landscape
Dolomites Photography - Sunrise at Langkofel

Two months ago I wrote the first part of my trip to the Dolomites mountains. Now I finally find time to write the second part of the trip: Hike to the Langkofel Group.

The Langkofel Group is a massif that consists of several summits, among which the Langkofel summit is the highest (3181m). In winter, the whole local area is very popular for skiers. Tons of cable cars and ski trails are built around it.

By the time I was there, at mid-April, all ski trails are closed due to lack of snow on the trails, which make them the perfect paths for hiking.

The two sides

Over two days, I went to two different spots on almost opposite sides of the Langkofel Group. Each spot requires a different method to get there and of course the view is completely different as well.

The first spot is the high point (2200m) of a ski descent (cable car uphill terminal, the last waypoint on the map) located on the northern side. The nearest parking lot is near a hotel at downhill indicated by the second waypoint on the map. From there, it’s a 4km hike with a gentle ascent, about 650m increase in elevation.

Whereas the second spot on the southern side is simply a mountain resort that has the same level of elevation as the first one (2200m). But this one you can directly drive in (a bit of cheating though :P).

Both spots have a fair amount of distance to the mountains and offer you a closer view while still allow you to shoot a wide angle without too much distortion. Both views are also slightly west-facing, very good for sunrise shots.

The north face

Get up at 4 am. and a 1.5 hrs drive to the downhill parking lot, it’s already 5:30 am. The sunrise is at 6:30 am. by when I should be on the top ready for the shot.

It turned out very quickly that my initial plan was a bit too optimistic. The first part of the hike was a bit “walking in the darkness” and I left my headlight at home… Approaching the half way, at about 1900m above the sea level, the road turns to white, covered by ridiculously slippery ice… By 6:10 am., I only finished first leg of the hike and there was still at least 50 mins of way to go…

I eventually stopped at the first cable car terminal (third waypoint on the map) and the view was already breathtaking, so I immediately started to prepare my shots.

In an icy environment of this kind, my thought was to take its advantage to find some interesting white subjects. My first shot was taken with two tiny deformed “snowmen” sitting in the foreground, watching the Langkofel summit having its “first smoke of the day”.

Twins At Show | 23mm | iso100 | f8 | 106s | nd 3.0 | circular polariser

I threw in the big stopper to emphasize the smoking effect.

The clouds formation at the summit is quite typical in the Dolomite mountains. As warm air from the sea is elevated by mountains, it forms naturally into beautiful clouds on the top.

With the first shot captured environment: mountain, trees, and snow, it became obvious that the second shot is going to capture detail: the beautiful texture of rocks.

Smoking Langkofel | 70mm | iso100 | f8 | 1/30s | circular polariser

I post processed it to black & white, which I believe show off its texture the best.

On my way back to the hotel, I pulled off my car for a lovely colored shot taken from the side of the Langkofel. The bulk massif was a guard for the tiny humanity hidden behind the trees.

The Guardian I | 37mm | iso100 | f8 | 1/250s

The south face

Same schedule for the second day, at 5:30 am. I’m already on site. No hiking needed, just prepare and wait, for the marvelous show.

From this side, I was not able to see the Langkofel summit. Instead, here are (left to right): Grohmannspitze (3126m), Fünffingerspitze (five finger summit 2996m), and Langkofeleck (Langkofel corner).

Three Mans Sky I | 23mm | iso100 | f10 | 1/10s | circular polariser

The sunlight was changing so fast, thus I took a lot of shots and this one was captured just in between two sunlight bursts.

Second picture from the same spot was using the bigger stopper, again to show off the smoking effect.

Three Mans Sky II | 24mm | iso100 | f10 | 180s | nd 3.0 | circular polariser

In my eyes, the sky was too clear and lacked a bit of interest. Let’s leave that one for the next time, I told myself.

In order to walk away with a bonus, on my way back as the day before, I pulled off my car and took almost the same kind of picture only with a different mountain. This is the typical scene in the area: the massif mountain backed village.

The Guardian II | 70mm | iso100 | f8 | 1/60s

After this day, my trip to the wonderful Dolomites land came to an end. It was amazing, from the beginning to the end. I enjoyed a joyful family trip, an enormous adventure, and a diverse photography tour. This is the kind of place I sure will return.