It was 4:30 in the morning. I woke up with great anticipation. It was still dark outside but I was itching to start my adventure. I was going to see Drei Zinnen (Three Peaks) today! Located in the Southern Tirol, these magnificent peaks, so called because of their unique appearance are included in the UNESCO World Heritage. I saw countless pictures of them and now I had a unique opportunity to experience them in person! It was February, and the only way to get to the ridge from where you could see them was on snowshoes or touring skis. My Tubbs had to remain at home in Seattle but thankfully the village of Sesto where I was staying had many rental joints (called Noleggio) where one could get a pair for a day. “Eine Schneeschuhe bitte”, I asked a gentleman at the counter in my rusty German. He handed me a pair of bright yellow snowshoes and asked me where I was going. I proudly announced – Die Drei Zinnen! He nodded with approval.
When I started my ascent the temperature was way below freezing as the valley was still in the shade. I had my essentials and plenty of enthusiasm. Once I reached 1450 meters, the trail narrowed and snow become quite deep. I had roughly 1000 meters of elevation gain to reach the mountain hut on the ridge with the promised spectacular view of the Three Peaks. I was moving briskly in the cold air, longing to emerge from the frozen valley onto the sun bathed slopes leading to the ridge. The surroundings were magical! Dolomites are very different from all the other mountains I have seen – sharp, raw, majestic and intimidating. I was tempted to snap a picture every few moments but had to stop myself and instead focused on absorbing the beauty surrounding me. Shortly, I reached a saddle from which just the very tops of the Zinnen could be seen. My heart was pounding from exertion and excitement. The weather was perfect, not a single cloud, no wind. It was quiet except for the sound of the snowshoes piercing the snow and my heartbeat. I was alone. When I finally reached the hut the view in front of me took my breath away. I had goose bumps. I wanted to scream with joy but did not dare to spoil the sacred white silence around me.