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Walks and Via Ferrata in the Dolomites

A guide to some high level walks and via ferrata in the Dolomites.
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Arabba
Arabba's central location make it a good base for walking in the Dolomites. There are a large number of hotels in the village plus apartments to rent.

The UK company Colletts [www.colletts.co.uk] seem to handle bookings for a number of the hotels. For my last three visits I have stayed in an apartment rented from House Service Arabba. They have an office in the apartment complex, and unsually for Hotels and Refuges in the Dolomites, they have a website [www.hsarabba.it], email [info@hsarabba.it] and speak English].

The village has a good climbing shop which hires out via ferrata kit, helmets etc.
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VF Lagazuoi Tunnels
During the First World War the front line ran through Mount Lagazuoi, and the Italians and Austrians dug tunnels through the mountain to try and plant mines underneath their enemy. Those tunnels have been restored and the walk down them has been designated Via Ferrata Lagazuoi Tunnels.

Begin by taking the cable car from the pass to the top of the mountain. Then follow the marked path along a ridge to the mouth of the tunnel. Torches and a helmet are essential.

There are several side galleries that you can explore and reconstructed living quarters for the soldiers. There are several places where the tunnels open on to the side of the mountain. The tunnels finish part way down the mountain and it is then a matter of following a clearly marked path back to the pass.

Some people insist on walking up rather than down, though none of them seem very happy about their choice as you pass them on your way down.

A better choice is to spend the night at Refuge Lagazuoi, and then start the day by the walk down the tunnels.

http://addiator.blogspot.com/2006/08/lagazuoi-tunnels.html

References - Shorter Walks in the Dolomites by Gillian Price. Published by Cicerone , UK. ISBN 1-85284-351-9.

Via Ferrata of the Italian Dolomites: Volume 1 by John Smith and Graham Fletcher. Published by Cicerone, UK. ISBN1 85284 362 4.
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Tre Cima di Lavaredo Circuit
This walk starts and ends at Refuge Auronzo. Private vehicles can drive up to the refuge but have to pay a toll of eighteen euros. There is a large and busy car park near the refuge.

Start the walk by heading east on the n.101. The full route is about ten kilometrs long and is mainly flat, though there is a total of about 350 meters of ascent spread over the entire route. The views are very good. The route passes Refuge Lavaredo and Refuge Locatelli .

http://addiator.blogspot.com/2006/08/tre-cime-di-lavaredo-circuit.html

Reference - Shorter Walks in the Dolomites by Gillian Price. Published by Cicerone , UK. ISBN 1-85284-351-9.
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Monte Piana
During the First World War the Austrians and Italians fought over this flat topped hill. A former Italian military road runs up from a car park near Lake Misurina to Refuge Bosi at 2206 meters. Private vehicles are not allowed on this road, so you must either walk up or take a shuttle bus. These buses give an exciting ride. The road is steep and narrow, with no barriers between the road and eternity.

Refuge Bose has a small museum that is worth visiting at some point. From the refuge take path n.122 which runs off to the left. This runs around the edge of the plateau and passes a number of tunnels and bunkers created by the Italians during the war. A torch is useful at this point.

Once on the plateau there are lots of paths and you can just roam around looking at the restored WWI trenches, tunnels and bunkers. There is a marked historical trail which will lead you past the best bits.

From the bridge [Forcella dei Castrati] between the two parts of the plateau take path n.6a which leads past more man made tunnels and caverns on the Austrian part of the plateau. There are a couple of short stretches of grade one via ferrata in this area.

To return to the car park continue on n.6 and other paths until you get back to the bottom of the hill. Alternatively, you can return by the military road.

http://addiator.blogspot.com/2006/08/monte-piana-in-dolomites.html

Further information – Shorter Walks in the Dolomites by Gillian Price. Published by Cicerone , UK. ISBN 1-85284-351-9.

Via Ferrata of the Italian Dolomites: Volume 1 by John Smith and Graham Fletcher. Published by Cicerone, UK. ISBN1 85284 362 4.
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Sass d'Adam Crest
This walk starts in the village of Alba with a cable car ride to Compiac. From there you can either walk up to the start of the route at Sella Brunec, or you can catch a second lift up and save yourself some effort.

From Sella Brunec you walk along the ridge to Buffaure. From there you may either catch a lift down to Pozza di Fassa in the Fassa Valley, or walk down through the woods. The route is easy and pleasant so you may as well walk. Pozza di Fassa is quite a way from Alba so if you need to get back to your car you should walk down the hill in the direction of the main valley road. When you reach it turn right and walk about one hundred meters and you should find yourself at a bus stop where you can catch a bus back to Alba.

Reference – Shorter Walks in the Dolomites by Gillian Price. Published by Cicerone , UK. ISBN 1-85284-351-9.
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Refuge Vandelli Traverse [Turquoise Lake]
The first part of the n215 path starts at the Passo Tre Croci on the SS48, and was first established as a mule track in World War I. It passes a couple of overgrown forts, and then climbs up through woods and around the side of the mountain.

Cables have been set up where there is any exposure, but they are not really necessary. At one point there are a series of ladders to lift the path to a higher level. Most of the ladders in the Dolomites are pretty basic. Sometimes of metal, occasionally of wood. Often there are just stemples [rungs driven into a rock face]. These ladders are luxurious, with handrails and broad metal steps.

After about two hours you reach Refuge Vandelli where there is food, drink and accommodation.

The Lago di Sorapiss is just a few minutes further along from the Refuge. The turquoise colour of the water comes from suspended powdered debris from shrinking glaciers on the north wall of Punta Sorapiss.

The path may be continued on the other side of the lake. It rises steeply and with some exposed but protected stretches. There are herds of chamois in the trees above the lake. Otherwise, return to the Passo Tre Croci by the n215

http://addiator.blogspot.com/2006/08/up-to-turquoise-lake-rif-vandelli.html

Reference – Shorter Walks in the Dolomites by Gillian Price. Published by Cicerone in 2002. ISBN 1 85284 351 9.
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Refuge Nuvolau and 5 Torri
The Refuge Bai de Dones is just off the SS48 between Cortina and Passo Falzarego. Take the chairlift from there up to Refuge Scoiattoll. Before walking up to Refuge Nuvolau turn east and visit the 5 Torri open air museum. There was heavy fighting in this area during World War 1 between the Italians and Austrians. The Italians have restored large parts of their trench system, bunkers and gun pits.

After visiting the museum walk up a clearly defined track to Refuge Nuvolau, passing Refuge Averau on the way. The views from Nuvolau are superb and it is a good place for lunch. There is a short grade one via feratta just below the refuge. It consists of about 25 meters of wire and a small ladder. It will take about 15-20 minutes to complete.

Descend to Refuge Averau and turn west along path 419 to return to Refuge Bai de Dones by an easy and pleasant path.

Further information – Shorter Walks in the Dolomites by Gillian Price. Published by Cicerone , UK. ISBN 1-85284-351-9.

Via Ferrata of the Italian Dolomites: Volume 1 by John Smith and Graham Fletcher. Published by Cicerone, UK. ISBN1 85284 362 4.
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Piz Boe
Piz Boe is the highest point on the Sella Massif and the highest point in the Dolomites. The massif lies in the middle of the eastern Dolomites, and dominates the surrounding area. There are four major passes around the massif.

The walk begins with a cable car ride from Passo Purdoi to the Refuge Forcella Purdoi. From there you can see the refuge on Piz Boe and the route is obvious. The climb gets steeper as you progress, and there are a few hands-on sections, but nothing too difficult or strenuous. When you get to the peak you can get a meal and drink at the refuge.

When you have had your fill of the view from Piz Boe you can either return by the same route, or take one of the many paths which run across the top of the massif. One returns to Passo Perdoi via Gran Valacia junction and a World War 1 ossuary.

Further information – Shorter Walks in the Dolomites by Gillian Price. Published by Cicerone , UK. ISBN 1-85284-351-9.
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Viel del Pan
The Viel del Pan path [n.601] runs along the side of a chain of low green hills. The path is called the Bread Road because it was once used by grain smugglers to avoid taxes imposed by the Venetian Republic.

The walk starts above the Fassa Valley at the Passo Pordoi on the ss48 and runs east along the side of the hills. It passes the Refuge Viel del Pan, whose terrace has marvellous views of the Marmolada Glacier.

During the First World War the Austrian-Hungarian soldiers built twelve kilometres of tunnels and bunkers inside the glacier. This City of Ice was built in eleven months [May 1916 to April 1917]. Inside the City of Ice there were dormitories, kitchens and ammunition stores. The glacier gave some protection from Italian shell fire but avalanches killed many soldiers. The glacier is constantly moving, and in 1918 it was abandoned and disappeared.

After a few miles the path starts to slope down the hill towards the Lago di Fedaia. Before it gets there you should turn north on a path which leads to Refuge Porta Vescovo. From there you can catch the lift down to Arabba, and from Arabba you can get a bus back to your starting point at Passo Pordoi.

Alternatively, you can start your hike from Arabba and walk from Refuge Porta Vescovo to Passo Pordoi. From the pass you can walk back down the winding road to Arabba.

Further information – Shorter Walks in the Dolomites by Gillian Price. Published by Cicerone , UK. ISBN 1-85284-351-9.
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Santa Croce Sanctuary
The walk starts with a chairlift ride from Pedraces that lifts you to 1840 meters. You then walk up a farm track lined with huge crucifixes to the church and sanctuary of Ospizio S. Croce. The views are excellent. From the church you follow n15 through the Fanes-Braies Nature Park. The path is marked by more stations of the cross. To return to Pedraces you should follow the n15 and n12 paths through the woods and along farm roads.

Further information – Shorter Walks in the Dolomites by Gillian Price. Published by Cicerone , UK. ISBN 1-85284-351-9.
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Via Ferrata Giovanni Barbara
This is a easy grade one ferrata. There is about 100 meters of protected path but no ferrata equipment is needed. The ferrata is in the Fanes National Park. You will need to park at the entrance near the visitors centre and walk for about 45 minutes to the start of the ferrata. The path runs under a waterfall but you will only get a bit damp. Giovanni Barbara can be combined with the nearby VF Lucio Dalaiti. It will take about four hours to complete both.

Reference - Via Ferrata of the Italian Dolomites: Volume 1 by John Smith and Graham Fletcher. Published by Cicerone, UK. ISBN1 85284 362 4.
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Refuge Tuckett and Ai Brentei Tour
Ragoli, TRENTINO-ALTO ADIGE, IT
This is an eighteen kilometers walk that will take about six hours to complete. It involves about 500 meters of ascent and 1400 meters of descent.

Start the rout by taking the Grosti gondola lift from the hill side above Madonna di Campiglio to Passo del Groste. The walk is then a tour around a series of refuges. The first one is the Refuge Tuckett & Sella. This has some nice buildings in an excellent setting. You then carry on to Refuge ai Brentei, and from there to Refuge Casinei, and finally Refuges Casinei and Vallesinella.

You can get a taxi from Vallesinella back to Madonna di Campiglio if you wish, but it is better to take a further one hour and walk back down via Refuge Cascata di Mezzo. The reason for the extra walk is that you will be able to see the spectacular waterfalls of the Cascata di Sotto.

Reference – Shorter Walks in the Dolomites by Gillian Price. Published by Cicerone , UK. ISBN 1-85284-351-9.
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Via Feratta Ivano Dibona
Ivano Dibona is supposed to be the most popular via ferrata in the Dolomites. The ferrata is accessed via the Rio Gere lift system, which is situated on the SS48 between Cortina and Passo Tre Croci. There are two separate lifts. The lower is a conventional four person chair lift. The second is an unusual two person pod lift. Some agility is required to get in and out of these if they carrying two people.

At the top of the lift system there is Refuge Lorenzi and access to two via ferrata. Marino Bianchi is a grade 2 ferrata that will take about four hours to complete. The starting and ending point for the route is Refuge Lorenzi. Almost all of the route is via ferrata.

Ivano Dibona is also a grade two and should take about eight hours to complete. The ending point for the route is Refuge Ospitale on the SS51. This is a considerable distance from Rio Gere, but there are buses from Cortina to Rio Gere, and from Ospitale to Cortina.

The famous suspension bridge is very close to the start of Ivano Dibona, and can be seen from Refuge Lorenzi. The route is almost entirely downhill and is generally well waymarked. Only about 500 meters of the route is actually via ferrate. On the way you will pass a number of fortifications from the First World War.

Via Ferrata of the Italian Dolomites: Volume 1 by John Smith and Graham Fletcher. Published by Cicerone, UK. ISBN1 85284 362 4.

Casa Editrice Tobacco 1:25,000 map number 3, Cortina D’Ampezzo.
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Via Feratta Astaldi
This grade 1 via ferrata runs from just above Refuge Dibona to Refuge Giussani. There is about 400 meters of protected path and the route takes about two hours to complete.

Refuge Dibona is off the 48 road between Passo Falzarego and Cortina. There is a steep single track road with a few passing places running from 48 to the refuge, and ample parking at the refuge. The via ferrata starts about 300 meters up the hill from the refuge and runs west to east. At the other end there is a lift and a secondary road down to rejoin the 48. However, the easiest thing is to just walk back to Dibona.

Via Ferrata of the Italian Dolomites: Volume 1 by John Smith and Graham Fletcher. Published by Cicerone, UK. ISBN1 85284 362 4.
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Via Feratta Bonacossa
This grade 1 via ferrata starts with a lift ride from Misurina to the Refuge Col. De Varda. The lift is open from July to mid September. From the refuge you walk up to the end point near Refuge Auronzo.

There is about 400 meters of ascent involved and the route will take about five hours to complete. There is about 400 meters of protected path and via ferrata equipment is advised unless you are a very experienced climber. Look out for marmots on the path.

From Refuge Auronzo you can catch a bus back to Lake Misurina.

Reference - Via Ferrata of the Italian Dolomites: Volume 1 by John Smith and Graham Fletcher. Published by Cicerone, UK. ISBN1 85284 362 4.
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Lake Misurina
The building at the end of Lake Misurina belongs to the Catholic Church.
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Looking towards Arabba from the top of the pass.
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Looking north from the start of VF Ivano Dibona.
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Refuge Lagazuoi
This is a good place to spend at least one night. This refuge is on the top of Mount Lagazuoi and is reached by a cable car from Passo Falzerego. It has an excellent restaurant and 68 beds, some in cosy private rooms and some in dormitories. There are superb views from the terrace as the sun sets.

http://addiator.blogspot.com/2006/08/lagazuoi-tunnels.html

The refuge has its own website [click on link above], email [rifugio.lagazuoi@dolomitit.org and English speaking staff who can answer the phone [+39 0436 867 303]. Book early.
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Calalzo - Dobbiaco Railway path
This 20 km [12.4 mile] path runs from Lago di Landro to Cortina, along the bed of the old railway line from Calalzo to Dobbiaco. The Gasthof Drei Zinnen is close to Lago di Landro and the start of the walk, and on the bus route from Cortina. Cars are best left near the hotel and recovered after the walk has been completed. The path is not signposted, but is obvious. There are hardly any uphill bits, and about a 300 m loss in height overall. It is a pleasant walk through woods, with a chance of seeing deer and other wildlife.
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Refuge Dibona
The refuge is reached by a very narrow road running up the mountain from the SR48 road. The refuge has a bar, restaurant and bunkhouse accomodation. There is ample car parking by the refuge. Several walks and via ferrata are nearby.