Do you suffer from an irrational fear of heights? It’s apparently called “acrophobia” and I am a major sufferer. So, when I recently visited the Alta Pusteria area of the Dolomites and was persuaded to circumnavigate the famous Tre Cime di Lavaredo, I had no idea what I was letting myself in for.
Arriving at Rifugio Auronzo at 2320 metres above sea level, we donned our wind-breakers, grabbed our walking poles and set off on the busiest trail: the anti-clockwise 101, which was crowded with a variety of hikers in all shapes and sizes.
After we had passed Rifugio Lavaredo the crowd thinned considerably. Gone were the babies in buggies and ladies in unsuitable shoes. Only those who wanted to walk to the Forcella di Lavaredo at 2454 metres remained to goggle at the spectacular north walls of Tre Cime.
Secondly, as we took Trail 105, I noticed that almost everyone else had turned back to the car-park via Trail 101. I accepted this without analysing the possible explanation: they knew more than I did!
Trail 105 was narrow, rocky and steep, and before long we arrived at a narrow shelf overlooking a seemingly bottomless drop. I froze. My acrophobia kicked in so strongly that I burst into tears. My poor companion had a terrible time coaxing me across the ledge. He held my walking poles and took my arm while I walked sideways, facing away from the terrifying drop.
Unfortunately, we were still a couple of hours and further mind-bending frights away from Rifugio Auronzo and finally, more than five hours after we had begun our hike, we arrived back at the car.
I was happy to know that I had walked the most beautiful trail in the Dolomites. But, never again.