If the Marmolada is the Queen of the Dolomites, then the second-highest mountain, Antelao with its 3,264 m peak, is certainly the King. With the mighty Pelmo it forms the door of the Cadore; seen from Cortina it appears lean and noble and this is how Amelia sketched it for her book. For some editions, the engraving of Antelao was used on the cover of Untrodden Peaks and Unfrequented Valleys. The first ascent is commonly attributed to the great Austrian pioneer Paul Grohman who in 1863 was guided over the ‘Laste’ by the old chamois hunter Matteo Ossi of San Vito. In fact Matteo reached the summit for the first time around 1850. An overnight stay at Rifugio San Marco or at Rifugio Galassi is convenient for those who want to climb the Antelao by the via normale. In recent years the via normale has undergone major changes due to a landslide in November 2014 that brought down part of the famous ‘Laste’ into Val d’Oten; in August of the following year, a large storm triggered an avalanche that reached the valley causing damage to the ski facilities and to the town of San Vito di Cadore.
The climb from Forcella Piccola is currently considered DANGEROUS and should only be undertaken by experienced mountaineers and on days with favourable weather conditions, preferably accompanied by a local mountain guide. The best line of ascent seems to change each year. Mountaineers can no longer count on the possibility of taking shelter in the Bivacco Cosi, which was located at an altitude of 3,100 m under the summit, because it was carried away in the 2014 avalanche and is unlikely to be replaced. The path is well-worn in the lower parts near Forcella Piccola, but there are large amounts of loose and unstable debris, ranging from small stones to large boulders, lying on the slabs of the north ridge that increase the difficulty of the climb. The unstable rock is very dangerous, particularly in descent, and this creates an additional hazard for climbers below. It seems as though the King of the Dolomites wants to keep his distance and, for the time being, has an attitude that is not always benevolent or welcoming.