Mondeval is a bowl-shaped plateau in the municipality of San Vito di Cadore within the Dolomites UNESCO System Pelmo – Croda da Lago. Its height ranges from 2100 to 2360 meters.
The Mondeval basin harbors many treasures including the archeological burial site of Mondeval de Sora, the tiny Lago delle Baste lake, and the Monte Mondeval panoramic peak.
In this trail guide, we’ll be describing the Passo Giau to Mondeval ascent route. This easy “lollipop-circuit” boasts spectacular views of Spiz de Mondeval, Cima Ambrizzola, Ponta Lastoi de Formin, and mighty Monte Pelmo.
Passo Giau to Mondeval Hiking Guide
- Trailhead: Passo Giau, Belluno, Italy
- Distance: 12.8 km lollipop-circuit
- Time Needed: 5 hours
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 694 meters ascending/descending
- Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
- Minimum Elevation: 2126 meters
- Maximum Elevation: 2455 meters
- When to Hike: Late June – mid-late October, depending on snow conditions.
- Where to Eat: Berghotel Passo Giau
- Where to Stay: Hotel Piccolo Pocol (budget) in Pocol, or Jaegerhaus Agriturismo (budget), Camina Suite & Spa (midrange), or Dolomiti Lodge Alverà (luxury) in Cortina d’Ampezzo.
- Recommended Trail Map: Tabacco 03 Cortina d’Ampezzo
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Where is Mondeval
The Mondeval plateau is located high above Selva di Cadore in the Italian Province of Belluno.
It’s bounded by the rock walls of Lastoni di Formin (Lastoi de Formin in Ladin) to the north, Croda da Lago, Becco di Mezzodi, and Col Duro to the northeast, and the slopes of Monte Cernera and Monte Mondeval (Corvo Alto) to the southwest.
Mondeval Plateau Hiking Map
How to Get to Passo Giau
Passo Giau (2236 m) is a high mountain pass in the Italian Province of Belluno. It connects Cortina d’Ampezzo with Selva di Cadore and Colle Santa Luci. It’s especially scenic, because of its eye-catching location at the base of Ra Gusela (Averau-Nuvolau group). From Giau Pass, there are also great views of Tofane Group, Croda Rossa d’Ampezzo/Hohe Gaisl, Cortina at the base of the Cristallo Group, the Sesto/Sexten Dolomites.
The easiest way to get to Passo Giau is with your own vehicle. You can park along the road at the pass. Parking is free, but limited.
- Pocol to Passo Giau | 10.6 km, 18 minutes
- Cortina d’Ampezzo to Passo Giau | 16.3 km, 25 minutes
- Selva di Cadore to Passo Giau | 10.5 km, 20 minutes
During the high summer season (mid/late June – mid/late September), you can take Dolomiti Bus Line 30/4 (Cortina d’Ampezzo – Passo Giau – Selva di Cadore – Pescul) to Passo Giau. This bus isn’t frequent, so please check the schedule in advance.
Passo Giau to Monte Mondeval Trail Description
Passo Giau – Forcella Zonia – Forcella de Col Piombin – Forcella Giau (1 hour)
From Passo Giau, follow trail 436 in the direction of Forcella Giau/Mondeval/Rifugio Palmieri – the opposite direction of the captivating Ra Gusela tower. A level, dirt footpath leads to Forcella di Zonia (2229 m).
Straight ahead, you’ll see Monte Cernera. To the right, you’ll see Monte Pore/Spiz de Poure, Marmolada and the Sella Group.
This flat trail continues across the western slopes of Col Piombin to Forcella Col Piombin (2239 m), where there’s a turn-off to Monte Cernera. Continue straight on trail 436 to Forcella Giau.
The trail cuts across the high Val Cernera valley towards the block-shaped Lastoni di Formin. Though this undulating path is easy, there are some rocky passages, which are potentially slippery, because of the polished stones.
At the Cees de Iou (2225 m) intersection, head right and ascend to Forcella Giau (20 minutes).
Forcella Giau to Lago delle Baste (15 minutes)
Trail 436 continues straight along the vertiginous walls of Lastoni di Formin to Forcella Ambrizzola (which is also the AV1). That’s the route you’ll return on.
From Forcella Giau, bear right and then descend along the unmarked but well-trodden footpath towards the cluster of boulders and Lago delle Baste.
If you’re looking at the Tabacco 03 Cortina d’Ampezzo, it’s the black-dotted route that leads to the summit of Monte Mondeval. Note: it’s delineated in black dots because it’s unmarked, not because it’s difficult.
The start of the trail is not obvious. However, you’ll see the tiny Lago delle Baste off to the right at the base of grassy Monte Mondeval. Rising behind this splash of water is the commanding Pelmo massif.
After passing a cluster of fallen boulders, known as La Città di Sassi, the grassy trail quickly guides you to Lago delle Baste (Lago di Baste).
Lago delle Baste is surrounded by a sensitive marshy area. Please don’t trudge across the grasslands. If you want to walk to the lakeshore, follow the stone footpath.
Lago delle Baste isn’t a significant lake: it’s basically a big pond. However, it serves as a lovely, watery foreground for both the Lastoni di Formin rock wall as well as Monte Pelmo.
Lago delle Baste to Monte Mondeval (20 minutes)
Our next goal is the summit of Monte Mondeval (aka Corvo Alto), which is the grassy, slanted slope rising above the plateau to the south.
To reach the summit, follow the western ridge. Ignore the footpaths that lead left, away from the ridge. Stay on the ridge path: it’s the most direct and well-defined trail to the summit.
As you ascend, you’ll see Becco di Mezzodi, the Sorapiss Group, and Monte Antelao.
Atop Monte Mondeval (2455 m), delicious views of Monte Pelmo, Monte Civetta, and the Pala Group await you.
Monte Mondeval to the Man of Mondeval Mesolithic Burial Site (35 minutes)
Follow the ridgepath back down to Lago delle Baste.
From the lake, head east across the meadows towards the thumb-shaped Becco di Mezzodi. You’ll hike through Malga Mondeval de Sora (unmanaged) marked by two stone structures: a hut and a shed. On the shed, there’s a trail sign pointing you towards Forcella Ambrizola.
Follow this trail to the burial site of a Mesolithic Hunter, known as the Grave of Mondeval de Sora. This site is labled as “Sepoltura mesolitica” on trail maps. It’s situated at an elevation of 2150 meters and marked by an info board, next to a large boulder.
Around 10,000 years ago, Mesolithic hunters seasonally trapped and hunted ibex and deer on the Mondeval Plateau, by blocking off the passes.
Archaeologists have unearthed charcoal, bones of hunted animals and flint tools around this site. They also excavated the skeleton of a 40-year-old Cro-Magnon male, the Man of Mondeval, who was laid to rest beneath this overhanging boulder in a ritualized burial. In this tomb, they also excavated a harpoon (spear) and a necklace of canine deer.
The archaeological finds of this site are on display at the Selva di Cadore Museum in Val Fiorentina.
Mesolithic Burial Site to Trail 436 (30 minutes)
From the burial site, continue east towards Becco di Mezzodi.
Note: you can also shorten the Mondeval loop by following the left path towards Lastoni di Formin. This path takes you to trail 436. When you reach the main trail, turn left and hike back to Forcella Giau.
The larger Mondeval loop trail crosses the Ru Mondeval creek and meanders across wide-open meadows. Monte Pelmo is still ever-present.
When you reach the “Mondeval de Sora” trail intersection, turn left on trail 466 in the direction of Forcella Ambrizzola.
The trail ascends gently towards the magnificent Spiz de Mondeval, a prominent peak of Lastoni di Formin, and Cima Ambrizzola, the highest peak of the Croda da Lago mountain chain.
When the trail seems to divide, take the upper footpath along a small crest, left of the creek.
When trail 466 intersects with trail 436, turn left.
Note: If you want to detour to Lago Federa and Rifugio Croda da Lago, head right to Forcella Ambrizzola and descend 2.2 km along trail 434 to Lake Federa.
Trail 436 to Forcella Giau (1 hour)
Soon the trail splits. Take the lower track (trail 436) towards Forcella Giau/Passo Giau. The upper track (trail 435) leads to Forcella Formin.
The trail moves steadily towards Spiz de Mondeval along a mostly level path. As you near Lastoni di Formin, the grassy meadows are increasingly punctuated with fallen boulders.
Parallel to the south, vertical walls of Lastoni di Formin, trail 436 ascends along a creek to Forcella Giau.
Forcella Giau to Passo Giau (1 hour)
Return to Passo Giau along the same route.
Where to Stay near Passo Giau
Pocol is a tiny village above the Ampezzo Valley, west of Cortina d’Ampezzo. Pocol sits at the crossroads between SR48 (the road that connects Cortina with Passo Falzarego) and the SP638 (the road that connects Cortina with Passo Giau). If you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking around Falzarego Pass, Lagazuoi, Tofane, Cinque Torri, Croda da Lago, and Passo Giau, Pocol is a great base.
Budget | Hotel Piccolo Pocol is a basic, but very clean bed & breakfast in Pocol. The management is helpful, efficient, and knowledgeable about the region. The breakfast buffet features a number of cakes, croissants, breads, yogurts, sliced cheeses and meats, and of course coffee and juices.
Ringed by the Ampezzo Dolomites, Cortina d’Ampezzo boasts a central and stunning location in the Ampezzo Valley in Veneto. You can stay here for a few days or for several weeks and never run out of things to see and do: Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Lago di Sorapis, Tofana di Rozes Circuit, Sentiero Bonacossa Trail, Cadini di Misurina Viewpoint, Passo Falzarego, Rifugio Lagazuoi, Croda da Lago Circuit, and Lago Federa.
Budget | Jaegerhaus Agriturismo is a highly-recommended farm stay in Cortina d’Ampezzo. The farm is located 2 km north of the town center in a dreamy location, facing Punta della Croce and Croda del Pomagagnon. Expect a delicious breakfast buffet. You can also eat dinner in their restaurant, which features ingredients sourced directly from their farm. Rooms are clean, cozy and designed in an alpine-rustic style.
Midrange | Camina Suite & Spa is a modern and stylish accommodation, managed by a caring and kind staff. Highlights of staying here are the bright, spacious suites, lovely furnishings and design accents, balcony views, and air conditioning. The breakfast is outstanding. Don’t miss out on their spa facilities (may need to be booked in advance due to COVID regulations).
Luxury | Dolomiti Lodge Alverà is a splurge-worthy hotel in Cortina d’Ampezzo, featuring an on-site spa and pool, on-site restaurant, and plush suites. Guests rave about the hotel’s mountain views, breakfast, wellness facilities, and design.
Mondeval Plateau Hiking Essentials
- Hiking Backpack: Osprey Tempest 30 Women’s Backpack / Osprey Talon 33 Men’s Backpack
- Grade B/C high-cut hiking boots: Meindl Schuhe Island Lady (Kati’s Boots), Women’s Hanwag Tatra II GTX (Sabrina’s Boots), Men’s Hanwag Tatra II GTX (men’s equivalent)
- Polarized, CAT 4 Sunglasses: Julbo Shield Mountain Sunglasses
- Hiking Poles: Black Diamond Trail Trekking Poles
- Camera Body: Sony Alpha a6400
- Mid-range Zoom Lens: Sony Vario-Tessar 16-70mm F4 ZA OSS ZEISS
- Wide angle Zoom Lens: Sony – E 10-18mm F4 OSS Wide-angle Zoom Lens
- Backpack Camera Clip: Peak Design Camera Clip
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