Planning a long hike during Covid was not as easy as we anticipated. Our, or at least my first option of the Arctic Circle Trail in Greenland was pretty much closed – we needed a plan B. We had never really thought too much about the Dolomites but after reading various blogs and hiking sites it became apparent that doing one of the Alta Via treks was a no-brainer of an idea!
The two most popular multi-day hikes are definitely Alta Via 1 & 2, or AV1 & 2 for short. AV1 is more popular with the tour groups and newbies to the multi-day scene, whereas its big brother, AV2, is a longer and more intense adventure. Typically the 160kms of the AV2 is broken down into 13 stages, probably making each day a little too short for us – now if we could double up on most of those stages we’d have time to bang that one out first and then move straight on to the 120 kms of AV1. What an adventure!
With the idea progressing to a plan it was time to begin planning.
Alta Via 2 Route we took from Brixen to Feltre
As usual, living mere minutes from the Mt Blanc tunnel made for easy travel to the Dolomites region in the northeast of Italy. We were off to South Tyrol, a province with a complicated 20th century history, and home to Reinhold Messner, the first to climb the fourteen 8000m peaks in the Himalayas. Brixen, or Bressanone in Italian, would be our starting point, the small and quaint Tyrolean city offering us exactly what we needed to hit the trails. The local youth hostel would be the last place we’d get a comfortable bed for a while, and stumbling across a Friday night market provided the sundried tomatoes and salami for additional lunch items.
We parked our crappy Peugeot up at a municipal unsecured carpark complete with signs displaying something about vehicle towing – oh well, hopefully she’s still there in 2 ½ weeks. And finally checked out the bus times for the short ride up to the bottom of the Plose gondola.
The assumption was that within 8-10 days we would finish AV2 at its southern point of Croce d’Aune mountain pass, take a bus into Feltre, the larger town in the area, then continue on to Belluno where we hoped to find a comfortable bed for the night. The following day we’d take the short bus ride to La Pissa and the beginning of AV1 northbound, hopefully finishing on day 6 at Lago di Braies. A couple of trains later we would be back in Brixen!
Alta Via 2 Day 1: Brixen to Rifugio Genova
Distance: 24.36km, Ascent: 2032m, Moving Time: 7h 4m
Total Distance: 24.36km, Total Ascent: 2032m
Rained after we arrived
Not a fun 1km vertical ascent hike from lift up to top station
Amazing views on overcast/ sunny day. Little chilly up high
Crappy signage, not good for first day. Should have bought book or map
Steep final rocky ascent (felt like we were being chased)
Refuge perfect, with €3 shower
Alta Via 2 Day 2: Rifugio Genova to Rifugio Pisciadù
Distance: 26.58km, Ascent: 1661m, Moving Time: 7h 47m
Total Distance: 50.94km, Total Ascent: 3693m
Stopped 1 hour in for pre-made ‘regular’ breakfast. Kept passing Israeli guy
At pass we took path 3, possible to do 3a staying up high – def needed map for ref!
Lunch at Passo Gardena before final ascent – lots of motorcycles, cyclists and tourists
Sunny spells turning into amazing day
Longer day but felt easier
Fun final climb on path 666 to refuge, arriving sooner than expected. Lots of cables
Alta Via 2 Day 3: Rifugio Pisciadù to Rifugio Castiglioni Marmolada
Distance: 21.64km, Ascent: 1089m, Moving Time: 7h 6m
Total Distance: 72.58km, Total Ascent: 4782m
Snowed overnight, still woke to bright morning
Trail looked slippery but ended up fine – some cables installed
Stunning views so decided on Piz Boe as side trip to 3150m
Breakfast on trail again
Clouds, then snow kicked in during descent
Lots of peeps heading up, especially when rejoining the AV2 trail
Rained from then on all way to Refuge / mostly light but required Goretex and pack cover
Arrived before 3 almost prompting us to continue. No way we were getting close to San Pellegrino!
Lunch under eaves at rif viel del pan
Sign stated 5:15 to Rif Contrin, our potential alternative stop, also no way
Alta Via 2 Day 4: Rifugio Castiglioni Marmolada to Rifugio Passo Valles
Distance: 30.91km, Ascent: 1458m, Moving Time: 7h 39m
Total Distance: 103.49km, Total Ascent: 6240m
Woke to decent weather
Easy but boring 8km descent to Malga Ciapela followed by long climb back up to Força Rossa 2500m. Through trees, again lacking easy signage, then in open meadows with epic views
Second descent to rejoin variant, followed by dirt road past a packed rif Fuciade to low point of day. Distance went by quick, along with fatigue – made it to San Pellegrino by 1.30, perfectly timed with hail rain. Nice to grab first and second coffees / teas of the day whilst relaxing in deck chairs
Decided to carry on further 2:15 up to refuge Passo Valles, getting caught in hail/ rain for final 30 mins
Should we have took variant up to Contrin? Signage indicated over 9 hours instead of our 6 hour longer trip
Not most enjoyable day but still some amazing views
Distance: 21.55km, Ascent: 1523m, Moving Time: 6h 52m
Total Distance: 125.04km, Total Ascent: 7763m
Usual ascent to begin the day
Rifugio Mulaz in great setting
Fun climb above including some via Ferrata sections. Nothing too sketchy although Andrea wasn’t happy on fixed step sections. Ended with short traverse and ladder descent
Difficult to find way on scree descent
More fixed lines on exposed traverse -chatted to couple girls who were later heli’d out due to freaking out!
Another loose ascent up to refuge – busy place at top of gondola. Great setting as usual.
Time for quick ascent of Rosetta
Alta Via 2 Day 6: Rifugio Rosetta to Rifugio Cereda
Distance: 28.22km, Ascent: 1533m, Moving Time: 8h 57m
Total Distance: 153.26km, Total Ascent: 9296m
Long day with most descent
Nice path down from refuge, then ascent with some fixed cables
Two hours to refuge we wanted to stay at
Rocky climb up to pass with more cables and some steps, followed by long descent on very uneven rocky terrain
Dropped from 2600 to 2280 to 1600. Glad could finally see refuge on opposite hillside.
Made bottom and very thankful to be climbing switchbacks again!
Veg / cheese sandwich and more ascent
Another tough 500m up to pass, then meandering traverse, mostly up before final switchback descent to valley floor
First rocks and then roots. Always good foot placements necessary
Happy to see sign for 0,20 to Rifugio cerada
Alta Via 2 Day 7: Rifugio Cereda to Rifugio Bruno Boz
Distance: 18.77km, Ascent: 1281m, Moving Time: 5h 14m
Total Distance: 172.03km, Total Ascent: 10577m
Leisurely forest walk before 800m of up. More via Ferrata that makes these rocky sections fun. Hugged huge wall a lot of way up
More risk from falling rocks than anything
At pass pretty much halfway
Meandering up and down, mostly rocky, partially grassy
Passed orange bivouac huts, then caught 2 hikers
Trail went through sections of low fir trees
200m climb that wasn’t expected
Easy final descent to Rifugio
Alta Via 2 Day 8: Rifugio Bruno Boz to Feltre
Distance: 24.08km, Ascent: 571m, Moving Time: 6h 6m
Total Distance: 196.11km, Total Ascent: 11148m
Modified final day due to Croce d’aune Padevane hill climb motor race. Plan was same for first two hours on 801 then to descend to Feltre on 803, eliminating the need to catch 2.20pm bus.
Half the anticipated ascent at 500m
Still managed some easy cables and exposed narrow hiking paths
Long descent through forest but without the rocks as previously
Weather much nicer, probably even too warm when we reached road
Caught €5pp 2.30pm bus from Feltre to Belluno where we lucked upon Hotel Astor at €104 inc breakfast!
Amazing value aperitifs, wine, and pizza dinner
August 28th – September 4th 2021
Day 1: Brixen to Rifugio Genova
€23 dorm bed x2, €37.60 food/ drink bill ● (Rifugio Genova)
Day 2: Rifugio Genova to Rifugio Pisciadù
€31 dorm bed x2, €42.50 food/ drink bill ● Rifugio Pisciadù, €11.50 cake, hot drinks ● Rifugio Puez
Day 3: Rifugio Pisciadù to Rifugio Castiglioni Marmolada
€26 dorm bed x2, €43.80 food/ drink bill ● Rifugio Castiglioni Marmolada, €9.20 beers
Day 4: Rifugio Castiglioni Marmolada to Rifugio Passo Valles
€66 private room, €55.80 food/ drink bill ● Rifugio Passo Valles, €6.10 coffee, tea, fanta, €2.80 coffee, tea
Day 5: Rifugio Passo Valles to Rifugio Rosetta
€57 half board x2, €33.30 food/ drink bill ● Rifugio Rosetta
Day 6: Rifugio Rosetta to Rifugio Cereda
€60 half board x2, €13.10 food/ drink bill ● Rifugio Cereda, €27 lunch ● Rifugio Treviso
Day 7: Rifugio Cereda to Rifugio Bruno Boz
€55 half board x2, €18 food/ drink bill ● Rifugio Bruno Boz, €5 shower (24 litres)
Day 8: Rifugio Bruno Boz to Feltre
€109 b&b ● Hotel Astor