Thursday, April 28, 2011

Planning My Hike on the Alta Via II

The Alta Via II is an obvious choice for me because my last hike was the Alta Via I. Both hikes are in the Dolomites region of the Alps. They run parallel courses north to south through some of the most starkly beautiful and dramatic landscapes in Europe. While the Alta Via I offers World War I fortifications and labyrinthine mountain tunnels, the Alta Via II gives access to the largest remaining glacier in Europe on the tallest peak in the Dolomites the Marmolada. I will not be climbing its nearly 11,000' but will partially describe a circle around it and will probably take a cable car to the top. The height is not so daunting but the snow and ice make it a very technical climb -- more technical than my ultra-light, solo hiking will permit this year. Instead, I will take the sight-seer's option and ride the lift to the top. I am no longer too conceited to take a gondola.

It now appears that I will be making this trip alone. Charles probably cannot make it, despite my earlier posts. Regardless, I am committed to the hike. It has been too long -- almost two years -- since I've seen the Alps. I can't wait any longer.

Here is my itinerary as far as I can predict. Only the flights are set in stone. All page numbers refer to Collins, Martin & Price, Gillian (2002). Treks in the Dolomites, Cumbria, U.K.: Cicerone. "CAI" refers to the Italian Alpine Club, which runs many of the huts in the Italian Alps. They offer substantial discounts to members of certain other hiking clubs.


Saturday, August 20: depart Providence, 11:33AM.

Sunday, August 21: arrive Venice, 9:25 AM
Train to Bressanone and an hour walk to San Andrea and Gasthof Gasserhof -- assuming I can get a reservation.

Monday, August 22
Gasthof Gasserhof to Rifugio Genova CAI p.80
Hiking Time: 5 hrs. + 2 hr. optional side trip to Sass de Putia, a nearby peak (8625 ft).
Lunch: Rifugio Genova, then turn around to do the summit (see below).
Half Board: € 35 (incl. dorm room + supper + breakfast)
Full Board: € 40 (incl dorm room + lunch + supper + breakfast)
Phone: +39 0171 978138
e-mail: gestore@rifugiogenova.it

Tuesday, August 23
Rifugio Genova to Rifugio Puez CAI p.85. No website, see here
Hiking Time: 7.5 hrs. including a variant from Forcella San Zenon (p. 82)
Lunch: Trioer Alm (4 hrs. from start) or Rifugio Firenze (4.5 hrs)
Half Board: unknown but probably similar to Genova
Phone: +39 0471 795365

Wednesday, August 24
Rifugio Puez to Rifugio Boè CAI p.91
Hiking Time: 7.5 hrs.
Lunch: Rifugio Piscadu (4:30 hrs)
Half Board: € 38
Bunk only (dinner not included): € 11
Phone: +39 0471 847303
+39 0462 602141
Remarks: Look for ammonites along the way

Thursday, August 25
Rifugio Boè to Malga Ciapela (a small town) p.100
Hiking Time: 6 hrs.
Lunch: Rifugio Viel del Pan (4:30 hrs.)
Accommodations: Will need to research hotels and make reservations
Phone: +39 0462 601323
Remarks: This is a small town. From here there is a 3-tier cable car to the top of the Marmolada, Europe's largest remaining glacier. A visit to the top is highly recommended but, perhaps, not super-cheap. Hotel Roy sounds nice with its sauna, turkish bath, etc. Half board is somewhere under € 50.

Friday, August 26
Malga Ciapela to Rifugio Passo (di) Valles a privately owned hut p. 105
Hiking Time: 6:45 hrs.
Lunch: Passo di San Pellegrino (4:30 hrs.)
Half Board: unknown – probably between € 35 and € 50
Phone: + 39 0437 599136
+ 39 0437 599460
email: info@passovalles.com
Remarks: Not much easily found info on this hut but the guide book recommends it highly. Being privately run, one should make reservations far in advance.

Saturday, August 27
Rifugio Passo Valles to Rifugio Rosetta CAI – p.111
Hiking Time: 8 hrs.
Lunch: Rifugio Mulaz (3:30 hrs.)
Half Board: € 36
Phone: +39 0439 68308 (only from 20 June to 20 Sept.) Alternate phone numbers below
Residence - 043968249
Mariano - 3470498929
Roberta - 3495331742
Remarks: no email. Consider ordering a bagged lunch for the next day.

Sunday, August 28
Rifugio Rosetta to Rifugio Cereda p.118 privately owned
Hiking Time: 10 hrs. mostly downhill.
Lunch: Rifugio Treviso (6 hrs)
Half Board: unknown
Phone: +39 0439 65030
email: info@passocereda.eu
Remarks: This is the longest day. Much of it is downhill which may or may not be a relief depending on the state of my knees. It could be split in two by staying at Rifugio Treviso. There is no great place for lunch before Rifugio Treviso so I may want to request a bagged lunch at Rifugio Rosetta. Also remember to order a bagged lunch for the following day.

Monday, August 29
Rifugio Cereda to Rif Bruno Boz CAI p.123.
Hiking Time: 7 hrs.
Lunch: There is no good place for lunch. Bring packed lunch and plan to stop at Bivacco Feltre. There should be water nearby.
Half Board: unknown
Phone: +39 0439 64448
email: mara.iagher@tin.it
Remarks: This is a small hut with somewhat limited facilities. I should make reservations in advance.

Tuesday, August 30
Rifugio Bruno Boz to Feltre (a town) p. 127
Hiking Time: 8 hrs
Lunch: Rifugio Dal Piaz (6 hrs)
Accommodations: hotel – make advance reservations either in Feltre or in Venice. Probably Feltre, given that I probably won't roll into town until mid-late afternoon.

Wednesday, August 31: bus from Feltre to Venice
Thursday, September 1: Flight from Venice to Providence

It's a bit of a tight turnaround at the end, not much time for sight-seeing, but this is probably for the best. I have visited Venice three times before and, as much as I love it, I don't need more than a day there after a 9-day hike. I have planned many hikes with too much R&R at the end. Time just drags. I once spent nearly a week in Stockholm after a trek in arctic Sweden. Stockholm is beautiful, don't get me wrong, but I was done after two days. I could probably take another day or two in Venice but it will be nice to have a weekend at home before the new work week begins.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I Got My Tickets to Italy - Alta Via 2, Dolomites Trip,

So I got the tickets. For $236. And if that doesn't sound like an accomplishment, you haven't tried to buy tickets to Europe this spring.

Here's the punchline: I've wasted two years paying for the privilege to carry a Virgin Atlantic Black credit card. Turns out Virgin "miles" are more like kilometers: they only get you about 60% as far (or was THAT the punchline, ha ha -- yeah, hm...) Anyhow, you start out all optimistic because it only takes 35,000 air-miles to get to Europe. Doesn't that sound like a good deal? Well what they don't tell you is that the seats are severely limited; the only viable European destination from the Northeastern United States is London; the Boston to London flights are booked 6 months in advance; and you have to pay over $500 in taxes in fees to fly from JFK to London. I finally gave up and booked with my United miles and paid just $116 in fees to get all the way from Providence to Venice. So guess which card I'm canceling...

I am going to stop complaining now. After the booking contortions I should feel fortunate that I can even GET to Venice for just $116 in fees! And it is even remotely possible that I will be joined by my friend Charles, schedule permitting. You might remember him from our mutual misadventures on the E5 and on our arctic trek along the Kungsleden

I have decided to keep track of some of my planning on this blog. I haven't been using it very much and this gives me an excuse to post some plans for this summer and some reflections on my previous Dolomite trip.

The hike I will be doing is called the Alta Via II. I hiked the Alta Via I back in 2008 with three friends. I was leading the trip that year and, as much as I love to lead small groups of friends, I also really enjoy the solitude of hiking either alone or with Charles.

If that sounds weird -- I mean the "solitude of hiking with Charles" part -- you have to understand our hiking style. We both value solitude. During our first hike (the E5, mentioned above) we spent far too much time together. The close quarters nearly destroyed our friendship but the resulting detente gave us the foundation of honesty that has supported our friendship through many later hikes. Instead of hiking together, we hike in the same general proximity. This may mean that we won't see each other for several days at a time. Sometimes one of us will take an alternate route with no more than a "see you in two days." Occasionally we get together in a small town or a hut for a blowout dinner, the next day we may not even see each other. I once told Charles "Hiking with you is almost as good as hiking alone." I hope that he took it as the intended compliment but I actually misspoke. Hiking with Charles is much better than hiking alone because it gives me someone with whom to reminisce.

If anyone is curious how I got from Providence to Venice for $236 in the high season, it's all about the Chase United Mileage Plus credit card. There is a $60/yr. fee but, given the price of overseas flights, that fee easily pays for itself. I route all of my spending through this card and pay it off at the end of each month. As a result, I average over 25,000 miles per year just in spending. That's a "free" ticket every two years. Total cost, $236. Not bad when the same ticket would have cost me $1400 or more.
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