Trip Number: 13625A
Staff: Wendy Van Norden
- Hike well-maintained trails in breathtaking mountain and valley scenery
- Stay in small, family-owned hotels and a comfortable mountaintop refugio
- Savor remarkable regional cuisine and beverages
- Experience the diverse culture and historical significance of Northern
- All lodging, meals, and gratuities
- All on-trip transportation, including luggage transfer
Photo: Gene Goldberg
The Dolomites are famous for their white color, vertical vistas, green valleys,
and climbing routes. They form the southern half of the Alps. During our 12
days together, we’ll be hiking with day packs through the dramatic beauty
of these grand mountains and lush alpine meadows, with their abundance of wildflowers
and clean air.
The Dolomites are famous for their contrasts: the geologic composition of the
mountains includes both dolomitic and volcanic formations, and the cultural
heritage of the area includes Italian and Tyrolean influences due to a boundary
relocation at the end of World War I. In fact, each village or town has an Italian,
German, and Austrian name. There are also pockets in this area where the local
language is Ladin, from an ancient culture underlying the whole region. Our
hikes will take us through the three principle valleys of the Dolomites: the
Val Gardena, heavily Austrian in influence; the Val Badia, a Ladin-influenced
area; and Val d'Ampezzo, the most traditionally Italian of the three.
Our evenings will be spent in charming family-owned inns in small hillside
towns and a refugio (a traditional climber's lodge with dorms and restaurants)
perched on top of mountain cliffs, where we'll enjoy the tasty regional cuisine,
including fresh mountain cheese, speck (the mountain version of prosciutto),
and fine local beers and wines. Carrying only our day packs (vans will transport
our luggage), we’ll be free to hike and enjoy the scenery and villages
of this captivating and historical area. Our experiences here will be made extra
special by the welcoming and friendly nature of the people of this remote and
unspoiled region of Italy.
Generally our daily hikes will range between 5-9 miles each day. While ski
lifts will be used to allow us access to trailheads at higher elevations, all
hikes will involve climbing or descending several hundred feet -- some hikes
will involve a couple of thousand feet. Generally the trails are in good shape,
but there are some rough sections of scree or stone. Early in the trip we’ll
have warm up hikes and be visiting two world-class museums, the Messner Mountain
Museum and the Otzi Archeological Museum. Participants are welcome to join the
leaders prior to the start of the outing to scout new routes and do longer warm-up
hikes near Bolzano.
You must be able to comfortably walk an average of two miles per hour over
a variety of terrain, including steep inclines and downward slopes, with some
rocky, uneven trails and scree slopes. On some days we will have a choice of
shorter, flatter hikes or longer routes, taking us to higher elevations with
more gain and loss. The route will be determined by weather conditions and the
group's interests and abilities. If the weather turns bad during a hike and
thunder and lighting conditions threaten, you need to have the ability to move
much faster to get the group out of the danger zone.
Photo: Gene Goldberg
Day 1: The group will gather at our hotel in Bolzano at 5:00
p.m. After introductions, a trip summary, and a nice dinner, you are free to
walk around this charming town before turning in for the night. You are welcome
to arrive a day or two before and join the leaders on warm-up and scouting hikes.
We recommend getting the jet lag issue resolved before starting our scheduled
Day 2: After an early breakfast, we’ll visit the Otzi
Archeological Museum and "The Iceman." Otzi (our 5,000+ year-old ancestor)
was discovered on a mountain pass in 1991 in a nearly perfectly preserved condition.
Archeologists and forensic scientists have learned a lot about primitive man
by studying him, his tools and clothes, and vegetable matter he was carrying.
We will then take a ski lift up to Oberbozen, a small town in the mountains
above Bozen/Bolzano. We take a local train to Klobenstein, where we begin a
gentle hike to an overview of the "Earth Pyramids." Lunch is at an
apiary museum, and more hiking is possible before our dinner in Oberbozen and
a ride back down to our hotel in Bolzano.
Day 3: After an hour-long bus ride deeper into the Dolomites,
we take a ski lift up to Col. Raiser and hike down to the village of Selva,
where our bags will be waiting for us at our charming hotel.
Photo: Ellen Stein
Day 4: This will be a full day of hiking in the Val Gardena
area. We’ll take the 8+ km loop hike around and through the amazing Sassolungo,
a more than 9,000-foot peak, using two ski lifts to reduce the amount of climbing
and descending. We'll be back to our hotel in time to tour the town's shops
and enjoy the fine restaurant at our hotel.
Day 5: After a short hike to a nearby town, we'll take a ski
lift to Col Raiser high on the ridge north of our hotel. We'll hike down into
a valley and up a steep pass (1,500' gain over 1.5 km) to Mont De Stevia and
enjoy a fine lunch at a local refugio, then return to our hotel via a loop trail
(big decent!) for a total of about 6.5 km.
Day 6: Today we'll hike a short distance from our hotel to
a ski lift that will move us up 2,000' to a pass and a trailhead just below
the cliffs of the Gran Cier, then enjoy a 7-km hike with spectacular views of
local mountains, valleys, and villages to Corvara in the Val Badia region. A
higher, longer route is a possible option. We’ll be staying at a very
comfortable hotel with a wonderful and unique spa. Some of us will be ready
for a good soak or a massage by then.
Photo: Gene Goldberg
Day 7: Following a pleasant, leisurely walk in the Val Badia
along a river, we’ll take a ski lift up to a refugio for lunch, and a
walk back down to Corvara along a ridge above the river. The late afternoon
will be open for relaxing at the spa or shopping. The other option of doing
a high route to Piz Boe instead depends on weather and how much energy everyone
Day 8: We'll take a lift straight from our hotel and hike
across a long, broad plateau (our longest day at about 10 miles). Afterward,
we'll take a cable car ride to our refugio at Lagazuoi, which is perched high
on a craggy mountain and offers unparalleled views of the whole Dolomite region.
Day 9: This morning we'll wake up in the crisp mountain air
at 9,000 feet and enjoy a great sunrise over the Dolomites. After breakfast
we can either do a loop hike from our refugio through nearby valleys and passes,
or visit the ruins of several World War I sites nearby (tunnels with military
gun emplacements). There is a huge sun deck at the refugio with amazing views
of the Dolomites in every direction for your afternoon enjoyment.
Photo: Gene Goldberg
Day 10: Leaving our mountain refugio, we will hike past WWI
fortifications and aromatic pine forests, keeping an eye out for the elusive
chamois. We’ll stop for lunch at another isolated refugio before hiking
to our hotel in Cortina. This is a long day, but the hiking is generally easy.
In the afternoon, you will be free to wander around this famous village (host
to the 1956 Winter Olympics), shop, or relax at our hotel located on the outskirts
Day 11: This side trip is to the famous hiking area called
Tre Cime, The Three Chimneys. We'll hike around these extraordinary rock spires,
have lunch at another refugio that features homemade pasta, then catch the bus
back to Cortina in time for some shopping, visiting museums, or people-watching.
Day 12: After breakfast this morning, we will check out of
our hotel, perhaps saving time for an optional early-morning walk before we
say our goodbyes. Everyone should plan on making their own travel and hotel
arrangements for their next destination from Cortina. Buses are available to
other local sites of interest, or to transfer to trains to take you to cities
with airports. We can assist you with these arrangements the day before.
Our adventure will begin on June 26 with introductions at our hotel in Bolzano
at 5 p.m. If you wish to arrive early to see more of this wonderful little city,
you can make arrangements for an extra night or two and join the leaders for
an informal warm-up and scouting hike. The best way to access Bolzano is by
train from any nearby major city, including Venice, Milan, and Munich. In general
it’s better to take a Euro train rather than an Italian train as strikes
are frequent. You can easily make this arrangement on the internet 90 days before
On the last day, our outing will end after breakfast at our hotel in Cortina.
You will want to make your own bus reservations from there to your next destination.
We'll be happy to assist you in the process of securing tickets the day before
our outing ends and getting you to the bus station the day our outing ends.
Accommodations and Food
Photo: Gene Goldberg
Accommodations will be double-occupancy in hotels, but will be dormitory-style
in the refugio. Every effort will be made to match single participants with
compatible roommates. Typically a double room features two twin beds in a room.
Each bed is made up individually. For those who wish a single, accommodation
arrangements can be made in advance with the hotels and the extra charge will
be the responsibility of the participant.
In each hotel, we will be accommodated in rooms with en suite bathrooms. Each
hotel has been selected for its location, good food, and historic interest.
Our hotel in Corvara is a larger, more traditional hotel, but with the feel
of a village inn. This hotel features one of the most complete and interesting
spas you will find anywhere, in which all guests are free to relax. In Cortina,
we will stay away from the noisy city center, but within walking distance of
this very cosmopolitan city.
At Refugio Lagazuoi, we will stay in either quad rooms or in the dormitories,
both with bathrooms down the hall. The dormitories are co-ed and you should
expect coming and going during the night. Ear plugs are a good idea if you are
a light sleeper.
All meals are included in the trip cost. Our lunches, in almost all instances,
will be taken at refugios along the route of our hikes, where we will sample
the varied and wonderful foods of the region. This area is known for some of
Italy’s best wines; and don’t forget the (in)famous digestive...grappa.
Vegetarians can easily be accommodated at all hotels.
Photo: Gene Goldberg
This is a moderate hiking adventure, intended for the serious intermediate
hiker who is comfortable walking five to eight hours each day during our outing.
Our maximum one-day hiking distance will be 10 miles, with some significant
changes in elevation. Our terrain includes pastoral rolling hills, broad meadows,
some steep ascents, and rocky paths, where we might encounter patches of snow
even in the heart of summer. Valley elevations are 4,000-5,000 feet and hikes
will normally take us no higher than 9,000 feet, but the elevation at one overnight
refugio is nearly 9,000 feet. Everyone should plan on carrying day packs with
water, raingear (top and bottoms), and personal items. We recommend you prepare
for this outing by taking regular day hikes at altitudes similar to the ones
we will encounter, with your day pack and two liters of water. We will be hiking
at a moderate pace and taking short water breaks, but seldom long rest periods,
except at the top of steep passes and while waiting for ski lifts.
It's very important that each participant be in good physical condition for
walking every day on trails at elevation in order to enjoy the outing and each
other's company. The trails themselves are generally in excellent condition,
but there are some sections of rough rock with some exposure.
The weather in the Dolomites can be variable during the summer and as a result
we may well experience everything from still, sunny warm days to snow storms
and lightning storms. The schedule for any one day will be modified if we encounter
stormy or unsafe conditions.
Equipment and Clothing
It's important to have good-quality equipment in good condition, including
boots, raingear (tops and bottoms), day packs with rain covers, poly clothing,
and waterproof hats, and the willingness to hike with them every day. Remember,
there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing for the weather. If
one person doesn't bring adequate protective clothing, it can significantly
impact the whole group and the hiking plan for the day. There is no climbing
equipment or climbing experience required for this trip. However, experience
with steep scree, snow fields, and exposure can be a plus if the group elects
to walk some of the higher routes. An extensive packing list will be furnished
to participants. Hiking poles and well-broken-in boots are highly recommended.
- Tabacco Carta Topographic #s 03,05,07 & 011- 1:250000 Series (available
in Bolanzo and Selva). The leader will make a laminated copy of the hike
route available to the group each day.
- Stedman, Henry, Trekking in the Dolomites.
- Price, Gillian, Walking in the Dolomites: A Cicerone Guide.
- Goldsmith, James and Anne, The Dolomites Of Italy, A Travel Guide.
(Out of print, but worth the effort if you can find a used copy).
Photo: Gene Goldberg
This mountainous region has been the center of human activity for thousands
of years, since the days when hunters established seasonal hunting camps in
the valleys. Beginning in the middle ages, programs were instituted to protect
grazing and wood-cutting rights. Today, more and more tourists are attracted
to this beautiful area, both in summer and during the skiing season, and the
Italian government is working actively to preserve the area as well as to assure
responsible tourism. Two systems of land management in the Dolomites ensure
that land cannot be subdivided or reassigned to a new owner without permission.
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.
Wendy Van Norden has been leading backpacking and camping trips for more than 30 years, hiking with friends, and introducing her science students to the mountains and deserts of the Southwest. She is an avid naturalist who has fallen in love with the solitude and the overwhelming beauty of wilderness. Hiking in the Yukon and meeting caribou and grizzly bears unfamiliar with humans convinced her that the Arctic is by far the best place to find pristine wilderness. Now, she intends to return each summer to the land of the midnight sun.
Holly Wenger has had the privilege of leading a variety of national outings since 2002, from the Everglades of Florida to Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. At home in Sacramento, CA she leads local canoe and kayak trips, and teaches canoeing for the American Red Cross. Holly is still amazed by the beauty of wilderness on every trip, and by the cohesion each group forges as they experience new surroundings.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips