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The Main Dolomite, a well-stratified limestone, characterizes the Cinque Torri and many mountains of the Dolomites.

The particular formation of these five towers is due to the combined effect of several factors, the most important of which is tectonics, which displaces parts of the Earth's mantle and generates faults.

It was the vertical faults in the rock strata that caused the formation of the "towers". The irregular overlap formed a sort of "staircase formation", which has lowered some sectors and raised others. The Averau massif, for example, is geographically higher than the Cinque Torri, as it is resting on a higher step.

The Cinque Torri: a privileged viewpoint

The difference in consistency and resistance between the rock texture of the Cinque Torri and the more fragile rock beneath is the reason for the precarious equilibrium of the towers. This is not only due to the kind of rock but is also caused by tectonics, erosion and, above all, frost weathering, a process that fractures the rock as a consequence of thermal stress.

From this privileged vantage point, you can observe many peculiarities of the Dolomites. The valleys and rock walls facing the Cinque Torri rest on substantial fractures: the main fault lines.

The crags, peaks and numerous pinnacles that immediately catch the eye are due to the different reactions to erosion of the rock. The dolomite stone forms imposing pinnacles, peaks and walls, whereas the grassland areas arise from the modelling of clay and marl.

The glacier and the rock glaciers

The landscape of these mountains is also visibly marked by the movement of the glaciers, which involved the Dolomite valleys several times in the last Alpine glaciation, leaving unequivocal traces.

The glacial cirques, moraines or glaciers still present today bear witness to these glacier movements.

Among these, from the Giau Pass, the Averau Pass or from the Nuvolau you can easily admire the Marmolada Glacier, a residual Würmian ice cap.

The Ice Age past has also deposited numerous glacial erratics. One of these can be seen on the way from the Giau Pass to the Scoiattoli Refuge. Hard to miss, considering its gigantic proportions!

©Giacomo Pompanin

The Rock Glacier of Mt. Averau

Climate change and the resulting changes in weather conditions accelerate the modeling processes caused by ice, as it creates extensive scree and boulders. These can be clearly seen, for example, on the slopes of the mountains Lagazuoi, Tofane and Averau mountains.

During the ascent with the Fedare chairlift, the rock glacier of the Averau on the left side catches the eye with its particular shape. This type of glacier arises from a periglacial process associated with  cold climates and frozen ground.

Owing to the freezing and thawing processes or by deformation of the ice contained in the debris, these glaciers move along the slopes, displacing large amounts of debris and assuming shapes similar to those of a real glacier.