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History and legend of the refuge in the Catinaccio mountains

The history of the Re Alberto 1° refuge dates back to the early 20th century when Tita Piaz, the famous mountain guide and mountaineer, bought the former shelter and built the refuge

“Catinaccio” was born from the ladin word “Ciadinàc”. It means “mountain basin of detritus”. And the Ladin people, especially those from the Fassa valley, call “their” mountain in this way still today.

The alpinistic history of the Rosengarten basin and its refuges begins in 1874 with the first ascent of the prestigious peak of the namesake mountain accomplished by the English people coming from the Fassa valley; in 1878 the Sudtiroler Johann Santner found out a new entrance called ”Gartl” along the narrow gorge where the omonymous via ferrata stands today.
In the summer of 1900 the Rheinland department of the Deutscher and Österreichischer alpine club built the Kölnerhütte (Fronza Coronelle refuge) on the West side, and the Vajolet refuge on the East side.
In 1910 they began to equip the gorge of the Santner pass with iron ropes to facilitate the access at the Vajolet basin.
Marino Pederiva, from the Fassa valley, built in 1929 a first little wood shelter. Tita Piaz, a mountain guide from Pera di Fassa, well known as the “devil of the Dolomites”, bought this first shelter and built the Gartlhütte or Re Alberto 1° refuge paying a tribute to the king of Belgium who used to climb with him in the Dolomites.
The refuge was than extended a couple of times to form the present shape.

Tita Piaz: “the devil of the Dolomites”

Tita Piaz was born in Pera di Fassa the 13th October 1879 in a little house located right at the entrance of the Vajolet valley.
Throughout his youth, Piaz knew all the major inteprid personalities whom made giant steps forward and changed the meaning of the dolomitic alpinism.
Between them we should mention Georg Winkler whom, in 1887, climbed the “smallest” of the Vajolet towers.
Tha Fassa alpinism reached its highest level with alpine guides such as Luigi Bernard, Luigi Rizzi and again with Tita Piaz. He climbed the Winkler tower too, until that moment reserved only to the most famous guides. He first climbed the tower with a farmer from Monzon and than again with a peasant from Pera under the stunned eyes of the “perrucchi” and “pozzacchi” inhabitants, as he loved to call them.
All his alpinistic life will revolve around this tower and another enterprise he did when he was only twenty years old: he climbed alone the North-East crack of the Emma peak. Emma was a waitress working at the Vajolet refuge and Tita took her with him.
Preuss, about this, said that “it was a unique enterprise in its genre related to the present times” and together with Dulfer, they were so enthusiastic that they wanted to repeat it twice each!
Piaz opened almost fifty new climbing routes. In 1899, when his climbing life began, he climbed eight peaks in seven hours including two new ones; he started from the East side of the Rosengarten peak and finished with the Delago tower; his tattered shoes were then exposed in a room of the Vajolet refuge, wishing, perhaps, to see a future alpine museum.
The course of events that really anticipated the modern concepts of alpinism happened when he climbed the Campanil Basso in the morning and the Winkler tower in the afternoon with a quick transfer by motorbike.
By Tita Piaz are also “the most difficult climbing of the Alps” at the Campanil Toro in 1906, “the most celebrated climbing” at the West tower of the Totenkirchl in 1908, “the most dangerous climbing” on the North-West edge of the Schenon in 1926.
That's where his nickname “the devil of the Dolomites” comes from!
In 1932, together with Virginio Dezulian, opened a new climbing route called “Via Maria” on the Sass Pordoi South pillar, a fourth degree climbing route still attended today by lots of mounteneers from all over the world.
Tita Piaz enterprises are an example of a modern and aware alpinism in his own land, where he found all his loves and passions.
After a whole life spent climbing the most difficult and dangerous mountains, also with “moonlight” ascents, Tita Piaz died in 1948 in a bike accident few metres away from his house.

The king Laurin legend

One of the most fascinating legends of the Dolomites explains why these mountains become coloured in pink and orange during the sunset.
According to this legend, the Rosengarten basin was the king Laurin’s garden of roses
This is why the German name “Rosengarten” means “garden of roses”.
Laurin was the king of a population of dwarves. They lived by searching for cristals, gold and silver and he owned two magical weapons: a belt that could give him the strengh of twelve man and a mantle that could turn him invisible.
When the king of Adige decided to marry off his beautiful daughter Similde, he envited the nobility of the neighborhood to a spring excursion. Everyone except king Laurin, who decided to take part in it anyway, but as an invisible guest.
When Laurin first saw Similde on the field of the knights tournament, he immediately fell in love with her; he took her on the back of his horse and fled at full speed. The knights immediately threw themselves into the chase to bring Similde back. They quickly arrived siding shortly before the Garden of Roses. Laurin put on his magic belt, with the strength of twelve man, and began to fight.
When he realised that he was going to succumb anyway, he wore his mantle and started to jump everywhere in the garden, convinced that nobody could see him.
But the knights could see him by looking at his steps on the roses. They got him, they cut his magic belt and imprisoned him.
Laurin became very angry, turned himself towards the Rosengarten convinced that the garden had betrayed him! He uttered a curse: any human eye could admire it anymore, neither during the day nor the night. But Laurin forgot to say the sunset and the sunrise.
Since than, the garden becomes bathed with beautiful colors either at the sunrise or the sunset.