Dolomites and Julian Alps

Discussion in 'Places & Planning' started by Daymoth, Dec 4, 2017.

  1. Daymoth

    Daymoth Trail Blazer

    Hello!
    Since its dark and cold and wet here in the UK im going to start thinking about summer and mountains.

    I want to plan a 17 day trip to the Dolomites and Julian Alps.

    This is my first draft outline:
    1 day travel to the Dolomites
    1 day via ferrata course to get the basics
    8 day section of the AV2
    1 day travel to the Julian Alps
    5 days hiking in the Julian Alps
    1 day travel back.

    I would rather carry the tent in the Dolomites for flexibilty and freedom.I read conflicting info though. Can you camp next to the refuges?

    Those who did the AV2, what is your recomended 7-8 stage section? What was the most scenic part and the least scenic? If we camp we will need to resuply, is this logistically easy?

    For those who have been the julian alps, any recomended hikes?
  2. tom

    tom Section Hiker

    Not been to the Julian Alps yet but I hiked most of the AV2 a few years ago - southbound from Bressanone and crossed Pale di San Martino but not the final few sections to the southern terminus. The section crossing Puez - Odle and the Sella towers is amazing (5 days never dropped below 2200m). Didn't enjoy the sad ski industy wastelands around passo Pellegrino but Pale di San Martino was great hiking again. Route is generally very easy to find (nothing like some Pyrenees routes) even in low visibility (ignore the books on this subject if you hike in Scotland or Pyrenees). A lot less people than I expected in August until you get close to a cable car station - then its Cambridge on a Sunday at 3000m (peace and solitute return at 5pm...). Luckily not too many of those about.
    Normally there are no bivouac areas at Italian mountain huts and very few people carry tents - possibly because there's such a good network of shelters in the Dolomites. Lots of contradictory info about bivouac rules in Italy and generally discouraged on the grounds "that tents disturb wild life". As a rule of thump, if you are high up and sensible a small tent won't be an issue, lower down, ask the farmer or the "malga" (high summer pasture) who will be welcoming if they see a hiker-hiker. Always say what your doing (name your route and say where you starting from and go to) and people will be helpful. Also look out for unstaffed huts on the map (rifugio = staffed, bivacco = unstaffed shelter in Italy) as a spot to pitch.
    PM me if you have specific route questions (or alternatives) - I've hiked a fair bit in the Dolomites since my childhood (got family there).
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2017
    Mox and Daymoth like this.
  3. Daymoth

    Daymoth Trail Blazer

    Thanks Tom!

    That is really useful. The huts do seem tempting, maybe we stay a couple of nights and the rest we pitch near bivaqs.

    Do you recomend the cicerone guide for planing?

    Is the ski wasteland that you mention the superski resort? Maybe we drop that section if we can and spend the time having a hot meal instead. Or find a more scenic anvalternative.

    Is there any particular hike (not nececeraly on the AV2) that you think is (even more) special and that you recomend?
  4. Gneiss Boots

    Gneiss Boots Trekker

    Been to Slovenia a couple of times and I have done various hikes about Lake Bled. 100s of options and a good hut network. Is that where you are considering?
    Daymoth and edh like this.
  5. edh

    edh Thru Hiker

    :rolleyes:....hmmm, I am off there this summer; any good?
    slovhike likes this.
  6. craige

    craige Thru Hiker

    any good hotels? :angelic:
    gixer, WilliamC and edh like this.
  7. tom

    tom Section Hiker

    sadly no Paradores in Italy or Solvenia...:rolleyeses:
  8. Daymoth

    Daymoth Trail Blazer

    Yes!! :)

    Didnt know about the huts. Thankyou.
    To be fair I still havent looked a lot into the Slovenia part. Do you recomend any book or website in particular?
  9. Gneiss Boots

    Gneiss Boots Trekker

    The Cicerone guide was good. Plenty of day hikes and more info about multi day options and through hikes. I have the 2007 edition from my 1st trip there and notice that the latest edition is significantly updated with fairly large changes so this is a case of worth paying more for later version if looking at cheaper ones. Plenty of maps at 1:50,000 and 1:25,000 at Stanfords. 1: 50 were good enough as it is blazed trails and signs. They do have hut info on maps too.
  10. tom

    tom Section Hiker

    The AV2 Ciccerone guide by Gillian Price is ok mostly. Waterpoints only occasionally get a mention and she seems to have a thing about route sections with steel cables (usually extra safe since they are on solid rock and secured) but doesn't mention tricky scree slopes (my nemesis). And she is way over the top overcautious about low visibility. There are a fair number of high alpine sections not suitable for the inexperienced but navigation is not an issue. In confusing terrain it can get a bit like the GR20 in Corsica - flashes every 5 yards...

    As to alternatives, you could hike the AV from Bressanone (take the cable car there - the trail runs just below the cables and worth - luckily some locals warned me) and then follow the AV2 all the way across the Sella. You can resupply in Canazai and then follow the trails through the Sossolungo - Sassopiatto (Plattkofel + Langkofel) towers towards Rifugio Alpe di Tires (great hut). From there, turn south again for a spectacular trail through the Rosegarden/Rosengarten/Catinaccio. First across Pas de Molignon, then a steep descent and an equally stiff climp to passo Principe (there's a small wooden refugio there build into the cliff face like pueblo). From passo Principe there's via ferrata to the summit of Antermoia (3002m) if you have time and the kit. From passo Principe ypu have two options -a route right below the iconic Vajolet towers (and refugio by the same name) and the across the Santner pass down the western flank. This is a via ferrata traverse - not at all difficult - but quite a popular route and a via ferrata kit might be useful to carry. The alternative stays on the eastern flank has no via ferrata and is longer. Either way, you can head down towards Bolzano (bus routes) or into Val di Fassa (with the option of catching buses to Passo Rolle for Pale di San Martino (which is a spectacular 2 to 3 day hike too).

    Maps - best maps for the area are Tobacco (cheap and available at every news agent in the area - but quite overpriced at Stamfords). Tobacco also has app and sell digital map tiles were you only buy what you need. I combine a 50.000 overview with digital 25.000.

    20150809_075803 (Custom).jpg

    THe first "big" pass southbound - lowest point on the rock ridge and with a section of "flowing" scree...

    20150809_143252s (Custom).jpg

    A first view of the Sella towers with Piz Boe (3162m) at the very top (easy ascent - beer waiting at the top...)

    20150820_110634 (Custom).jpg

    And the Rosegarden - the little horizontal plateau left below the main tower is the Santner pass. The route down is visible as a line.
    maddogs, FOX160 and Daymoth like this.
  11. Daymoth

    Daymoth Trail Blazer

    OMG those pictures.

    Thank you so much for all that info! I will get a map and the guide and look at your suggestion.

    Also **** flowing scree.
    tom likes this.
  12. Stu Sibley

    Stu Sibley Summit Camper

    I'm thinking of the Dolomites this year too, is the AV1 too popular/busy? AV2 looks amazing! Scree sounds a bit of a challenge if I am doing a solo trek though
  13. edh

    edh Thru Hiker

    We were going to do the AV1 but looks too busy for our tastes. That, and limited bivvying opportunities.
    Still heading for the Dolomites though :)
  14. tom

    tom Section Hiker

    all the AV Dolomiti trails are both busy and empty - cross the Sella towers and you hardly see a soul until you get close to the cable car and it turns into Cambridge on a Sunday - but at 5pm solitude and tranquility are restored. The AV 1 has tranquil and beautiful sections - e.g. Pelmo and Civetta - but also rather unexciting sections, e.g. between Nuvolau and Pelmo (often more day tourism there too). AV 2 is more rewarding than AV 1 and mostly easy enough (its not the Pyrenees HRP...). AV 5 + 6 - can be combined - few staffed huts but bivacco huts where you can easily pitch nearby.

    I`m thinking of an east bound hike that connects as many high via ferrata trails as feasible - Antermoia - Sassulongo - Sella - Marmolada (west ridge route) - Tofane summits - Tre Cime - Sesto... Checking out youtube to assess how my skills are up to the trails (or not:oops:)... here's some nice clips...:) Tofana di Mezzo, Tofane di Rozes
    The three Tofane summits from Lagazuoi and the route up:
    Tofane di Rozes.jpg

    The Marmolada glacier in the moon light (10 years ago from Lagazuoi):
    DSC02418.JPG
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  15. Stu Sibley

    Stu Sibley Summit Camper

    Wow those are some pretty serious climbs!
  16. Daymoth

    Daymoth Trail Blazer

    Its me again.

    I have the cicerone books now, and I am overwhelmed with choice.
    Also the hut to hut thing as fun as it sounds is stressing me out, I love not having to decide in advance where to sleep.
    And the whole bus situation also is stressing me out.

    So we have decided to postpone it to early september, more time to plan, and spend 2 weeks only in the Dolomites. Slovenia will have to wait.

    Considering doing 4 multiday trips (2-3 day routes) instead of an AV, with maybe some day hikes in between so we can cover different regions.
    Although the AVs look easier logistically.

    Tom what do you think of these (some are based on your previous recomendations)? If you had to choose 4? Maybe I can merge some also. Or should I consider others instead?

    - Palarondatrek in Pale di San Martino
    - Sella traverse
    - Circuit around the Puez Odle
    - Circuit around Sassopiato/Sassolungo
    - Scilar/Catinaccio traverse
    - Tre Cime
    - Something around Pelmo.
    - Friulane Dolomiti.

    Grazie mille.
  17. tom

    tom Section Hiker

    @Daymoth I don't book huts in advance (I adapt my routes as I feel and with the weather) - on rare occasions I may call the night before or in the morning - but its generally not an issue in the Dolomites - not even during Ferrogosto (the most popular annual Italian holiday in mid August. Just a bit of thinking ahead for Fridays and Saturdays. Very occasionaly a mountain running race or live music event but there was always somewhere to sleep.
    Huts are often 1 to 3 hours and not more than 5 apart which makes for good flexibility. Also, the offical (CAI/SAT) huts cannot turn you away (!!!) - pitch outside or sleep on a table...(never happened to me)
    All huts will call ahead on your behalf if you ask them.
    If a hut is expecting you, its essentual to call them if you change plans.
    The areas you list are great - but I don't know Tre Cime well. Pelmo is just day's crossing (the half-circuit around is quite unexciting) but Pelmo is easily combined with Civetta (well worth a visit).
    You might add the Tofana/Lagazuoi circuits (non-ferrata routes) and the Brenta (if you go in September - its too busy earlier)
    Pale di San Martino is quite amazing if at times scary looking (but easy route finding even in low visibility)
    Some Septembers can be quite wet in the Dolomites - we had a full week's rain twice over the years in September whereas you usually only get a day or two wet weather in row in July August.
    Bus info used to be a pain but no longer with Rome2Rio app (many summer services won't run in September when its mainly school buses again)
    Happt trails
    Stu Sibley likes this.
  18. Daymoth

    Daymoth Trail Blazer

    Wait really?? No need to book the huts????

    I thought they would all get booked. Mmm maybe then we have time to do it in July.

    Thanks!
  19. tom

    tom Section Hiker

    Nope no advance booking neccessary in my experience - unless you head for the Brenta in July/August...;) Calling ahead the evening before for weekends in popular areas can maintain flexibility but give you peace if mind (if needed)...:)
  20. Stu Sibley

    Stu Sibley Summit Camper

    I also bought up the cicerone books, for the av2 it mentions a 'waist rope', do they mean a harness and a length of rope to tie in? Not heard the term before and wondering how this is used, and whether it is necessary if I don't tackle any via ferrata sections - or is it a good idea to bring along a via ferrata kit anyway?

    Cheers!
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2018
  21. tom

    tom Section Hiker

    Strange term indeed - and quite dangerous if it means a rope around your waist... quite common before modern harnasses became invented.
    The Italian alpine associations commonly secure short trail sections with steel cabling (some of which has to do with competition between alpine and mountain guides - too complicated to explain here). But that doesn't make them via ferratas (which always have big signs at both ends) or create a need for harnesses - just something to hold onto in bad weather. I'd just ignore the waist rope writing if the writer is Gillian Price - she has a thing about steel cables and makes big dramas about them but doesn't even mention exposed scree sections. Well we all have our idiosyncracies....
    Stu Sibley likes this.
  22. Stu Sibley

    Stu Sibley Summit Camper

    Cheers Tom! Yes the writer is Gillian Price. Glad I don't have to start forking out for heavy VF gear just yet
  23. edh

    edh Thru Hiker

    It's not that heavy these days; you can get a setup sub-500g...
    Stu Sibley likes this.

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