THE PASS DURING THE GREAT WAR: Tourism began to develop gradually in the Dolomites between 1860 and 1880. English and German pioneers started to discover the mountain valleys, aided by the work of alpine guides who led the crossings from valley to valley and promoted these itineraries. Everything came to a halt in 1915 with the start of the Great War. Things became difficult because the pass was on the border between the Austro-Hungarian empire and Italy. Near the refuge there is still a rock, which has marked the former border between Austria and the Venetian Republic since 1791. At the beginning of the war, an Italian brigade arrived this border and noticed that the Austrian had already occupied the strategic Bocche summit. They succeeded in storming and inflicted a considerable number of casualties. After a few days, the Austrian regained their position, as expected. As we all know, World War I claimed many victims, but it also left many important paths across the whole territory, like the trenches, mule tracks and paths which create a historical landscape and leave indelible memories. Thanks to the development of roads near the hotel, Passo Valles entered a new era with the Cemin family.
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE REFUGE:
The first building of the refuge dates back to 1933. With his determination and the passion for the mountains, Enrico Cemin built Passo Valles Refuge. He was assisted by Maria Rosa Vaia, a former chef of a hotel in the nearby village namely the Ora. In 1934, a fire, which was possibly caused by altercations between shepherds, destroyed the building. In 1938 it was replaced by a more robust structure, which, along with the advice of his friend Alfredo Paluselli, was built on a site further north (where it still stands today) to shelter it better from the winter wind. Back then, the road was covered with thick snow and was closed during the winter, with exceptions to skis and St. Bernard dogs as the only means of transport from Paneveggio to the refuge - only in 1950 did Enrico manage to get himself an old Moto Guzzi motorbike. In the winter of 1950/51 the snow was so heavy (more than 20 metres high) that all the custodians of the refuges escaped to the valley for the whole season, except Cemin who refused to abandon 'his' pass. The building had undergone continuous changes to resolve countless problems regarding lighting, heating, water supply etc. Only in 1969 was the road opened on the Trentino side but by then the tenacious founder, given his advanced age for that time, had to leave for Predazzo where he was looked after by his daughter Anna (born in 1931) until his death. The refuge was taken by his son Mario (born in 1929) who, with his wife Rina Zus keeps watch over the work of their sons Angelo and Ezio, who continue the tradition of Passo Valles with their wives and young sons, and their unmistakable passion and hospitality.
Along a mountain road flanked by with woods and meadows, visitors to the area will reach an uncontaminated landscape of various shapes and colours that blend to create a natural geological museum at 2,032 metres above sea level. In the foreground, to the north, one can admire the dark porphyry of volcanic origin that characterises the Bocche summit. They can also be seen to the south west on the imposing sides of the Lagorai chain. The numerous lake basins and the striated boulders are evidence of glaciations, while to the south the sedimentary rocks form bright stripes and folds shaped like waves. In the distance rises the majestic peak of Mount Mulaz, almost 3,000 metres high. Finally, to the east, the faces of the Civetta and Pelmo can be seen, ending the 360° view of the perfect symbiosis between rocks and wildflower meadows. During the summer the pass is the intermediate step of Alta Via n° 2, that from Brixen, through Olde, the Sella Pass, Marmolada and the high peaks of the Pale di San Martino, reaches Feltre. The pass is a popular route for several cycling competitions, such as the Marcialonga, Transalp and Granfondo Sportfull. Instead, during winter the road is one the pivotal locations for the ski festival of the Tre Valli area, "Pista degli innamorati Col Margherita" - Falcade, for a length of 11 kilometres.