Dolomites, Northern Italy - Suggestions?

4:53 p.m. on May 11, 2009 (EDT)
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Hi trekers,

I'll be traveling to Italy in three weeks with the aim of hiking in the Dolomites, and was wondering if you all had suggestions on where to go. I will have about 5 days in the region before moving south, and will be carrying an estimated 30 pound load at all times. I don't want to do serious climbing (i.e. with ropes and broken fingertips), but would love some moderate via ferrata and clambering. Oh, 21 year old male in good shape. I like long walks on the beach.

Thanks,

Walburn

7:21 p.m. on May 11, 2009 (EDT)
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The Dolomites are loaded with a plethora of places to hike, enough to occupy a full year without repeating a trail, especially if you add in the via ferratas. A couple years ago, my son and I spent a couple weeks based in Nova Levante, a small village about 20 km east of Bolzano (sorry to use the Italian names in a primarily German-speaking region). We did several moderate via ferratas, a bit of climbing, and a number of days of hiking (some in pouring rain) within 30 km of there and didn't begin to exhaust the possibilities. There are a couple of good volumes on the via ferratas and similar ones on hikes. Most of the books split into 2 or 3 regions, so you will want to decide whether you want to base mostly around the Cortina area or Bolzano or halfway between, toward the northern part or more southerly. I would suggest you mostly brush up on your German (Austrian-accented), though Italian is good, too. We did run into a couple of the Ladino areas, but they understood our Italian well enough (Ladino is closer to the original Latin than to Italian, I am told, enough so that some of my Italian friends say they have a hard time understanding the Ladino speakers when they start chattering among themselves).

One interesting hike, if you are into detective stories, is the Agatha Christy Weg that starts from the pass above Nova Levante and goes through the Labyrint, which was the scene of the climatic ending of The Big Four, one of her novels. She apparently spent some time at the hotel just below the pass. Oh, and if you are staying near there, don't miss the restaurant that is about 5 km down from the pass toward Nova Levante. And if you are in the vicinity of Bolzano, be sure to visit the castle that Reihold Messner has made into a climbing museum. If you are lucky, you might even run into Messner himself (which we did).

5 days in the Dolomites is much too short. 3 weeks is much too short for the Arts and Antiquities bit in Firenze, Siena, Venezia, and points between, much less heading down to Roma, Napoli, Herculaneum, etc etc etc.

1:21 p.m. on May 14, 2009 (EDT)
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Thanks a lot, Bill. I'm getting more and more excited as the planning continues. My sister is a big fan of Agatha Christy mysteries, and I would love to visit the Messner museum.

One more question. I don't own my own via ferrata equipment, and don't plan to use it again in the near future. Do you know if it's possible to rent this stuff?

11:20 a.m. on May 20, 2009 (EDT)
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Yes, there are places to rent it. But locally in the Dolomites, it is cheap enough that it is worth it to just buy it. All it is, after all, is just the harness that attaches to your regular climbing harness. Everything except the vf attachment should be in your basic climbing kit anyway - climbing harness, shoes/boots, helmet, clothes, day pack, etc. Some people just make a "Y" with regular tubular sling and a couple of carabiners. Problem with this is that it doesn't provide any load limiter capability, so if you were on a steep section and slipped, you might slide a ways before hitting an anchor, then get brought up short with a real shock load. If you spend your 5 days doing a number of vfs, the cost is well worth it for something like the Petzl vf harnesses - Zyper or Scorpio, which has a good load limiter setup. I have the Scorpio myself. I like the elastic inner for avoiding loops you can trip over.

Scorpio -

Zyper -

July 25, 2014
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