In this chapter we discuss one of the most impressive and famous formations of the Ampezzo Dolomites, the magnificent Tofane Group.
The Tofane Group represents the most majestic massif in the entire Valle Ampezzana and in the Eastern Dolomites and, exactly, they are located west of Cortina d’Ampezzo, between the Falzarego Pass and the Val di Fanes. The Tofane mountaineering exploration is unquestionable, the first ascent was carried out by the Austrian Paul Grohmann and Francesco Lacedelli from ampeggio who together, in August 1863, conquered the highest peak, the Tofana di Mezzo of 3,244 meters.
The following year, Lacedelli, Dimai and Siorpaes reached the Tofana di Rozes, the southernmost, of 3,225 meters and finally the same, in 1865, conquered the Tofana di Dentro, 3,238 meters. The second and third of the Tofane once housed a small glacier, now completely gone because of rising temperatures and increasingly mild winters with little snow.
Even the Tofane group, like other peaks of the Dolomites, was the scene of violent clashes between Italian and Austro-Hungarian troops during the course of the First World War. Finding himself in difficulty in 1915 and aware of the insufficiency of men, the Hapsburg military command decided to abandon the Ampezzo valley, to entrench itself in a strategic and better defensible position on the rocky peaks. Meanwhile, the Italian Fourth Army occupied Cortina d'Ampezzo and began besieging enemy strongholds on the southern slopes of the Tofane.
The Italians began to bombard the Austrian defense lines with heavy artillery, until they took over the summit of the Tofana di Rozes. After a period of stalemate, and difficulties in advancing, in the summer of 1916 the Italian military gradually began the offensive on the massif, pushing the Hapsburgs back on the Lagazuoi line. This was also the scene of fierce clashes throughout the Great War, with Italian and Austro-Hungarian troops building a complex network of tunnels and tunnels across the mountain. They used the method of mine warfare, attempting to blow up or bury enemy positions using mines inside the tunnels.