Snowshoeing on a desert Monte Zoncolan, a unique experience in the snow
I hope you will not be able to do this hike. At least not like we did. The Snowshoe Hike on Monte Zoncolan that you see described in this article was made in December 2020 in the middle of the Covid-19 period.
For this reason, before venturing onto Monte Zoncolan, check the opening of the slopes and the effective practicability of the snowshoe trails.
What you will read in this post:
How to reach Monte Zoncolan
To reach Mount Zoncolan there are two options:
- From Ovaro
- From Sutrio
The ascent from Ovaro is impracticable in winter.
To reach Sutrio from Udine drive north to Tolmezzo. From there follow the signs to Paluzza and Monte Zoncolan. The signs are already visible in a large intersection near the Carnic chieftain.
Once you have passed the town of Arta Terma, you will find on the left the junction towards Sutrio. Continue and at the end of a straight road turn right and then left immediately after the pizzeria Mister Zoncolan.
At the top, you will find a large parking lot.
Monte Zoncolan with empty slopes
“Anin a scià in Zonco” (Let’s go skiing on Monte Zoncolan) is the most frequent phrase that you can hear from an average Friulian guy on a Saturday in December.
This year, however, everything is upside down and even the ski destination par excellence of our region turned into a snowshoeing destination. And if on the one hand, it was strange to be hiking in a white desert, on the other the snowshoeing on Monte Zoncolan warmed my heart.
We start from an empty parking lot and walk towards the slopes as if it were any Saturday in December.
The slopes, even without skiers, remain inviolable. For us snowshoers, there is a small lane on the edge of the slope that slowly climbs the mountain. This is where, in summer, you’d find the asphalted road.
We are aware that this is our only chance to experience Monte Zoncolan on foot, in the sunlight, and with half a meter of snow.
Baita Goles and Sella Zoncolan
Along the climb, we alternate sections easier on trail sections with sections on the side of the slopes which are particularly tough. Halfway, we arrive at the first hut of our climb, Baita Goles. From this point on, we put on crampons and climb the slopes up to Sella Zoncolan.
Once again, we cannot cope with what is in front of us. Cima Zoncolan is never empty. When there are no skiers, this is where the bravest cyclists conquer one of the toughest climbs in Italy and Europe.
From Sella Zoncolan we also see Malga Pozôf where I worked for a week in 2018. On the Ovaro side, the snow is immaculate except for the footprints left by the animals.
Rifugio Tamai: your ally on Monte Zoncolan
Our final destination is Rifugio Tamai. The snowshoe hike we have had the opportunity to do is the most direct route. In better times, Rifugio Tamai can be a real ally in organizing your snowshoe hike on Monte Zoncolan. By subscribing to their newsletter you can download a guide on snow routes to do with the whole family.
They also often organize moonlit snowshoeing which, needless to say, I recommend you to try.
Having lunch at Rfugio Tamai
As you will have understood, Rifugio Tamai is particularly dear to my heart. Maybe, it’s its sloping roof that makes it look like an American Indian hut in the Alps. Or maybe it’s the friendly alpacas that welcome tourists in the summer.
It may be it’s the fact that everything here is homemade or that Futura, the owner, tells about their life on social media with such delicacy, but here, in spite of the crowds of skiers, it is really possible to find peace and tranquility.
We had lunch with a succulent chestnut soup, frico, and homemade tart. We retrace our steps and go down to the parking lot.
Why hiking on Monte Zoncolan
Monte Zoncolan is part of that unknown Italy that is almost ignored by the vast public.
Perhaps it is true, Friuli Venezia Giulia is not a skiing wonderland Trentino Alto-Adige. Yet our 130 km of slopes and ski areas connect not one but three European countries: Italy, Austria, and Slovenia.
The beauty of Friuli Venezia Giulia is that it is not necessary to choose what to do, you can do everything. Go skiing or take a snowshoe hike on Monte Zoncolan and on the same day have an aperitif by the sea.