Glackpacking in the Dolomites

Glackpacking (see “glamping” for comparison) is the act of backpacking in relative luxury by staying in charming Italian “rifugios” with delicious traditional Italian/German cuisine for every meal, but still climbing 20 kilometers up and down mountains each day and sleeping in dormitories full of sweaty, snoring hikers.

Our glackpacking trip took us through a significant portion of the Italian Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage Site within the Alps where passing hikers are often more likely to speak to you in German than Italian. Our crew consisted of my father, our family friend Daniel, and Luis, who is Daniel’s friend who grew up in Brixen (a small town in this region of the Dolomites). It was very helpful to have a local around, who was fluent in both Italian and German, to chat with refuge owners, taxi drivers, and chairlift operators.

Our first day, we headed up the mountain from Val di Fassa on the König Laurin chair lift. From there, we searched for the path which led to a mountain pass to get to the refuges on the other side. Finally we spotted a tiny path leading up to a nearly vertical pile of large limestone boulders. We made use of some installed via ferrata cables to hoist ourselves up the steeper parts and made our way up multiple switchbacks to get to the mountain pass.IMG_0032Next, we descended to Rifugio Vajolet, where we had a delicious lunch of homemade pasta and traditional speck dumplings. From there, we were a bit indecisive about what to do next, but Luis convinced us to climb about 800 meters to the top of Kesselkogel mountain (3004 m tall) as a “shortcut” to get to the lake and Rifugio Antermoia () on the other side. The via ferrata climb was exciting to say the least, including fairly exposed portions near the bottom and at the top, where a cable-less 100 meter ridge leads to the cross at the summit of the mountain.

We made it down to Rifugio Antermoia in time for dinner, where we enjoyed incredible hospitality, great food, and wonderful music (even yodeling!). The refuge was supposed to be closed until its grand opening the next day, so we got very lucky.

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Rifugio Antermoia

On our second day, we went down the mountain from Rifugio Antermoia to the Val Duron and back up to Plattkofelhutte on the other side of the valley. We ran into some stubborn cows on the way up.

From Plattkofelhutte we crossed over to a refuge near Sella Pass, but since we got there early, we decided to go onto our next day’s itinerary and take a taxi to Falzarego Pass, where we stayed at Rifugio Passo Valparola, a beautiful place right next to a calm lake where we enjoyed the sunset.

The next day, we hiked up the Lagazuoi Ferrata Galleria to Monte Lagazuoi within the mountain, in a network of tunnels created by the Italians during World War One. Both the Italians and Austrians created tunnels within the mountain and would battle each other by attempting to destroy one another’s tunnel network. The steep, cold, & damp tunnels open up to incredible views over Falzarego pass.

Once at Monte Lagazuoi, we descended to a beautiful lake near Rifugio Scotino and then up a couple hundred meters to this view of the lake:IMG_0158From the pass, we went down to meet the Alta Via Dolomiti trail which took us along the Fanes region to various refuges. We spent the night at the base of a beautiful valley at Ucia de Fanes.IMG_0205The next day, we continued down the valley until we got to Rifugio Pederu, which is at the base at about 1500 meters. We then climbed up all the way to Rifugio Biella (about 2300 meters) where we had lunch, and then down to the emerald gem of Lago di Braies, where we were able to take a swim and eat a refreshing gelato before returning to Brixen via public transit. All in all, an incredible journey! Please let me know if you are planning a trip around this area and would like any advice 🙂wp-1498510662203.jpgwp-1498510661685.jpgwp-1498510661722.jpgIMG_20170619_160357

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