Your trips starts on arrival in Dobbiaco. This decorative town is in the Sud Tirol style and is on the branch railway line from the Brenner pass. There are several restaurants for dining out.
Hotel in Dobbiaco (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 9km with 925m ascent, 270m descent
The mountains start immediately above Lago di Braies, a famed lake hemmed in by hillsides. The local bus takes you there from Dobbiaco. Take to the hillside, steep and loose in places, and climb towards Croda de Becco, an optional 2,810m peak that can be walked on the way to your hut. (We also describe the pleasant cross-country walk to Lago di Braies.)
Mountain hut (dinner and breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 9.5km with 530m ascent, 580m descent
Cross-country is the theme for the next two stages as you cross large areas of upland meadow and rock. Surrounding views of limestone peaks characterise the stage which is divided into two at Rif Pederu, a cheerful hut at a road head.
Mountain hut (dinner and breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 11.5km with 1,215m ascent, 565m descent
From Rifugio Lavarella take the track up to a high plateau before climbing up to Forcella di Lech. This exhilarating ascent to the rocky pass is a highlight of the trip and offers splendid views of the Tofana and Cristallo massifs. Descend steeply to Le de Lagacio before climbing again to Rifugio Lagazuoi, the highest hut on the trip at 2752m. From the hut it's worth making the short climb along the Kaiserjägersteig (or Austrian Mountain Troop Path) to the summit of Lagazuoi. An enjoyable varient bypasses Forcella di Lech.
Mountain hut (dinner and breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 12.5km with 120m ascent, 1,660m descent
Today there is the option to explore the Galleria Lagazuoi, a restored First World War tunnel. The main walk takes you to Rifugio Dibona under the shadow of the immense cliffs of the Tofana de Rozes. The last 6km into Cortina can be skipped by bus. (A direct option drops to Passo Falzarego, also with cable car option, from where we can take the bus to Cortina.)
Hotel in Cortina (breakfast)
Enjoy an Italian breakfast in the wonderful town Cortina. If you have time, we recommend exploring this pretty down before catching the bus. The bus runs to Venice, or try our suggestions for travel via Treviso and onwards in Italy.
Make the trip shorter
Our normal 4-stage trip can be made shorter by merging the first 2 stages and walking from Lago di Braies to Rifugio Fanes in a single long day. With a length of 18.5km and with 1,455m ascent, this an achievable option for strong hikers but hard to recommend to most.
Make the trip longer
A longer schedule is also very possible. We would achieve this by splitting the longer day from Rifugio Lavarella to Rifugio Lagazuoi into 2 shorter stages, including a stay in Rifugio Scotoni (known for its delicious food). By choosing this option, the direct route from Lavarella to Lagazuoi over the Forcella di Lech is no longer an option and instead the alternative via Capanna Alpina must be taken. The Capanna Alpina alternative is longer altogether, though split over 2 stages, and it avoids the steep and loose descent from the Forcella di Lech.
It is also possible to make the trip longer by adding in an extra hut night at Rifugio Nuvolau, or a nearby alternative. We suggest a direct route from Rifugio Lagazuoi to Rifugio Nuvolau, taking in the stunning views of Monte Tofane. The trip would finish with a fifth stage from Nuvolau down to Cortina, leaving time on the way to explore the famous Cinque Torri. We are also very happy to arrange additional nights in Cortina after your hike if you wish.
Alta Via 1 North (Self-guided)
19 July to 18 September 2020
||Please ask us|
Our Classic mix of accommodation aims to give an enticing taste of hut-to-hut hiking in the Dolomites and includes 3 nights in comfortable mountain hut plus two lovely hotels in Dobbiaco and Cortina. In Dobbiaco we would book a great 3* hotel whilst in Cortina we aim for a comfortable 3 or 4* hotel, offering a touch of luxury to the end of your trip.
We have the option to book private rooms at all 3 huts on this section of the trail and are more than happy to book these for you if available. Please let us know when you book if you’d like us to try for private rooms on these nights. If successful, we would ask for a small contribution of GBP 10 per person for each night spent in a private room at a hut.
Our Comfy trips stay in the same great hotels as our Classic trip. The only difference from our Classic trip is that we’d try for private rooms in the huts as standard. If we are unable to book private rooms at any of the 3 hut nights, we’ll reduce your price by GBP 10 per person for each night spent in a dormitory.
On our Hutty trips we’ll book dormitory places in same 3 huts as on our Classic trip. In the towns we use more simple 2 or 3* hotels. This givese a more economical way of trekking in the Italian Dolomites.
Our single supplement covers the difference in cost between booking a single room in the hotels in Cortina and Dobbiaco, compared with the per person cost of two people sharing a room. In the huts, single rooms are not available so we would book dormitory places.
Our approach to the Alta Via 1 North
Our Alta Via 1 North trip gives a complete journey on foot from Lago di Braies near Dobbiaco, to Cortina, walking every step of the way. The AV1 is a well-defined route with a number of variants. As standard, our routecards follow the easiest route however we describe the different options in detail also, allowing you to choose your route as you go!
Every year we recce the route and update our routecards to reflect the current trail conditions and any changes to the trail which have occurred over the winter. This ensures you have the most up to date information on the trail.
The Dolomites are some of the most beautiful and dramatic mountains in the world and form part of the Southern Limestone Alps. The terrain underfoot is similarly varied, mixing easy stretches on solid paths surrounded by towering limestone formations, with high, rocky mountain paths and wide forest tracks.
The descent from the Forcella di Lech on Stage 3 has a particularly loose and steep descent, and care should be taken. An alternative route exists to skip this section and we describe this in our routecards. On Stage 1, handrails are in place to help with the ascent to Forcella Sora Forno and more handrails assist with the optional descent through the Gallaria Lagazuoi (the First World War tunnels which lead through the hillside below Rifugio Lagazuoi) on the final stage into Cortina.
Is it for me?
The Alta Via 1 North is a relatively short yet stunning trip, making it achievable in a week long or long weekend trip whilst maximising views and comfort! With the relatively short days and well walked trails, the Alta Via 1 would be suited to those with a good level of fitness who are happy to walk for around 6-8 hours per day over rocky and at times loose terrain. The trail on the Northern section sticks to the more popular areas of the Dolomites meaning you get a great sense of camaraderie as you walk and would be a fine option for a first multi-day Alpine hike.
Due to the remote nature of the huts, you’ll need to carry everything you need for the duration of the trek; it’s not much to carry and there are plenty of well-placed huts along the trail offering delicious food and drink.
As with all of our Alpine hikes, although the trail is well walked, the way-markers can be hard to see in poor weather so it is essential that at least one person in your group can navigate using a map and compass.
The Alta Via 1 North is first and foremost a walk; there are no glaciers, via ferrata or climbing sections. There are however a few sections of steep and loose terrain such as the descent from Forcella di Lech. This section in particular requires a steady balance and a head for heights but can be avoided by taking the Capanna Alpina alternative. The rocky terrain through and below the Gallaria Lagazuoi is also an optional extra and can be avoided by taking the main AV1 route to Forc Travenanzes.
We consider this Northern section of the trail to be easier than its Southern counterpart , with shorter days, relative proximity to civilisation and easier trails.
Read more about the Alta Via 1 hike in our Alta Via 1 Walking Guide
Flying over the Alps on the way to Venice
Your holiday starts in the Sud Tirol village of Dobbiaco and ends in the large Dolomites resort of Cortina. The most convenient airport is Venice with several transfer options available by coach or by train plus bus. For the start, Innsbruck and even Munich airports work well thanks to the train over the Brenner pass.
Travel to and from the trip is not included in the holiday price. We take care to give the most useful notes possible about all the travel options. We supply these both on booking and in your info pack, and we offer personalised tips at any point. The aim is that our hikers arrange their travel by the simplest and most scenic means as suits their plan.
- Bespoke accommodation itinerary - tailored to suit your particular requirements
- Breakfast every morning
- Dinner at the huts (on 3 nights for our main trip)
- Detailed Routecards AVU1-4 of the Exploratory system, printed on waterproof paper
- The topographical maps needed
- Expert advice and local information
- A comprehensive 'Season Update' following our pre-season recce
- Full support during your trip from the Alpine Exploratory team (9am until 9pm in the Alps)
- Travel to and from your trip
- Local transport whilst on the trip unless specified
- Travel insurance
- Lunches, snacks, drinks and evening meals in the towns (this would be 2 nights on our main trip)
- Baggage transfers (available as an extra)
Baggage transferLet us move any extra luggage you have from Dobbiaco to your hotel in Cortina whilst you walk. Due to the remoteness of the huts, unfortunately we are not able to deliver your bags to any of the huts. There is not much extra to carry but please do ask us for more details and for a quote to transfer your extra bags direct to Cortina.
Booking form for the ALta Via 1
2020 and 2021
Alta Via 1 North enquiry form
If you prefer, please feel welcome to email or call us. Thanks!
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