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Pictured: Amazing World War I Alpine retreat nestled into a bluff in the Italian Dolomites

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You need daring in your blood to reach this unlikely place.

Amazing photos show an abandoned World War I Italian refuge embedded in a vertical rock face in the Monte Cristallo massif in the Natural Park of the Ampezzo Dolomites.

There is no secret back door (as far as we know). The shelter – which is more than 2,700 meters above sea level – can only be accessed via challenging rocky ridges, as this YouTube video shows.

Pictured is an abandoned World War I refuge embedded in the Monte Cristallo massif in the Italian Dolomites

The spectacular hideaway is located more than 2700 meters above sea level and is only accessible to hikers and climbers

The spectacular hideaway is located more than 2700 meters above sea level and is only accessible to hikers and climbers

Not for the faint of heart, it looks like stepping out of the shelter doorway is tumbling into the valley below

The incredible refuge is built into one of the peaks of the massif, with brick walls, a pitched roof, two doorways and four windows in wood. Some windows are shuttered.

At first glance, it looks like you’re stepping out of the shelter’s doorway into the valley below.

It is believed that the refuge was built by Italian soldiers during World War I, in what was known as ‘The White War’, due to the frigid conditions soldiers faced.

On May 23, 1915, Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary. A merciless battle ensued between Italy and the Austro-Hungarian troops in the Dolomites.

Soldiers and pack animals carried artillery and ammunition across the rugged and unforgiving terrain, with supply routes and tunnels built into the rock and ice. Both sides caused avalanches to take out the enemy.

Sanctuaries were built by these soldiers, who used rope ladders and funiculars to access hard-to-reach places, as shelter from the raging fighting.

The incredible refuge is built in one of the peaks of the massif.  Image Courtesy of Creative Commons

The incredible refuge is built in one of the peaks of the massif. Image Courtesy of Creative Commons

The refuge is believed to have been built by Italian soldiers during World War I, in what was known as 'The White War'

The refuge is believed to have been built by Italian soldiers during World War I, in what was known as ‘The White War’

It is not clear how the shelter was built, but the troops were known to climb the rock faces using rope ladders and ziplines

It is not clear how the shelter was built, but the troops were known to climb the rock faces using rope ladders and ziplines

If you travel along the Via Ferrata Ivano Dibona, you will come across the mountain hut on the way. A Via Ferrata, also known as an ‘iron path’, is a route made up of steel ladders, rungs and cables built into the rock to help climbers safely traverse more extreme parts of a mountain.

The Via Ferrata Ivano Dibona departs from Cortina d’Ampezzo, a ski resort and town on the River Boite. The trail “requires a high degree of fitness,” according to Cortina Dolomiti, who adds that Monte Cristallo “still preserves the traces of the First World War.”

Experienced climbers reach the mountain hut by climbing to the ridge below. Many take pictures when they reach the shelter, sitting on the ledge of the doorway or standing inside.

Pictured are hikers climbing Monte Cristallo, which is on Via Ferrata Ivano Dibona.  is located

Pictured are hikers climbing Monte Cristallo, which is on Via Ferrata Ivano Dibona. is located

Climbers cross the suspension bridge on Via Ferrata Ivano Dibona.  The Guido Lorenzi mountain hut can be seen in the background

Climbers cross the suspension bridge on Via Ferrata Ivano Dibona. The Guido Lorenzi mountain hut can be seen in the background

A TripAdvisor reviewer who traveled along the Via Ferrata Ivano Dibona said, ‘It takes about six to eight hours with some great views and just amazing history, with buildings built into the rock face.’

Elsewhere along the via ferrata, climbers cross the Ponte Cristallo suspension bridge, which is 27 meters long. Sylvester Stallone raced across the same bridge in the 1993 action movie Cliffhanger when he escaped a bomb attack.

The bridge leads to the photogenic Guido Lorenzi refuge, which sits atop a mountain pass.

Pictured is another shelter built into a mountain in the Dolomites, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009

Pictured is another shelter built into a mountain in the Dolomites, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009

There are several other wartime shelters to discover along such routes in the Dolomites, which were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009.

In recent years, with the melting of glaciers and ice in the Dolomites, the nearby Ortles-Cevedale Alps and Adamello-Presanella Alps, remnants of the White War, have begun to appear in the thaw.

Earlier this year, on Mount Scorluzzo in Lombardy, a lost World War I mountain camp thawed, revealing the troops’ clothing, postcards and preserves.

The conflict, which ended on the Italian front on November 4, 1918, took the lives of more than 600,000 Italians and 400,000 Austro-Hungarians.

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