Hiking to El Cor, the heart of the Dolomites


Would you believe me if I told you that I’d found the most spectacular hike in the Dolomites? Listen up. There are so many amazing hikes to do in the Dolomites that it’s challenging to pick just one, but out of my three weeks spent in Italy, there was one place that stole my heart, quite literally.

Hiking to El Cor the heart of the Dolomites is one of the best adventures I’ve been on in Italy.

El Cor (the heart, in Italian) was one of my first introductions to Italian hiking and one that has been forever cemented in my mind. Verdant alpine pastures, perfectly solitude, unbelievable views. And a perfect heart cut out of the rock, a window high in the mountains. Also, it’s a total secret! It’s so secret there isn’t even a trail there!

10 reasons why this unknown corner of the Dolomites is an adventure seeker’s paradise

If you’re going to the Dolomites in summer and looking for a fantastic hike, you’ll no doubt want to put El Cor on the list, but if you do a quick search, you’ll see it’s an elusive track, and it’s hard to get any info about it, let alone in English but have no fear friends! I’m here to help.

Here’s everything you need to know about hiking to El Cor, the literal heart of the Dolomites.

Hiking to El Cor the heart of the Dolomites

Hiking to El Cor the heart of the Dolomites

Start:

The start of the El Cor track in a little village called Gares which is just west of Taibon Agordino.

You can reach the car park (Parcheggio Capanna Cima Comelle) in about 30 minutes if leaving from Taibon. There’s a great little cafe there for a quick espresso and a last-minute treat to get you up the mountain.

Time:

Hiking to El Cor the heart of the Dolomites takes a full day generally. Your time will vary greatly depending on your fitness and how often you stop, but at the very least, you should plan for 6 – 8 hours. This is a long trip and will take the majority of the day. A technical climb that’s unmarked and difficult, using an experienced guide is crucial.

I repeat you need a guide. You need ropes and rock climbing gear. You need experience.

Hiking to El Cor the heart of the Dolomites

Hiking to El Cor the heart of the Dolomites

The route:

Ok full disclosure, this is not the easiest route in Italy.

You won’t find full paths and hoards of crowds or clever via ferratas. The majority of this trip is off route and unmarked meaning that you either need to hire a guide (which is what I did) or be extremely familiar with the area and terrain (which is unlikely if you’re visiting as a traveler).

I got a personalized guide who made sure I was safe and happy the entire time. I used (Giovanni Orlando) as a guide. You can also stop into the Ufficio Turistico di Agordo or the Ufficio Turistico di Alleghe for more information on the route.

This obviously is a summer hike.

Hiking to El Cor the heart of the Dolomites

Hiking to El Cor the heart of the Dolomites

The track to El Cor starts on a generous, but steep, walking path that takes you up quickly for an hour. You’ll reach the end of the track and find a Malga (an Italian farmhouse) where you may or may not see a protective border collie patrolling the scene.

And that’s about as detailed as my description can get, which is why I recommend hiring a guide.

10 ways rifugios in the Dolomites are redefining hut life

From the malga, you’ll go off-trail and down a steep gully. If you’re afraid of rock climbing and heights, this may not be an adventure for you. My guide carefully placed climbing gear on the rocks and roped me up tight to make sure I was safe while navigating my way down the slippery and steep gully.

We then put on over the shoe crampons and made our way carefully across a snowfield.


From there, the route to El Cor was easier but steep and exposed. We zig-zagged up the face of the mountain, which finally plopped us on the ridge, which is where all the magic happened! Finally!

At first, you can’t see the heart of the Dolomites, but you do get a quick view of the surrounding peaks which are pretty damn impressive. Cima Pape, El Mul, and Monte Agner are the three mountains you’ll see towering above the valley below.

A little further on the ridge, you’ll be blessed with your first sighting of the El Cor. While it’s visible, it’s not blatantly obvious so make sure you’ve got your eyes peeled.

Hiking to El Cor the heart of the Dolomites

Hiking to El Cor the heart of the Dolomites

This is a great stop to stop for lunch when hiking to El Cor the heart of the Dolomites.

I’d highly recommend fresh bread rolls and the local deli meat, Speck. Honestly, it’s a simple sandwich but one of the best I’ve ever had on a hike; and when you’re in Italy, nothing tastes terrible.

Take in the view and take all of the photos because once you leave this spot, El Cor will disappear and you won’t see it again.

With a full belly, you’ll be ready to complete the circuit. You’ll walk along the narrow ridge towards Tromba del Miel where the terrain flattens out, and you’ll have more room to move around. You’ll follow the vague cairns down the mountain and loop back up with another generous walking trail. This trail will take you back to the malga, and you’ll return the same way you ascended.

Finish the trip with a well-deserved beer at the cafe and enjoy the warm sun before the afternoon rain!

Hiking to El Cor the heart of the Dolomites

Hiking to El Cor the heart of the Dolomites

It almost goes without saying (and if you’re on a guided hike, this will be no problem because you’ll likely be roped up to your guide) but please please please do not attempt to hike to El Cor on your own.

It’s incredibly exposed, and a fall here would be fatal.

Additionally, this is a precarious natural formation and exposure to human traffic will undoubtedly degrade the feature quickly, so keep your space and admire it from a distance. Resist all irresponsible urges to get a stupid shot for Instagram! If I see anyone standing in the middle of the heart with their Instagram husband, I’ll lose it.


Things to consider and remember:

It’s common to encounter intense afternoon storms in the Dolomites, so if you’re planning this trip, you’ll want to leave early in the morning to mitigate this.

We left Taibon at 6:45 am and started walking by 7:30. If you begin the trip and begin to feel uncomfortable with the terrain (it’s very steep and exposed!), don’t be afraid to turn around.

It’s so important to listen to your gut!

Hiking to El Cor the heart of the Dolomites

Hiking to El Cor the heart of the Dolomites

What to bring:

Layers: The mountains in the Dolomites are high. The temperatures at the top can feel very different than the temperatures down in the valley. Be prepared with prolonged pangs, warm insulating mid-layers, and rain protection. It’d also recommend throwing in a hat and gloves, even in summer, just in case.

Water: There is virtually no water on the trail either. Aside from at the Malga (which was being guarded by border collie who did not like intruders, so we stayed clear). You’ll need at least 1L or maybe more if it’s going to be a warm day.

Food: Bring lots of food, including lunch. You’ll need the energy to sustain you for you around 8 hours.

Gear: If you’re going with a guide, they will have all the equipment you need to get to the top safely. This includes ropes, harnesses, crampons, and climbing gear.

Camera: The views from the top will blow your mind, so don’t forget your camera with a spare battery!

Hiking to El Cor the heart of the Dolomites

Many thanks to the Heart of the Dolomites for hosting me in Italy – like always I’m keeping it real – all opinions are my own like you could expect less from me!

The post Hiking to El Cor, the heart of the Dolomites appeared first on Young Adventuress.



Source link

Hiking to El Cor, the heart of the Dolomites


Would you believe me if I told you that I’d found the most spectacular hike in the Dolomites? Listen up. There are so many amazing hikes to do in the Dolomites that it’s challenging to pick just one, but out of my three weeks spent in Italy, there was one place that stole my heart, quite literally.

Hiking to El Cor the heart of the Dolomites is one of the best adventures I’ve been on in Italy.

El Cor (the heart, in Italian) was one of my first introductions to Italian hiking and one that has been forever cemented in my mind. Verdant alpine pastures, perfectly solitude, unbelievable views. And a perfect heart cut out of the rock, a window high in the mountains. Also, it’s a total secret! It’s so secret there isn’t even a trail there!

10 reasons why this unknown corner of the Dolomites is an adventure seeker’s paradise

If you’re going to the Dolomites in summer and looking for a fantastic hike, you’ll no doubt want to put El Cor on the list, but if you do a quick search, you’ll see it’s an elusive track, and it’s hard to get any info about it, let alone in English but have no fear friends! I’m here to help.

Here’s everything you need to know about hiking to El Cor, the literal heart of the Dolomites.

Hiking to El Cor the heart of the Dolomites

Hiking to El Cor the heart of the Dolomites

Start:

The start of the El Cor track in a little village called Gares which is just west of Taibon Agordino.

You can reach the car park (Parcheggio Capanna Cima Comelle) in about 30 minutes if leaving from Taibon. There’s a great little cafe there for a quick espresso and a last-minute treat to get you up the mountain.

Time:

Hiking to El Cor the heart of the Dolomites takes a full day generally. Your time will vary greatly depending on your fitness and how often you stop, but at the very least, you should plan for 6 – 8 hours. This is a long trip and will take the majority of the day. A technical climb that’s unmarked and difficult, using an experienced guide is crucial.

I repeat you need a guide. You need ropes and rock climbing gear. You need experience.

Hiking to El Cor the heart of the Dolomites

Hiking to El Cor the heart of the Dolomites

The route:

Ok full disclosure, this is not the easiest route in Italy.

You won’t find full paths and hoards of crowds or clever via ferratas. The majority of this trip is off route and unmarked meaning that you either need to hire a guide (which is what I did) or be extremely familiar with the area and terrain (which is unlikely if you’re visiting as a traveler).

I got a personalized guide who made sure I was safe and happy the entire time. I used (Giovanni Orlando) as a guide. You can also stop into the Ufficio Turistico di Agordo or the Ufficio Turistico di Alleghe for more information on the route.

This obviously is a summer hike.

Hiking to El Cor the heart of the Dolomites

Hiking to El Cor the heart of the Dolomites

The track to El Cor starts on a generous, but steep, walking path that takes you up quickly for an hour. You’ll reach the end of the track and find a Malga (an Italian farmhouse) where you may or may not see a protective border collie patrolling the scene.

And that’s about as detailed as my description can get, which is why I recommend hiring a guide.

10 ways rifugios in the Dolomites are redefining hut life

From the malga, you’ll go off-trail and down a steep gully. If you’re afraid of rock climbing and heights, this may not be an adventure for you. My guide carefully placed climbing gear on the rocks and roped me up tight to make sure I was safe while navigating my way down the slippery and steep gully.

We then put on over the shoe crampons and made our way carefully across a snowfield.


From there, the route to El Cor was easier but steep and exposed. We zig-zagged up the face of the mountain, which finally plopped us on the ridge, which is where all the magic happened! Finally!

At first, you can’t see the heart of the Dolomites, but you do get a quick view of the surrounding peaks which are pretty damn impressive. Cima Pape, El Mul, and Monte Agner are the three mountains you’ll see towering above the valley below.

A little further on the ridge, you’ll be blessed with your first sighting of the El Cor. While it’s visible, it’s not blatantly obvious so make sure you’ve got your eyes peeled.

Hiking to El Cor the heart of the Dolomites

Hiking to El Cor the heart of the Dolomites

This is a great stop to stop for lunch when hiking to El Cor the heart of the Dolomites.

I’d highly recommend fresh bread rolls and the local deli meat, Speck. Honestly, it’s a simple sandwich but one of the best I’ve ever had on a hike; and when you’re in Italy, nothing tastes terrible.

Take in the view and take all of the photos because once you leave this spot, El Cor will disappear and you won’t see it again.

With a full belly, you’ll be ready to complete the circuit. You’ll walk along the narrow ridge towards Tromba del Miel where the terrain flattens out, and you’ll have more room to move around. You’ll follow the vague cairns down the mountain and loop back up with another generous walking trail. This trail will take you back to the malga, and you’ll return the same way you ascended.

Finish the trip with a well-deserved beer at the cafe and enjoy the warm sun before the afternoon rain!

Hiking to El Cor the heart of the Dolomites

Hiking to El Cor the heart of the Dolomites

It almost goes without saying (and if you’re on a guided hike, this will be no problem because you’ll likely be roped up to your guide) but please please please do not attempt to hike to El Cor on your own.

It’s incredibly exposed, and a fall here would be fatal.

Additionally, this is a precarious natural formation and exposure to human traffic will undoubtedly degrade the feature quickly, so keep your space and admire it from a distance. Resist all irresponsible urges to get a stupid shot for Instagram! If I see anyone standing in the middle of the heart with their Instagram husband, I’ll lose it.


Things to consider and remember:

It’s common to encounter intense afternoon storms in the Dolomites, so if you’re planning this trip, you’ll want to leave early in the morning to mitigate this.

We left Taibon at 6:45 am and started walking by 7:30. If you begin the trip and begin to feel uncomfortable with the terrain (it’s very steep and exposed!), don’t be afraid to turn around.

It’s so important to listen to your gut!

Hiking to El Cor the heart of the Dolomites

Hiking to El Cor the heart of the Dolomites

What to bring:

Layers: The mountains in the Dolomites are high. The temperatures at the top can feel very different than the temperatures down in the valley. Be prepared with prolonged pangs, warm insulating mid-layers, and rain protection. It’d also recommend throwing in a hat and gloves, even in summer, just in case.

Water: There is virtually no water on the trail either. Aside from at the Malga (which was being guarded by border collie who did not like intruders, so we stayed clear). You’ll need at least 1L or maybe more if it’s going to be a warm day.

Food: Bring lots of food, including lunch. You’ll need the energy to sustain you for you around 8 hours.

Gear: If you’re going with a guide, they will have all the equipment you need to get to the top safely. This includes ropes, harnesses, crampons, and climbing gear.

Camera: The views from the top will blow your mind, so don’t forget your camera with a spare battery!

Hiking to El Cor the heart of the Dolomites

Many thanks to the Heart of the Dolomites for hosting me in Italy – like always I’m keeping it real – all opinions are my own like you could expect less from me!

The post Hiking to El Cor, the heart of the Dolomites appeared first on Young Adventuress.



Source link

Via ferrata in the Dolomites: where history and adventure collide


I had three main requirements on my most recent trip to Italy and the Heart of the Dolomites:

  1. Eat as much pasta and drink as much wine as possible
  2. Fill every spare moment with adventure
  3. Experience an authentic Italian via ferrata in the Dolomites, the birthplace of via ferratas.

Via ferratas have gained a global reputation for being a fun and accessible activity for thrill-seekers who may not have the equipment and skills necessary for technical climbing but who want to experience hanging hundreds of meters in the air on the side of a cliff.

Via ferrata Dolomites is the best way to get a taste for adventure here.

via ferrata dolomites

If it sounds intimating, you’re not wrong.

While they are safe (especially with a guide!), via ferratas are not for the faint of heart.

Being comfortable with heights and exposure is a must for this adventure. But if you have some coordination and confidence, via ferratas are a great way to experience the mountains; in the heart of the Dolomites in the Agordino in Italy is the perfect place to try them out for the first time.

The perfect adventure tourist activity, if you’re looking for a bit of everything, be sure to check out via ferratas when you’re in the Dolomites.


Full of adventure but steeped in a bloody history

The term via ferrata means “iron way” in Italian, and it refers to a system of bolts, cables, platforms and ladders securely fastened to the mountain; they were built to help people scale sheer cliffs quickly.

Who in the world would come up with such a crazy idea?! I’m surprised it wasn’t a kiwi, to be honest.

Soldiers in the middle of mountain warfare, that’s who.

Via Ferratas were popularized during WWI when soldiers needed to move quickly and quietly through the mountains as they worked to fight to maintain control of the valleys below. As the Austrian-Hungarian Empire tried moving further south into Italy, the Italians worked tirelessly to protect their land and their people.

via ferrata dolomites

Trenches were built, high alpine roads were constructed, ladders were bolted on the side of sheer cliffs.

In Marmolada, the Queen and the tallest mountain of the Dolomites, the Austrian soldiers figured out it would be safer to go down the crevasses of the glacier where they could dig tunnels and effectively create a miniature village below the surface.

Their plan was a huge success, and the Italians didn’t know Ice City existed at all until years after the war had ended.

You know life must have been rough when willingly descending into and living in the crevasses of a glacier is better than being above ground.

via ferrata dolomites

WWI was the worst war for Italy, which had just become a unified nation in 1859.

By the time WWI came, Italy was not entirely an industrialized power and lacked the resources and military for large scale warfare. Worse yet, because the borderlines were still fresh, many Italians and Austrians felt they were fighting their cousins and friends. It was a bloody war that killed over 600,000 Italians and left millions more injured.

Fast forward one hundred years and via ferratas have graduated from impressive military tactics to fun recreational activities found all over the world. I’ve been on via ferratas in the USA and Wanaka, New Zealand but I was excited to experience the real deal in the heart of the Dolomites, where it was born.


Modern-day via ferratas in the Dolomites

My first via ferrata in Italy was Sottotenente Mario Fusetti Sass de Stria in Valparola Pass.

While certainly not the most difficult via ferrata in the area, this one is filled with history. The approach to the start of it takes you on an easy winding path through historical trenches and old structures from WWI. If you look carefully enough, you can even find shrapnel and other ancient artifacts from 100 years ago.

Using via ferratas requires some equipment, such as a harness, helmet and a series of slings and carabiners to make sure that if you take a fall, you won’t go very far. For our group, the guide also used a rope which he attached to us for extra safety.

via ferrata dolomites

We started to climb, moving in unison up the rock face, each meter giving us an even better view of the valley below than the last. During WWI, the only way to control the valleys below was to stake out on the peaks, taking turns bombing the enemies below.

It was so strange to be having fun and feeling a rush of adrenaline in a good way when only 100 years ago, these peaks were the home of horrific atrocities. Via ferrata Dolomites has a history that’s mind-boggling.

The climb itself was relatively easy and straightforward, and despite climbing over 200 meters, we reached the top in about 30 minutes.

The via ferrata is unique because you can complete it in a loop, quickly walking back down to the car park once you’ve topped out. We made the easy decision to take advantage of the pristine weather and continue going up, walking to the top of the peak.

The trail took us to through winding trenches, up ladders and into tight nooks and crannies, making us feel like little kids exploring an ancient fortress. We reached the peak of Sasso di Stria with ease and took a few moments to take in the view, rifugios in the distance.

via ferrata dolomites

During my three weeks in Italy, I had barely just scratched the surface of all the opportunities in the extensive network of available via ferrata Dolomites.

There are dozens of guide books to help you narrow down your choice, and there are climbs for every ability from the absolute beginner to the extreme rock climber. If you don’t feel comfortable tackling the via ferratas on your own, you can always hire a guide. Just pop into the information center, and they’ll be able to recommend a local to take you up.

The Italian via ferrata is an absolute must-do for any adventure seekers traveling to the Dolomites. It’s more than an adrenaline rush. It’s a sneak peek into an unpleasant past, where the war was fought against the enemies. Soldiers were battling to stay alive in some of the most inhospitable terrain and conditions on the planet. 

Sure, you can do via ferratas all over the world, but Italy is one of the only places on earth where you can simultaneously get your thrills while moving through a living museum. Trust me; you won’t regret it!

Have you ever done a via ferrata? Is this an adventure you’d try when traveling? Are you interested in visiting the Dolomites too?


Many thanks to the Heart of the Dolomites for hosting me in Italy – like always I’m keeping it real – all opinions are my own like you could expect less from me!

The post Via ferrata in the Dolomites: where history and adventure collide appeared first on Young Adventuress.



Source link

Via ferrata in the Dolomites: where history and adventure collide


I had three main requirements on my most recent trip to Italy and the Heart of the Dolomites:

  1. Eat as much pasta and drink as much wine as possible
  2. Fill every spare moment with adventure
  3. Experience an authentic Italian via ferrata in the Dolomites, the birthplace of via ferratas.

Via ferratas have gained a global reputation for being a fun and accessible activity for thrill-seekers who may not have the equipment and skills necessary for technical climbing but who want to experience hanging hundreds of meters in the air on the side of a cliff.

Via ferrata Dolomites is the best way to get a taste for adventure here.

via ferrata dolomites

If it sounds intimating, you’re not wrong.

While they are safe (especially with a guide!), via ferratas are not for the faint of heart.

Being comfortable with heights and exposure is a must for this adventure. But if you have some coordination and confidence, via ferratas are a great way to experience the mountains; in the heart of the Dolomites in the Agordino in Italy is the perfect place to try them out for the first time.

The perfect adventure tourist activity, if you’re looking for a bit of everything, be sure to check out via ferratas when you’re in the Dolomites.


Full of adventure but steeped in a bloody history

The term via ferrata means “iron way” in Italian, and it refers to a system of bolts, cables, platforms and ladders securely fastened to the mountain; they were built to help people scale sheer cliffs quickly.

Who in the world would come up with such a crazy idea?! I’m surprised it wasn’t a kiwi, to be honest.

Soldiers in the middle of mountain warfare, that’s who.

Via Ferratas were popularized during WWI when soldiers needed to move quickly and quietly through the mountains as they worked to fight to maintain control of the valleys below. As the Austrian-Hungarian Empire tried moving further south into Italy, the Italians worked tirelessly to protect their land and their people.

via ferrata dolomites

Trenches were built, high alpine roads were constructed, ladders were bolted on the side of sheer cliffs.

In Marmolada, the Queen and the tallest mountain of the Dolomites, the Austrian soldiers figured out it would be safer to go down the crevasses of the glacier where they could dig tunnels and effectively create a miniature village below the surface.

Their plan was a huge success, and the Italians didn’t know Ice City existed at all until years after the war had ended.

You know life must have been rough when willingly descending into and living in the crevasses of a glacier is better than being above ground.

via ferrata dolomites

WWI was the worst war for Italy, which had just become a unified nation in 1859.

By the time WWI came, Italy was not entirely an industrialized power and lacked the resources and military for large scale warfare. Worse yet, because the borderlines were still fresh, many Italians and Austrians felt they were fighting their cousins and friends. It was a bloody war that killed over 600,000 Italians and left millions more injured.

Fast forward one hundred years and via ferratas have graduated from impressive military tactics to fun recreational activities found all over the world. I’ve been on via ferratas in the USA and Wanaka, New Zealand but I was excited to experience the real deal in the heart of the Dolomites, where it was born.


Modern-day via ferratas in the Dolomites

My first via ferrata in Italy was Sottotenente Mario Fusetti Sass de Stria in Valparola Pass.

While certainly not the most difficult via ferrata in the area, this one is filled with history. The approach to the start of it takes you on an easy winding path through historical trenches and old structures from WWI. If you look carefully enough, you can even find shrapnel and other ancient artifacts from 100 years ago.

Using via ferratas requires some equipment, such as a harness, helmet and a series of slings and carabiners to make sure that if you take a fall, you won’t go very far. For our group, the guide also used a rope which he attached to us for extra safety.

via ferrata dolomites

We started to climb, moving in unison up the rock face, each meter giving us an even better view of the valley below than the last. During WWI, the only way to control the valleys below was to stake out on the peaks, taking turns bombing the enemies below.

It was so strange to be having fun and feeling a rush of adrenaline in a good way when only 100 years ago, these peaks were the home of horrific atrocities. Via ferrata Dolomites has a history that’s mind-boggling.

The climb itself was relatively easy and straightforward, and despite climbing over 200 meters, we reached the top in about 30 minutes.

The via ferrata is unique because you can complete it in a loop, quickly walking back down to the car park once you’ve topped out. We made the easy decision to take advantage of the pristine weather and continue going up, walking to the top of the peak.

The trail took us to through winding trenches, up ladders and into tight nooks and crannies, making us feel like little kids exploring an ancient fortress. We reached the peak of Sasso di Stria with ease and took a few moments to take in the view, rifugios in the distance.

via ferrata dolomites

During my three weeks in Italy, I had barely just scratched the surface of all the opportunities in the extensive network of available via ferrata Dolomites.

There are dozens of guide books to help you narrow down your choice, and there are climbs for every ability from the absolute beginner to the extreme rock climber. If you don’t feel comfortable tackling the via ferratas on your own, you can always hire a guide. Just pop into the information center, and they’ll be able to recommend a local to take you up.

The Italian via ferrata is an absolute must-do for any adventure seekers traveling to the Dolomites. It’s more than an adrenaline rush. It’s a sneak peek into an unpleasant past, where the war was fought against the enemies. Soldiers were battling to stay alive in some of the most inhospitable terrain and conditions on the planet. 

Sure, you can do via ferratas all over the world, but Italy is one of the only places on earth where you can simultaneously get your thrills while moving through a living museum. Trust me; you won’t regret it!

Have you ever done a via ferrata? Is this an adventure you’d try when traveling? Are you interested in visiting the Dolomites too?


Many thanks to the Heart of the Dolomites for hosting me in Italy – like always I’m keeping it real – all opinions are my own like you could expect less from me!

The post Via ferrata in the Dolomites: where history and adventure collide appeared first on Young Adventuress.



Source link