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
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!