Hiking Along Italy's Most Famous Backpacking Trail - Alta Via 1 in the Italian Dolomites (Part 2)


Sunrise view from the terrace of rifugio Coldai - the accommodation on the 6th day of Alta Via 1
Sunrise view from the terrace of rifugio Coldai - the accommodation on the 6th day of Alta Via 1

Below you can find the map of Alta Via 1 with all mountain huts, day routes and extensions marked on it. Click on the button in the top left corner of the map to see the different layers and names of the places. 

 

Whilst pretty accurate this map should not be used when navigating through the mountains! For that you will require a proper topography map. For crossing Alta Via 1 you need to purchase the TABACCO MAPS numbers: 031, 03, 025 either online or in any sport, souvenir or cigarette shop in the local towns. Even some rifugios sell them! 

 


Day 6: Rifugio Citta Di Fiume to Rifugio Coldai

15.4 km / 9.6 miles

(VARIANT 2)

4h 30 min

Elevation gain:

900 m / 2953 feet

Elevation loss:

700 m / 2297 feet

Rifugio Coldai 


 

PATH NUMBERS:

 

Variant 1: 472, 568, 561, 556 

 

This is the original route taking you down to Passo Staulanza then following a paved road to Malga Vescova before breaking of onto a hiking path.

 

The downside of this option is that you will spend half of the day walking on the side of the road and sharing your space with car traffic. Take this route if you are looking to having an easier day.  

 

Variant 2: 472, 474, 564, 556

 

The option I chose starts the same way as the previous one but after getting to Passo Staulanza it continues on path no.472 through a forest circling the west face of Mount Pelmo.

 

There is a short extension marked on the map to check out the dinosaur prints (it's also well marked along the trail). Eventually you will turn onto path 474 and start your at times sharp descent to rifugio Palafavera.

 

From here the route follows an old dirt road (564) before breaking away onto a steep zigzag path leading to rifugio Coldai with amazing views of Mount Pelmo right behind you. 

 

The advantage of this variant is the possibility of restocking your snack supply at the little shop at the Palafavera campground. However this is a longer route out of the two variants with more elevation gain and loss. 

 

Rifugio Coldai has one of the best built locations of all the huts you will come across on Alta Via 1. It's 15 minutes walk away from the beautiful Lake Coldai. It has the panoramic views of the Dolomiti Bellunesi right from its terrace and you can capture a beautiful sunset light on Mt. Pelmo only 50 meters away from the hut! Do you need any more reasons to stay here? 

 


Day 7: Rifugio Coldai to Rifugio Vazzoler

11 km / 6.84 miles

3h 30 m

Elevation gain:

440 m / 1444 feet

Elevation loss:

850 m / 2789 feet

Rifugio Vazzoler 


 

PATH NUMBER: 560 

 

A relatively short day distance wise, but it won't fall short in the views department! You will spend your day circling around the mighty Mount Civetta and its impressive north face. This was another one of my favourite days on

Alta Via 1. 

 

The day starts with a quick jolt to forcella Coldai then a short descent to the lake of the same name. It was still half frozen when we reached it on day 7 of our hike. We also encountered a lot of snow in places (refer to photos above).

 

Once you reach rifugio Tissi (a great alternative for a stay if Coldai is booked out), you will have reached the highest point of day 7. It means after that it's relatively smooth sailing downhill all the way to rifugio Vazzoler. 

 

Rifugio Vazzoler was the quietest refuge we have stayed at on the whole traverse. It has a nice garden area sheltered by the trees with impressive rock towers, belonging to the Civetta massif, peaking above. 

 

 


Day 8: Rifugio Vazzoler to Rifugio Carestiato

11,5 km / 7.14 miles

3h 40 min

Elevation gain:

680 m / 2231 feet

Elevation loss:

570 m / 1870

Rifugio Carestiato 


 

PATH NUMBERS:  555, 554

 

Today you leave behind Mount Civetta and cross into the wild landscapes of the Moiazza range. This was an unknown territory for me. I have never made it this far south when spending the previous season in the Dolomites so my excitement level was high and let me tell you, I was not disappointed!

 

Similarly to the previous day, Day 8 isn't too demanding when it comes down to distance or elevation. It means you can take it slow and enjoy the hike underneath the soaring rock towers. Those who would like to cut a day from Alta Via 1 could combine day 7 and 8 together.

 

You will start noticing that less and less tourists make it this far along the route, but to me with each day passing and the lessening of the traffic, the more special it became. 

 

Rifugio Carestiato, your accommodation on day 8, has great facilities and even offers a coin operated laundry! A luxury we didn't expect to have until the end of the trip! Try and ask for a room in the separate section from the main building. It's a lot quieter and that means more uninterrupted sleep! 

 

 


Day 9: Rifugio Carestiatio to Rifugio Pramperet

15 km / 9.3 miles 

4 h 

Elevation gain:

720 m / 2362 feet

Elevation loss:

680 m / 2231

Rifugio Pramperet 


 

PATH NUMBERS: 549, 543 

 

The path from rifugio Carestiato starts gently down a gravel road towards Passo Duran. You should reach it within 30 minutes. There are two privately owned huts on the pass.

 

For approximately next two kilometres you will follow the paved road until you reach a rest area with tables and benches where the first signs for rifugio Pramperet appear.

 

Soon you will begin your ascent to the first of the two saddles you will cross today: Forcella Dagarei. After the saddle the path undulates crossing several scree fields.

 

The signs for rifugio Pramperet, as well as the blue triangles marking Alta Via 1, are plentiful along the way. Around half way into day 9 you will reach Malga Moschesin where you can stop for a snack (Malga is out of operation). From here it's another 40 minutes to the second saddle: forcella Moschesin and further 50 minutes to rifugio Pramperet. 

 

We were a bit unlucky with our stay at the Pramperet refuge. At the time they were waiting for delivery supply and our dinner consisted of whatever was leftover in the storage which meant A LOT of polenta on our plate. I went to bed rather hungry that night. I can't say anything bad about the staff of the refuge though. They were some of the friendliest people we met on the route! 

 

 


Day 10: Rifugio Pramperet to Rifugio Pian de Fontana

7.3 km / 4.5 miles

2h 30 min

Elevation gain:

540 m / 1772 feet

Elevation loss:

745 m / 2444 feet

Rifugio Pian de Fontana 


 

PATH NUMBER: 514 

 

Along with day 3 and day 7 of Alta Via 1, day 10 was another one of my favourites. We intentionally skipped breakfast at rifugio Pramperet and ordered a couple of sandwiches to go. We also settled our bill the night before, woke up at 5AM and with our bags already packed we set off shortly after just when it started to get light. 

 

The reason we did that is because we decided to walk all the way to La Pissa on 10 day. This was quite demanding day for us with over 26 kilometres (16 miles) and 2000 meters (6500 feet) of elevation loss. If you are not in the rush I highly recommend staying in the Pian de Fontana refuge first because this part of Alta Via 1 deserves to be taken slowly.  

 

Thanks to the amazing light conditions the views between rifugio Pramperet and Rifugio Pian de Fontana whilst crossing the rugged Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park were jaw dropping.

 

There is a very short and narrow scrambling section on the last push to Forcella de Zita Sud. Don't miss the 10 minute detour to the nearby Summit of Cima di Zita sud for even more extensive views.

 

To me the most demanding part of the hike was the descent to the Pian de Fontana refuge. It's a real knee buster, so steep in places that it justifies the warning sign at the start of the descent asking hikers to take extra care! 

 

We made it to the Pian de Fontana refuge around 8AM just in time for breakfast! It's a lovely little place consisting of a few old shepherd huts converted into a mountain refuge with very rustic decor. Make sure to write down the bus schedule for La Pissa to time your next day accordingly! 

 

 

 


Day 11: Rifugio Pian de Fontana to La Pissa

19 km / 11.8 miles

4h 30 min

Elevation gain:

300 m / 984 feet 

Elevation loss:

1400 m / 4593 feet

La Pissa


 

PATH NUMBERS: 514, 518, 503 

 

If you decide to overnight at rifugio Pian de Fontana your last day won't be as demanding as it was for us. 

 

The day starts with a drop through a forest to a stream followed by an hour long (and ca 300 meters in elevation gain) jaunt to Forcella Varetta. From the saddle you will traverse along a trail below Cime de La Scala, with Monte Schiara rising to your right. 

 

Once you reach a junction the path splits with clear signs for rifugio Bianchet, the direction you will be following for the next hour. This is the last refuge on Alta Via 1. My dad and I stopped here for a longer break and a celebratory beer knowing that in a couple of hours we will reach the end of the route! 

 

From rifugio Blanchet you will follow a gravel road leading through the forest, with a few clearings in between, all the way to the bus stop! As we walked further and continued dropping the elevation the temperature kept rising. We finished the hike at around 2 PM on June 27th in 40 degree (Celcius) heat! Talk about commitment! 

 

 


A list of all mountain huts along Alta Via 1

 

If you are planning to hike Alta Via 1 this list of most mountain huts along the route will come in really handy. 

 

If this will be your first time staying in an italian refuge make sure to check out my other article about everything you need to know before staying in a mountain hut in the Dolomites. It includes information about alpine club memberships, how to make reservations, the meaning of 'half-board' and much more. 

 

The huts in bold underlined letters are the ones I have stayed at myself when hiking Alta via 1. 

 

 

Mountain hut E-mail Phone Number CAI Member Showers

Credit/Debit Cards

Accepted

Rifugio Biella  rifugiobiella@libero.it  +39 0436 866 991  Yes  No  No
Rifugio Sennes info@sennes.com +39 0474 646 355 No  Yes  
Rifugio Fannes  info@rifugiofanes.com   +39 0474 501 097 No  Yes  No 
Rifugio Lavarella rifugio@lavarella.it +39 0474 501 094 No  Yes  
Rifugio Lagazuoi  Reservation system  +39 0436 867 303  No Yes   Yes
Rifugio Averau  Reservation system  +39 0436 4660  No Yes  Yes 
Rifugio Nuvolau siorpaes@yahoo.com +39 0436 867 938 Yes No No
Rifugio Citta di Fiume info@rifugiocittadifiume.it +39 320 037 7432  Yes  No  Yes
Rifugio Coldai  infocoldai@gmail.com   +39 0437 789 160  Yes  Yes   Yes
Rifugio Tissi rifugio.tissi@gmail.com +39 0437 721 644 Yes    
Rifugio Vazzoler   vazzoler@email.it +39 0437 660 008 

Yes

 

  No 
Rifugio Carestiatio  info@rifugiocarestiatio.com  +39 0437 629 49   Yes Yes   
Rifugio Pramperet  info@rifugiosommarivaalpramperet.it 

+39 0437 195 6153 

 

 Yes Yes  No 
Rifugio Pian de Fontana piandefontana@livecom.it +39 335 609 6819 Yes   No

Possible early escape routes on Alta Via 1

 

Not everyone is up for trekking the whole distance of Alta Via 1. I get it. 11 days of dragging your backpack over mountain passes day after day is quite a challenge for the body. The good news is you don't have to do the whole route if you don't want to or simply don't have time.

 

You can join or leave at any of the points enlisted below! All locations are served by the local Dolomiti bus running throughout the summer season and you can ask for the schedule at the last refuge where you will be staying or check on google maps. Hitchhiking also seems to work quite well in the Dolomites and I did catch a ride with strangers on a few occasions. 

 

For your convenience I have linked to accommodation options in each town should you need a rest before continuing your journey.  

 

Day 3: Passo Falzarego - After completing the route on day 3 you can catch the gondola down to Passo Falzarego and get the Dolomiti bus to Cortina D'Ampezzo

 

Day 4: Passo Giau - Instead of staying overnight at rifugio Averau you can continue for another 1,5 hour to Passo Giau and catch the local bus to Cortina D'Ampezzo. 

 

Day 5: Passo Staulanza - After getting to rifugio Citta di Fiume on day 5 you can walk further 1h 15 mins to Passo Staulanza from where you can catch the bus to Selva Di Cadore or Forno di Zoldo. 

 

Day 7: Alleghe - Stay the 6th night at rifugio Coldai (it would be a shame to miss out on those views) then retrace part of the route from the previous day and hike to the top of the Col Dei Baldi gondola. This will take ca 1h30min. The gondola will take you down to the beautiful town of Alleghe. 

 

Day 7 or 8: Listolade - After optional night at rifugio Vazzoler take the gravel road  no.555 towards rifugio Capanna Trieste then to Listolade. From Listolade catch a local bus to Agordo. This route takes approximately 2,5 hours. 

 

Day 8 or 9: Agordo - Stay the night at rifugio Carestatio (optional) then follow the path no.548 from the hut all the way to Agordo (2,5 hours). 

 

Day 9 (option 2): Forno Di Zoldo - Once reaching the old military baracks at Forcella Moschesin take path no.540 to descent through the Balanzola valley to Forno di Zoldo  (2,5 hours) 

  

Do you have any questions or need help with planning your holidays in the Italian Dolomites? Drop them in the comments below! I always answer! For more information on hiking, backpacking and photography visit my Italian Dolomites Guide

 

 


A comprehensive guide to Alta Via 1 in the Italian Dolomites. Part 2
Alta Via 1: A guide to an 11 day traverse across the Italian Dolomites: Part 2
The Essential Guide to Alta Via 1 In The Italian Dolomites: Part 2


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

I am Marta Kulesza - the photographer and creator of www.inafarawayland.comI come from Poland, but I've been living, travelling and working around the globe since I turned 18. A few years ago, during one of my trips to Scotland, I bought my first DSLR and my adventure with photography began. When I am not stuck to my computer editing photos, you can find me hiking somewhere in the mountains. 

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