Photo Gallery: Trekking the Alta Via 2 Through Italy’s Dolomite Mountains
By Michael Lanza
Hiking toward a mountain pass named Furcela dia Roa, on the first day of my family’s weeklong, hut-to-hut trek on the Alta Via 2 in northern Italy’s Dolomite Mountains, we stopped in an open meadow of grass and wildflowers overlooking a deep, verdant valley in Puez-Odle Natural Park. Across the valley loomed a wall of cliffs topped by jagged spires, like a castle a thousand feet tall. I looked at our map and back up at the stone wall before us, puzzled. After a moment, I realized: We have to get over that wall.
Scanning the vertiginous earth before us, I eventually picked out the trail snaking across the head of the valley and making dozens of switchbacks up a finger of scree, talus, and snow leading to the lowest notch in that wall: the Furcela dia Roa, the pass we had to cross.
It was our first encounter with a lesson that would repeat itself many times over the course of our hike on the Alta Via 2: These mountains are so steep and rocky that the trail often traverses ground that, from a distance, looks impassable without ropes and climbing gear. Indeed, numerous stretches of the Alta Via 2 have lengths of cable bolted into the rock face to hold onto, just to avoid pitching off the trail into an abyss.
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My family spent a week trekking hut to hut on a 39-mile (62k) section of the Alta Via 2, or “The Way of the Legends,” a roughly 112-mile (180k) alpine footpath through one of the world’s most spectacular and storied mountain ranges, Italy’s Dolomites. The AV 2 is famous for attributes that possess even more allure than a steaming plate of gnocchi: scenery that puts it in legitimate contention for the title of “the most beautiful trail in the world,” comfortable mountain huts with excellent food—and a reputation for being the most remote and difficult of the several multi-day alte vie (plural for alta via), or “high paths,” that crisscross the Dolomites.
Read my story about that trip, “‘The World’s Most Beautiful Trail:’ Trekking the Alta Via 2 Through Italy’s Dolomite Mountains,” which has many more photos, a video, and advice for planning it yourself. That piece consistently ranks among the most popular stories each month at The Big Outside.
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