Trip Number: 12650A
Price: $2,295 (10-12)
$2,725 (or fewer)
Staff: Gene Goldberg
- Hike the craggy mountains of the Dolomites
- Look for wildlife and flowers along the way
- Enjoy good food and a warm bed when the day is done
- All lodging in hotels and mountain huts
- Hearty meals and all gratuities
- On-trip transportation
The Dolomites of northern Italy are among the most dramatic mountains on Earth.
Though not as big as the nearby Swiss Alps, they are even more striking in their
color and in the way they rise abruptly from the surrounding landscape. Their
geologic composition includes both dolomitic limestone and volcanic formations.
The Brentas are the largest of the seven groups that make up the Dolomites,
and most consider them the most rugged. On this trip, we will hike through what
many consider one of the world’s most scenic areas. Indeed, this sunny
corner of the Alps is beautiful, warm, and friendly both in its scenery and
Photo: Gene Goldberg
Our route will take us high into the eastern side of the Brentas, under the
shadow of Cima Brenta (10,247'), and then we circle around the central core of the group. This is a rare opportunity, as most routes here require
mountaineering skills, whereas our route is strictly hiking. And when the day
is done we’ll stay at a mountain refuge perched high in the craggy mountains.
Besides the dramatic scenery and interesting local culture, we have a good chance
of encountering ibex and chamois along the trail, as well as marmots and other
wildlife. The rare European brown bear can also sometimes be seen here.
As our mountain refuges provide bed, linens, and hot meals, we will only have
to carry slightly more than a regular day pack, adding to it some extra clothes
Day 1: We meet this evening at our hotel in downtown Bolzano.
At dinner tonight -- our first included meal -- we’ll get acquainted and
discuss the trip.
Day 2: After breakfast, we visit the Archaeological Museum
and see Ötzi, the 5,300 year-old mummified man found in the mountains nearby.
In the afternoon, we transfer to the nearby resort community of Madonna di Campiglio
for the night. We return here at the end of the trip, so excess luggage can be left at the hotel.
Day 3: We start our trek in the forest and ascend into the
mountains to our first mountain refuge. Halfway up we break into the open and
get our first views of the rugged terrain. We should arrive in time for lunch
and an afternoon's rest after our ascent. (Route: 5 miles, +2,800 feet)
Photo: Gene Goldberg
Day 4: Leaving our refuge, we hike north a while before turning
east and wandering through the rugged, stony landscape of the high karst plateau,
Campo Flavona. Our refuge tonight is small (only 20 beds) and has no showers.
(Route: 7 miles, +1,200 feet, -2,800 feet)
Day 5: Heading south, we take a winding trail between the
tors of Pizzo Gallino (8,010’) before dipping down into the forest, then
continuing on to our refuge for the night. (Route: 7 miles, +1,100 feet, -2,300
Day 6: Today is our most challenging as we ascend the steep
and rocky trail to Rifugio Pedrotti, a large refuge with a dramatic setting
just below the east flank of the highest peaks. (Route: 5 miles, +3,100 feet,
Day 7: Today we cross the spine of the central massif, complete
with dramatic views. Some steep trails soon lead us to a more gentle stretch,
which we continue along until reaching our final refuge for the trip. (Route:
4 miles, +400 feet, -2,500 feet)
Day 8: After breakfast we take an easy walk back down to Madonna
di Campiglio in time for lunch. The afternoon is free for shopping, relaxing,
and packing up. (Route: 4 miles, +400 feet, -2,500 feet)
Day 9: Sadly, our trip comes to an end after breakfast. Ciao!
The trip begins in Bolzano, which has a regional airport, and is also easily
reached by train from the major airports in Milan, Venice, and Munich. Allow
about 4-5 hours for the train and/or bus from the major airports. Additional
details will be sent to registered participants.
The trip ends in Madonna di Campiglio. From here, after our final breakfast,
you can take a 1.5- to 2-hour bus ride to Trento, where the trains can take
you back to your airport or to Bolzano.
Please make sure that your passport is valid at least six months past the end
of the trip -- a requirement of many countries. You are responsible for having
your own passport and obtaining any necessary visas or other travel papers.
Evacuation insurance is strongly recommended. The leader will send out newsletters
with additional travel information, and ideas of things to do in the area before
and after the trip. You are encouraged to arrive at least a day or two early
to help overcome jetlag before we begin hiking. It would also help should your
luggage be delayed in arriving -- unfortunately, not a rare occurrence.
Accommodations and Food
Photo: Gene Goldberg
We will be staying at a mix of hotel types. In the towns, we will be at regular
three-star hotels near the city center. We will stay in double rooms; there
is no guarantee of a single supplement; ask the leader if you are interested.
The leader will assign roommates of the same gender for single travelers. A
word about Italian beds: typically, a double room features two twin mattresses
on a single bed frame. Each mattress is made up individually, but they are side
by side. We will ask for separate beds for those who desire them, but cannot
say whether they will be available. All rooms have toilets and a shower or bath.
In the mountain refuges, we will stay in dormitories with bunk beds, sometimes
co-ed, with bathrooms down the hall. The dormitories range in size from double
rooms (rare) to big enough for our entire group and maybe other hikers. We won’t
know in advance which rooms we can get. Otherwise, the word "hut"
is somewhat misleading; the quality of the dining rooms and other appointments
in most is comparable to a two-star hotel. One of the refuges does not provide
We’ll eat breakfasts and dinners at our lodgings most days. On some nights,
the hotels do not serve dinner, so we’ll eat at a nearby restaurant. The
group eats together as a whole. Breakfasts vary from simple continental buffets
of breads and coffee, to heartier selections featuring cheese, meat, yogurt,
and fruit. For dinners, there will sometimes only be one or two choices. This
is the norm at the refuges; of course, when at full-service restaurants we will
have more selection. You are free to order from the standard menu. While vegetarian
meals are not the norm in this area, our hosts are willing to make a special
effort to accommodate guests. Still, that’s no guarantee. The first round
of beer or wine at dinner is included in the trip price.
When possible, we will stop at huts along the way for lunch. The huts serve
soups, sandwiches, and pastas. However on most days, we will carry our lunches
and have a group picnic, ideally on the top of a mountain ridge or some other
scenic spot. The leader will ask for volunteers to help buy and assemble the
Photo: Gene Goldberg
This is a hut-to-hut hiking adventure, where we will be well into the mountains
and moving to a different hut every day and will carry everything we need for
the week with us. It is intended for the experienced hiker who is able to walk
about seven hours each day over an average distance of about six miles and about
2,500-3,000 feet of elevation gain and loss. You need to be able to do this
amount of hiking for several days in a row, without a rest day. Our maximum
daily hiking distance will be 8.5 miles, maximum gain will be 3,100 feet, and
maximum loss will be 3,700 feet. Expected daily distances and elevation gains
are listed in the itinerary above, but may have to be changed depending on group
abilities, weather, closures, etc. You should review the itinerary and be comfortable
with your ability to complete the trip with enough extra energy that you are
still enjoying it and not struggling just to get through the day.
Our walking will generally be on rocky paths, with some very steep sections
that will be more challenging. There are sections where the trail crosses scree.
It is possible to encounter patches of snow even in the heart of summer. On
occasion, there may be cables to hold on to while we cross a short section of
steep terrain. They are there more for psychological comfort than necessity.
You will need to carry a large day pack with raingear, lunch, and personal items
(including toiletries and extra clothing) for our overnight stays at the mountain
huts -- however, sleeping bags aren’t necessary. You should be able to
get by with about 20 pounds.
It is best to prepare for this trip by keeping to a regular exercise schedule
and taking frequent day hikes in hilly terrain -- preferably at altitudes similar
to the ones we will encounter. If you don’t live near hilly terrain, ask
the leader for suggestions on a conditioning program. You need to be doing aerobic
exercises at least three times a week, and, if hill- or stair-climbing with
a pack is not included in that, you should at least be doing resistance training
for your legs and core.
As for weather, this is the sunny side of the Alps, and, with a bit of luck,
we will experience the blissfully clear, warm days that are the norm. Remember,
though, that mountain weather is unpredictable and we may experience rain, fog,
or even snow. Daytime temperatures will usually be in the 55-75 degree range,
and nighttimes in the 40s or 50s. That said, it has gotten into the upper 80s
and down to freezing on occasion on this route. In exceptionally bad weather,
we may have to change routes -- your safety is always our highest priority.
Equipment and Clothing
Photo: Gene Goldberg
No special equipment is required. You will need the gear you normally use
on day hikes. Medium-weight broken-in boots are the most important item. Besides
that, bring a day pack with your hiking essentials; including water, raingear,
and something to keep you warm should the weather turn colder unexpectedly.
The leader will provide a more detailed list later. Be sure you have enough
extra room for your share of the picnic lunches.
Besides hiking gear, you will have to carry whatever additional stuff you’ll
need for overnight stays at the refuges. Linens and blankets are provided, so
a sleeping bag isn’t necessary. You should consider bringing toiletries,
extra clothing, and a change of underwear, and possibly a flashlight and slippers.
Note: you will not have access to your luggage during the trip.
- http://www.omnimap.com/cgi/graphic.pl?images/hiking/kom-dolo.jpg Map #070,
Dolomiti di Brenta 1:30,000, Meridiani Montagne, available in Madonna di Campiglio
- http://www.omnimap.com/catalog/hiking/kompass.htm?180,544 Kompass map 688
Gruppo di Brenta, 1:25,000
- Price, Gillian, Walking in the Dolomites.
- The Lonely Planet Guide to Walking in Italy.
Please note that our route is not listed in any book I am aware of; these guides
are only for general introductions to the area.
Photo: Gene Goldberg
Sierra Club is an environmentally focused entity. We are concerned about conservation
and sustainability of resources, both locally and globally. Our work is accomplished
by volunteers and aided by a salaried staff, encouraging grassroots involvement.
Our outings seek to empower participants toward environmentally understanding
parallel concerns at home and abroad.
Europeans use an extensive hut system to enjoy the mountains. The huts, along
with associated roads and lifts, make a substantial impact, while also allowing
greater access to remote places. We will observe these impacts and discuss the
differences between Alpine and American 'wilderness.'
This trip requires a $200 per-person deposit. An additional payment of $300 per person is due six months prior to trip departure. International trip prices are subject to change and are based on double-occupancy or group accommodations as described above. Single rooms may not be available or may cost more than the listed price. If you have any questions regarding double occupancy, please contact the trip leader.
See the How to Apply for an Outing
section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the
trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing
up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing
approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical
Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on
the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to
the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and
notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
The Sierra Club accurately and fairly budgets and prices our trips. However, unforeseen costs such as devaluation of the dollar compared to other currencies and fuel surcharges assessed by our international providers may necessitate adjustment in trip price. We will make every effort to mitigate and absorb these fees. If a price increase is necessary, however, you will have 14 days after announcement to cancel without penalty.
Gene Goldberg has been leading Sierra Club trips since 1990. His Club trips have included backpacking in the Colorado Rockies as well as trips to Nepal, the Swiss Alps, New Zealand, and Bhutan. The Dolomites is his favorite hiking area. He now lives in Santa Fe with his wife, Gail, and dogs, Whisky and Bailey.
John Blaustein has applied his years of backpacking in the Sierra and Rockies to leading trips for the National Outings Program in the Sierras and Rockies, and most recently, internationally. Of the many challenges in leading Sierra Club trips, maximizing enjoyment of the group while keeping its individual members satisfied is among the most gratifying. John's greatest pleasure with leading trips is facilitating the "wilderness experience" for its participants. When not practicing medicine in Santa Barbara, John enjoys downhill skiing, road cycling, ocean kayaking, photography, and weight training.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips