First five days of the Alta Via 2 [guest post]

Alta Via 2: Approaching the Genova hut on Day 2

Alta Via 2: Approaching the Genova hut on Day 2

Here comes the first guest post for the marmot post. It is hopefully one of many to build out a library of trip reports from across the Alps, starting with the Alta Via 2 in the Italian Dolomites by Martin. Enjoy the post! And, many thanks Martin!

If you’d like to contribute with your own trip report, drop me a line in the comments section. ^marketa

Hello to all you avid readers of the Marmot Post. My name is Martin and about a year ago I came across this blog whilst researching a trek I was planning in the Dolomites. As a result of that Marketa invited me to write an article for the Post which I am very happy to do.

Every year I get together with a group of friends to go hiking in the mountains and the destinations vary from the Lakes in England to the Alps and the Pyrenees. This year we settled on the first 5 days of the Alta Via 2 in the Dolomites, Italy and what a trip it turned out to be. We walked 48Km and climbed +/-3,500m in the 5 days including the Piz Boe at 3,152m.

Day 1: to Plose Hutte

View from the Plose Hut on Day 1

View from the Plose hut on Day 1

Officially the Alta Via 2 starts in Bressanone (Brixen) and the first day is a climb of 2,000m from the valley to the Plose Hutte and takes approx 5-6hrs. However, we are not purists and having just 5 days for walking we decided to take the cable car to the top of the Valcroce. From the cable car to the hut is then just a few hours. This allowed the group to start gently and acclimatise as we worked up to longer days. It also gave us the chance to climb the Monte Telegrafo at 2, 400m which, had the weather cooperated, would have brought us our first real views of the Dolomites. In the event though the clouds came down at the last-minute and spoilt the show.

Day 2: Plose hut to Genova hut

Day 2 was a longer day and this was the start of the walking proper. The day started with rain and drizzle as we descended easy paths down to the café at Passo Rodella. This was a good place to rest for lunch before ascending steeper paths and a major trudge up to the top of the Forcella di Putia. The rain had stopped when we left the café and that was the last we saw of it. The rest of the week turned out to be dry and sunny. Once at the top of the Forcella we were rewarded with breathtaking views before descending to the Genova hut, steep at first but easing as we got lower.

Day 3: Genova hut to Puez hut

Aided section on Day 3 of the Alta Via 2

Day 3 saw us striding out for the Puez hut. Another awesome day with an optional aided section. The aided sections we came across were in very good condition, there were steel cables to clip into if you felt this was necessary, metal rungs and pegs to stand on. It sounds a bit horrendous but the angle was not too steep and the exposure minimal. I had two slings for safety, one around my waist and another as an extension so I could clip onto the steel ropes. In the event I only clipped in a couple of times for the worst bits and even then I had more the idea “I’ve brought the stuff so I’m going to use it” rather than I felt I really needed it. However, if all of this was wet then that might have been a different story.

See also: What is a via ferrata aka Klettersteig?

The route to the Puez hut was very varied from steep climbs to achieve the Forcella Della Roa, a sharp descent and ascent to Forcella Di Sielles and finally a gentle ramble round to the hut. All of this and being surrounded by the dramatic backdrop of the Dollies in all directions, what more could you want? The huts in general were good, however, the sleeping quarters in the Puez hut were cramped and were not segregated which may not be to everyone’s liking but the food was OK.

Day 4: Puez hut to rifugio Fara

Day 5: Pisciadu hut

Day 5: Pisciadu hut

According to the Guide book day 4 should have had us heading for rifugio Pisciadu. Unfortunately the opening times of the Pisciadu hut were incorrect and this caused us to shorten day 4 and lengthened day 5. In the event this turned out not to be necessary as the hut had opened three days before we arrived. So instead we were headed for rifugio Fara. As the day was shorter than originally planned we took our time in the morning. The day was effectively a semi rest day and was good preparation for the last (long and strenuous) day. The path from the rifugio Puez to rifugio Fara was an uneventful descent down to the Passo Gardena and we arrived in time for lunch. Rifugio Fara is a privately owned mountain lodge and is very comfortable with en suite rooms etc but does not cost any more than a night in the more remote mountain huts (rifugios). This is an excellent base (and economical) for a holiday in its own right.

Day 5: Rifugio Fara to Piz Boe hut

Day 5 was our last day on the AV2 and the goal was to stay at the Piz Boe hut which would give us a short walk out on day 6. We set off early and the day started immediately with a very steep climb to the start of an aided section. Having negotiated this we passed the offending Pisciadu hut and moved on towards the Piz Boe hut. We arrived just after lunch and the hut was very busy with a school visit. After a well-earned rest we took the decision to climb the Piz Boe and finish the day at the Forcella Pordoi instead. The guide book suggests a lengthy aided section for the climb to the top but in the event it was just a steep trudge with a few fixed cables and steps on the worst bits.

Achieving the top of the Piz Boe at 3152m has to be the highlight of the trek. The views from here were just breathtaking. If you have the time it is possible to stay at the hut on the summit. The camera does not do it justice and therefore there is just one solution……Enjoy.

View from the summit of Piz Boe 3,152m

View from the summit of Piz Boe 3,152m

The descent towards the Forcella Pordoi follows a different route than the ascent and was steep at first but soon eased off. We arrived just in time to order dinner.

Day 6: Piz Boe hut to Innsbruck

Day 6 and it was all over for another year. We had a half hour walk to the head of the cable car and ten minuets later we were at the bus stop on the Passo Pordoi heading for Innsbruck and flights home.

The start of the Alta Via 2 is easily accessible by train from Innsbruck (direct flights from Heathrow) but the return home was a bit more problematic with two busses and a train trip. In the end we paid for a taxi to Bolzano which, when split 5 ways, was not much more expensive than public transport.

In general the huts opened on the 15 June, one week before we started, with the exception of the Pisciadu hut which opened on the 25 June. However, the route was already busy as were the huts. Parts of the route can be very steep and strenuous, other parts being aided but the views a long this route are simply stunning and that makes all the effort worth while. We plan to return next year to finish the route. Maybe I will see you there.

Guide book: Trekking in the Dolomites. Gillian Price 2011. Cicerone Press

Maps: Tobacco 1:25000 sheets 030 and 07. Stanfords Maps

Have you done the Alta Via 2? What was your experience like? Share it with future hikers in the comments!

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12 comments

  1. MARK WHARTON · · Reply

    Hi, Thanks for a great blog. Myself and a couple of friends intend to run the same section of AV2 over a few days but due to planning clashes, we need to go in late August. Has anyone done it at this time of year as I hear it can be very busy?

    1. Hi Mark,
      Glad you like the marmot post! I did the AV1 in August and yes it was pretty busy, but still enjoyable. The Alta Via 2 should have less traffic. I would still recommend you book all huts in advance though.
      Good luck with your trip planning!
      marketa

  2. Thanks for the descriptions and ideas. We are doing this route (1st half of the Alta Via 2) this coming July. One question we have is that we are coming in from Munich but headed south after our trek into San Pellegrino. Has anyone found a baggage service that can carry a bag from Bressanone to Trento (or San Pellegrino)? We will be trekking with just what we need for the trek, but have other baggage for the trip in Italy after that, and don’t want to return to Bressanone before heading south.

    1. Hi John,

      Thanks for stopping by on the marmot post! Your question keeps popping up here, but unfortunately I don’t have an answer for you. The best I can think of, is trying to get a hotel/ b&b in San Pellegrino to collect your luggage from Brixen or getting a local taxi company to do it.

      Also try Pekka’s blog (link above). He might have more info.

      If you find a minute, it’d be great to hear back on how you solve the luggage issue.

      Best,

      Marketa

  3. Alex · · Reply

    Hi,
    I’m planning a trip for mid-september with a friend. I’m waiting for the delivery of “trekking in the dolomites” book, but I have question that is bugging me.
    Is there a way to avoid via ferratas and the ropes sections. We don’t like that kind of difficulty.

    Regards,
    Alex

    1. Hi Alex,

      I only walked the Alta Via 1, so am not sure about the via ferrata on the AV 2. However trekking in the Dolomites is really good at providing alternatives for those who want to avoid difficult sections. Once your guide has arrived you should be able to figure out the alternatives.

      Good luck with the planning and enjoy your trip!

      marketa

  4. My wife and I walked AV2 from Brixen to Passo San Pellegrino (and then on to Moena for an exit). We didn’t camp out and didn’t see anybody else doing so, either. I suppose you could but for us staying at the Rifugios and even hotels made sense for us and camping would have been challenging due to the weather alone… I’m writing up our story on http://gohikealps.com – might be worth a look!

    1. Hi Pekka,

      Thanks for stopping by on the marmot post and sharing your experience here!

      I really like your blog gohikealps.com. It is heaving with great advice and loads of information on hiking in the Alps.

      marketa

  5. Pete · · Reply

    Hi!
    Thanks for the blog posts both on alta via 1 & 2, they have been very helpful in planning a trip in July, where most of the information that is available is in either Italian or German!

    Myself and a friend (both experienced) will be hiking alta via 2 in July, and were wondering about access to water. We will both be carrying our own food supplies and discreetly wild camping away from refugios – but were wondering how easy it will be to refill water from these, assuming we aren’t staying there? I’m guessing they will mostly be friendly!

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Pete!

      Thanks for reading my blog. I’m glad you find it useful.

      I think you should be fine getting water from rifugios. They all have a source of water and usually also have a kind of a “restaurant” section/ serve snacks and drinks during the day, so you should be able to mingle in with that crowd. Definitely take something for water purification as huts often don’t have drinking tap water.

      Getting water might be a little bit more difficult in huts at high altitude, as their water sources are sometimes quite limited. They will however definitely have some bottled water to sell (at exorbitant prices though).

      I hope this helps. Good luck with the rest of your trip planning and enjoy the hike!

      Best,

      Marketa

  6. Xstina Bina · · Reply

    Hi! I have a couple questions about Alta Via 2. We are planning to hike it in the first 2 weeks of July and are hoping to camp. Is camping possible along the way? Would a tarp be adequate? Do we need to carry snacks and lunches or can we buy those at refugios. Thank you!

    1. Hi Xstina,

      Thanks for stopping by on marmot post.

      Unfortunately, I haven’t done the AV2 myself. The AV2 posts here are guest contributions. I’ve only done the AV1, where camping is actually prohibited. It is most likely the same on the Alt Via 2.

      Having said that, if you are particularly discreet you could get away with it. You definitely shouldn’t try to camp close to the rifugios. A tarp would be a good option in that setting. Though bear in mind that it can get very cold in the Alps at night. We’ve had snow overnight on several hikes in August. With detailed planning you should be able to find a route that works though.

      You can definitely get snacks and lunches from the huts on the way. Even the smallest ones sell at least chocolate bars, but most will have a lot more than that (cakes, sandwiches, soups …)

      Good luck with the rest of your trip planning!

      Marketa

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