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Summer in the Dolomites

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I'm looking for some advice on a summer trip to the Dolomites. I'm planning a trip with a relative who is currently struggling with walking up/down hills, but loves flatter walks and being in the mountains. So ideally we're looking for somewhere with lots of options to go up a cable car/chair lift and then do a nice fairly flat circular walk at the top taking in some breathtaking views, enjoy a drink/lunch at a nice hütte on the mountain and then down again in a cable car (could be a different one from the one we went up in).

Also a village with a reasonably flat centre would be good and we would need accommodation (hotel/chalet/appartment - recommendations welcome) somewhere in that flatter part of town.

I'm currently looking at Corvara, as the plateau round Pralongia over to Col Alto might suit? And there's plenty of variety in valley walks in different directions for other days to give some variety. I've stayed in San Cassiano in the winter, but never been to this area in the summer and I didn't go into Corvara village, as I had a friend having lessons at the San Cassiano end of the area, and we went back every lunch to join him by the nursery slope, so I only ever got as far as the very edge of the village before turning back.

The other big restriction is that we won't have a car, so we need public transport to get there (currently looking at Cortina Express service from Venice Airport) and good local bus connections would be a big bonus.

Also would be good if wherever we went had some things to do when it's wet, which I'm not seeing in Corvara - what am I missing?.

So am I looking at the right place? Are there better options out there for what we need?
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@Rcav, I think your suggestion of Corvora/Alta Badia area is a good one. Another area you might care to consider is the Val Gardena valley and its 3 resorts of Ortisei/St Ulrich, St. Christina and Selva /Wolkenstein. You'll see that there are plenty of walking trails mentioned, I know that one of them between St Christina and Ortisei follows the path of the old railway line, so the gradients should be very gentle. From Ortisei there is a gondola lift which goes up to the Alpe di Suisi/Seiseralm which is the largest alpine meadow area in Europe with plenty of walks. If you don't want to take the same lift down then you have the option of either taking the lift from Compatsch on the Seiseralm down to Seis from where you can catch a bus back to Ortisei, or if you walk to Saltria on the Seiseralm there is a regular cross-country bus service to Monte Pana (the bus ride is recommended as it's quite an experience in itself as the road is untarmacced and in places the bus only just has enough room to get past the trees either side of the road Laughing ). From Monte Pana it's easy to get down to St. Christina. In terms of getting around there are frequent bus services that run along the valley between the 3 towns, and I believe if you are staying in accomodation in the valley in summer then the Val Gardena Mobil Card is free.

Of the 3 towns in the valley I reckon that Ortisei/St Ulrich is the prettiest and it has a pedestrianised main centre with some good shops and restaurants. I've only actually stayed in Ortisei itself once with friends in an apartment, this one.

If you should decide to stay in Val Gardena then I think the most convenient airports to fly into are Verona or Innsbruck, I think you can get coach transfers to Val Gardena from those airports.

Hope this helps. snowHead
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
The whole area is incredibly busy in summer. Madonna and Cortina have a lot to offer summer visitors
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Just do watch when the uplifts are open. We went, admittedly several years ago, and it wasn't a great start to the summer season, snow still on some descents though weather at times was boiling hot sun. It was late July, I recall and we'd been assured that many or all the chair and cable car lifts would be open - and hardly any were at all.

Is altitude a factor to be considered if walking difficulties? A lot of the Dolomites is getting up to 3000m, potentially, and if hot sun as well that can be a right knackering walk.

Not an expert on many areas, but wonder if some of the Italian lakes and surrounding areas are worth a look instead? May be more walking and/or public tranport? Lots of quaint old towns and boat rides. Or places like Hintertux or any of the Austrian glaciers and/or national parks (Hohe Tauren?) which have cable cars and probably busses?
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
The ting about the Dolomites is that they are generally steep cliffs on top of mountains. Much of the walking is up to about 2000-2200 metres. Above that is often the cliffs, which are great for climbing and scrambling. There are many fixed ladders in place...
Most tourists just walk and don't do the trickier stuff. There are lots of wonderful refuges. Cinque Torri in particulalar...
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Grizzler wrote:
Not an expert on many areas, but wonder if some of the Italian lakes and surrounding areas are worth a look instead? May be more walking and/or public tranport? Lots of quaint old towns and boat rides.


Well Lake Garda is beautiful and not that far from the Dolomites. In fact Malcesine on the eastern side of the lake has a cable car that goes up to the top of Monte Baldo at 1800 metres. Verona is the most convenient airport for Lake Garda.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@Alastair Pink, Thanks for that suggestion, I'll look into that.

@Grizzler, lift opening times are definitely worth considering, but looking at http://www.altabadia.org/en/summer-holidays/trekking-hiking/summer-lifts-in-alta-badia.html I think we should be ok as they all seem to be open at least 9-5pm Altitude shouldn't be a problem, in fact given we don't like the heat, we were kinda counting on altitude to cool it down a bit for us. Cardiovascularly she's fitter than me, it's just that sometimes joints give a lot of pain, and this seems to be corrrelated to walking up/down steep hills. We have also been thinking about lakes, but I'm a bit scared of it being too hot so Italian lakes don't look like such a great option at this time of year. We've done Mayrhofen (with a day trip to Hintertux before) and much enjoyed it. In fact she's been all over Austria, but never to Italy, so my idea was to take her somewhere new.

@cameronphillips2000, Ah.. but we don't necessarily need to get to the top to admire a nice view! Walking around 2000m is plenty high enough for us, I'll leave the amazing refuges and ladders for another time, this is going to be a much more relaxing holiday than that.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@Rcav, I go to the Dolomites for a holiday every summer. It is fantastic but can get rather busy especially around August 15th.

Like @Alastair Pink, I think Val Gardena would be a good place to start as is Corvara. There are lifts to the meadows below the rock faces and some nice valleys to stroll in. Though we always hire a car the bus service looks comprehensive so getting around without a car is possible. So you could do a few days in each of a number of different centres. We usually end up having a couple of nights in one hut a couple in a hotel and so on.

Though obviously most ski lifts will be closed in the summer considerable number are open. Unlike @Grizzler, I found all those advertised as open were in fact open, but some had so little traffic I wondered why they bothered. You are going to have to do your reasearch for each area, see for example http://www.altabadia.org/en/summer-holidays/trekking-hiking/summer-lifts-in-alta-badia.html. Though the web sites give prices per day single ride prices are available.

Similarly bus timetables are available http://www.valgardena.it/en/val-gardena/information-services/bus-schedule/

@Rcav, I think you are going to have to do a lot more research than just asking us on snowwheads. The Dolomites are an excellent place for a summer holiday but it is quite a large slightly confusing area. Just to give you a flavour I have maps of various scales over the whole area, at least 2 via ferrata guides and half a dozen climbing guides. My friend has a little notebook with him listing the phone numbers of all the hotels and huts he has ever used in 30 years of visits. Yet we still spend hours every evening poring over the guide books, maps and weather forecasts working out what we are going to do the next day.

Quote:

Also would be good if wherever we went had some things to do when it's wet, which I'm not seeing in Corvara - what am I missing?.

You are not missing anything. Apart from walking there is not much else to do. Get good waterproofs and keep off the mountains when thunder storms are forecast.

Though not part of the original discussion I received this notice earlier today about the Sella Joch
"Just a note that the Sella Pass will be closed every Wednesday in July and August from 9 am to 4pm. "
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Oh, yes, I meant to add watch the thunderstorms! Guess it's true of all high European areas but always been warned about it most in N Italy.
Usually build by afternoon.
Worst in August? September maybe better?
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
We were in Val Gardena last year (staying in Selva/Wolkenstein); it definitely fulfils the criteria of stunning views and plenty of mountain huts - both in abundance Smile I'd agree that Ortisei/St Ulrich could be a good option. The railway walk is indeed flat and I also remember a lovely walk from the top of the funicular there - we did extend it somewhat but I'm pretty sure it was possible to do a relatively flat ridge loop also - worth checking (note I do say relatively!). Not familiar with anywhere else in the Dolomites, but we are also very fond of north Lake Garda - Riva del Garda is a great town with opportunities for lakeside walks, eating, etc (and avoiding hills if staying near the lake/main town) while still getting some mountain views. Monte Baldo is brilliant (cable car in Malcesine can be reached easily by bus from Riva) - you'd struggle to get a great deal of flat walking from the top but it's amazing up there nonetheless and I think going south from the top allows a little more walking before the climbing/descending. Happy researching!
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Lake Molveno is an Absolute gem. They emptied it early this year but it should be full again now. It has a wonderful blue/green colour and staggering views up to the Brenta Massif
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Did a week in Selva in September a few years ago without a car. Used free bus up and down valley to link walks. So great access to a range of lifts.

Also got the local bus to the Lagazoi tunnels (well 2 busses). I think we went via Corvara. So the bus routes were accessible to get to different places out of the valley too. Remember the tourist office being helpful getting that planned.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Corvara would be a great choice, I lived near there for 4 years, my parents, sister and her young kids came to visit - they often got a lift up and walked on the Plateau between Corvara and San Cassiano, there are restaurants, view points, play parks etc. and it is absolutely stunning. Cortina express runs fine, that's how my sister got back to the airport.
On a rainy day you can visit the WW1 museums, go to a spa, eat lots of great food or take a day trip to somewhere like Venice or Treviso (Cortina Express again). I never found it all that busy, even when the Maratona Dles Dolomites is on. Garda on the other hand gets absolutely heaving, mostly German tourists. Due to it's steep sides and a road all the way round the walking there isn't so great.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Agree with Corvara being a good option. We were there last year in early September and it was fairly quiet. Although we had a hire car, we never used it as the busses were so convenient. We walked several times up on the plateau above Corvara; walked from Jimmy hut at Passo Gardena back to Colfosco (and then bus to Corvara) on both sides of the valley; got the chairlift up to Santa Croce and walked back down; Boe gondala up to Vallon and walked back down to Corvara golf club and then Pralongia chair up to main plateau. All relatively easy walks with only a few steepish sections here and there

Just some advice:

a) If you stay in Corvara, try and get accomodation near enough to the Col Alto and Boe gondolas, otherwise you will have an uphill walk from the bottom of the village or rely on a bus

b) Just check which gondolas/chairs are open when you plan to visit as most will be shut from Mid September

c) Check that the Cortina express transfer ties in with your flights as it runs infrequently during the day

d) Get some good walking poles!!
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
I took the family to Val Gardena for 4 days a few summers ago and they loved it. Beautiful scenery. I would think Ortisei maybe offers more to someone who has mobility issues versus Selva. Then again, I think Selva is much prettier and I am biased since that is where I learned to ski. There are some stunning views at the top of Seceda and there is a trail that goes across the "wedge" that I don't remember being overly steep.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Thanks for all the advice. Its backed up the other research I've been doing and given me some ideas for next year too! We're off to Corvara in a few weeks, can't wait!
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