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

10 ways rifugios in the Dolomites are redefining hut life


I love you New Zealand, I really do. But the Rifugios in the Dolomites are INSANE.

Your quirky charm, your quiet hills, your plethora of sheep. You are a magical country, but I have a confession to make. I’m having a love affair with the Dolomites. Sorry, I’m not sorry!

When I moved to New Zealand, I proudly stated that it was the most beautiful country on earth. I had never seen mountains so tall and cliffs so steep, and I was convinced it was a place that could never be replaced as #1 in my heart, and that remained true until recently when I visited the Heart of the Dolomites.

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

rifugios in the dolomites

Now, I’m not saying the Dolomites are my new favorite mountains, but I’m also not *not* saying it, ya know?

High alpine passes you can drive to in a car, cheap, delicious wine, creamy gelato, and vibrant Italian locals have been just a few of my favorite things but the thing that has blown me away the most?

The huts.

Errr, wait. Let me rephrase that. Hut is not really the right word to describe these places. Growing up on New Zealand hut life, this is next level.

rifugios in the dolomites

Italian huts in the Dolomites are called Rifugios here, but a more appropriate word might be Mountain Mansion.

If you are planning on doing some multi-day hikes in the Dolomites, you’re really in for a treat, just you wait. These “huts” are more like hotels, and these rifugios in the Dolomites are like houses.

Here are ten reasons why the Italian rifugios in the Dolomites have forever altered my standards for alpine sleeping.


1. The trails to them are pretty easy

Sure, some paths are more challenging to complete than others, but for the most part, you can expect smooth, well-marked trails free of bush-bashing and off-trail navigation in the heart of the Dolomites around the Agordino.

Depending on which rifugio you choose, the trails will either be jam-packed with like-minded hikers or be mostly empty.

Either way, the trails are generally wide and generous allowing you to spend more time looking up at the beauty before you and less time looking down focusing on your footwork; and forget about using your hands.

rifugios in the dolomites

2. OMG, there are showers!

My version of a hut shower is quickly washing my face in an icy mountain stream, but in Italy, you can minimize your stink by having an actual shower at the rifugio. That’s not something you can find at the backcountry New Zealand huts.

Some rifugios offer cold showers, and while some even provide warm showers (which are an extra charge for very little water, but still!) As we arrived at Rifugio Tissi near Alleghe, we saw dozens of people lined up waiting for their well-deserved hot shower. I stayed true to my dirtbag roots and opted out, but it was nice to know that was an option.

How flash is that? Read more about hiking to Rifugio Tissi here.

rifugios in the dolomites

3. Beer, wine and grappa, all day every day

There’s nothing I crave more than an ice-cold beer waiting for me at the top of the mountain. Is there anything better than after a hot and sweaty hike?

I’ve trained myself to patiently wait until the entire trip is done when I can indulge in a feast and a beverage, but in Italy, you don’t have to wait.

Enjoy a well-deserved tipple while taking in the unparalleled views or have a civilized glass of wine with your dinner. Goodbye sack of goon wine, Italy knows how to do hut wine properly.

Rifugios in the Dolomites have treats on tap.

rifugios in the dolomites

4. Espresso all the time too

Listen, I’ve had some desperate times in the mountains, but I rarely, ever, ever go without some form of coffee in the morning.

I’ve tried it all from coffee in tea bags, instant coffee, Aeropress, filter, cowboy coffee; you name it, I’ve tried it.

There is no coffee I’m too good for when it comes to caffeinating in the mountains.

Do I prefer an espresso drink in the mornings? Sure, but most of the time, that is not my reality. In Italy though, it certainly is. Fancy espresso machines at the top of the mountain so you can be adequately caffeinated. Going back to cowboy coffee is going to be hard.

rifugios in the dolomites

5. You don’t need to bring much with you either

As I was preparing for my first rifugio experience, I called my guide in a panic. What exactly do I need to bring?! I don’t have a sleeping bag or a camp stove or cutlery. I didn’t even have food to bring for a snack!

He told me in the most Italian way ever to chill out. It was all taken care of. All I needed to do was to bring a change of clothes and sleeping sheet (which he loaned me), and the rest would be there.

He was right, of course. The food, the drinks, the bedding. It was all part of the rifugio experience.

Was it strange to not have to haul a 20kg pack up the mountain? Yes. Was it the best thing ever? Also yes.

rifugios in the dolomites

6. Italian three-course meals 

My mountain meals usually consist of freeze-dried meals or a poorly executed concoction of couscous and whatever else I can find in my fridge.

Eating during hiking is simply a necessity for me. I never spend too much time or energy into planning tasty meals.

In Italy, though, you have the best of both worlds. Rifugios offer three-course meals complete with pasta, salad, polenta, dessert, and of course, wine. Going to bed with a stomach full of delicious food was a serious game-changer, especially since I didn’t even need to carry any of it with me.

rifugios in the dolomites

7. And of course, there’s wifi available

Ok, I’ll be honest, one of my favorite parts of going to the mountains is getting away from normal life far from emails and social media and the demands of work. But rifugios in the Dolomites are fancy!

In New Zealand, there’s simply no way to stay connected in the backcountry which is a perk I’ve come to relish in the past few years. Not only is there no wifi, but there is also no power, electricity or phone reception either.

It’s awesome!

rifugios in the dolomites

When we arrived at our first rifugio in the Dolomites, I was shocked to see the wifi name and password hanging on the wall. What the hell?!

But, as much as I love being in the mountains and taking time just to appreciate the view, I can see the perk of having wifi.

Need to let your loved ones know you’re alive and well? Easy. Need a distraction because everyone around you is involved in a heated conversation entirely in Italian, which you do not understand? Hello Instagram. Use the wifi when you need it but don’t forget to put the phone down for a bit and stare at the beauty in front of you too, ok?

rifugios in the dolomites

8. With wifi, there must be electricity

The last time I went to a hut and didn’t take a head torch was never.

It’s never happened. I know that as soon as the sun is gone, I’m going to need a head torch to show me where the bathroom is. But in Italy? No problem.

The rifugios have electricity and keep it accessible until about 10 pm when everyone goes to bed. If you’ve spent all of your phone battery taking photos of the fantastic scenery, you can also recharge but be prepared: finding a free socket is a bit of a mission.

rifugios in the dolomites

9. Flip flops for all

Do you know that feeling of wanting to kick off your shoes as soon as you arrive at your destination? It’s a fantastic feeling, but when I’m hiking to a hut, I usually ignore it.

I’m prepared to keep my shoes on in case I need to go outside to take photos or go to the bathroom. In Italian rifugios, they provide flip flops (which they adorably call “slippers”), so you can kick off your shoes immediately and walk around as needed. Bliss!

So refined!

rifugios in the dolomites

10. Next-level views everywhere

Rifugios in the Dolomites are adorable and amazing and offer all of the amenities you could ask for in a mountain hut. But by far, the thing that makes them stand out is the fact that they are perched in the heart of some of the most stunning mountains on the planet.

Implausibly perched on top of cliffs or tucked away into quiet valleys, it’s hard to imagine the scale of the work that went into building them.

Basking in the glory of the famous Dolomites makes every other problem in your life seem small and insignificant, and for a moment, all that matters is the beauty in front of you. (And the wine waiting for you at the table).

Have you ever seen mountain huts like these? Have you been to a rifugio before in Italy? Spill!

rifugios in 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 10 ways rifugios in the Dolomites are redefining hut life appeared first on Young Adventuress.



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10 ways rifugios in the Dolomites are redefining hut life


I love you New Zealand, I really do. But the Rifugios in the Dolomites are INSANE.

Your quirky charm, your quiet hills, your plethora of sheep. You are a magical country, but I have a confession to make. I’m having a love affair with the Dolomites. Sorry, I’m not sorry!

When I moved to New Zealand, I proudly stated that it was the most beautiful country on earth. I had never seen mountains so tall and cliffs so steep, and I was convinced it was a place that could never be replaced as #1 in my heart, and that remained true until recently when I visited the Heart of the Dolomites.

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

rifugios in the dolomites

Now, I’m not saying the Dolomites are my new favorite mountains, but I’m also not *not* saying it, ya know?

High alpine passes you can drive to in a car, cheap, delicious wine, creamy gelato, and vibrant Italian locals have been just a few of my favorite things but the thing that has blown me away the most?

The huts.

Errr, wait. Let me rephrase that. Hut is not really the right word to describe these places. Growing up on New Zealand hut life, this is next level.

rifugios in the dolomites

Italian huts in the Dolomites are called Rifugios here, but a more appropriate word might be Mountain Mansion.

If you are planning on doing some multi-day hikes in the Dolomites, you’re really in for a treat, just you wait. These “huts” are more like hotels, and these rifugios in the Dolomites are like houses.

Here are ten reasons why the Italian rifugios in the Dolomites have forever altered my standards for alpine sleeping.


1. The trails to them are pretty easy

Sure, some paths are more challenging to complete than others, but for the most part, you can expect smooth, well-marked trails free of bush-bashing and off-trail navigation in the heart of the Dolomites around the Agordino.

Depending on which rifugio you choose, the trails will either be jam-packed with like-minded hikers or be mostly empty.

Either way, the trails are generally wide and generous allowing you to spend more time looking up at the beauty before you and less time looking down focusing on your footwork; and forget about using your hands.

rifugios in the dolomites

2. OMG, there are showers!

My version of a hut shower is quickly washing my face in an icy mountain stream, but in Italy, you can minimize your stink by having an actual shower at the rifugio. That’s not something you can find at the backcountry New Zealand huts.

Some rifugios offer cold showers, and while some even provide warm showers (which are an extra charge for very little water, but still!) As we arrived at Rifugio Tissi near Alleghe, we saw dozens of people lined up waiting for their well-deserved hot shower. I stayed true to my dirtbag roots and opted out, but it was nice to know that was an option.

How flash is that? Read more about hiking to Rifugio Tissi here.

rifugios in the dolomites

3. Beer, wine and grappa, all day every day

There’s nothing I crave more than an ice-cold beer waiting for me at the top of the mountain. Is there anything better than after a hot and sweaty hike?

I’ve trained myself to patiently wait until the entire trip is done when I can indulge in a feast and a beverage, but in Italy, you don’t have to wait.

Enjoy a well-deserved tipple while taking in the unparalleled views or have a civilized glass of wine with your dinner. Goodbye sack of goon wine, Italy knows how to do hut wine properly.

Rifugios in the Dolomites have treats on tap.

rifugios in the dolomites

4. Espresso all the time too

Listen, I’ve had some desperate times in the mountains, but I rarely, ever, ever go without some form of coffee in the morning.

I’ve tried it all from coffee in tea bags, instant coffee, Aeropress, filter, cowboy coffee; you name it, I’ve tried it.

There is no coffee I’m too good for when it comes to caffeinating in the mountains.

Do I prefer an espresso drink in the mornings? Sure, but most of the time, that is not my reality. In Italy though, it certainly is. Fancy espresso machines at the top of the mountain so you can be adequately caffeinated. Going back to cowboy coffee is going to be hard.

rifugios in the dolomites

5. You don’t need to bring much with you either

As I was preparing for my first rifugio experience, I called my guide in a panic. What exactly do I need to bring?! I don’t have a sleeping bag or a camp stove or cutlery. I didn’t even have food to bring for a snack!

He told me in the most Italian way ever to chill out. It was all taken care of. All I needed to do was to bring a change of clothes and sleeping sheet (which he loaned me), and the rest would be there.

He was right, of course. The food, the drinks, the bedding. It was all part of the rifugio experience.

Was it strange to not have to haul a 20kg pack up the mountain? Yes. Was it the best thing ever? Also yes.

rifugios in the dolomites

6. Italian three-course meals 

My mountain meals usually consist of freeze-dried meals or a poorly executed concoction of couscous and whatever else I can find in my fridge.

Eating during hiking is simply a necessity for me. I never spend too much time or energy into planning tasty meals.

In Italy, though, you have the best of both worlds. Rifugios offer three-course meals complete with pasta, salad, polenta, dessert, and of course, wine. Going to bed with a stomach full of delicious food was a serious game-changer, especially since I didn’t even need to carry any of it with me.

rifugios in the dolomites

7. And of course, there’s wifi available

Ok, I’ll be honest, one of my favorite parts of going to the mountains is getting away from normal life far from emails and social media and the demands of work. But rifugios in the Dolomites are fancy!

In New Zealand, there’s simply no way to stay connected in the backcountry which is a perk I’ve come to relish in the past few years. Not only is there no wifi, but there is also no power, electricity or phone reception either.

It’s awesome!

rifugios in the dolomites

When we arrived at our first rifugio in the Dolomites, I was shocked to see the wifi name and password hanging on the wall. What the hell?!

But, as much as I love being in the mountains and taking time just to appreciate the view, I can see the perk of having wifi.

Need to let your loved ones know you’re alive and well? Easy. Need a distraction because everyone around you is involved in a heated conversation entirely in Italian, which you do not understand? Hello Instagram. Use the wifi when you need it but don’t forget to put the phone down for a bit and stare at the beauty in front of you too, ok?

rifugios in the dolomites

8. With wifi, there must be electricity

The last time I went to a hut and didn’t take a head torch was never.

It’s never happened. I know that as soon as the sun is gone, I’m going to need a head torch to show me where the bathroom is. But in Italy? No problem.

The rifugios have electricity and keep it accessible until about 10 pm when everyone goes to bed. If you’ve spent all of your phone battery taking photos of the fantastic scenery, you can also recharge but be prepared: finding a free socket is a bit of a mission.

rifugios in the dolomites

9. Flip flops for all

Do you know that feeling of wanting to kick off your shoes as soon as you arrive at your destination? It’s a fantastic feeling, but when I’m hiking to a hut, I usually ignore it.

I’m prepared to keep my shoes on in case I need to go outside to take photos or go to the bathroom. In Italian rifugios, they provide flip flops (which they adorably call “slippers”), so you can kick off your shoes immediately and walk around as needed. Bliss!

So refined!

rifugios in the dolomites

10. Next-level views everywhere

Rifugios in the Dolomites are adorable and amazing and offer all of the amenities you could ask for in a mountain hut. But by far, the thing that makes them stand out is the fact that they are perched in the heart of some of the most stunning mountains on the planet.

Implausibly perched on top of cliffs or tucked away into quiet valleys, it’s hard to imagine the scale of the work that went into building them.

Basking in the glory of the famous Dolomites makes every other problem in your life seem small and insignificant, and for a moment, all that matters is the beauty in front of you. (And the wine waiting for you at the table).

Have you ever seen mountain huts like these? Have you been to a rifugio before in Italy? Spill!

rifugios in 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 10 ways rifugios in the Dolomites are redefining hut life appeared first on Young Adventuress.



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


The world is getting more crowded every day and the popularity of social media has made it easier than ever for curious wanderers to find new parts of the world to explore, like Dolomites adventure travel. And while I always encourage people to travel more and get out of the comforts of their daily life, I have to admit that I always cringe a little when I see how tourism has changed or outright destroyed beautiful travel destinations.

It seems to be harder and harder to find untouched paradises but if you try hard enough, you might just surprise yourself!

I recently just spent three weeks in the heart of the Dolomites, an area that might conjure up images of busses of tourists and hoards of crowds. Would you believe me if I told you I saw hardly any foreigners? It’s true!

dolomites adventure travel

The Medio-Alto Agordino is a quiet valley that is amazingly off the beaten tourist path in the heart of the Dolomites, the mountainous region in northern Italy.

While certain parts of the Dolomites have become super popular, most tourists in the area head straight north near the Austrian border and completely miss out on this gem in the Agordino.

If you’ve always wanted to see the world-famous Dolomites but can’t bring yourself to face the crowds, this is your spot.

It’s jam-packed with adventure and culture and is the perfect place to come to reset. Read on, dear ones.

30 photos that prove the Agordino in the Dolomites is a winter wonderland

dolomites adventure travel

1. The abundance of day hikes everywhere

The hiking infrastructure in the Dolomites is seriously next level comprehensive. Get excited!

You can pretty much walk out of any door and be on a trail within minutes and the trail maintenance is terrific. Wide paths at a gentle gradient allow you to fully take in the scenery around you instead of staring at your feet while you walk on tricky terrain.

In the Dolomites, you can pretty much look at any mountain and if you want to get to the top of that mountain, you can almost guarantee there’s a path.

During WWI, the armies worked quickly to build roads up implausible mountain passes which, 100 years later, is super convenient hikers. There are few untouched valleys and peaks which makes getting around easy and simple.

dolomites adventure travel

2. Via Ferratas aplenty 

The Dolomites are the home of the Via Ferrata, which means Iron Way in Italian.

A Via Ferrata is essentially a system of steel ladders and cables bolted into the side of the mountain which make it easy and quick to scale treacherous mountain cliffs. They were used during WWI during fighting while the Italians and Austrians strived to maintain control of the valleys below.

Nowadays, you can find recreational Via Ferratas all around the world but there’s truly no place to experience a Via Ferrata quite like Italy, for example the Sas de Rocia is a good option near Marmolada or Via Ferrata Sass de Stria in Arabba.

There are entire guide books the various routes so whether you’re a newbie or a keen climber, you’ll easily find something for you. You will need to have the proper gear so if you’re not sure but want to try it out, consider hiring a guide.

dolomites adventure travel

3. All the bike culture 

Bikes are a way of life in the Dolomites. Dolomites adventure travel is everywhere.

The paved roads are littered with lycra-clad road bikes hauling up the mountain and the trails are just as busy. This area has put significant effort into its trail infrastructure making it easy to find bike trails for all abilities, and the perfect place for a bike holiday.

While I like biking, I’m not very good at it so I rented an e-bike (my first time ever!) and cruised the trails with ease. E-bikes are amazing and are a great option if you want to see the sites without putting in the maximum effort.

Some areas, like Arabba, have turned their winter ski slopes into downhill mountain bike trails so you can easily take the cable car up with your bike and spend the day exploring the trails.

dolomites adventure travel

4. Multi-day hikes are easy and convenient

The system of mountain huts is extremely comprehensive in the Dolomites and will blow your mind! Dolomites adventure travel is everywhere.

You can quite literally walk for weeks without carrying more than a change of clothes. The huts, called Rifugios, are like mountain mansions that provide shelter, bedding, three-course meals, alcohol, and snacks.

Sure, it’s not as cheap of an option as camping but it means having a light pack and not having to stress about food, I’d argue it’s worth it.

Check out Rifugio Falier under Marmolada if you’re looking for a short walk or Rifugio Tissi if you want a longer walk with some of the best views in all of the Dolomites.

dolomites adventure travel

dolomites adventure travel

5. Fly down the mountain on a zip line

There’s something so calming about doing a zipline.

You’re safely attached to the cable and there’s no feeling falling. The only thing you have to do is walk off the platform and float down to the bottom. It’s oddly serene and a great activity for those who don’t want too much of an adrenaline rush.

The zip line of San Tomaso is a great option for all abilities. The zip line course starts you on a baby zip line that shorter and calm. Once you reach the halfway point, you’re treated to grappa to calm your nerves for the bigger zip line but even then, as you’re dangling hundreds of meters in the air, it’s a peaceful feeling. This is a great short activity for the whole family if you’re looking to fill half of a day.

dolomites adventure travel

6. Cable cars for your rest days (or any days)

Who says you need to break a sweat to have an adventure?

In the Dolomites, you can have an adventure in your normal day clothes. The system of cable cars makes it incredibly easy to ride to the top of the mountains, super different from our mountains here in New Zealand.

The ride itself is amazing providing you a panorama view of the mountains and lakes below. Some cable cars, like the one that takes you to the top of Marmolada, take a while to reach the top so you can soak in the views.

Once at the top, go for a short walk or simply head to the cafe for a refreshment. Coffee or wine is acceptable at any time of the day, no judgment.

dolomites adventure travel

7. World-famous climbing I reckon

I’m just going to come out and say it without any real climbing authority behind me but the Dolomites has some of the best rock climbing in the world. Sheer cliffs, vertical walls, thousands of meters of perfect rock to be scaled.

The limestone rock climbing in the Dolomites is great whether you’re a beginner or super experienced and the routes are varied so you can pick and choose the type of climbing that best suits you.

I hired a guide who took me on the best multi-pitch climb I’ve ever done. We completed six pitches of easy climbing topping out at 300 meters. I’m by no means a climbing junkie and I’m not that good but I felt totally safe with a guide and climbing to the top of the Dolomites was truly a highlight of the trip.


8. Hikes for all abilities here

I’ve become accustomed over the years to associate amazing views with outrageously challenging hikes but this is not the case in the Dolomites. The Dolomites caters to every hiking ability from those who just want a few hours of easy walking to those who want to push their limits.

It’s common in the Dolomites to take a cable car up to the top of the mountain to reach easy trails that are mostly flat. You get all the benefits of being in high altitude without having to sacrifice your whole day.

When you’re finished, you can have an Aperol Spritz or beer at the cafe before heading back down the mountain. Winning!

dolomites adventure travel

On the flip side, you can also find some challenging hikes as well. Dolomites adventure travel is everywhere with hikes for every person.

After all, the Dolomites are known for their steep mountains and sheer vertical rock faces. You’ll have no trouble finding an off-trail adventure that requires more technical skill and a longer time commitment, but it might be good to hire a guide.

Just like any high alpine terrain, the Dolomites can be very unforgiving if you’re not 100% sure what you’re doing and the weather is extremely fickle.

Luckily, guides are plentiful and you can quickly find one by talking to the friendly staff at the info centers.

dolomites adventure travel

9. Plenty of amazing food to keep you fueled

You can have high Dolomites adventure travel without high fuel intake and if you’re looking for a carbo reload, you really can’t do much better than in the Dolomites where pasta and pizza reign supreme.

Italians take their dining very seriously and if you don’t plan at least two hours for every meal, you’re doing it wrong.

Pizza and pasta aren’t the only things they are good at though. This region, in particular, is known for their polenta, mushroom and cheese dish as well as their dumplings and like most places in Italy, hearty fresh salads are a great option if you’re trying to keep it light.

Don’t forget a nice glass of wine to accompany the meal if you’re aiming to be as authentic as possible.

dolomites adventure travel

dolomites adventure travel

10. Dripping with culture everywhere

There’s no question that heart pumping Dolomites adventure travel is available around every corner of the Dolomites but if you need to exercise your brain, there are plenty of museums and cultural spots to keep you busy.

Check out the Andraz Castle, an ancient Tyrolean manor dating back to 1000 A.D. or head to the top of Marmolada, the Queen of the Dolomites and the highest mountain in the range. At the top of one of the cable car, you’ll find the museum of the Great War which also happens to be the highest in Europe.

This museum is a sensory experience where you can feel and hear what the soldiers experienced as they fought against one another and the hostile forces of nature.

Have you heard of this corner of the Dolomites? Are you keen to visit? Any tips to share? Spill!

dolomites adventure travel

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 10 reasons why this unknown corner of the Dolomites is an adventure seeker’s paradise appeared first on Young Adventuress.



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