We have visited the Dolomites Three times this year during our travels around Europe. A destination needs to be pretty damn epic to bring us crawling back for more and more, it appears that the Dolomites has what it takes! The massive vertical cliffs, 3000m+ peaks, crystal clear water, technical bike tracks (hiking trails), world class rock climbing, via ferrata adventures, delicious coffee, mountain huts ie. rifgugio’s and all of the amazing Italian food are just some of the things that make the Dolomites one of the best places on EARTH!
We have been lucky enough to meet a few locals through our journey. Tim, one of Lachlan’s mates from University, has a girlfriend, Hannah, whom is from Toblach, a small town in Sud Tirol on the northern edge of the Dolomites. Along with Tim & Hannah’s flatmate, Franz, who works as a mountain guide in Sexten, which is also on the northern edge of the Dolomites. Franz and Hannah gave us a bunch of tips on great tracks, and destinations throughout the Dolomites along with amazing hospitality throughout our stays in the Dolomites.
We have pulled together some “Dolomitic Porn” of our favorites, please enjoy!
Durrensee/Lago di Landro:
Durensee is a shallow, mud-bottomed lake surrounded by tall Dolomitic peaks which offers epic climbing. From the carpark next to Durrensee it is possible to access multiple rock climbing crags with sport climbing routes from 4 through to 8b+ and above.
In winter the lake completely freezes over and in summer due to being only waist deep at the deepest point becomes pretty warm despite the near freezing water that flows into it from the surrounding peaks! The coffee & vanilla crème croissants from the café next to the lake are top notch!
Drei Zinnen and Bullelejoch Hutte / Refugio Pian di Cengia Loop:
The Drei Zinnen (three peaks) are perhaps the most famous attraction in the Dolomites, attracting huge numbers of tourists to marvel at their beauty. It is possible to drive up a toll road and then take a short 45min hike to the base of the three peaks. Unfortunately this option leaves you surrounded by a frenzy of Italian tourists taking away from the tranquility of this beautiful area. Both paying 25 Euros and the idea of driving rather than walking into such a place of natural beauty goes against our grain.
Instead we accessed the Drei Zinnen from Sexten. Our mate Franz’ girlfriend, Steffi’s family owns a Refugio/mountain hut (Bullelejoch Hutte / Refugio Pian di Cengia) near to the base of the Three Peaks.
It is possible to do a loop from Sexten where you go up Val Fiscalina, park your car, take hiking track 102 to the Drei Zinnen Hutte, look at the three peaks and then escape the tourists along trail 112 to Bullelejoch Hutte. You can stay the night in the Refugio or just enjoy possibly the best lunch in the Dolomites. We recommend the knödels followed by an apfelstrudel washed down with a delicious beer and finished with a Macchiatoni (halfway between a Macchiato and a Cappicino).
From Bullelejoch Hutte take track 103, into Val Fiscalina, to link up with track 102 and get back to your car. If you’re brave enough, try going for a swim in the river near the carpark in Val Fiscalina, possibly the coldest water we have been in so far on tour!
Cinque Torri (translating to five towers) is a cluster of towers that range in height from 10m – 140m located near to Cortina and surrounded by huge dolomitic peaks on all sides. We spent 3 days climbing at Cinque Torri doing a range of sport climbs, multi-pitches and a bit of trad climbing. There are so many routes that you could spend weeks here and still not climb everything! The views are unreal too, it’s like being on a movie set.
The Tour of Lago di Sorapis
Lago di Sorapis is a beautiful, glacier fed lake located at 1923m in the Dolomites near to Cortina. It is possible to do a Via Ferratta, which starts and ends at Lago di Sorapis circumnavigating the “Gruppo Del Sorapiss” mountain range. We completed the Via Ferratta loop over 2 days and accessed the lake the night before we started from Tre Croci on track 215 which is a wide path utilized by numerous tourists to visit the lake and the refugio next to the lake. We camped at the bottom end of the lake; however, be warned that this is verboten (forbidden in english) and it is possible that you could be fined up to 500 euro. We took this as an idle threat from the refugio and had no problems at all!
The trail for the Via Ferratta goes up shingle scree from the lake and around the back of Ponta Del Sorapis on trail 215. It then passes through a saddle where you traverse along a wide terrace on track 242 over a 500m+ drop for an hour and a half. When the terrace runs out the via ferratta really gets going. There is a steep descent down wire ropes and ladders and then an equally steep ascent. At the top of the ascent you come out on a cast landscape overlooking the Val De San Vido and the ‘Slataper Bivvy’ which sticks out brightly in fire engine red. We had lunch at the bivvy and then pushed on towards the ‘E.Comici Bivvy’ along tracks 246, 247 and 243 where we planned to stay the night. From the ‘Slataper Bivvy’ the trail drops down and then runs along the Val De San Vido on a terrace just above the tree line with a number of ups and downs. After approx. 3 hours the trail runs through a pass and down to the ‘E.Comici Bivvy’.
The next morning the trail continues around to the final Via Ferratta under Sora El Fo, looking over Lago di Sorapis. This is a great ferratta with massive exposure and is a lot of fun! Just before the top of the via ferratta we encountered 3 chamois (mountain goats) and managed to get within 15m of them, the boys were stoked, and it was pretty cool! From Lago Del Sorapis it is a short walk on track 215 back to Tre Croci.
Note that due to the lack of flora in the dolomites fresh water and running streams can be hard to find. There was only one good stream running when we did the trail so its imperative to take lots of water carrying capacity.
Mountain Bike Trail 1 – Starting in Saint Vigil
Franz took us on a great, but at times quite technical ride, that started in Saint Vigil. From Saint Vigil we ferried a car to the start of track 12 which we used to access the shingle road going up Fojedora Valley. From the Pass at 2283m we followed track 24 around to another pass at 2296m. To get to the second pass took a bit of hike-a-bike action.
From the second pass we followed tracks 24 and 25 back to Saint Vigil. The track down was ultra technical in some locations requiring a high degree of skill. Some of the riding across shingle scree was pretty hair raising and almost everyone had at least one bail over the handle bars at some point down the valley! Lots of fun though, no broken bones, and the views were exceptional!
Mountain Bike Trail 2 – starting in Sexten
This was another track recommended to us by Franz. To cut down the uphill scrog mission required you can catch the gondola out of Sexten for a quick 900m height gain. The trail follows the ridgeline along the Austrian-Italian border to ‘Schwarz See’ where it drops back down into Italy along track 14.
The start of the track is a mix of fast single track and tight washed out track. The trail then traverses back towards Sexten on trial 13. When trail 13 crosses under the first gondola you can take the Erla trail (a new MTB specific trail, grade S2) down to Moos. Great little day out and there are plenty of refugio’s that you can stop in at for coffee, beer and whatever else tickles your fancy!
We could have spent all summer in the Dolomites; there are simply so many different hikes and adventures to be had, if you are in the area then message us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can forward on further details on the places above and link you up with mountain guides to keep you safe on your adventures!