Wednesday, October 4, 2023

A Fast & Soiled Information to Italy’s Alta By way of 1

Positioned in northeastern Italy, the Dolomites are one in all Europe’s most dramatic mountain ranges. A mix of serrated limestone peaks, sheer cliffs, shimmering alpine lakes and deep, slender valleys, they’ve lengthy been a magnet for geologists, travellers and outside fanatics alike. From a hiker’s perspective, this legendary sub-range of the Alps boasts an intensive system of pathways (i.e. “Vias”), and of the various trails that crisscross its rugged topography, essentially the most well-known of all of them is the Alta By way of 1 (AV1).

I hiked the AV1 together with the Alta By way of 2 over 10 days in mid/late September, 2019. Click on right here for a full rundown of the latter hike. Please word that the knowledge under is basically directed in direction of unbiased hikers, fairly than people going as a part of organised trekking teams. 

Ascending in direction of the Forcella de Zita Sud on Stage 10 of the Alta By way of 1.

At a Look

Distance (11 Phases):  120 km (75 mi)

Period (common):  8 to 10 days 

Problem Stage:  Average

Begin / End:

  • Lago di Braies
  • La Pissa Bus Cease (Val Cordevole)

Lago di Braies – Northern terminus of the Alta By way of 1

Lago di Braies – the rowboat capital of the Dolomites.

Which Path?: I don’t assume it makes a lot of a distinction, although nearly all of individuals appear to hike north to south; which is the way in which the route is described within the Cicerone guidebook listed under.

Elevation Achieve: 6,665 m (21,833ft) approx.

Highest Level: Rifugio Lagazuoi – 2,752m (9,029ft)

Lowest Level:  La Pissa – 448m (1,470ft)

Alta By way of 1 Overview Map (Trekking within the Dolomites, Cicerone Guides)

Getting There & Away

  • Lago di Braeis is serviced by common Dolomiti buses to and from the villages of Villabassa and Dobbiaco. They depart hourly in the course of the summer time months and take between 20 to half-hour to achieve the lake. See the Dolomiti web site for the present schedule. Each Villabassa and Dobbiaco are accessible by practice.
  • La Pissa Bus Cease (Val Cordevole) is 20 minutes from the city of Belluno. For present timetables see the Dolomiti web site. Be aware that timetables are additionally displayed within the final couple of refuges on the path. From Belluno, onward bus and practice providers can be found.

Southern terminus of the Alta By way of 1 within the Val Cordevole.


  • Mid-June to late September. In a median climate 12 months, September is good. The varsity vacation crowds are gone, the summer time thunderstorms (usually brief) have subsided, temperatures are cooler, and the mountain huts are much less crowded (Tip: Throughout July and August storms most frequently happen in the course of the afternoon. If potential, attempt to make early begins and get the lion’s share of your mountain climbing finished within the morning hours).
  • Relying on the snow ranges and expertise of the aspirant, the AV1 can be finished within the late spring or early to mid fall. When mountain climbing at these instances, chances are you’ll require an ice axe and traction units. Additionally word that the majority, if not the entire huts can be closed, so you will want to hold your entire personal meals and a tent/tarp.

Yours actually approaching the Forcella del Lago (2,486 m) on Stage 3 of the Alta By way of 1.

Planning Info 

  • Guidebook:  Gillian Value, Trekking within the Dolomites (Cicerone Guides) | Kindle model out there | The ebook consists of logistical beta, trekking notes, elevation profiles, primary maps (not detailed sufficient for navigation), city data, and time and distance estimates for every of the AV1’s 11 phases.
  • Maps: 1. Tabacco produces essentially the most detailed mountain climbing maps for the Dolomites. Three 1:25,000 topo maps cowl your complete AV1 (i.e. Sheets – 031, 03 and 025, ). Additionally out there on-line from Amazon and Be aware that it’s potential to select them up when you arrive, however there are not any ensures all three sheets can be out there;  2. Alternatively, Kompass produces a 1:50,000 ‘Wanderkarte’ collection that covers the route (3 maps whole – Sheets 57,55 and 77).

Stage 5 between Rifugio Nuvolau to Rifugio Citta di Fiume passes by way of a beautiful excessive altitude pasture which was as soon as the area of Mesolithic hunters.

  • Permits: No permits are required to hike the AV1.
  • Language:  German and Italian. A primary information of both positively turns out to be useful, nevertheless, virtually the entire locals you’ll encounter alongside the route know not less than a little bit English.
  • Cell/Cell Cellphone Protection: I are inclined to preserve my cellphone in flight mode 99% of the time whereas I hike, however from what I can inform service within the Dolomites is spotty as soon as you permit the villages/cities. That mentioned, on the AV1 many of the huts now supply Wifi for company, and it’s often potential to cost your cellphone and/or battery pack whether or not you might be overnighting, or simply stopping in for breakfast or lunch.

Skirting under the Cime de la Scala on the ultimate stage of the AV1.

  • Money or Card:  Most of the huts (although not all) alongside the AV1 settle for bank cards. Be sure you carry sufficient money simply in case you might be staying in a single or two that don’t.
  • AV2 Planning Abstract: I’d suggest the next course: 1. Learn by way of this text; 2. Buy the informative Cicerone information; 3. Obtain a GPX file (see above) to your cellphone (I exploit the Gaia GPS app), and; 4. Decide up the Tabacco maps.

Resupply & Water

  • Resupply:  You gained’t go hungry on the AV1. Procuring meals alongside the way in which is easy in case you are mountain climbing in the course of the summer time season. Merely eat your important meals on the regularly-spaced Rifugi (mountain huts), at which it’s also possible to buy snacks and sandwiches to go. Be aware that in case you are considering mountain climbing out of season, you both have to hold all your individual meals from begin to end, or undertake some detours off-route alongside the way in which.

Refugio Biella on the finish of Stage 1.

  • Water:  In contrast to in lots of different components of the Alps, H20 is comparatively scarce within the higher areas of the Dolomites. In accordance with Gillian Value within the Cicerone Information, that is because of the “dolomite-limestone rock (most floor water disappears underground) in addition to the dearth of glaciers and everlasting snow fields.” In sensible phrases, because of this hikers ought to all the time concentrate on the place their subsequent likelihood to refill can be earlier than setting out on every stage. Be aware that bottled water is all the time out there for buy within the huts – usually at very costly costs (e.g. €3 for a 1.5 lt bottle – September, 2019).

Route / Situations

  • OverviewThough fairly demanding in sections – there’s a whole of 6665 m (21,833 ft) elevation acquire all through its course – the AV1 is properly marked and maintained, and inside the capabilities of most hikers. A superb multi-day choice for first-time alpine hikers. In contrast to the area’s well-known By way of Ferratas (i.e. “Iron Roads” – protected climbing paths with cables, ladders and iron rungs which might be connected to rock partitions), the AV1 doesn’t embody any technical sections that require specialised gear. That being mentioned, for these wishing to expertise the famed iron roads, it does go by a few of these spectacular alternates; notably the Ferrata Marmol on Stage 11.
  • Historical past: The By way of Ferrata are rather more than an exhilarating strategy to expertise the Dolomites breathtaking landscapes. Additionally they signify a visible reminder of the realm’s bloody historical past. Throughout WW1, the Dolomites had been the scene of fierce battles between the Italian and Austro Hungarian forces. The By way of Ferrata had been put in throughout these years as a way of enabling troops faster entry to the entrance line. The Alta By way of 1 additionally weaves by way of fascinating open air battle museums at Mount Lagazuoi (the Alta By way of 1’s highest level) and Cinque Torri (5 Towers). At these scenic places, hikers can witness first hand the in depth system of tunnels and trenches that had been constructed between 1915 and 1917. The juxtaposition between somber historical past and spectacular pure magnificence is placing.

The start of the Stage 4 alternate by way of the steep tunnel (see under for particulars) just under Rifugio Lagazuoi

Throughout World Warfare 1 troops on each side excavated a system of tunnels across the Piccolo Lagazuoi for the aim of laying explosives to mine enemy positions. Probably the most notable of those tunnels is the Galleria Lagazuoi, which descends for 1100 m at a forty five° gradient for a complete elevation drop of 230 m  (Be aware: Don’t neglect your headlamp).

  • Navigation:  The path is properly marked from begin to end. The route is marked with pink and whites paint splashes and cairns.
  • How Lengthy will it take?: Within the opening “At a Look” part I point out that the typical AV1 hiker will take between 8 and 10 days. That mentioned, the period of time it takes to complete the AV1 can fluctuate vastly relying on a variety of components. Match and skilled hikers carrying a light-weight pack, can comfortably do the AV1 in 4 or 5 days.
  • Favorite Sections: My favorite phases on the AV1 had been as follows:
    • Stage 4 VariantRifugio Lagazuoi to Rifugio Nuvolau. Until you have got extreme claustrophobia or dodgy knees, be sure you take the variant by way of the wartime tunnels right down to Passo Falzarego.
    • Stage 5Rifugio Nuvolau to Rifugio Citta di Fiume – Excessive altitude pasture with beautiful rock formations.
    • Stage 10Rifugio Pramperet to Rifugio Pian de Fontana. Arguably the most effective views of the entire path on both facet of the Forcella de Zita Sud.

Approaching the Forcella de Zita Sud (2,395 m / 7,858 ft)


Choices on the AV1 embody staffed mountain huts and wild tenting:

  • Mountain Huts: The vast majority of backpackers within the Dolomites keep within the rifugi (mountain huts). These staffed refuges may be discovered all through the vary, and sometimes boast unimaginable excessive altitude places, together with spectacular vistas. Most are open from mid-June to late September, and together with in a single day lodging (dormitory and typically personal rooms), in addition they supply breakfast, lunch and dinner. The very best worth can often be discovered within the half-board supply (mezza pensione), which consists of a 3 course dinner, a mattress, and breakfast. As of 2019, half-board prices round 45 to 55 Euros. Be aware that members of the Membership Alpino Italiano often pay round 20% lower than non-members, and folk which might be affiliated with sure different European Alpine or Mountain golf equipment (e.g. UK, Austria, German, French), take pleasure in reciprocal rights. In the course of the peak season months of July and August, lodging ought to ideally be booked upfront (particularly in case you are mountain climbing in a gaggle).

The superbly located Rifugio Pramperet marks the top of Stage 9.

  • Wild Tenting: Common readers of ‘The Mountaineering Life’ knew this bit was coming. Whereas I loved consuming breakfasts and lunches within the huts throughout my time on the AV1, I prevented in a single day stays within the huts. The primary causes for that is had been that: A. I don’t sleep properly in dormitories, and; B. If I’m mountain climbing within the mountains I favor to sleep exterior at any time when potential. That being the case, I did what I virtually all the time do – arrange camp at sundown and left the next morning earlier than dawn.
  • Is Wild Tenting Authorized within the Dolomites?:  Formally talking, “tenting” – which is outwardly outlined in Italy as staying in the identical tent web site for greater than 48 hours – is strictly prohibited. Then again, the “in a single day bivouac” – establishing late and leaving early the next morning is allowed (or not less than tolerated) so long as you follow LNT rules. See the next article on the web site for a extra detailed breakdown.
  • Virtually talking, I discovered wild tenting within the Dolomites to be much like different Alpine areas I’ve hiked by way of over time – that’s, so long as you arrange late in a stealthy spot, depart at daybreak the subsequent day, and follow LNT rules always, there are not any points. Throughout my journey I met a handful of different campers who like myself encountered no issues following this technique.

Ingesting within the alpenglow from a wild camp on the Alta By way of 1.

Ultimate Ideas on the AV1

1.  Alta By way of 1 Vs Alta By way of 2 I hiked these two lovely trails back-to-back over 10 days in mid/late September, 2019. I used to be very lucky with the climate, encountering solely at some point of rain throughout each hikes. A couple of factors to notice:

  • The Alta By way of 1 is less complicated and extra often trafficked than the AV2, being notably standard with organised trekking teams. One thing to remember in case you are making hut reservations upfront.
  • In contrast to the Alta By way of 2, there are not any By way of Ferrata sections on the usual AV1. This truth, together with is mostly gentler elevation profile and simpler terrain, makes it the choice of selection for folk which might be comparatively new to multi-day mountain climbing journeys.
  • Which is extra scenically spectacular – the AV1 or AV2?: That’s a troublesome one. It is rather shut, but when I had to decide on I’d most likely go together with the AV2. Then again, I’d give the AV1 the benefit on the historical past entrance, and possibly a slight edge with reference to culinary choices as properly.

I by no means really weighed myself, however I think I’ll have placed on a kilo or two throughout my time within the Dolomites (lunch at Rifugio Coldai).

2.  Enrosadira – The rock pinnacles and spires of the Dolomites are notably spectacular at dawn and sundown, because the pale dolostone peaks mild up with a salmon-coloured glow. The Italians seek advice from this phenomena as “enrosadira” (alpenglow).

3.  Base for the Dolomites:  Throughout my time within the Dolomite area, I primarily based myself within the city of Brunico (Bolzano), which not solely offered quick access to each the AV1 and AV2, but in addition to the third multi-day hike I did within the space, the Pfunderer Hohenweg (journey report nonetheless to come back).

4.  Carry a light-weight pack –  There are a selection of causes to lighten your pack load, nevertheless the large ones are merely consolation, well being and delight. It’s higher for each your physique, which is much less more likely to incur stress-related accidents, and likewise your thoughts, which is more likely to be much less distracted than it could be beneath the burden of a heavy load (see the Gear and Ultralight dropdown menus for suggestions). Because of the usually located full-service huts on the AV1, hikers by no means have to hold quite a lot of snacks, and for these staying solely in huts, your pack can be even lighter nonetheless as there isn’t any must pack a shelter or perhaps a sleeping bag/quilt. For a rundown of the gear I carried on the AV1, see the accompanying put up: Gear Record: Alta By way of 1 and a pair of (Dolomites, Italy).

5.  Timing Your DaysAs is the case just about everywhere in the Alps, many of the hikers you’ll encounter appear to start their mountain climbing day round 8 – 9 am, and end someday between 2 and 4 pm, once they arrive at their pre-reserved hut. Because of this the paths are sometimes hiker-free throughout what I contemplate to be the most effective instances of the day (i.e. early morning and late afternoon). From my perspective, herein lies the best advantage of carrying your individual shelter –  freedom. The liberty to come up at daybreak when the birds are singing, and stroll in solitude beneath an infinite ceiling of rising blue. The identical applies to sundown, when the temps are cooler, wildlife reemerging and the sky is popping fifty shades of crimson. These are the instances after I most need to be out on the path. Not essentially to cowl extra miles, however as a substitute as a result of it makes me really feel like I’m extra part of the each day miracle that’s unfolding throughout me.

6.  My AV1 Technique: FWIW, right here’s a tough breakdown of my each day schedule throughout my 3.5 days on the AV1:

  • Begin my mountain climbing day at daybreak.
  • Normally, I’d be camped 30 min to an hour from the subsequent hut, which I’d purpose at reaching by 730/8 am on the newest for a morning meal.
  • Breakfasts – Usually, brekky on the huts was a combined bag. The nice ones included a buffet of cereals, bread, cheeses, meats, a number of cups of espresso, and value round €9 or €10. The not-so-great ones had been of the continental selection consisting of bread, butter, jam, a espresso, and that’s about it. These value €7 or €8 and I invariably left hungry………probably not, as in these circumstances I’d purchase one thing additional to go.
  • Lunches – Upon leaving after breakfast I knew roughly how lengthy it could take me to get to the subsequent hut, the place I might cease for a noon/mid-afternoon meal. So long as I received there by 2 to 230 pm, I all the time knew they’d nonetheless be serving. Lunches on the Rifugi had been typically dear, however all the time good, with scorching meals setting you again wherever between €10 and €16. I often added a dessert and a few beers, after which I waddled out €20 to €30 lighter in pocket (however content material of abdomen).
  • Dinner –  I’d typically depart my lunch cease with one or two sandwiches (and an overpriced chocolate bar) to tide me over for the remainder of the day. Taking a look at my maps, I’d have in my thoughts the areas the place I might almost definitely discover a good tenting spot, at which level I’d usually arrive round sundown. The following day I’d get up and do it over again………..

Stage 10 – Ultimate sundown of the AV1.

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