August 23-September 1, 2020

Status OPEN
Cost $1543
Travel Dates August 23-September 1, 2020
Description “Exhilarating, Awesome, Unforgettable” Inspiring and a Challenge.  The Alta Via 2 is the great hiking prize of the Dolomites. In nine days, we will traverse the most difficult part of the route over the Pale di San Martino and the Bellunese mountains. We will be in mountain refuges for eight nights and at the beginning and end of the trip will stay in a hotel in the historic city of Belluno, the capital of the Italian Dolomites and only two hours by train from Venice and the Venice airport. This is a trip for expert A Plus hikers looking for a challenge. The highest point on the hike is 2906 meters, in this season the weather is likely to be sunny and warm although we will be ready for mountain weather.

Difficulty of Trip:   The ADK classification for this hike is Strenuous Plus. The Cicerone guidebook classification is a 3 plus, a ‘serious high route, often exposed and with sections of fixed protections.”  There are some cables on the hike but it is not a via ferrata and does not require a harness and helmet. It is more difficult than the GR 20, the Corsica High Route which is usually billed as the hardest regular hike in Europe. To do the AV2, you have to be athletic, well -coordinated, nimble, and be able to deal with steep exposed trails..The highest altitude attained on the trip is 2906 meters or 9,531 feet, so altitude is not likely to be a significant factor. Most of the trip will be at around 2000 meters or 6500 feet.

Accommodations and Meals: Lodging including breakfasts and dinners in refuges during the hike. The huts are alpine refuges with dormitories, not hotels. Bring your ear plugs.
An inner sack or liner is required in the refuges as there are usually no sheets. We do stay in a good hotel, the Al Centro at the beginning and end of the hike.  You will be able to buy trail lunches in the refuges.

  • Lodging for eight nights in refuges and two hotel nights in Belluno
  • All breakfasts and dinners in refuges during the eight hiking days
Not Included
  • Breakfasts and dinners in Belluno
  • Snacks, beverages, lunches and trail food during the hike
  • Bus, taxi or lift costs during the hike
  • All travel costs before and after the trip including air tickets and cost of insurance
  • Cost of hot showers in some refuges
  • Tips for hotel workers
Payment Policy $600 dollars deposit is due on registration. Final payment of $943 is due no later than January 31, 2019
Cancellation Policy If registrant cancels prior to February 1, 2019, all payments received by ADK minus $100 will be refunded..After January 31, 2019, refund will only be made if the vacancy can be filled and all but $100 will be refunded..Note that there is a $100 dollar registration fee included in  the deposit which is non-refundable  for any reason whatsoever. If the leader decides that the trip is not for you or the trip is canceled by ADK, all payments made to ADK will be refunded
How to get there? If you arrive by plane at the Venice Marco Polo airport, you would catch a shuttle to Venice- Mestre rail station, then take a train to Belluno and our meeting place at the Casa per Ferie, Al Centro Hotel, 11 Piazza Piloni. The train from Mestre to Belluno will take about two hours. Planes from the east coast of North America usually arrive in the morning in Venice. You may wish to consider jet-lag and allow at least a day or two to recover from the long flight. You probably will wish to spend the night close to the airport before your return flight although it would be possible to leave from Belluno if your flight is in the late morning or afternoon.  On previous trips, I and others have stayed at the Venice Resort Hotel, next to the airport. Please do not buy airline tickets until you are told you can do so by the leader.
Trip Insurance Before you can go on the trip, you must send the leader a proof of rescue insurance which covers rescue costs, hospitalization and repatriation. A good time would be when you make your final payment, January 31, 2019. Why is this necessary? You have to pay for rescues in Europe. In Switzerland, for example, you are asked to pay 5000 Swiss francs cash or charge before a rescue. Your insurance does not necessarily cover medical costs abroad.  Repatriation costs can be very high. ADK does not provide this insurance and does not cover medical expenses or evacuation in the event you are injured or become ill during the trip.  There are numerous internet sites comparing various insurance plans which you may wish to consult. You may also wish to consult your lawyer or financial advisor as this is a complicated topic.

This is what I do.  Each year, I sign up for the Austrian Alpine Club. UK Section. For about seventy dollars, this provides worldwide, year- long, rescue, hospitalization and repatriation insurance. For that sum, you receive 25,000 euros cover for rescue, 10,000 for medical costs and repatriation is full costs.  You should evaluate whether this level of coverage is sufficient for you. You are free to obtain insurance where you wish, but the level of coverage should be at the minimum of the levels provided by the Austrian Alpine Club.

The ADK also strongly advises all participants to obtain trip or travel insurance that will cover trip cancellation by the participant and travel delays. ADK does not provide this insurance. Note that if you have to cancel after having made your full payment, and cannot be replaced from the waiting list, you could be out the entire amount you paid for the trip. More credit cards are offering trip insurance as a free benefit of the card.

Daily Itinerary (All times are hiking times exclusive of rest stops and time spent on transport to get to the hike. All trip data such as distance and ascent and descent is in the metric system as this will be used on all maps and  all  trip information in the Alps. To convert meters to feet, multiply by 3.28. A kilometer is .062 of a mile.)

Day 1: Sunday, August 23

Meet at the Casa per Ferie, Al Centro Hotel, Piazza Piloni 11, in Belluno by 4 PM in time for hike preparations and dinner. (The hotel is five minutes from the train station.) (Dinner and breakfast are not included.)

Day 2:Monday, August 24: 7km, 5h, Ascent 875m, Descent 335m

At 6:55 AM, take a bus for Falcade, then taxi about six kilometers to Passo Valls (2031m). The Pale di San Martino, the largest mountain group in the Dolomites looms ahead.  After a stop for coffee at the Passo Valls refuge, start up very steep slopes (path 751) to the top of a grassy ridge, Forcella Venegia (2217).  Cimon dell Pala, the Matterhorn of the Dolomites fills the sky. Heading ESE, continue on the steep crest past a small lake. Now on the north side of Monte Mulaz, pass into the Val di Focobon, go past the belvedere of the 2582 Sasso Arduini.  After a short descent, arrive at the Rifugio Mulaz at 2571m. The guidebook describes this section as “quite difficult” ”. After a rest, we will climb to the summit of Monte Mulaz at 2906 meters and return. (Dinner and breakfast included)

Day 3: Tuesday, August 25:  8km.,4h30, Ascent 860m,Descent 850m

This day rates 3 Plus, for the Cicerone guide-book, the highest rating on the hike and is described as ‘extremely tiring”. On Path 701, head up to the Forcella Margherita at 2655m. Now in the heart of the Pale di San Martino, traverse under rock spires to the Passo delle Farangole (2814m), a deep incision between rock pinnacles.  Descend a steep gully equipped with cables and steel steps down as the trail proceeds south on a steep exposed mountainside. Reach the huge lunar valley of the Pian dei Cantoni (2313m), go to the head of the valley and follow Path 703 to the top of the Pale di San Martino plateau and the Rosetta Refuge.  Credit cards. Breakfast and dinner included)

Day 4: Wednesday, August 26: 4km, 4h, Ascent 192m, Descent 504m

Start with an easy walk to the summit of La Rosetta, only 192 meters above the refuge, one hour   there and return.  Then descend on path 702  around the Croda  di Roda  on  steep graded  tracks to the outcrop of the Col delle Fede  (2278m) ,continue around a scree valley  and break off onto Path 715  and soon after  follow  a horizontal fixed cable around a rock face . Once past it, climb up to the Passo del Ball (2443m), then descend on Path 715 to the beautiful hidden valley of the Rifugio Pradidali (2278). In this season the valley is full of flowers around the lake. (Dinner and breakfast included)

Day 5: Thursday, August 27: 5km, 4h30, Ascent 417m, Descent 647m

Head up the Pradidali valley on Path 709 past the lake. About 40 minutes up, turn right on Path 711, enter a   rubble filled gully and climb up a steep section with the help of a cable to the Passo delle Lede at 2695m. This is a good place to stop and rest look back down the valley we just ascended, across to the Pala di San Martino, and Cima Immink.  Above us is the La Fradusta glacier, pass and mountain and to the east is our long and steep descent down the Vallon delle Lede. Pass the debris and memorial to the crew of a US bomber which crashed here,  arrive at  the bivouac hut  at 2295 meters and continue down to the valley floor and cross a  large stream . A short distance above is the destination for the night, Rifugio Treviso (1631m). Dinner and breakfast included).

Day 6: Friday, August 28: 9km, 5h, Ascent 1100m, Descent 1370m

No respite as we head off on Path 718 on a traverse though forest.  After 40 minutes, reach a junction at 1730 meters and turn left for the Campignol D’Oltro col or forcella at 2094 meters, descend steeply and then start a long spectacular traverse along the side of the Cima D’Oltro and the Le Rocchette, actually the southernmost extensions of the Pale di San Martino. After some tiring ups and downs, arrive at a junction at 2050m and start a steep descent down to the valley below. At 1450m, arrive at  a paved road, turn right to the hamlet of Passo Cereda and the  lodging for the next two nights, the family owned Rifugio Passo Cereda. Credit cards. (Dinner and breakfast included)

Day 7: Saturday, August 29

This is a rest day.  You don’t have to do anything.  There are some short hikes around the pass such as a three hour circuit passing the Malga Fossetta,   and on to the hamlet of Mattuz and return to the refuge.  Credit cards. (Dinner and breakfast included.)

Day 8: Sunday, August 30: 14km, 7h30, Ascent 1060m, Descent 700m

Good that we are rested up because the next two days will be demanding.  Traverse left out of the refuge on a forest path until  reach a junction for Path 801  and  start south toward Peak Sagron, pass though willows and rubble of a  stream  and ascend to  a saddle under Sasso Largo,  From there  ascend on the  right side of the cirque  under Forcella Comedon  using numerous cables, as the eroded face of the cirque drops away to the  left.  Arrive 200 meters under the Forcella but it is filled with stones round as ball bearings and lying at a steep angle, you take one step up and you slide back.   With a lot of care on this unstable ground, reach the Forcella Comedon at 2067m.  Turn right and start a long traverse above the valley below on a rocky path arriving at the Bivacco Feltre-Bodo at 1930m. There is abundant drinkable water here. Continue past beautiful waterfalls and canyons with Piz Sagron looming above. We are now in the Belluno national park, the wildest and most remote part of our hike.  Arrive at Col dei Bechi (1960m) and then continue on exposed rocky trails to the Passo de Mura (1867m). Now the trail lets up as it descends from the broad saddle to the Rifugio Boz in the middle of pastures and meadows at 1718m. (Dinner and breakfast included)

Day 9: Monday, August 31: 21km, 8h, Ascent 870m, Descent 600m

On this last full day on the Alta Via 2, we inch along narrow paths with drops on every side. Our path s is named for HW Tilman, with Eric Shipton, the greatest exploratory mountaineer of the twentieth century. He came here in 1944 as military advisor to Italian partisans who liberated Belluno and Vicenza from the Germans.  He later recalled his months in these mountains as the most difficult time mental and physical challenge, he ever faced.There is no water source during the day. We start out in muddy pastures and head up to the Passo di Finestra at 1766m. The path goes along rocky crests with exposure to a shoulder at the base of Sasso di Scania.  At times, the trail is cut out of the rock and you have to watch every step. This difficult section takes about an hour and a half and you will never forget it.  We descend due south and then west passing a junction at 1805 where Path 803 takes off for Forcella di Scarnia. We reach a grassy crest and now enter a vast area of karst and dolina. We pass the Piazza del Diavolo, the Devil’s Square, a flat area of boulders, that in local legend was a meeting place for witches and devils until a priest came and erected a cross. The path continues past the Passo Pietena (2094) and curves south into the green valley of the Busa Delle Vette.  A short uphill stretch takes us up to the Rifugio Del Piaz. (Dinner and breakfast included)

Day 10: Tuesday, September 1: 6km, 2h, Descent 980m Descend on old military roads to the village of Croce d’Aune at 1014m.  Take bus or taxis to the Feltre rail station, take a train for Belluno, some thirty kilometers away and arrive at the Al Centro Hotel sometime in the afternoon. We meet for a final farewell dinner that evening. (Breakfast in the refuge included, dinner in Belluno is not included)

Day 11: Wednesday, September 2

In the morning, we say our farewells. This is the end of our adventure.

Notes ESTIMATED extra costs for food and beverages including bottled water: 20-25 euros a day.

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT of 34 dollars for the two nights in Belluno is available

PASSPORT:  with expiration date no less than six months from the trip end date is required

VISA;Not required for US citizens

IMMUNIZATIONS: No special immunizations required.

WEATHER: Likely:  highs in the seventies during the day, the forties at night but these are high mountains and we  will be prepared for extremes of weather including cold spells, snow , sleet , rain.

WI-Fi: Available in the hotels and in some refuges,


ATMS: At start and end of the trip.

ELECTRICITY: Available for recharging electronic devices in the refuges. (You will need an adapter for the European outlets.)

CELL-PHONES: Only sporadic service during the hike, available in the towns at trip start and end.

TRIP PRICES AND ARRANGEMENTS:Subject to change due to circumstances beyond ADK’s or the trip leader’s control.

WHAT TO BRING? A detailed gear and equipment list will be sent to you on sign-up.

Registration Procedure Please read carefully the above detailed trip description and itinerary, and contact me if you have any questions. Then, if you decide to join this adventure, please contact me (email, telephone or USPS mail) and I will send you the registration forms, consisting of the Registration form, the Health form, and the Release of Liability form, Complete these forms and send them to me by United States Postal Service with the deposit (check payable to ADK or the Credit Card Authorization) to reserve a spot. Please note that original signatures are required on all forms. Trip spaces are reserved in the order that complete and acceptable registration forms and deposit payments are received, so do not delay.
Trip Leader Roman Laba
22 Front Street, Schenectady, NY 12305