenone, looked like the day after 29 October 2018. The landscape of the valley (giving access to the ascent of the famous Campanile di Val Montanaia) has changed dramatically and the road has collapsed in a number of places. Marika Freschi and Ivan Da Rios, managers of the Pordenone mountain hut, one of the most important bases for visitors to the wild Dolomiti Friulane, hope it will be repaired next spring. They walked along it after the disaster, getting as far as the mountain hut which luckily had been spared the fury of the elements.

Then they packed their backpacks and answered a call from the mountain rescue service which they are both members of. Their reflections on next summer had to wait: other people in the Dolomites needed their help.

When we managed to get them on the phone, they were working in the Digonera area in the municipality of Rocca Pietore in the province of Belluno. “We can’t get to our mountain hut but it hasn’t been damaged” explains Marika, “so the natural thing is to take advantage of this and help those who are worse off than us. The local people are so kind, they’re doing everything they can. It’s actually the residents here who are spurring us on. They’ve lost nearly everything but they are working together, tirelessly”, she continues. Then she pauses. We realise she is looking up. She goes on: “The woods are totally destroyed, lots of people are without water and electricity. We’ve managed to free the line so the engineers can work on the pylons”.

Anyone who really loves the Dolomites and their landscape cannot help but feel a stab of pain: “It’s as if you have a sick child in front of you and you don’t know what to do to help him. The valleys have changed, we hope we can heal them”.

The snow will come. What has the spring in store for them? “We have miles and miles of footpaths to rebuild, but we won’t be able to do that until access is opened further down the valley. We will have to find and secure alternative routes to the mountain huts” she concludes. “But this is our home. And we’ve got to sort it out”.