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Dolomites - Seceda (2519m) - lost Swede and two faces of hiking up to the summit

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

Beaten and dirty, dancing alone... well, that’s what they sing in Czech song, and I feel totally same today, as I’ve “enjoyed the luxurious" 3 hours of sleep, the alarm screams, I wake up in a musty car (windows could be open, or my head could freeze... pick your poison...) and I'm off to Seceda (2519m). I was really looking forward to this trip, I found a few photos on social media that suggested this place would be worth it. As a bonus, right next to Seceda, there's a kitschy little church in Santa Magdalena, that might offer a stunning sunset (well, sunrise would be probably better there, but after yesterday's exhausting climb to Tre Cime, I’m definitely not able to make it for another sunrise)…

Photo of the Seceda rock formation with dramatic clouds after a storm - Shot with Sony A7 IV and Tamron 17-28mm F/2.8 - photographer Michal Stehlík.

Sure, it could have been done faster (back to Bruneck, Brixen, and then a bit on A22 and here we go), but I wanted to go through the mountains from the backside, so I went via Cortina d'Ampezzo... it's such a beautiful route, but the last 30 km looks more lie a "one-way road"... still indicted as two-way, but barely enough for 2 motorcycles, let alone cars... so passing involves folding your side mirrors and hoping the other driver won't push you off the cliff... anyway, it combined breathtaking views with a nice dose of morning adrenaline... except for a few moments when my pants were a bit too close to changing color...

In Santa Magdalena, you can park for free! Unbelievable (at least I hope so, as I didn't get a ticket…)! So I leave the car here and disappear towards Seceda. The clouds are breaking up, the weather is beautiful, and it's finally starting to get warm. I'm enjoying a wonderful trek in the middle of nowhere, when I meet Henrik from Sweden… a 2-meter tall freckled blonde, in a business suite, a huge backpack and a smeared nose from sunscreen…

I mean, I don't know, meeting him at a stop in Stockholm dressed like this might be OK, but here? In the middle of nowhere, more than 2000m above sea level? I rub my eyes, wondering if this is all a dream, when Henrik speaks up and asks for the way to the nearest city… honestly, it made me burst out laughing, and we struck up a conversation...

Henrik and his buddy went on a trip around Venice, where it kept pouring rain, and his soaked friend decided to fly back home. But Henrik, being an adventurous soul, not made of sugar, decided to head to the mountains, hoping to escape the rain... so he took a bus somewhere to Seceda, and now he's wandering around without a map, not knowing where to go... haha, I still don't know if he was just pulling my leg, but considering he was up there in suite, somewhere over two thousand meters above sea level, at least 13km from the nearest town, with a huge backpack and no map, well, maybe not... =)

I gave Henrik some directions, and we both laughed about the whole situation before I continued my way up... and if Henrik got lost, he's probably still wandering around somewhere up there...

Photo of the Italian Dolomites, limestone rocks and greenery in the foreground with Seceda in the background - Shot with Sony A7 IV and Tamron 17-28mm F/2.8 - photographer Michal Stehlík.

Seceda already looks stunning from below... the Dolomites UNESCO Geotrail 5 (or at least, I think that's what it's called... the forgetfulness came a bit too early) leads through a beautiful valley, from which a quite challenging trail ascends directly to the peak... it's seriously steep, and you're walking on limestone again, with the bonus of super slippery steps at the end... you can do it, but you'd better have something to secure yourself... well if you did not forget it like myself… ehm...

Photo of the Italian Dolomites, view into the valley from the Seceda range - Shot with Sony A7 IV and Tamron 17-28mm F/2.8 - photographer Michal Stehlík.

The two faces of Seceda xD

After a bit of effort, I finally made it to the top, where, with the thought of resting, I covered the last few meters... and now I have to start laughing out loud. I'm quite exhausted, and it turns out that Seceda is a regular winter resort on the other side... with chalets, restaurants, and cable cars... a completely different world compared to the ascent from the other side... day and night, heaven and hell!

But you know what? It's actually great, the place is stunning, and for all my trips, I try to figure out how to bring my family next time... and it seems ridiculously easy for Seceda (although sometimes it might be good to plan these trips a bit... well, maybe next time) - just to clarify, I wrote this article sometime in 2020, and since then, we've been there with the family several times... there's a cable car that takes you up, and you can have a great meal... so, I definitely recommend it for a family trip!).

Close-up photo of a marmot in the Italian Dolomites. Shot with Sony A7 IV and Tamron 28-200 F/2.8-5.6 Di III RXD - photographer Michal Stehlík.

It's a weekend, it's beautiful, hence quite a few tourists… the photos won't run away, right?… so, off to replenish energy at Rifugio Sofie… and as usual, during lunch-dinner, clouds gather, it starts to get cold and it's raining… and the pub is closing… oh gosh! Did I miss it again!? Can’t believe that! Seriously, will I ever learn, that I should go for shooting first and then search for beer, not opposite =)

Photo of a mountain range piercing through massive clouds in the Italian Dolomites. Shot with Sony A7 IV and Tamron 28-200 F/2.8-5.6 Di III RXD - photographer Michal Stehlík.

But fortune favors the unprepared (well, at least it was like that this time, hehe)… I tell myself, wait, maybe it'll blow over… and behold, after an hour, the sky briefly clears, and I finally get to take some shots...

It's getting dark, so I put on my headlamp and hurry back down the slippery steps and scattered limestone before it becomes pitch black...

I reach my car at half-past ten in the evening, completely exhausted, realizing that I also missed to catch the sunset at Santa Magdalena... but as the classics say, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger"... so I start the engine and set off on a 135 km drive back to the campsite at Tre Cime, because I still haven't managed to capture that darn sunrise over this iconic massif in the hearth of Dolomites =)

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Until next time!



Camera: Sony A7 IV

Drone: Mavic Air 2s


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