Dolomites Alta Via 2 Basics
The Dolomites Alta Via 2 must easily be one of the most beautiful treks in the world. For any hiker seeking the best European experiences, this should be very high on your list. The Dolomites are a mountain range in North-Eastern Italy, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site due to their rugged, natural beauty.
The Dolomites really are a unique part of the world well worth visiting both in the summer and winter. In the summer it’s a paradise for hikers and climbers and in the winter it turns into a ski paradise.
Alta Via 2 crosses a very popular, very large ski area – Dolomiti Superski, that’s spread around the Sella Massif and the valleys around it.
There are several Alta Via’s (or High Trails) that cross the Dolomites from North to South. They’re numbered 1-6. Unofficially there are probably more, I’ve seen references up to AV8. Alta Via 1 and Alta Via 2 are the most popular ones.
Alta Via 1 seems to be easier and more crowded, whereas Alta Via 2 is more rugged and hence less walked.
This planning guide gives you the facts you need to know to get on the Dolomites Alta Via 2.
Please also take a look at my own personal experience walking 6 days on this trail from Brixen to Passo San Pellegrino – you’ll get a good feel for what it’s like on the trail!
- Situated in Süd Tirol (or Alto Adige), in the Dolomites of Northern Italy
- The AV2 starts in Brixen (Bressanone in Italian), which is on the A22 – the main corridor across the Alps in this region – and is easily reachable by train or car.
- Closest International Airports to Brixen are: Venice and Innsbruck (only intra-European connections). Munich is a little further away but I recommend considering it as your gateway. Read here why.
- AV2 ends at Croce d’Aune, near Feltre (roughly 100 km or 60 miles North West from Venice)
- Length: about 160 km, or 100 miles
- Duration: 13 days is suggested. Can be done in less if you’re fit.
- Rated Difficult / Demanding
- Total ascent: about 12000 meters / 39400 ft. (Daily average about 950 meters / 3120 ft)
- When to go: During the summer. Snow can be found late in to the summer in some places. Read here about our snowy crossing of the Sella Group.
Overview of Dolomites Alta Via 2
Dolomites Alta Via 2 runs through across the beautiful part of the Dolomites. It is fairly long and demanding and, as such, should not be underestimated. However, it runs through populated areas so even though you will be alone in the mountains, you’re really not very far from civilization.
The trek starts close to the border with Austria, with Austrian Tyrol on the other side. I was told that local like to refer to the starting point as Brixen, not Bressanone. This is natural since the local language is German.
By the way, all the literature I can find suggests that this is normally walked from North to South. Not really sure why that is, but maybe the scenery ahead is more impressive this way!
Brixen is a beautiful, historical city worth visiting by itself. It lies just south of the Brenner Pass, the main transport corridor into Austria and Germany beyond which makes it easily accessible from either north or south by car or rail. The best airports to fly in are be Munich, Innsbruck and Venice.
The northern part of the trail from Brixen first climbs up on the Plose mountain. There’s a ski area so you don’t quite get the feeling of solitude but it is, nevertheless very beautiful and from the top you have beautiful views in all directions.
If you start in Brixen, I recommend booking accommodation in advance.
Puez Odle and across the Sella Massif
Soon enough you will enter the magnificent Puez Odle Natural Park. You’ll get wonderful views down the Badia valley. After crossing Puez Odle, you will cross Passo Gardena and the northern part of the Sella Ronda ski circuit. Passo Gardena is served by public transportation and there’s hotels so it would be an option to start or end your trip.
We stayed and Hotel Cir and found it to be nice.
After Passo Gardena you cross the magnificent Sella Massif to emerge to Passo Pordoi on the other side. From the Sella, in good weather you’ll get your first glimpses of the Marmolada – the Queen of the Dolomites! Passo Pordoi is another option to begin or end with hotels and public transportation.
Around the Marmolada
From Passo Pordoi you will continue on the Viel del Pan, an ancient route that links Passo Pordoi to Passo Fedeia, used historically for transferring flour by the merchants of Belluno. All the while on the Viel del Pan, the might Marmolada keeps you company.
From Passo Fedeia you descend to Malga Ciapela, a small ski resort town with some hotels. Alta Via 2 now takes you around the Marmolada from the eastern side and then behind it in the South, to Passo San Pellegrino, where again are some hotels, a small ski area and a bus stop. You can check out the hotels in Malga Ciapela here.
If you decide to spend time in Malga Ciapela and it’s a beautiful day, I recommend taking the lift up to the Marmolada. The views are totally worth it. If you spend the night at Malga Ciapela you can visit Marmolada in the morning and you still have good time to make it to Passo San Pellegrino for the night. (That’s what we did!)
Here’s accommodation in Passo San Pellegrino.
Pale di San Martino
Descending to Passo San Pellegrino, you’re awarded with beautiful vistas into the exceptional Pale di San Martino, which Alta Via 2 crosses next. Pale di San Martino is the southernmost of the big Dolomites groups, at the borders of the Trento and Belluno provinces.
It will take you a few days on rugged terrain to cross this range before you arrive at your final stages.
Vette Feltrine & Feltre
The final days of the AV2 will be spent crossing the Vette Feltrine, the last mountains of the Dolomites before the Veneto plains. Being the first obstacle for the warm air that rises from the South and the Mediterranean, this stretch is often covered in mist, and the local flora is quite impressive as you gradually descend towards sea level.
The final stage takes you to Croce d’Aune, a short way from the walled renaissance town of Feltre. From there it is easy to get where ever you may want to go by public transport.
“It’s very long & I only have a week. I really, reaaally hate dormitories.”
To adjust, you just need to plan accordingly.
Please read through our 6 day Alta Via 2 experience. We split our trek differently from what the typical suggestion is and spent several nights in hotels. You’ll miss out on some beautiful sunsets and sunrises, and the encompassing mountain hut atmosphere but you gain uninterrupted sleep and, well, the hot showers.
Proper hotels at Passo Pordoi on the right. I recommend booking beforehand… We stayed at the Hotel Savoya and had a truly wonderful dining experience there! We were so ready for it after 4 days on the trail…
How to Get There and Back
Organizing your transport depends on you. If you’re planning on doing this entire walk, I recommend using public transportation. If you drive to Brixen, you’ll need to park your car somewhere (and pay for that, practically) and then go back to get it.
Getting to Brixen
Getting to Brixen is easy: Fly to Munich, Innsbruck or Venice and hop on a train. There’s continuous connections from all these places. Check out train schedules at
- Deutsche Bahn – http://www.bahn.com
- OBB for Austria – http://www.oebb.com
- Trenitalia for Italy – http://trenitalia.com
Starting Somewhere in the Middle
If you want to start somewhere other than Brixen, I still recommend getting on a train either to Brixen or Bolzano. From either of these places you can then take a bus to, for example, Passo Gardena, Passo Pordoi, Passo San Pellegrino and so on. Check out https://www.sad.it/
Make sure you understand how much time these connections will take. For example, last time I checked Passo San Pellegrino was far away measured in hours to get there.
Ending Somewhere in the Middle
Basically, same story as above but in reverse. Get to one of the places where you can take a bus. It could be one of the passes, or it could be a town off the AV2. For example, we hiked to Moena – west of Passo San Pellegrino – and got a bus from there.
Ending in Feltre
From Feltre you can hop on a train and get to Venice. Or, you can hop on a bus and get to, for example Trento and then hop on a train from there.
If you left your car in Brixen or flew in via Innsbruck or Munich, riding a bus to Trento and getting on a train there is probably the best choice. If you flew into Venice, the train is obvious.
Sure! Venice is worth a visit if you have some time to spare! You’re in the neighborhood We visited before our trek and it was worth it.
To be honest, though, after fully packed and overly crowded Venice, getting to the mountains was a real relief.
Check out some hotel deals for Venice here. I recommend also checking out the hotels in Mestre, on the mainland just next to Venice. It’s cheaper but still convenient. Of course, not as wonderful as Venice proper, but especially if you’re on a budget, I’d check it out.
Alta Via 2 Itinerary
Now let’s get back from thinking about Venice, to the Dolomites Alta Via 2 itinerary!
Here’s how to do it. The following day stages have you sleeping in mountain huts, which is great! I really recommend you do because it’s the authentic experience and there’s really nothing quite comparable to a beautiful sunset, and a beautiful sunrise on the mountain. However, to spend some nights in hotels, see how we did it for the first 6 days to get an alternative approach.
- Stage 1: Brixen to Plose Hütte (5:30 hours)
- Stage 2: Plose Hütte to Rifugio Genova (4 hours)
- Stage 3: Rifugio Genova to Rifugio Puez (5 hours)
- Stage 4: Rifugio Puez to Rifugio Pisciadu (5 hours)
- Stage 5: Rifugio Pisciadu to Rifugio Castiglioni (6:30 hours. There’s other places to stay around Lake Fedeia you can consider, too, e.g. Hotel Rifugio Dolomia or Rifugio Fedeia
- Stage 6: Rifugio Castiglioni to Passo San Pellegrino. Choices at Passo San Pellegrino include Albergo Miralago and a few hotels
- Stage 7: Passo San Pellegrino to Rifugio Mulaz (5:15 hours)
- Stage 8: Rifugio Mulaz to Rifugio Rosetta (4:15 hours)
- Stage 9: Rifugio Rosetta to Rifugio Treviso (6:15 hours)
- Stage 10: Rifugio Treviso to Passo Cereda (4:30 hours)
- Stage 11: Passo Cereda to Rifugio Boz (7:15 hours)
- Stage 12: Rifugio Boz to Rifugio Dal Piaz (6 hours)
- Stage 13: Rifugio Dal Piaz to Croce d’Aune (1:30 hours)
- This is a long trek, don’t underestimate it. You can squeeze in longer days but I advise to build in some slack.
- As always, weather can be tricky. Read about our snowy experience on the Sella Massif in July here.
- There’s not many places to get supplies along the way. If you stay on the route, after Brixen the first shops are in Malga Ciapela. That’s on the 6th day according to the schedule, unless you make a detour to, for example, Selva Val Gardena near Passo Gardena.
- While on the trail, you can get off and get a bus in these places:
- Passo Gardena
- Passo Pordoi
- Rifugio Castiglioni
- Passo San Pellegrino
- Passo Cereda
- To get off the trail elsewhere, you will need to walk somewhere.
I strongly recommend reserving your nights at the mountain huts beforehand. It can get very crowded at times. Even though you probably won’t be left out in the cold, sleeping in emergency shelters or on a filthy mattress somewhere is not necessarily very enjoyable!
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Things you need for Dolomites Alta Via 2
- You need maps. I recommend getting them beforehand. Don’t go, if you don’t have them! If you don’t get them beforehand, get them at Brixen. You can’t expect to be able to find them on the trail.
- Here’s the maps you need from Tabacco, all in 1:25000 so easy to follow:
- Stages 1-3: Tabacco 030 “Bressanone/Brixen Val di Funes/Villnöss”
- Stages 3-5: Tabacco 07 “Alta badia-Arabba-Marmolada”
- Stages 6-7: Tabacco 015 “Marmolada-Pelmo-Civetta-Moiazza”
- Stages 8-12: Tabacco 022 “Pale di San Martino”
- Stages 12-13: Tabacco 023 “Alpi Feltrine-Le Vette-Cimònega”
- Make sure you have the necessary gear for a Multi-Day Alpine hike. Check out the Gohikealps Packing Guide, sign up and download our printable checklist for reference.
- Make sure you have adequate Hiking Insurance. Read the Guide to Hiking Insurance here.
- Familiarize yourself with What You need to Know Staying in Mountain Huts.
- I recommend booking a hotel in Brixen before you go, if that’s where you are going to start. If you’re traveling afar, you’ll be tired by the time you get there…
- I also highly recommend getting a book. I used Gillian Price’s excellent “Trekking in the Dolomites: Alta Via 1 and Alta Via 2 with Alta Via outes 3-6 in Outline” to plan our trip and ended up taking it with me for reference. Very helpful.
Even More Information
Being as popular as they are, there’s all kinds of information available on the Dolomites all over the Internet. Just google up Dolomites Alta Via 2.
So, before contact information to all the Rifugios on the Alta Via 2, here’s some stories to check out:
- First of all, mine: On this site you’ll find a 6 day, non conventional, hotel preferenced story of Walking Dolomites Alta Via 2.
- Michael Lanza’s excellent writeup on the Big Outside: https://thebigoutside.com/the-worlds-most-beautiful-trail-trekking-the-alta-via-2-through-italys-dolomite-mountains/
- http://www.entremontanas.com/en/grandes-rutas/alta-via-2.asp – they have GPS points, even! Great. Beware, though, the track on the site goes right over the Marmolada, not around… (you can read about making this choice here)
There’s some discussions going on Summitpost: http://www.summitpost.org/phpBB3/alta-via-2-dolomites-t66942.html
There’s also commercial options if you would like to explore with a group and/or with guidance. The two companies I seem to run across are:
- Holimites: http://www.holimites.com
- Dolomite Mountains: http://www.dolomitemountains.com
If you book from them, say “Hello!” from Gohikealps!
Contact Info for the Mountain Huts
Here’s the contact info to the mountain huts on the Alta Via 2. There’s also links to hotels along the way. All in order of appearance as you walk from North to South. I’ve gathered this information from various sources and cannot guarantee it’s all 100% up to date so please check before you go! (I did do my best, though!)
By the way, I’ve found that often these huts are easier to reach by phone rather than email. This is especially true during the summer when they’re all busy catering to guests.
(Note: info listed has been checked in january 2017)
- +39 0472 521333
Rifugio Genova / Schüterhütte
- +39 0472 670072
- +39 0471 795 365
Hotels at Passo Gardena
- We stayed at Hotel Cir and liked it. Very conveniently located with nice rooms as well as a very good dinner.
- Apparently, no website but info here: http://www.veramontagna.it/Trentino/Val-di-Fassa/Canazei/Rifugio-Franco-Cavazza-al-Pisciadu
- +39 0471-836292
- +39 0471 847303
Hotels at Passo Pordoi
- +39 0462 601681 or +39 0462 601117
Hotels at Malga Ciapela
- We stayed at Hotel Tyrolia and found it to be comfortable and good value. There’s a bunch of others, too, here on booking.com.
Hotels at Passo San Pellegrino
- We stayed at Hotel Cristallo. It was very nice. We had a beautiful room, upscale room and dinner was good.
Rifugio Capanna at Passo Valles
- +39 349 533 1742 (mobile)
- +39 0439 62311
Rifugio Passo Cereda
- +39 0439 65118 or +39 0439 65030
- +39 0439 64448
Rifugio Dal Piaz
- +39 329 3647428
If you’re in doubt, I say GO! The Dolomites Alta Via 2 is unique in so many ways that it is worth it to go. If you’re flying from overseas it’s far away but you can easily combine this once in a lifetime trek with other great things – such as Venice, and other wonders that Northern Italy has to offer. Lake Garda is nearby, as is Milan. Or if you want to experience Austria and Germany, just hop on a train.
I started this site to give ideas to hikers and trekkers who may not yet be familiar with the Alps. When friends or acquaintances ask me what is the best and most beautiful place to go to, I always respond: The Dolomites. The Dolomites Alta Via 2 is the best of it.
If you find this site useful, there’s a couple of things you can easily do to help it breathe and grow:
- Share. If you think this is interesting to people you know, share. Use the sharing buttons or just send a link.
- Use any of the links or advertisements on this site to purchase the things you need for this trek. There’s no cost to you but Gohikealps will earn a small commission. It goes a long way to pay for the costs of running the site.
- Give feedback. How can we improve? Any particular area you would like us to cover?
Thanks for reading, happy hiking !
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Great reference and route descriptions! Thanks! My wife and I will be trekking on the Alta Via 2 this summer from July 10-15, before heading south to visit Venice, Florence, and Puglia. We’ll be staying our first night in Bressanone and most likely taking the cable car up the first hut area, and hiking to Rifugio Genova for our first night on the actual Alta Via 2. We have already made reservations for all rifugi, except Rifugio Pesciadu, which does not seem to respond to our emails (any suggestions?). One question for us is, since we are flying into Munich and then heading south after our trek, are there any baggage “carry forward” services that could take our extra luggage from Bressanone to Paso San Pellegrino? This is a typical kind of service for instance, on the West Highland Way in Scotland and around the Tour de Mt. Blanc, but we have not been able to find anything like that for the Dolomites. Other than that, we love your packing guide; it corresponds with much that we have learned in other treks and lots of serious backcountry backpacking over the years. We’ll keep checking out your site and thanks for helping us all out! Thanks, John and Jessica.
Good questions. I never looked into a carry forward service but now that you mention it, I’d be surprised if it wasn’t available somehow. Have you tried calling the tourist office in Bressanone or maybe try this http://www.suedtirol.info/en/_inc/contact ? They should probably know how to arrange this, or at least where to ask.
If you’re getting off at Passo San Pellegrino, you will probably go down the valley through Moena. It’s a sizable town. I think you could literally mail you things to one of the hotels there, or maybe the bus company could handle it. You’ll be in the mountains for several days so there’s plenty of time for your things to get there.
As for Rif Pisciadu… I would probably try the tourist office at Colfosco or Selva Val Gardena for that one. They should know how to get in touch.
For all of these things, I’ve found the tourist offices to generally be helpful.
I hope this gives you some ideas. Let me know if you think I can help with anything else! Sounds like you have a wonderful trip coming up.
One other question: does the main Alta Via 2 have sections that require a stretch of sling rope and a couple of carabiners for safety or are those via ferrata alternate routes or side routes only?
You can avoid all Via Ferratas on the main route, they’re all on the side. I only walked to Passo San Pellegrino so 100% sure between Bressanone and there.
That said, we did carry Via Ferrata gear because we thought we might go on one or two along the way. The only time it was used was when we got caught in a snow storm on top of the Sella Group and there were secured cables available approaching Rifugio Boè. You can avoid these, too, but we lost our way a little. Wiser people probably would not have been out there in that weather to begin with…
Hope you can help. Sorry to use this thread for a question on AV 1. Are there any trekking routes (full or partial) from the end of the Alta Via 1/Belluno to Innsbruck? I have 4-5 nights to reach Innsbruck from Belluno. Would like to trek as much as possible rather than taking trains/buses. Thank you.
I think walking from Belluno to Innsbruck in 5 nights is not possible. It’s just too far. Have you thought about this: after AV1 take a bus to Feltre (it’s very close) and start walking AV2 northbound? You could then make your way to, for example, Bolzano and then take a train from there to Innsbruck. If you plan this, I would plan carefully for where to get off on AV2 and catch a bus. Depends on you condition and willingness to walk long stretches, of course. What do you think?
Thank you Pekka. I will have already completed the AV2, so, if possible, I don’t want to repeat any segments. From Belluno, I was hoping to catch a bus to some point/town north and then trek towards Innsbruck along a non-AV1 or 2 route. I would then take a bus/train to Innsbruck if the route didn’t finish in that city. I don’t know much about the border treks in that region.
Sorry for the late reply… How about this: take a bus to Brunico and get on the Via Alpina red trail from near there. That will take you over the border to Austria and near Innsbruck, too, if you have enough time. Or you can get off at Mayrhofen and get a train to Innsbruck. Check out via-alpina.org and the red trail from there. The site has very detailed info to help you plan. What do you think?
What would be your advice about hiking the alta via 2 with longer days? We are avid hikers from Alaska. We’d like to cover the entire route but are wondering what would be the best way to condense 13 days down to 8 or 10?
Sorry for the very late reply! There’s definitely room for squeezing some time if you’re experienced, but some of the stretches really are quite long without chances for spending the night. I mention the book on this page since it has more detail on the different stages and I found it to be very helpful in planning. I’m hesitant in recommending how exactly to do this but I will recommend getting the maps beforehand and planning properly with them. I would also recommend building in some slack for bad weather and such. This really is a demanding route. Walking it all in 8 days, I think, would be beyond me. 10 days, for me, would be realistic. Sorry again for the late reply and apologies for the somewhat vague answer.
Thank you for the information, It is very helpful. I am planning to go this summer( 21-25 august) with some friends in the Dolomites and I was not sure which track to choose but now I think we will try Alta Via 2 🙂
Happy to hear – I hope you have a great time!
Hi, thanks for the amazing information. I have a quick question, do you think it is possible to do the Alta Via 2 alone? I have some experience trekking or hiking in the himalayas but have 0 experience rock climbing. I don’t need to do the whole Alta Via 2 perhaps just sections of it as I have only 6 days anyway. What sections would you reccommend? Thanks!!
Yes, it’s definitely possible to do this alone but I would recommend you are sure about your ability. There’s no need for rock climbing on the route, but it is demanding at times. In 6 days you can do what’s posted on this site, but I recommend getting the book for planning (link on this page) since it has more detail than this post and contains a different “rhythm” than what I did. From my experience, I would cut off the first day.
I really liked the north part but am looking forward to doing the Pale di San Martino stage I missed due to not having bought a map beforehand. If you’re tight on time, pay attention to the schedules of public transportation. I hope you enjoy it!
Thank you so much for responding. I will get the book. What do you mean by demanding – steep climbs and descents or narrow paths where I could fall off! I’m 34 and a woman from India and I think I am reasonably fit but not especially. I will definitely choose a slower rhythm but as long as it is not outright dangerous (glaciers, vertical rock faces, and narrow edges) I feel I could handle it. Also would there be other people on the path or is it possible to go an entire day and not see anyone? Thanks again!
There are for sure some steep climbs, descents and narrow paths. However, going carefully and in good weather, I personally don’t think this route is especially dangerous. There’s no glaciers or need for technical gear and I suppose if you’re unlucky or careless, you can fall off from much less demanding paths, too… Most likely you will see plenty of other people and at the end of the day, although there are remote feeling sections, you’re never far away from civilization. 🙂
Hi Pekka, thanks for this info, it’s so complete and useful!
I’m an avid hiker/camper/trekker, and was wondering if you thought this trail was possible to do with camping rather than staying in huts? Do you have any idea if there are campsites, or what the legal implications are on the trail?
Thanks for your help!
I don’t think camping is a viable option. There’s no camping areas on the trail, at least not on regular intervals. It would also be difficult with extra water & supplies, it’s tough enough as it is.
I’m not sure if there’s a rule or law against it, but I would imagine there is.
To sum it up: I would stick to huts & hotels.
Hi Pekka, Good blog, I know from experience that it takes a lot of work. I have added a link on the following pages of my site to your planning info. I provide more general trekking data and videos, plus I cover the entire planet.
Keep up the good work.
I carried a tent and my own food and cooking stuff. It did give me the option to change my pace and do side trips. It also lowered the cost. I stayed in my tent half the time.
However, it also made it much harder. Carrying 15kg is no fun and made some of the high altitude skinny trails, scrambles and ferrata much more difficult.
As for places to camp? I had no problem finding spots generally. Naturally this only applies to green spots on high meadows or in valleys, not on the dry top stretches.
Watch the videos at http://3minuteAdventures.com
Thanks for the insight – very valuable. I fully agree, the extra weight doesn’t help and personally I’m not sure I’d be up to carrying tent & gear on this trip but happy to hear its doable! Just curious – did you have trouble finding enough water or did you carry more than usual? Not camping I didn’t really pay attention to this.
Thanks for sharing your experiance. I am planning to do (a part of) the trip end of july or begin august. I have 7 days to hike/ doing via ferrata’s.
I always hike with all my food and tent to keep the cost low. But I don’t have much via ferrata experience and don’t know it is fysical to do with a bagpack that weight +/- 15 kg.
I like to combine the hike with (as much as possible) via ferrata on the route. Do you think that is possible heavy backpackt?
Thanks in advance!
Hi Neel – sorry for the delayed response. I think it entirely depends on the difficulty of the particular via ferrata. Easier ones, no problem but of course the more physical it gets with the added weight. Tougher ones, I don’t think so. The tougher ones I wouldn’t take the heavy back pack. As always, I think it depends on your skill and fitness and if, or not, you plan on continuing from where the via ferrata ends or go back down. Make sure you have via ferrata gear with you, that’ll add some weight to your pack, too.
Hi Having just completed AV1 I would like to do AV2. I am just a little concerned there are some very exposed sections on a few stages that cannot be avoided? I am not very confident scrambling down exposed stuff. I have also completed Gran Paradiso, Tour of the Queyras, Tour of Jungfrau, Bernaise Oberland, so used to that sort of terrain and bug ups and downs are OK, just tricky exposed stuff and very narrow ledges with big drops. 🙂
I think you will be fine on AV2 looking at the list of tours you’ve already done. 🙂
Hi, given the conditions you experienced would recommend carrying ice, walking rope and/or crampons for this route in September?
Thanks for the question – no need for any of that in my opinion.
I hiked the AV2 solo in July 2018 and absolutely loved it, getting as far as Rif. Cereda before the path to Rif. Boz was apparently washed out in a big storm that night. The “expert opinion” of a local guide was that attempting to continue was dangerous and unwise. As I was travelling solo I followed that advice, bailed out and took the bus to Feltre – only to learn to my great disappointment from three fellow Aussie guys who were half a day ahead of me at Cereda and who decided to have a go that “It was a piece of p#ss!” (as we would say back home to describe something not terribly difficult!)
My top tips:
1. Get fit before you go! (Do lots of 5-6 hour hikes, with loaded pack, and especially with ascents & descents of at least 500m each. There are two stages on the AV2 of 1,000m – Malaga Ciapela to Forca Rossa, and Passo delle Lede to Rif. Treviso)
2. Munich is a good entrance point to Europe, with easy connections to South Tyrol by Intercity train to Brixen.
3. If you want to save some money, stay at the Jugendherberge Brixen (Hostel) in Brixen/Bressanone – central, very clean, comfortable, cheap and they will store any excess luggage for you to await your return (which I did three weeks after leaving, having spent 14 days on the AV2 plus a further week doing day hikes around Cortina d’Ampezzo.)
4. Limit the weight of your backpack to 10kg (preferably a little lighter). I carried about 12 kg but realized I could have easily done without some items.
5. Take a ‘Swiss Seat’ harness (a simple and quickly donned loop of webbing with a couple of caribiners, rather than full Via Ferrata kit) that will give you some added security and confidence on a several steep “aided sections” where wire cable and iron staples are installed (A shortcut between Forcella della Roa and Rif. Puez; exiting Val Setus to get up to Rif. Pisciadu; and ascending Passo del Lede between Rif. Rosetta and Rif. Treviso)
6. Whilst the number of hard-copy maps required (min. 5) is absurd, and heavy, when the entire route could be printed on one, you need something with that level of detail as it can be difficult to work out exactly which path you should take – despite the track identification and signage being the best I’ve seen anywhere in the world.
7. Rif. Capanna Bill 2km north of Malga Ciapela is a lovely quite place with a wonderful hostess to take a rest day mid-trek, with easy bus access to Malga Ciapela and the only ATM for miles a little further east at Rocca Pietore.
8. Try to reserve a bed at the rifugios as far ahead as practical, especially for Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays when many “weekend walkers & climbers” swarm over the Dolomites.
The AV2 is a fantastic and audacious adventure, full of wonderful isolation and splendour – and one of the best treks you could ever do.
Great comment – thank you! Too bad about the expert opinion but I suppose they have to be overly cautious. Not good for tourism if people die… I was recommended not to go because of snow and ice on the north side of the Meraner Höhenweg. I went anyway and it really was tricky in a couple of spots. Well, dangerous to be honest. Being used to snow and ice was helpful.
Is there a need to book refuges in September?
I can’t say for sure but I don’t see any harm booking in advance. Just remember to cancel if plans change or book them a few days in advance as you go. It can be busy in September still, especially over the weekends.
Hi Pekka, I plan on walking AV2 in July 2020, do you recommend joining CAI? If yes, which branch (or branches) do I need to join for AV2? Great info by the way, I’ll definitely recommend it to others. Cheers.
I recommend joining some relevant mountain club to get insurance cover and hut discounts. My choice has been the Austrian Alpine Club UK. It covers both aspects very well, operates in English and accepts members from all over the world. I haven’t looked at CAI for a long time but if they offer the same benefits, it could be an option, too, but not a necessity for AV2. Check this article out, it has some additional info on the topic: https://gohikealps.com/staying-in-mountain-huts/
Hi Pekka, my girlfriend and I are planning on trekking the AV2 in mid June 2020. I saw that it’s recommended to call rifugios ahead of time to book; do they typically speak English?
Hi Mike, I’ve had no problem at all with English. In my experience there will always be somebody who is at least able to take your reservation.
Hi Having completed the AV1 2 years ago we are maybe considering AV2. However, in Gillians book she does suggest there are some pretty airy sections along the route which cannot be avoided., would you say this is the case? We are both fairly fit and used to hiking in the Alps, having done several treks over the last 10 years or so, but I am not very good on sections that are very exposed and tricky.
Hi Tim, There are parts which can surely be called tricky. However, in my humble opinion, if you have gone through any trails in the Alps rated black or difficult, these would not be anything out of the ordinary. For example, check out this post and look at the “Climbing up to the Roa-Scharte” picture. Or, look at the climb to Val Setus here. These are probably the 2 trickiest sections in the first 6 days. The southern part I haven’t had a chance to walk myself, yet, so I don’t have photos of that. I have a hard time believing there would be anything more tricky than the above.
Mike: I had no problem conversing in English with all rifugios I contacted – though the guy who answered at Rif. Rosetta didn’t speak English & I had to wait for the lady of the hut to come to the phone.
Tim: As I was trekking on my own, carrying 12kg (so not well balanced) and only had a DIY Swiss-seat harness made from one long loop of tubular webbing and a carabiner, with another length and clips at either end and loop in the middle (clipped into the harness ‘biner) as a tandem tether, at first I was rather apprehensive about going up the “aided” section on the short cut between Forcella della Rosa and Rif. Puez (though this could have been avoided) – but a kind German couple waited for me and guided me up – no sweat!!
There are some aids on the steep climb up the side of Val Setus to Rif. Pisciadu, but if a 78 y.o. Italian grandmother, her 40 something daughter and the latter’s 10 y.o. daughter can do it without equipment, then anyone can!
However, I did bypass the section from Forcella Venegia to Rifugio Mulaz to Rif. Rosetta which I believe is quite a narrow path on the cliff face with no aids (strangely!), so is exposed – but I took the boring path (#749) on the western side of the ridge to the town of San Martino di Castrozza (I was 5 minutes too late to catch the lift to Rif. Rosetta so stayed at the hostel in town and rejoined the Av2 next morning!)
Great insight – thanks Col!
Hi Pekka. Firstly thank you for writing such a detailed useful article! Ever since a short weekend trip to the Dolomites I have wanted to do AV2 and you have made it all the more accessible by writing this. My plan is to run this with a few Ultra-running friends. Would you suggest allocating the 6 days for running it? As there will be a group of us I am definitely going to book the Rifugio’s, as a rule of thumb would you say its best to simply role 2 days in to 1 from your list above, so for instance…
Stage 1: Brixen to Rifugio Genova
Stage 2: Rifugio Genova to Rifugio Pisciadu
Stage 3: Rifugio Pisciadu to Passo San Pellegrino
Stage 4: Passo San Pellegrino to Rifugio Rosetta
Stage 5: Rifugio Rosetta to Passo Cereda
Stage 6: Passo Cereda to Croce d’Aune
Or would you say this is too ambitious/non-logical?
Thanks for you help!
Hi Matt! I wish I could give you a real answer here, but I have to be totally honest about my lack of knowledge here: I’ve never tried ultra-running. I can’t really offer even educated guesses about how much ground one would be able to cover on AV2 running. It is a rough route and in some places running might be impossible, and you may encounter snow – see my other comment from a week ago.
Squeezing 2 days into 1 might not be the best approach since the days are not all similar. When planning for my trip, I bought the book mentioned above. It has detailed, granular info on distances, estimated walking times and altitude graphs. We didn’t follow the suggested staging and I planned for our trip based on the book, iterating our planned days on paper until it felt right. I think based on a similar approach and with the book you would probably be able to put together a realistic plan.
Sorry that for the lack of ultra-running experience I can’t help you more. Would be great to hear your experience!