The Italian Dolomites have long been renowned for the breathtaking scenery they offer to trekkers and are justifiably popular, but once away from the hot spots, adventurous visitors can easily enjoy the natural splendour all to themselves.
There lie the long-distance Alte Vie trails that cross the Dolomites. They stay at medium-high altitude and explore the many spectacular angles of different mountain groups. On any one of the routes walkers can expect to see up to 80 per cent of all the Dolomites. With full route descriptions for AV1, AV2 and optional variants, as well as AV3-6 in a summarised form, this guidebook gives walkers all the information they need to immerse themselves fully in the sheer beauty of the area.
The routes are graded to give an idea of the difficulty of the route. They start at grade 1 which refers to a straightforward path with moderate gradient which is suitable for all walkers, and end at grade 3 which describes routes that require some previous experience on mountainous terrain due to steep and exposed sections.
The AV1 route is described over 11 day stages and covers 120km. It’s highest point is 2752m and is a straightforward yet astoundingly rewarding route which is perfectly suited for a first Alpine experience. In terms of overall difficulty it rates a grade 2.
The AV2 is longer and undeniably more strenuous than the AV1 route and remains higher for longer. Over 13 days 160 km are covered and the route strays as high as 2900m in severe environments. Numerous aided and exposed sections are encountered although several can be detoured. It rates a grade 3 ‘at worst’.
Of a more demanding flavour, the remaining four AV – 3, 4, 5 and 6 are presented in summary form giving an idea of the difficulty of the itinerary. They make their way across a combination of well trodden and wilder mountain chains and on the whole see fewer walkers. By and large these are for trekkers with a little climbing experience who are prepared to carry their own food, sleeping and cooking gear.
The routes have been divided into handy stages that correspond to a reasonable day’s walking and conclude at a rifugio with meals and overnight accommodation. However, these stages are only suggestions and the wonderful abundance of rifugio across the Dolomites means walkers can walk as much or as less as they like, varying the stages at your own will.
mid-June/early July once the snow has melted and the huts have opened, through to mid/late September and even into October for the northern region where refuges stay open longer
AV1: Villabassa and Monguelfo, not far from Dobbiaco, off-route San Vigilio di Marebbe, Cortina d’Ampezzo and Agordo, ending at Belluno; AV2: Bressanone, detours to Santa Cristina in Val Gardena, Colfosco in Val Badia, Malga Ciapela, above San Martino di Castrozza and Fiera di Primiero, ending at Feltre; AV3, 4 and 5: from Val Pusteria close to Dobbiaco to Longarone and Pieve di Cadore; AV6: from Sappada to Vittorio Veneto
medium difficulty walking on clearly marked alpine paths, as well as tough routes with exposed aided sections; walks are graded on a 1–3 scale of difficulty
the Marmolada, highest peak in the Dolomites; the castle-like Sella group with Piz Boè, belvedere Lagazuoi with WW1 tunnels; the Tofane and Nuvolau above Cortina d'Ampezzo; the Pelmo 'throne'; lunar landscapes of the Pale di San Martino; the wild Alpi Feltrine and its divine wildflowers and the magnificent Sesto Dolomites visited in AV4 and AV5