Here some good rules for hiking on Dolomites. Safely. Don’t you want to Turn Your Holiday into a Bad Experience, right?

Title too dramatic? Maybe … but not so much. Every year, especially in summer, the Alpine Rescue carries out numerous rescue operations for tourists and hikers in difficulty, some of which could have been avoided with some simple precautions. So read these good rules for hiking on Dolomites.

After all, we all want to go home happy and not find ourselves dealing with unpleasant situations, avoidable injuries and bringing back bad memories. Although now very popular with tourists and hikers of all kinds, the Dolomites remain a high mountain environment, where it is easy to encounter errors of assessment that can be dramatic or even fatal. Do not forget!

1. We must not overestimate our strength;

It is not just about physical forces. Maybe you are very trained, maybe you are used to going to the mountains, but remember that every place has its characteristics.
Consider altitude, altitude difference, technical difficulties of the hike you are about to do. Be well informed, using good guides (books) and good blogs (such mine, :-))). Don’t push yourself to the limit, you’re in places you don’t know and in another country. Plan an excursion in 70-80% of those who consider your limits, to have a margin in case you find out that it is more difficult than you thought.

2. You must never go away alone;

If you are part of a group, avoid making detours, shortcuts, unmarked routes that distance you from your group. Getting lost is easy and you could be forced to take long laps to get back on the right track or suddenly find yourself in front of overhangs, rock jumps, screeds or situations that are not nice to deal with, especially alone.

3. Be always with someone else;

Do not plan hikes in solitude. This is a rule that works everywhere, do it here too. It doesn’t matter that you have little time, that your friends are slow, that you absolutely want to publish the photo from the peak on Instagram. Going alone is never a good idea. You could stumble, fall, not be able to continue, not be able to communicate with your smartphone, not be able to establish your position, be in a bad storm and many other situations in which it is always better to be in 2, also to decide what to do together.

4. Don not underestimated your tiring out;

Do not underestimate the signals of your body of excessive fatigue, especially above 2,500-3,000 meters of altitude. If you feel sick you need to warn your companions and reach the nearest hut or call for help. If you come from the plains and have not had time to acclimatize to the altitude, you may feel dizzy. Even on a easy path, losing your balance and falling can lead to serious injuries. No path is too easy to avoid you from injures.

5. Find out where you are going and if paths are ok and huts are open;

Before leaving for a hike, make sure you find out if the paths are all viable (sometimes a landslide can block a path), if the huts are open, take the phone numbers of the huts and the number of the Alpine Rescue. You can get free information at the Alpine Guide offices in many Dolomite villages.

6. Forecast and communicate a return time to your friends;

If your friends or relatives do not come with you, inform them of the route you want to take, the hiking times, the stops you want to take and update them by telephone so often you can. This can be very useful if you need help and are unable to communicate. Your loved ones could say precisely where you were and speed up the rescue operations.

7. Use the appropriate equipment for the kind of hike you are going to do;

On this point a universe of possibilities opens up! I think many of you already know how to dress in the mountains, but always keep in mind the path you are about to take. Are your shoes suitable for a path in the woods or between rocks, but are they suitable for a gravel descent? or snow? If they are not, you could go home with a bad sprained ankle.
Does your hike include dangerous stretches or those with a metal rope? Bring a harness, safety is never too much, even if the difficult path can be short. Also think about the safety of those who come with you, not just yourself.

8. Watch the weather forecast;

Getting accurate weather forecasts before you go to hike is fundamental. This is valid all over the world, and Dolomites confirm it. A sudden cloudy and foggy weather can easily make you become disoriented, or a sudden rainy weather can heavily make your trail dangerous. This is why when you plan a hike on Dolomites you have to hold accurate weather forecasts. When I say “accurate” I mean a precise hourly forecasts. Take a look here for more infos on this point.

9. Take a map of the path you are going and always have it at hand;

We have beautiful apps and wonderful smartwatches with GPS. But nothing will substitute a paper map. Why? First of all because of a digital instrument can have any problem that makes it does not work perfectly (low battery, bug, system down, inaccurate GPS, and similar). And then, if you fully use a map, you will get lots of useful information about the territory you are going through. Which? Take a look here for more infos on this point

dolomites-map
dolomites-map

10. Don’t pick flowers and mushrooms if you can’t collect them.

When I was a child on many paths there was a sign that says something like: “Those who love mountains leave their flowers”. Some flowers here are very rare, like the famous Edelweiss. Leave them there. Take pictures of them and then leave them there. The same is for mushrooms, the collection of which is strictly regulated. If you are passionate about mushrooms, buy a collection permit at the municipalities where you are staying, they will tell you how far the collection is legal.

Well, now you know enough to leave safely and maybe you learnt some new good rules for hiking on Dolomites. But one principle is worth more than any other: prudence and don’t do anything stupid!

And do not forget to let me know what do you think about this post!

Did you like this article?

Are you a hiking globetrotter or do you have just 1 day to visit Dolomites? Well, I am sorry you have just few time! Dolomites need at least 1 week for a good approach and taste! But…

But if instead of 1 week you want to spend just 1 day of hiking in the Dolomites, starting the same day from Venice and returning in the evening, it is a bit more complicated but…Yes, you can !
Here is some suggestion for this quick experience: first, you must rent a car. There is no possibility to spend just 1 day starting from Venice with public transport (bus or train). Public transport it is not so efficient in this area, unfortunately.

So, considered primarily to find accommodation not in Venice (I mean water city or city center) but in the so-called mainland areas (Mestre) or near the International Airport (Tessera). This will save you around 30′ minutes on the road to Belluno and the Dolomites. In particular from the Venice Airport a highway link allows you very quickly to take the A27 motorway that ends few kilometers after Belluno in the municipality of Longarone.

In case you choose this solution the advice is to look for a hike in the area of Belluno Dolomites. These valleys are easily accessible from Venice (in particular the Zoldo Valley, Comelico Valley, Cadore and Ampezzo Valley.

Each of this valleys are reachable in around 90 minutes by car from Venice Mestre. Consider to move early in the morning to be able to start your hike no later than 10:00 AM.

For a 1 day hike Spring and Autumn are preferrable. Summer has a couple of problems: heavy traffic (expecially on Saturday and Sunday) and weather that usually turns into bad in the afternoon, reducing your hiking possibilities. If weather forecast are good, during Spring and Autumn you will have more possibilities of good weather all day long.

Do you have some question? Ask me!

Did you like this article?

Everyone for sure has an idea of what to put in a backpack. But it is very important to chose correctly what is really fundamental, what is less important, and what is unnecessary. I remember once time ago a friend of mine that came for a 2-days hike in the Dolomites in Friuli Region with a backpack of around 20 kilograms (!). He really had everithing inside, but after few hours of path he lost all his energies.

How to choose the really useful equipment? A good starting point is to put only what is strictly necessary.

Considering the season, the lenght of your hike, the weather forecast is necessary.

CLOTHES
Rain-Jacket: a sunny day can quickly change into a windy or rainy day. Expecially in summer. The rain-jacket must be unpadded, light, absolutely waterproof. A wind-stopper technolgy is a plus. The most the jacket is light, the less space and weight it has. If you use it during a hike, your body will go on sweating even in case of rain, so the jacket must be breathable.

Softshell: this is a all-around dress you can use in different situations. In a Spring or Autumn hike, it allows to you to do the hike staying warm and wind-protected all the time. Usually softshell are also a little water-resistant, so in case of light rain you can be protected without use the rain-jacket. On Summer, it can be used in the hikes at higher altitudes or in case of sudden drops in temperature.

Tshirt or shirt: today the dress industry provides a lot of technic shirts for sport and hike, so you have no problems to choose a breathable shirt. I still prefere cotton shirts instead of synthetic fabrics. If your hike will take 1 entire day or more days, you should take with you 1 shirt for each day.

Pants: short or long?: it depends from the kind of your hike. A Summer hike in a sunny day along meadows allows you to use short pants, but in the most of other situations I prefere long pants. Long pants protect your leg from wood, rock, rain, and also from some unusual but possible meeting with vipers, a common snake on Dolomites. If you are afraid of hot weather, you can put a simple cotton short pant in your backpack to quickly change your dress if needed.

Water: it is fundamental. Finding water sources is not easy if you do not know the enviroment around you, so a water bottle is needed. You can consider 1 liter per person per day, and as my granpa said: “Se bevi troppo ti tagli le gambe!” (If you drink to much water you obtain tired legs). Avoid coke or sodas, they make you thirsty. Wine, bier or grappa are allowed during a pause in a hut 🙂

Food: this is very personal… I usually do not eat so much during a hike, so for 1-day I can only take with me 1 sandwich with ham and cheese, 1 fresh fruit (apple or banana), 1 chocolate bar and some dried fruit. But it is up to you.

Emergency kit: it is a good idea to bring with you some blister plasters, a disinfectant, a multipurpose boxcutter and a torch, they could be useful in many needs.

Never forget to take with you the paper map of the area you are hiking.

Read how to choose a good paper map

A good backpack for 1-day hike in Dolomites should not be more than 4-5 kilograms heavy. Put the lightest and less fundamental things on the bottom of tha backpack, and let’s go!

Remember to calibrate this suggestions considering the hike you are going to do.

 

 

Did you like this article?

When a hut is open? Huts are a traditional element of Alps, but in the Dolomites they are characterized in particular by the high number and the short distance (usually) between them. On Dolomites there are dozens of huts, and in most of them you can find restaurant and rooms. Many of them are recently restored and full of comforts 🙂 Some huts are private, and some are managed by CAI (Italian Alpine Club). The biggest an full-optional huts are often under 2,000-2,200 mt. altitude, while over 2,500 mt. altitude they are usually very simple and essential.

In any case, you will always find a recovery in emergency case (every hut do it by law). The short  distance between them allows children and untrained persons to hike on numerous paths, and also allows anyone to quite easily reach a hut in case of need.

Remember that if you want to pass a night in a hut (it is a beautiful experience) it is fundamental to reserve the bed some day before you go, expecially during July and August. And, first of all, check if the hut is open!

When do the huts open?

Usually the most of huts open from June to September, according with the high tourist season. In that period you are reasonably sure that each hut is open. Of course it is always a good idea to look for updated informations or to call the hut. Some hut can also be open for a larger period, for example from May to October. There are also huts that are open in winter, because they are on the paths of snowshoeing.

Would you like to have a quick overview of the open huts? There is a great website, in my opinion, called RifugiAperti http://www.rifugiaperti.it/. The website is in Italian, but it is so easy and graphic that you do not need to know the language.

It is a Google Map based website, so you can move on the map and simply check which hut is open and which not at the moment you are connected. Informations are not 100% guaranted but the times I used it was right.

open hut

Huts and Bivouacs

It is very important to consider the difference between huts and bivouacs. The bivouac is a free recovery, usually built with metal and situated under the peaks over 2,500 mt altitude. The bivouacs are always open and they have no service but some camp bed (usually 9 or 12 camp beds). They are used as emergency recovery in case of bad weather and also as a good starting point for an early morning hike or climb to a peak. There is no possibility to reserve them, so “those who first come first served”. They not always have a water source nearby.

A typical bivouac on Dolomites

 

Did you like this article?

Seasonality on the Dolomites is very important. Each season show us the mountains in a different way: woods, rocks, snow, flowers, all change from a month to another. So, how to choose when to take a holiday here?


Spring: is a great period. Hiking is again possible after the snow has melted, but the peaks are still white and snow is plentiful on them. So the panorama is similar to a little “Canada”: bright colours in the valleys, many flowers, a freshness all around you. Temperature is still fresh (easily under 15°C).

Spring top elements: no tourists, good weather, great panorama, good prices in Hotels and apartments.
Spring bad elements: huts are still closed, cold temperature possible.
Be careful of: snow on the paths is still possible, expecially over 2.000 mt. altidude; bring warm clothing with you.


Summer: is the most common season to hike. This not necessary means that it is the best period. Of course summer brings big benefits to hikers: temperature is warm, huts are all open, there is no risks with snow or ice on the paths, so it is surely a good period. Unfortunately most of the people think the same, so Summer bring also a lot of people on the paths. Wheather is usually good, but air is full of humidity, so afternoon thunderstorm or rainy days are frequent.

Summer top elements: general good weather, warm temperature, huts open.
Summer bad elements: many tourists, high prices in Hotels and apartments.
Be careful of: many tourists means more risk in some difficult or exposed passages. If you want to sleep in a hut remember to reserve it some days before, or you probably will not find a free bed.


tofana-di-rozes

Autumn: is the season I love. No longer tourists on the paths, no longer a too warm climate. Again the possibility to hike admiring the snow over the highest peaks, and especially the fantastic colours of the wood. Orange, red, yellow, dark green are the colours of the Leaves during Autumn, so the period between the second half of September to the first half of November is something you should absolutely see on Dolomites.

Autumn top elements: general good weather, great colours, few tourism.
Autumn bad elements: huts are closed, cold temperature possible.
Be careful of: snow on the paths is possible, expecially over 2.000 mt. altidude; bring warm clothing with you.


Winter: is usually an off limits season for hiking. The snow falls abundantly expecially in January and February, so it is not possibile to hike without snowshoeing. But snowshoeing means also having a good knowledge of risks of snow, avalanches, and having the correct saving devices with you. This arguments is out from this blog. So, simply, in this season you have to go down under 1.000 mt. altidude to find some good path without snow.

 

Did you like this article?

If you are a passionate hiker, you surely heard to speak about Dolomites before. This fantastic mountain group grew up from the bottom of the sea million years ago. With the particular rocky colours and fascinating shapes Dolomites are a sort of paradise for every hiker, trekker and climber since the XIX century.dolomites-area

Dolomites are located in the North East of Italy, in the Eastern side of the Alps. The main part of them are included into Veneto and Trentino-Alto Adige regions, not so far from the important International Airport of Venice, or from the smaller but well-served airport of Treviso.

There are fundamentally 2 main ways to go into the heart of Dolomites Region: one from the Brenner Highway that connect Verona with Innsbruck and Munich, or from Venice (Highway A27) that connect this beautiful city with the town of Belluno, the real gateway to the mountains of this area.

The distances are not so heavy. From Venice Airport “Marco Polo” to Cortina d’Ampezzo (the “Queen of Dolomites” and one of the must-to-see of the area) is only 150 km by car (2 hrs on a easy road). From Treviso Airport is about the same.

This road, called “Alemagna”, drive you in the eastern side of Dolomites, full of beauty. Is the kingdom of some famous peak, such as Tofane group, Tre Cime di Lavaredo (German “Drei Zinnen”), Dolomiti di Sesto (German “Sextener Dolomites”) with their beautiful Natural Parks.

On the other side, with a little longer trip (180-200 km by car) from Verona Airport you will easily reach 2 of the most beautiful dolomitic valley: the Ladins valleys Val di Fassa and Val Gardena.

Where do you think to go?

Did you like this article?