The Latemar is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Unesco declared the Dolomites, and with them the Latemar Massif, a World Heritage Site. The Latemar has thus become one of the most beautiful mountains in the world.
The limestone mountains in northern Italy have been inscribed on the list of the most beautiful areas in the world since 26 June 2009. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation has thus enhanced and confirmed the Dolomite’s unique and special nature.
The Dolomites have always fascinated everyone: as soon as you see them you will fall under their spell. Renowned German painter and copperplate engraver, Albrecht Dürer (1471 - 1528) first saw the Dolomites on his Grand Tour to Italy. He captured some idyllic scenes in watercolour. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832) travelled to Italy in 1786 and fell in love with the ‘Limestone Alps’ (at the time, the name ‘Dolomites’ was still not in use). He described the extraordinary hues of these mountains and their “beautiful, unique and steep shapes”.
During the 18th century, the limestone mountains attracted a number of internationally renowned geologists, mineralogists and geographers for research purposes. They discovered that the composition of the rock was unique and started retracing the birth and history of these jagged and imposing rocky massifs, which would sometimes glow a soft white and red hue. Giovanni Arduino from Italy (1714 - 1795), Frenchman Déodat de Dolomieu (1750 - 1801) and Alexander von Humboldt from Germany (1769 - 1859) are just some of the most well-known scientists who extensively researched the Dolomites. The first mineralogical and chemical analysis of the dolomite rock in 1791 is attributed to Déodat de Dolomieu. It was named ‘dolomite’ in his honour. In 1864, the English painter Josiah Gilbert and scientist George Churchill published a travel journal called: „The Dolomite Mountains“. The name ‘Dolomites’ became popular shortly after WWI, when the territory was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy.
The Dolomites - considered by some the most beautiful mountains in the world.
At the end of the 19th century, the Dolomites became a field experiment for pioneers active in a number of different areas. At first, it was the English nobility who discovered that the pointed pinnacles, the steep peaks and rocky faces of the Dolomites were a climbing paradise. German and Austrian climbers soon followed. In the following years they would write the most important chapters in the history of mountaineering in the Dolomites. Climbing legends such as Paul Grohmann from Vienna (1838 - 1908), who first ascended the Tofana de Rozes and the Monte Cristallo in Cortina d’Ampezzo, the Langkofel in Val Gardena and the Tre Cime di Lavaredo in the Sesto Dolomites, simply loved these mountains and his publications ensured their international fame. His fellow compatriot, Emil Zsigmondy (1861 - 1885) was also one of the first to ascend the Dolomites, describing them as, “a precious gemstone set among the other mountains”. Luis Trenker, Val Gardena’s very own climber, actor and director, was born at the bottom of the imposing Langkofel in Ortisei, Val Gardena. He expressed his love for the Dolomites in countless films and books. Thanks to him, these unique rocky formations were presented for the very first time to a vast international audience. However, it was only Reinhold Messner, the living climbing legend, who truly managed to transmit the sense of awe one experiences in front of the Dolomites to the rest of the world. Messner was born in Villnöss, a small village in the Dolomites. He grew up facing the majestic Geisler Group. He became one of the most successful and renowned climbers in the world. He ascended all summits: the highest, the hardest and steepest in the world. In spite of this, or maybe precisely because of this, he describes the Dolomites as, “not the tallest mountains in the world, yet they are the most beautiful [ones]”. Imposing rocky walls, tall and sharp towers, overhangs which are nigh on impossible to ascend, and scraggy ridges. The diversity in shapes, colours and valleys have placed a spell on both legendary mountaineers and other famous characters. Le Corbusier (1887 - 1965), a French-speaking Swiss, and by far the most well-known contemporary architect, said that the Dolomites are, “the most beautiful natural piece of architecture in the world”.
The DOLOMITES - a UNESCO World Heritage Site
The UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) believes the Dolomites to be unique and incomparable from a geological, botanical and scenic point of view. “The Dolomites are widely regarded as being among the most attractive mountain landscapes in the world, even though they do not include the highest peaks or the largest glaciers”. When assessing the now Heritage property, the Organisation considered its aesthetic traits, the geological features and the diversity of flora (well over 2,400 plants). The Dolomites have thus become part of the 54 most beautiful and valuable regions in Europe. The spacious Nature and National Parks also contributed to the inscription of the Dolomites on the World Heritage Site list, as well as the Natura-2000 areas, which have been protecting a vast swath of the Dolomites over the last decades. The Dolomites cover an area of approximately 142,000 ha.; a large buffer zone (90,000 ha.) was added to the area. The buffer zones have been used and implemented by UNESCO for decades to provide an additional layer of natural protection to World Heritage property. The purpose of these zones is to ensure that construction works, new infrastructure and urban planning do not damage World Heritage property. For example, a new building cannot be taller than a certain prescribed height (and the same applies to its mass); similarly, new roads can only be of a certain width. Currently, 98% of the 90,000 ha. belonging to the buffer zone in the Dolomites are under environmental protection.
Ski your way across the Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Have you ever asked yourself why winter sport first started in the Dolomites? In 1895, the first skiers already whooshed about on the slopes of the Dolomites. Winter sport pioneers, predominantly from Austria and England, instantly recognised its magical atmosphere and acknowledged it as an ideal location for skiing. Winter sports boomed without harming nature. Today, 1,200 km of scenic slopes will take you across one of the most beautiful mountain landscapes in the world. What a unique experience: riding across a UNESCO World Heritage site on your skis. Obereggen and the Latemar Ski Center are members of the Dolomiti Superski Ski Association. Tourists can ski from one ski area to another and enjoy the most beautiful views of the mountain landscape surrounding them. Obereggen is a firm believer in sustainability and environmental protection to ensure that this unique experience is preserved for future generations.
Obereggen "Hearts" the Environment!
For decades, Obereggen has worked hard to preserve and care for this unique natural environment. Obereggen is a member of the Alpine Pearls Association and, therefore, supports the concept of a traffic-free holiday in the mountains, what they call Soft Mobility. The ski lift company has been an ISO 14001 (environmental management system) certified company for over the last 10 years.
To reduce traffic, the public transport network has been constantly developed over the last years. Getting to the valley station of Obereggen is a walk in the park. Simply hop onto one of the many buses running between the villages in the area during summer or on one of the many ski shuttles during winter.
Obereggen has been using a district heating plant, sourcing biomass (woodchips) as fuel, since 2007, ensuring 500,000 litres of fuel are saved a year. Further overheads generated by transporting fuel are cut, as agriculture and the forestry industry provide the region with biomass. The economic viability of the system was not the only aspect considered when planning and building the heating plant; in fact, special attention was also paid to the level of generated emissions. Cutting-edge flue gas cleaning plants were installed, as well as a multicycle filter, an electric filter and condensation plant. These filters guarantee particulate emissions of max. 20 mg/m³ of air: the max. allowed particulate emission levels prescribed by national legislation are 70 mg/m³. As is evident, the former fall well short of the latter. The length of the pipes and the distance to its consumers were also factored in the equation when building the plant, as was the environmentally friendly integration into the surorunding area of the woodchip depot and the boiler. Architect Stefan Gamper endeavoured, where he could, to use regional wood for the construction materials used for the plant. If you’re interested, you can visit the plant during summer on one of the guided walks offered every week.
Further energy is saved thanks to heat recovery ventilation plants which have been installed in the valley station. Moreover, all lift stations and the valley station are operated using green energy produced through the use of water power. Rubbish on slopes and footpaths is cleared often throughout the year to preserve the beauty of the surrounding natural landscape. Necessary structural changes only take place in close cooperation with the Forestry Authorities.
In autumn, a layer of protective artificial snow covers all slopes, so that ski edges or slope tools do not damage them. Artificial snow protects the terrain a lot better from ski edges and slope tools compared to the thin cover of natural snow. The ‘channel effect’ on the slope also contributes to the decrease in the tendency to ski on the side of the slope, thus preserving the forest on either side of the slope. More snow means more humidity in the lower reaches of the earth’s surface: this has lead to lush mountain pastures over the years, with the consequent boom in diversity for mountain herbs and flowers.
Obereggen, thanks to these measures, is considered an ‘environmentally clean location’, contributing to the preservation of nature and the environment.