A rockfall has destroyed the silhouette at Cima Carega: the tip of the L'Omo needle fell into the valley. It was only by chance that there were no hikers on site.
Recoaro Terme – The small Dolomites on the border between Trentino and Veneto (Italy) are an insider tip among mountain tourists. The many rock towers around the Cima Carega massif (2259 meters) are a popular destination, especially for budding climbers. But the alpinists now have to cross one rock tower off their bucket list: The rock needle L'Omo (the man) has collapsed, his wife La Dona, the second rock, is now alone.
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Hikers sounded the alarm on Monday at the landlord of a restaurant in Recoaro Terme: The restaurateur Gianluca Santagiuliana then posted a picture of the collapsed rock peak on Instagram, spreading the bad news. It is unclear when the peak, which is located at an altitude of 1830 meters, collapsed. On Facebook, hikers report that it had already happened on Saturday. In any case, the tower collapsed at a moment when there was no hiker nearby, so no one was harmed. Just last year, a glacier collapsed in the Dolomites.
Of the rock needle L'Omo (left) there is only a stump left, on the right the rock needle la Dona. © Facebook - Dario Favrin
Armando Cunegato, mayor of Recoaro Terme, is horrified: "I understand that for some it is just a piece of stone, but for us it is as if someone from the family has disappeared", said the head of the city to Corriere della Sera. Paolo Aznicar, councilor, head of the Battisti mountain hut on site and mountain rescuer, estimates the weight of the 10 to 15 meter high crashed tower at at least 500 tons. "We are already organizing ourselves with a drone and will carry out an inspection," he says.
The L'Omo rock needle (left) in front of the rockfall, on the right the La Dona rock needle. © Facebook - Dario Favrin
Turbulent weather in the small Dolomites in May to blame?
Aznicar believes that the tower broke off to the rear, causing a large landslide. "Unfortunately, we know the nature of this country well and know that such cases will happen again." Aznicar suspects that the turbulent weather of the past few weeks caused the rockfall: "A rainy May, the likes of which we haven't experienced in a long time, certainly contributed to making the situation even more fragile than it already is."
The Corno Tower in the Fumante Group collapsed in 2021 © Facebook - Dario Favrin/Nevio Soldà
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In the small Dolomites, it is already the third time in three years that a rock storm has crashed: In April 2021, one of the four peaks of the Corno Tower in the Fumante Group near Recoaro Terme collapsed, causing around 100 cubic meters of rock to fall into the valley. In June 2021, another rock tower collapsed at Punta delle Losche, a road was buried.
Here you can still see the Corno Tower (2nd tip from the left). © Facebook - Dario Favrin/Nevio Soldà
Not the first rockfall in Italy this year
"Sudden changes in temperature and climate change have lowered the surface that rests on the still stable walls, the cracks have widened and the rock has moved," says mountain guide Asnicar, explaining the reason for the increased rockfalls. Water, which froze in winter, had caused cracks, into which rainwater penetrated and rocks detached.
In recent weeks, there have been repeated spectacular rockfalls in northern Italy: At the end of May, several rocks fell onto a state road in Vinschgau and almost hit a car. At the beginning of May, another stone colossus struck a kindergarten in the Puster Valley. At the end of April, a huge stone thundered past a pizzeria in the Ahrntal Valley and also landed on a road.