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

Situated in northeastern Italy, the Dolomites are certainly one of Europe’s most dramatic mountain ranges. A mixture of serrated limestone peaks, sheer cliffs, shimmering alpine lakes and deep, slim valleys, they’ve lengthy been a magnet for geologists, travellers and out of doors 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, probably 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 be aware that the data beneath is basically directed in direction of unbiased hikers, somewhat 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 Levels):  120 km (75 mi)

Length (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 suppose it makes a lot of a distinction, although nearly all of individuals appear to hike north to south; which is the best way the route is described within the Cicerone guidebook listed beneath.

Elevation Acquire: 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 succeed in the lake. See the Dolomiti web site for the present schedule. Each Villabassa and Dobbiaco are accessible by prepare.
  • La Pissa Bus Cease (Val Cordevole) is 20 minutes from the city of Belluno. For present timetables see the Dolomiti web site. Notice that timetables are additionally displayed within the final couple of refuges on the path. From Belluno, onward bus and prepare 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 doable, attempt to make early begins and get the lion’s share of your climbing performed within the morning hours).
  • Relying on the snow ranges and expertise of the aspirant, the AV1 will also be performed within the late spring or early to mid fall. When climbing at these instances, you could require an ice axe and traction units. Additionally be aware that almost all, if not the entire huts will probably be closed, so you will have to hold your whole 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 accessible | The ebook consists of logistical beta, trekking notes, elevation profiles, fundamental maps (not detailed sufficient for navigation), city info, and time and distance estimates for every of the AV1’s 11 phases.
  • Maps: 1. Tabacco produces probably the most detailed climbing maps for the Dolomites. Three 1:25,000 topo maps cowl your entire AV1 (i.e. Sheets – 031, 03 and 025, ). Additionally accessible on-line from Amazon and Omnimap.com. Notice that it’s doable to select them up when you arrive, however there are not any ensures all three sheets will probably be accessible;  2. Alternatively, Kompass produces a 1:50,000 ‘Wanderkarte’ collection that covers the route (3 maps complete – Sheets 57,55 and 77).

Stage 5 between Rifugio Nuvolau to Rifugio Citta di Fiume passes via a stunning 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 fundamental information of both undoubtedly turns out to be useful, nonetheless, nearly the entire locals you’ll encounter alongside the route know not less than a little bit English.
  • Cell/Cellular Cellphone Protection: I are inclined to hold 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 stated, on the AV1 many of the huts now supply Wifi for friends, and it’s normally doable to cost your cellphone and/or battery pack whether or not you’re overnighting, or simply stopping in for breakfast or lunch.

Skirting beneath 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. You’ll want to carry sufficient money simply in case you’re staying in a single or two that don’t.
  • AV1 Planning Abstract: I’d advocate the next course: 1. Learn via this text; 2. Buy the informative Cicerone information; 3. Obtain a GPX file (see above) to your cellphone (I take advantage of 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 best way is easy in case you are climbing in the course of the summer time season. Merely eat your foremost meals on the regularly-spaced Rifugi (mountain huts), at which you too can buy snacks and sandwiches to go. Notice that in case you are taken with climbing out of season, you both have to hold all your personal meals from begin to end, or undertake some detours off-route alongside the best way.

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 response to 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 at all times concentrate on the place their subsequent probability to refill will probably be earlier than setting out on every stage. Notice that bottled water is at all times accessible 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 complete of 6665 m (21,833 ft) elevation achieve all through its course – the AV1 is effectively marked and maintained, and inside the capabilities of most hikers. A wonderful 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 are hooked up to rock partitions), the AV1 doesn’t embrace any technical sections that require specialised gear. That being stated, 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 way more than an exhilarating approach to expertise the Dolomites breathtaking landscapes. Additionally they signify a visible reminder of the world’s bloody historical past. Throughout WW1, the Dolomites have been the scene of fierce battles between the Italian and Austro Hungarian forces. The By way of Ferrata have been put in throughout these years as a method of enabling troops faster entry to the entrance line. The Alta By way of 1 additionally weaves via 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 intensive system of tunnels and trenches that have been constructed between 1915 and 1917. The juxtaposition between somber historical past and spectacular pure magnificence is hanging.

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

Throughout World Conflict 1 troops on each side excavated a system of tunnels across the Piccolo Lagazuoi for the aim of laying explosives to mine enemy positions. Essentially 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  (Notice: Don’t overlook your headlamp).

  • Navigation:  The path is effectively marked from begin to end. The route is marked with crimson and whites paint splashes and cairns.
  • How Lengthy will it take?: Within the opening “At a Look” part I point out that the common AV1 hiker will take between 8 and 10 days. That stated, the period of time it takes to complete the AV1 can fluctuate enormously relying on a lot of elements. 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 have been as follows:
    • Stage 4 VariantRifugio Lagazuoi to Rifugio Nuvolau. Except you might have extreme claustrophobia or dodgy knees, make 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 gorgeous 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 embrace 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 infrequently 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. One of the best worth can normally 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. Notice that members of the Membership Alpino Italiano normally pay round 20% lower than non-members, and people which are affiliated with sure different European Alpine or Mountain golf equipment (e.g. UK, Austria, German, French), get pleasure from reciprocal rights. Throughout the peak season months of July and August, lodging ought to ideally be booked prematurely (particularly in case you are climbing in a bunch).

The fantastically located Rifugio Pramperet marks the tip 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 have been that: A. I don’t sleep effectively in dormitories, and; B. If I’m climbing within the mountains I favor to sleep exterior at any time when doable. That being the case, I did what I nearly at all times 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 website for greater than 48 hours – is strictly prohibited. However, the “in a single day bivouac” – organising late and leaving early the next morning is allowed (or not less than tolerated) so long as you follow LNT ideas. See the next article on the hikedolomites.com 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 via over time – that’s, so long as you arrange late in a stealthy spot, depart at daybreak the following day, and follow LNT ideas 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.

Consuming 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 someday of rain throughout each hikes. Just a few factors to notice:

  • The Alta By way of 1 is less complicated and extra continuously trafficked than the AV2, being significantly standard with organised trekking teams. One thing to bear in mind in case you are making hut reservations prematurely.
  • 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 usually gentler elevation profile and simpler terrain, makes it the choice of selection for folk which are comparatively new to multi-day 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 in all probability go together with the AV2. However, I’d give the AV1 the benefit on the historical past entrance, and doubtless a slight edge with regard to culinary choices as effectively.

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 significantly spectacular at dawn and sundown, because the pale dolostone peaks gentle up with a salmon-coloured glow. The Italians confer with 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 easy accessibility to each the AV1 and AV2, but additionally 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, nonetheless the massive ones are merely consolation, well being and pleasure. 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 below the burden of a heavy load (see the Gear and Ultralight dropdown menus for ideas). Due to the repeatedly located full-service huts on the AV1, hikers by no means have to hold various snacks, and for these staying solely in huts, your pack will probably be even lighter nonetheless as there isn’t a have to 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 Checklist: Alta By way of 1 and a couple of (Dolomites, Italy).

5.  Timing Your DaysAs is the case just about all around the Alps, many of the hikers you’ll encounter appear to start their climbing day round 8 – 9 am, and end someday between 2 and 4 pm, after they arrive at their pre-reserved hut. Which means the paths are sometimes hiker-free throughout what I take into account to be the most effective instances of the day (i.e. early morning and late afternoon). From my perspective, herein lies the best good thing about carrying your personal shelter –  freedom. The liberty to come up at daybreak when the birds are singing, and stroll in solitude below 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 wish to be out on the path. Not essentially to cowl extra miles, however as an alternative as a result of it makes me really feel like I’m extra part of the every day miracle that’s unfolding throughout me.

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

  • Begin my climbing day at daybreak.
  • Normally, I’d be camped 30 min to an hour from the following hut, which I’d goal at reaching by 730/8 am on the newest for a morning meal.
  • Breakfasts – Basically, brekky on the huts was a blended bag. The great 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 have 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 kind of how lengthy it could take me to get to the following hut, the place I’d cease for a noon/mid-afternoon meal. So long as I acquired there by 2 to 230 pm, I at all times knew they’d nonetheless be serving. Lunches on the Rifugi have been typically dear, however at all times good, with sizzling meals setting you again anyplace between €10 and €16. I normally 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. my maps, I’d have in my thoughts the areas the place I might most certainly discover a good tenting spot, at which level I’d usually arrive round sundown. The subsequent day I’d get up and do it once more………..

Stage 10 – Ultimate sundown of the AV1.

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