Trekking in the Dolomites
Alta Via 1 and Alta Via 2
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Trekking guidebook for walking Alta Via routes 1 and 2 across the Italian Dolomites. The 120km AV1 is described over 11 day stages and is ideal for beginners to Alpine long-distance walking, whereas the AV2 covers 160km in 13 days and is more strenuous and technical. The more demanding AV3-6 routes are described in outline.
- Mid-June to late September, when the majority of the refuges are open: the peak Italian holiday season is August, especially around 15th August
- Main centres for the Dolomites include Cortina, Belluno, Selva di Cadore, Arabba, La Villa, Selva, Bressanone, Dobbiaco and Canazei
- These multi-day mountain traverses involve some scrambles and aided sections and exposure. Alta Via 1 has few exposed sections, however AV2 is considerably more challenging, and only suitable for experienced alpine trekkers with a good head for heights. AVs 3-6 are more challenging, with extended via ferrata sections and considerable exposure.
- Must See
- Spotting your first chamois, marmot or ibex the majestic Marmolada and Pelmo, the towering Civetta, and the Cinque Torre (now there are only four of them!) includes the little known (and little-walked) Alta Via 3, 4, 5 & 6
Northern Italy's famous Alta Via long-distance walking routes are spread across the Dolomites, running roughly north to south and reaching as far as the Austrian border. There are six of these routes, and they increase in difficulty: Alta Via 1 has few exposed sections and is suitable for novice alpine trekkers; AV2 is much more challenging, only suitable for experienced alpine trekkers with a good head for heights, while AVs 3-6 have extended via ferrata sections and considerable exposure.
Both AV 1 and 2 are described in detail in this guidebook, with the demanding AV3-6 routes described in outline. The 120km AV1 is described over 11 day stages; AV2 covers 160km in 13 days and is more strenuous and technical. Overnight stops are either at mountain huts or at guesthouses. The book is written by an expert in Italian trekking, with information on the fascinating wartime history of the region, plants and wildlife. With advice on practical considerations such as the best time to go, what to take and hut protocol, this guide offers trekkers all the information they need to enjoy the mountains to the full.
Now a World Heritage Site, the Italian Dolomites make a first-rate trekking destination. There is an excellent network of paths dotted with welcoming 'rifugi' (mountain huts) in stunning locations, and efficient public transport serving key trekking points.
The Alta Via routes
Plants and flowers
When to go
Food and drink
What to take
Dos and don’ts
Using this guidebook
Alta Via 1
Stage 1 Lago di Braies to Rifugio Biella
Stage 2 Rifugio Biella to Rifugio Fanes
Stage 3 Rifugio Fanes to Rifugio Lagazuoi
Stage 4 Rifugio Lagazuoi to Rifugio Nuvolau
Stage 5 Rifugio Nuvolau to Rifugio Città di Fiume
Stage 6 Rifugio Città di Fiume to Rifugio Coldai
Stage 7 Rifugio Coldai to Rifugio Vazzoler
Stage 8 Rifugio Vazzoler to Rifugio Carestiato
Stage 9 Rifugio Carestiato to Rifugio Pramperet
Stage 10 Rifugio Pramperet to Rifugio Pian de Fontana
Stage 11 Rifugio Pian de Fontana to La Pissa bus stop
ALTA VIA 2
Stage 1 Bressanone to Rifugio Città di Bressanone
Stage 2 Rifugio Città di Bressanone to Rifugio Genova
Stage 3 Rifugio Genova to Rifugio Puez
Stage 4 Rifugio Puez to Rifugio Pisciadù
Stage 5 Rifugio Pisciadù to Rifugio Castiglioni
Stage 6 Rifugio Castiglioni to Passo San Pellegrino
Stage 7 Passo San Pellegrino to Rifugio Mulaz
Stage 8 Rifugio Mulaz to Rifugio Rosetta
Stage 9 Rifugio Rosetta to Rifugio Treviso
Stage 10 Rifugio Treviso to Passo Cereda
Stage 11 Passo Cereda to Rifugio Boz
Stage 12 Rifugio Boz to Rifugio Dal Piaz
Stage 13 Rifugio Dal Piaz to Croce d’Aune
ALTE VIE 3–6
Alta Via 3
Alta Via 4
Alta Via 5
Alta Via 6
Appendix A Glossary
Appendix B Route summary tables
The sketch maps included in this guide help in general orientation and pre-trip preparation; they give route location and information about important landmarks and geographical features. However, they are no substitute for a detailed commercial map.
The Tabacco 1:25,000 carta topografica per escursionisti are by far the best walking maps for the Dolomites. They can be consulted and ordered at
With slight overlaps, the following sheets are needed:
- AV1: 031 ‘Dolomiti di Braies’ for Stages 1–2; 03 ‘Cortina d’Ampezzo e Dolomiti Ampezzane’ for Stages 2–4 and 1st part of Stage 5; 025 ‘Dolomiti di Zoldo, Cadorine e Agordine’ for Stages 5 (2nd part) to 11.
- AV2: 030 ‘Bressanone/Brixen Val di Funes/Villnöss’ for Stages 1–3; 07 ‘Alta Badia-Arabba-Marmolada’ for Stages 3–5; 015 ‘Marmolada-Pelmo-Civetta-Moiazza’ for Stages 6–7; 022 ‘Pale di San Martino’ for Stages 8–12; 023 ‘Alpi Feltrine-Le Vette-Cimònega’ for Stages 12–13.
The Kompass 1:50,000 ‘Wanderkarte’ series is also useful, but their graphic work is not as clear. For AV1, sheets 57, 55 and 77; for AV2, sheets 56, 59 and 76.
The relevant Tabacco 1:25,000 maps for the remaining Alte Vie are:
- AV3: sheets 031, 03, 025
- AV4: sheets 010, 03, 016
- AV5: sheets 010, 017, 016
- AV6: sheets 01, 02, 021, 012, 024
The glossary in Appendix A contains terminology found on maps.
Note In view of the area’s history (see ‘The Dolomites’ above) both Italian, German and local Ladin versions of names are used on maps, with myriad spellings. Be prepared for discrepancies between different map editions and signposts, as changes are ongoing. One to watch out for is the term rifugio, transformed into Ücia in Ladin. For the purposes of this guide the Italian names have been given preference to avoid weighing the text down; however, the German or Ladin are sometimes used where they differ dramatically. As if that wasn’t enough, dialect place names are creeping back into use in the Veneto as well with examples such as ‘Zita’ to replace ‘Città’.
Waymarking in this part of Italy consists of red/white bars painted on prominent landmarks such as outcrops or trees, as well as signposts. An identifying path number is usually included. An Alta Via route is generally denoted by a triangle bearing the relevant number.
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Dolomites Alta Via 1 Stage 6 Pelmo variant: the paths have been cleared and the Pelmo variant is thankfully feasible once again.
Dolomites Alta Via 1 Stage 6 Pelmo variant, Pelmo: Torrential rain has caused scree flows which have submerged paths on the eastern flanks of the Pelmo. The path between Forcella Val d'Arcia and Rifugio Venezia is temporarily closed.
pp 25 + 92 the phone number for the Belluno Tourist Office is now 334 2813222
p46 Rifugio Biella no longer belongs to CAI. Email [email protected] - phone the hut to confirm booking.
June 2016p33 Tabacco maps can now be purchased through the Tabacco website and a handy App for digital maps downloaded from www.tabaccomapp.it .p87 Rifugio Pian de Fontana tel 0437 1956135 or 335 6096819. Changed web site www.piandefontana.it
As this book was being printed, the phone number of Rifugio Genova changed to 0472 670072, mobile 347 266 7694.
p. 25 last line: Webite for Vittorio Veneto should be http://turismo.provincia.treviso.it
p. 26 the website www.dolomiti-altevie.it listed under Further Alta Via information is no longer available
p. 76 The telephone number for Capanna Trieste is tel 320 1166323. The website www.rifugiocapannatrieste.com is no longer available
p. 91 The website for Rifugio 7° Alpini should be www.rifugiosettimoalpini.com
p. 104 The telephone number for Rifugio Genova is 0472 670072 or mobile 347 2667694
p. 110 The telephone number for Rifugio Malga Brogles change tel to 0471 655642 or mobile 338 4600101
p. 116 The Rifugio Boè replace is an SAT hut, not CAI as stated
p. 117 Variant via Piz Boè: Capanna Fassa, no shower, sleeps 10
p. 123 2nd last line: Text should read “The dramatic S wall of the Marmolada...” not “The dramatic N wall ...”
p. 153 line 3: Albergo Boz is now Casa Boz tel 333 6336648 www.casaboz.it next to 4 Valli restaurant.
p. 155 The email for Rifugio Boz is [email protected]
p. 183 para 4: remove Hotel Erto info, add www.albergodiffusovalcellinavalvajont.it
p. 184 The website for Rifugio Semenza is www.rifugiosemenza.it
May 2017, 2017 reprint
P48: The final paragraph should read: Next point your boots S. Path n.7 branches R across the stream. It climbs the R side of the valley with its immense erosive spills colonised by dwarf mountain pine.
P61: The variant to Passo Giau appears in the box on p62 and will take 1h 30 minutes.
P63: The end of the final paragraph should read: ...cable. Watch your step as the path continues in steep descent on loose stones. It drops to a path junction where you go R on n.443. This is where the variant from Rifugio Cinque Torri joins up for the final saunter down to join the bikers at ....
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Gillian Price was born in England but has lived in Venice for many years. Gillian has steadily explored the mountain ranges of Italy, and Corsica, and brought them to life for visitors in a series of outstanding guides for Cicerone. She is an active member of the Italian Alpine Club (CAI) and Mountain Wilderness.View Articles and Books by Gillian Price
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