Cortina Dolomites Via Ferrata Hut Trek

Alps / Dolomites / Italy

Dolomites Via Ferrata Hut Trek “Best around Cortina”
3 – 6 Day trails and via ferrata in the most scenic ranges of the Dolomite

Cortina Dolomites Via Ferrata Hut Trek Highlights:

  • Most Classic Dolomites via ferratas
  • Fully catered huts, most w/ showers
  • Lots of WWI History along the hike
  • Excellent Italian & Tyrolian meals
  • Daily Option: Via ferrata or trail hike
  • Famous resort town of Cortina

This is the flagship trip in the Dolomites!

Centered around the famous resort town of Cortina d’ Ampezzo this trek will take you eye-to-eye to many of the stunning postcard images that the Dolomites are famous for: Fanis, Tofana, Cristallo, Cadini and of course the Tre Cime di Lavaredo!

Like in most of our Alps programs, we will take advantage of the incredible network of alpine huts and mountain lodges high in the mountains and charming, family-run bed & breakfasts in the villages. Home cooked Italian and Tyrolian food, local wines and wheat beers are only one reason why many of our clients keep coming back to the Dolomites.

What makes this trip different from a normal hiking trip is the frequent use of “Via Ferrata” or “Klettersteig” (Exposed trails secured with cables). The Eastern Dolomites are THE Eldorado for Via Ferrata. Many of them where originally put in place during the fierce battles fought in the Dolomites between Austria and Italy during World War I – remnants and stories of which will accompany us every day.

Our Cortina Via Ferrata Trek is meant as an introductory trip to via ferrata travel and multi-day treks in the Alps. Most days will see you on your feet for 6 – 8 hrs at a moderate pace and involve frequent scrambling on via ferratas, which is less strenuous in a cardio-vascular sense but requires good general fitness.

One of the strengths of the itinerary is the high level of flexibility to adjust the program to adverse weather or the group’s preferences. Most days offer multiple alternatives to arrive at the destination and / or we reach our destination by early afternoon and guests have the option between another via ferrata, a peak ascent or relaxing with a good book and a cappuccino on the hut terrace. This trip is ideal for adventurous hikers that don’t mind the exposure of steep, narrow trails.

Parallel to our Via Ferrata Trek, we offer a “Best around Cortina Trail Hike” along the same itinerary. Thus, our guests will have the daily option to either particpate in a non-technical hike or a via ferrata in order to arrive at the same destination in the evening – the perfect solution for couples with different ambitions!


Via Ferrata Hut Trekking in the Dolomites, Daily Itinerary:
Please note: Due to the lack of a generally accepted grading system for via ferrata (every via ferrata guide book has their own grading system) we describe the via ferrata used in this itinerary with general terms for difficulty and duration as well as indicate the time commonly required. Judging how long a via ferrata takes by merely the vertical and horizontal distance that is being travelled can be hugely deceiving as it may take several hours to travel a kilometer on a via ferrata while on a good hiking trail it usually takes 15 minutes, not to mention if conditions are adverse. We describe some but not all of the trip options available depending on the participants abilities and preferences as well as weather and mountain conditions at the time.

Day 1 (Travel Day):
Arrive in Cortina D’Ampezzo for lodging in our preferred hotel.

Part 1: Traverse of the Fanes / Tofana / Cinque Torri Ranges to Cortina

Day 2: Cortina to Lavarella Hut
Meeting with the guide at 8.00AM after breakfast for a trip briefing, and distribution of rental equipment.

15 min drive to the Val Travenanzes trail-head. 1 hour easy but uphill hike through beautiful mountain forests to the Fanes Cascade Via Ferrata trail – an easy introduction to traveling on via ferrata and great opportunity to familiarize yourselves with equipment and safety procedures. The trails leads behind a stunning waterfall into the bottom of the Fanes Gorge and comes back up on a different route. After that the trail continues steeply uphill and eventually takes us above tree line to the Lavarella Plateau. Lodging in double and 4 bed rooms in the Lavarella Hut, shared showers available. Approx.10 km (6.25 mi) and 600 meter (2000 ft) vertical ascent, 130 meter (430 ft) descent. 5 – 7 hrs walking time including the via ferrata.

Additional itinerary options: 45 min taxi ride to the town of Badia, chair lift ride to Heiligkreuzhospitz (2040 m) and by way of the Heligkreuzkofel / Monte Cavallo equipped trail (“Sentiero Attrezato” = easy via ferrata with occasional fixed rope protection) to reach the Lavarella Plateau. Depending on timing, ascent of the summit of the Heiligkreuzkofel (2907 m, add 1 hrs) or the Zehner (3030 m = short and moderately difficult via ferrata, add 2.5 hrs). Long but mellow descent to the Lavarella Hut on a non-technical hiking trail. Approx. 9 km (5.6 mi), 750 m = 2500 ft climb, 600 m = 2000 ft descent). This option is recommended for groups with good endurance and previous via ferrata / scrambling experience as the route includes exposed scrambling sections with scarce cable protection.

Day 3: Lavarella to Lagazuoi Hut
Super-scenic trail hike along the Dolomites High Route 1 (Alta Via Uno) to the Forcella di Lago – short but steep descent to the Fanes Lake and ascent to the summit of the Lagazoui along some restored WWI positions (open air museum). In the afternoon we visit the historic WW1 tunnels in the south face of the Lagazuoi (Usually takes 2 hrs, several route options – equipped trail without via ferrata rating) and / or easy climb to the main summit of the Lagazuoi (15 min). Lodging right on the summit in the Lagazoui Lodge (excellent food!, showers available, 2 and 4 bed rooms available as well as dormitories), which offers some of the most encompassing views of the region right off your dinner table! 13 km (8.2 mi) distance, 1040 meters (3400 ft) vertical climb, 350 meters ( 1150 ft) vertical descent, 5 – 6 hrs.

Itinerary Options: The hiking time can be shortened by using a bus / gondola transfer part way through the hiking day.

Day 4: Lagazuoi Hut to Cortina
Many itinerary options today:
1) Easy itinerary option: Descent to the Falzarego Pass at 2100 m = 6900 ft (600 m , 2000 ft vertical descent) either by a) hiking trail or b) gondola or c) the WW1 tunnels in the Lagazuoi South Face or d) the easy “Kaiserjaeger Via Ferrata”, which includes a spectacular hanging bridge.

From the Falzarego Pass (road access) on a beautiful hiking trail via Averau Hut to the Nuvolau Hut, situated spectacularly right on the summit of the Monte Nuvolau. There are various options to descend from the Nuvolau from easy hiking trails to the Ra Gusella via ferrata (easy – 1 hour, mainly hiking trail) leading either to Passo Giau or to the Rifugio Cinque Torri, where our driver will pick up the group.

The day can be extended by climbing the Monte Averau by an entertaining summit scramble with a short, moderately difficult via ferrata section which can be avoided when descending the same route. Excellent views! (add 2 hrs). Or a loop trip through the WW1 open air museum and the maze of the “Cinque Torri” rock towers. Most commonly used itinerary option is about 11 km (6.9 mi), 600 meter vertical climb (2000 ft) and 1100 m (3600 ft) descent.

2) Moderately difficult and most commonly used itinerary option: Descend towards the Falzarego Pass as above and traverse to the start of the Alpini Via Ferrata to the Cima Bois (300 m = 1000 ft vertical climb, 3 hrs to the top, first sustained via ferrata of the trip: difficult for the first 50 meters where some participants may prefer an additional rope belay, then easy with a few shorter moderate sections for the remainder. One bail-out option after about 30 minutes). Various options for the descent. Depending on day time and group preferences we can finish with the WW1 tunnel and short, easy via ferrata to the “Casteletto” on the Tofana di Rozes (add 2 hrs). Taxi pick up at the Rifugio Dibona and drive to our hotel in Cortina. 6 km (3.35 miles), 400 m (1320 ft) climb, 1050 m (3440 ft) descent, 6 hrs.

3) Difficult option: Descend via Fourcla Travenanzes to the Lipella Via Ferrata (difficult, relatively sustained, often residual snow in early season in spots), which takes you through some WW1 tunnels to the “Casteletto” and on to the summit of the Tofana di Rozes (3200m), one of the highest peaks of the Dolomites. The entire ferrata takes about 5 hrs, bail out option after about 2/3 of the trip at the “Tre Dite” which about 4/5th of all “ferratista” tend to take advantage of. The descend from the Tofana di Rozes is a poorly marked scramble which can be very challenging in fog or adverse conditions. Return via Rifugio Guissani and Rifugio Dibona for taxi pick up and 15 min return drive to Cortina. 8 hrs, 7 km (4.4 mi), 1000 m (3280 ft) climb, 1600 m (5250 ft) descent.

Lodging in our hotel in Cortina

Part 2: Cadini / Sexten Dolomites Traverse

Day 5: Cortina to Fonda Savio Hut
Start of our 3 day hut trip in the Sexten and Cadini Ranges: 20 min drive to Misurina. 1.5 hrs, 400 m (1300 ft) uphill hike through beautiful forest to the spectacularly located Rifugio Fonda Savio (excellent food!, One double room and bunk bed dorm rooms, no showers). In the afternoon, we’ll tackle the difficult “Via Ferrata Merlone” to the Cima Est del Cadin (lots of ladders, steep and sustained sections, lots of air, 4 hrs round trip, 400 m 1300 ft up and down. Descent on the same route back to the hut for dinner and lodging.

Itinerary Options: The Fonda Savio hut is also reachable by two longer hiking trails that circumnavigate the entire Cadini Range with chair lift access at Col di Varda. Some cable protected sections but no via ferrata clip-in gear required. The more beautiful itinerary passes on the East side of the range via the Citta di Carpi Hut over 5 cols with a few cable protected sections. 5 hrs, 7 km (4.4 mi), 700 m (2300 ft) climb, 300 m (1000 ft) climb. The Fonda Savio Hut is also an excellent base for rock climbing with approaches as short as 3 minutes, an option available for our custom departures.

Day 6: Fonda Savio Hut to Buellelejoch Hut (Rifugio Pian di Cengia)
On the “Sentiero Bonacossa” (equipped trail that largely traverses along a system of ledges with one steeper section that is usually wet and featuring a ladder) with breath-taking vistas to the Rifugio Auronzo and into the Center of the Sexten Dolomites for lunch at the Lavaredo Hut (3.5 hrs). In the afternoon, we’ll climb the Innerkofler ferrata to the Paternkofel to enjoy the unique views of the North Faces of the Drei Zinnen / Tre Cime, one of the many “postcard images” of the Dolomites. Descent by the Via Ferrata Schartenweg (Percoso delle Forcelle) to the Buelleljoch Hut (Rifugio Pian di Cengia), the smallest and for some, the nicest hut of the Sexten Dolomites! The Rogger family will spoil us with their original south Tyrolian cuisine! 8 hrs, 10 km (6.25 mi), lots of shorter climbs and descents with aprox. 600 m (2000 ft) climb and 450 m (1500 ft) descent.

Itinerary Option: The afternoon via ferrata around the Paternkofel / Monte Paterno) can be bypassed by using an easy hiking trail that leads directly to the Buellelejoch Hut in about 2 hrs. 4 km (2.5 mi), 110 m (360 ft) descent, 300 m (1000 ft) vertical climb)

Day 7: Buellelejoch Hut (Rifugio Pian di Cengia) to Cortina
We finish our loop around the famous Drei Zinnen / Tre Cime today. An easy, almost level 1 hr hike gets us to the Drei Zinnen Hut / Rifugio Locatelli. We can drop our backpacks and tackle the “Grand Finale” the “Leiternsteig” (ladder trail) to the Toblinger Knoten,/ Torre Toblino, a short but challenging via ferrata with a series of steep ladders and a slippery chimney that requires attention (takes about 1.5 hrs). The tiny summit offers the best possible view of the Drei Zinnen / Tre Cime, which is why the Austrian troops built the original via ferrata there during WW1 to use the peak as an artillery lookout. Descend by the much easier “Feldkurat Hosp Via Ferrata down the east face and back to the hut for lunch. 3 hrs, very little horizontal, 200 m (660 ft) climb and descent from the Drei Zinnen Hut.

In the afternoon, the “Tourist Trail” takes us back around the north side of the Tre Cime /Drei Zinnen right underneath the awe-inspiring overhanging north faces to the end of a toll road at the Auronzo Hut. Depending on timing and energy level, we can either descend for drinks to a Malga (traditional high pasture farm) or take a bus / taxi back to Cortina for lodging in our Hotel. 6 hrs, 8 km (5 mi), 500 m (1640 ft) climb, 700 m ( 2300 ft) decent.

itinerary Option: From the Buellelejoch Hut, we can finish the trip on the easy “Strada degli Alpini” WW1 Via Ferrata and descent to the quaint town of Sexten for a pick up by taxi. 1 hrs drive back to Cortina. When following that option the day can be extended by climbing the Sextener Rotwand / Croda Rossa via the difficult Zondanella Via Ferrata and descending by the easy normal route Via Ferrata to the Rotwandwiesenhaus where a gondola takes us to the valley bottom in Sexten-Bad.

Day 8 (Travel Day):
Leaving our Hotel in Cortina after breakfast.

Trip Details

Meeting point
Meet on the first hiking day at 8.00AM at our preferred Hotel in Cortina (lodging and breakfast included in trip price) for a trip briefing, distribution of rental gear followed by a taxi ride to the first trailhead.

Climate, Weather, Temperatures and the Best Time to visit the Dolomites:
The Dolomites, being on the “sunny side of the Alps” are usually blessed with favorable weather. However, as anywhere in the mountains, there is also a chance to see some snow, if a storm hits. This is rare in July and August but can happen in June and September. Day time temperatures can range from -5C (23F) to 25C (77F). Likelyhood of temperatures and precipitation for each month are described on this helpful weather graph for the Dolomites, which averages the past 30 years 

The huts in the Cortina area of the Dolomites tend to be open from June 15 – September 25 with some huts being open from June 1 – around October 10. Busiest times are from Mid-July through the end of August with the period around August 5 – 25 being Italy’s busy vacation time.

Services Included in the Total Price:
6 days guiding by an internationally certified (UIAGM/IFMGA), multilingual, mountain guide. All guide expenses, 3 nights double room with breakfast in a *** B&B or hotel in Cortina, 4 nights double, multi-bed or dormitory lodging with half board in mountain lodges or huts. Dinner is usually a three to four course meal (“mezza pensione”), which consists mostly of pasta or soup, a meat entree and dessert and/or cheese. Breakfast usually includes a hot beverage, bread and jam (sometimes also ham and cheese). Transport from Cortina to trail heads and back. Gondolas and chair lifts where necessary. Parking fees, road tolls. Equipment use: Harnesses, helmets, carabiner and shock absorber set for via ferratas.

Not Included Are:
Air fares, lunches (we usually take pick-nick lunches), dinners during the 3 nights of lodging in Cortina, drinks, supplementary charges for single room in hotels and B&Bs. Airport shuttles can be arranged on request and will be quoted separately. Any additional cost due to changes in the itinerary, may they be caused by weather, mountain conditions or personal preferences.

Transport Options/Closest Airport:

Our Cortina Dolomites Via Ferrata Hut Trek begins from Cortina d’Ampezzo and is most easily reached from Venice Airport.

Public Transport: Most popular is the Cortina Express Bus which leaves at a variety of times daily in high season from Mid-June until Mid-Sept and then fewer services in in the shoulder season starting mid September.
Departures are  either from Venice Mestre Train station or 15 minutes later from Venice Marco Polo Airport and takes you about 2 hrs to Cortina.

We suggest arriving into Venice Marco Polo Airport before 2.00pm to catch the 3.15pm.

If you spend the night in Venice before heading to Cortina, you can take a boat to get to Piazzale Roma. From there you need to hop on a bus for about 20 min to get to the main train station in Mestre, which is where the Cortina Express Bus starts.

Click Here for Cortina Express 2018 schedule: If you are having issues with making your reservation, please email us and we can provide you with a step-by-step guide to booking this transfer.
Click Here to make an online Cortina Express Bus Reservation
Please note: Cortina Express buses can only be booked if their online schedule has been released for your dates.  These schedules are sometimes released only weeks prior to their new seasons schedule.  Eg: late May for June schedule, so keep checking back on their website!
If you are having issues with making your reservation, please email us and we can provide you with a step-by-step guide to booking this transfer.

Another bus company option: ATVO bus

If you arrive from different locations (Munich, Bozen / Bolzano) or if the Cortina Express Bus schedule does not work for you, we gladly assist you with arranging your public transport by other means.

Private Shuttle: Alternatively we can arrange for a private shuttle from Venice Marco Polo Airport or  Piazzale Roma with our preferred taxi that takes about 1.5 hrs at 280-380 Euros depending on group size (1-8 passengers). We can gladly assist you in any transport arrangements or post trip lodging reservations.

Train Travel: This option is a bit cumbersome because you have to make your way to the main train station in Venice, take the train to Calalzo (switch trains) and then get on a bus in Calalzo, which takes you to Cortina.

If you plan to travel by train to another European destination before or after your Cortina trip, then we suggest you travel by train to/from Venice Mestre train station by Italian Rail Services, and the Cortina Express Bus for transport to/from Cortina.

Travel to Cortina from the north (Munich to Cortina = about 6 hrs)
Munich is easily twice as long with public transport, all depending how the connections work but basically you take a city train (S-Bahn) from Munich Airport to Munich Main Station (HBF = Hauptbahnhof) or East Station (Ostbahnhof) where you find almost hourly connections to Italy. Via Innsbruck / Austria and the Brenner Pass to Franzensfeste / Fortezza. Switch trains to Toblach / Dobbiaco, where a connecting Bus to Cortina is usually already waiting in front of the train station. The train ride from Munich usually takes 5 – 6 hrs, the bus ride to Cortina in the end about 40 min. This all sounds pretty complicated but it works pretty well! For detailed itineraries we find the web site of the Deutsche Bahn / German Rail works the best for cross border connections.

Can I Do It?

Our Cortina Via Ferrata Trek is meant as an introductory trip to via ferrata travel and multi-day treks in the Alps. Most days will see you on your feet for 6 – 8 hrs at a moderate pace and involve frequent scrambling on via ferratas, which is less strenuous in a cardio-vascular sense but requires good general fitness. Your backpack will be relatively light since the huts provide excellent food and blankets.

One strength of the itinerary is the high level of flexibility to adjust the program to adverse weather or the group’s preferences. Most days offer multiple alternatives to arrive at the destination and / or we reach our destination by early afternoon and guests have the option between another via ferrata, a peak ascent or relaxing with a good book and a cappuccino on the hut terrace. This trip is ideal for adventurous hikers that don’t mind the exposure of steep, narrow trails.
Given enough subscription, our guests have a daily option to participate in the itinerary of our “Best Trail Hikes around Cortina”. This itinerary will end up at the same destination every evening by using non-technical trails. This will give you a daily choice to stick with a via ferrata trail or notch down a bit and do an easier trail hike. It also gives couples the option to split up for part of the day and reunite in the afternoon upon arrival at our daily destination.


What are the Huts like? Double Rooms? Showers? Food Choices?
The standard of the huts in the Dolomites differ hugely. While some of the huts that we are using for this trek are rather like mountain lodges that offer double or 4 bed rooms and showers in the hall (Lavarella, Lagazuoi, Drei Zinnen) others have only cold running water and bunk bed sleeping in rooms with up to 10 fellow sleepers (Fonda Savio, Buellelejoch). Huts supply pillows, duvets or wool blankets.The food is always delicious and plentiful with lots of choices. Special diets can usually be accommodated.

Can I buy boots / backpacks and other equipment in Cortina?
There are a few sport stores within close walking distance from the Hotel, namely the K2 Sport store and the Cooperativa. The latter is the large department store on the right side shortly after you enter the pedestrian mall. Their sporting department is upstairs and the often have the best deals!

Is there a luggage transport between huts? How much do we have to carry?
All huts and mountain lodges used for this trek are remotely located high in the mountains and away from paved roads. While a luggage transfer can be organized on a custom basis, it is costly and not customary. Instead most people travel lightly and only carry spare underwear & socks, light hut slippers and a few personal hygiene items beyond of what one would usually carry on a day trip. A 25 – 35 liter backpack should be sufficient weighing about 5 kg plus your daily supply of fluids. Don’t forget that the trip is divided into two legs of three days each – hence there is a chance to replenish with fresh clothing mid-trip.

You can also store luggage at your Cortina hotel whilst on trek.

Knowing that we are going hut to hut and carrying a lighter load, what is your recommendations on boots or trekking shoes?
If the weather is nice, we often wear approach shoes (low ankle hiking shoes with a vibram sole with good tread). You are sacrificing a bit of ankle support that a regular high ankle hiking boot would give you, especially in the gravelly sections, which there are a few. It’s also not so great in snow and if the trails are muddy. What we wouldn’t bring are trail running shoes (too flimsy, not enough tread, not enough water resistant) and stiff hiking boots (too cumbersome for walking and on the ferratas). But like any place in the mountains it can snow any day and any time of the year and if so, you may be happy for ankle high hiking boots?…sorry to have to give the “it depends” answer.

Should I take hiking poles?
We recommend using only one collapsible pole if any. On the via ferrata trails you can’t use them anyways and they can get in the way if they stick out too high from the backpack. Hiking poles can be rented or bought at the various sport shops in town.

Will there be a second guide to accommodate participants who prefer a non-technical hike on any given day?
In order to guarantee a daily choice between a non-technical trail and a via ferrata trail, we need at least 3 participants signed up for our non-technical hiking itinerary that runs parallel to our via ferrata itinerary. However, already with two participants signed up for non-technical hiking, (if need be) we are committed to bring in a second guides as early as the 3rd hiking day, when the possible via ferrata trail options become more challenging. The first two days of the trip are mainly hiking with basic introductory via ferratas suitable for everyone!

Will I be able to access a cell network or Wi-Fi?
Internet access is available in Cortina at our hotel and many bars / cafes. Currently the huts have no Wi-Fi, most people rely on the cell service, which is can be a bit spotty in most hut locations.  Make sure to inquire with your cell phone provider as to your roaming capabilities in Europe

Each hut has plugs to recharge phones etc.  but there is a bit of competition for them these days. All plugs are at 220 volts.

 Are we roped up for this? I’m curious exactly how the Via Ferrata is done.
This seems to be a good example:
You will see that you have 2 leashes attached to a device with a braking/shock system and that is attached to your harness.  When done properly, you are always attached to the cable and when you get to the end, you unclip one leash and attach it to the other side of the bolt and then the other so you are always secure.

Is water available at huts?
There is no guarantee that huts have “potable” drinking water, while many people drink the water at huts with no problems. If you are uncomfortable with this, take tablets, water filter, water sterilizer or purchased bottled water directly at the huts. A litre of mineral costs around 3-4 euros.

What are my options if I’d like to Via Ferrata earlier than trip dates offered?
The better venue for early season is the area around the Garda Lake / Lago di Garda. It’s an awesome mix of lake country with a very steep lime stone relief of almost 7000 feet and a base elevation of 300 ft = pleasant temps in May and no residual snow coverage.

Where can I do my laundry in Cortina?
Laundry is available at:  however its a bit out of town—probably 10 minutes by car.  You may be best off to bring a little container of liquid detergent (in a Nalgene or similar) and do a quick sink wash of your stuff and hang it to dry.

Do Huts & restaurants in Cortina, Misurina & Venice take major credit cards?

The most widely accepted credit card is Visa or MC. Many places do not accept Discover or Amex. Cash is king there! I would recommend pulling cash out of an ATM for smaller meals and purchases.

Most huts prefer cash but they can run credit cards for larger bills. Best to charge everything to your account / room and pay the evening before.

Will I need crampons in early season with residual snow?
If you have YakTraks that is not a bad idea—it could be snowy in some areas in early season.  Crampons may be a bit much and a pain to carry.


Cortina Dolomites Via Ferrata Hut Trek

References of prior guests: We will gladly put potential clients in touch with previous participants of each trip in order for interested guests to get personalized references and their questions answered from a more objective point of view than what our office could provide.

“It was fantastic. Joseph was wonderful and went out of his way to make sure everything was copacetic. Didn’t hurt that the other father and son were great traveling companions. Truly, I would recommend your company in a heart beat. You guys have it dialed. Thanks again for all your help and advice.” Mimi D., UT, USA

“Kurt was exceptional—very patient, knowledgeable, wise, well-versed on all the trails/huts, attune with the weather and monitoring changes, fun to talk with, a wealth of knowledge about WWI history. And perhaps one of the most important qualities: he was keenly aware/observant of his clients to understand their abilities and limitations and make adjustments/suggestions to keep everyone safe. Would welcome him as my guide anytime!
Itinerary was excellent, the routes very scenic and beautiful and doable for all. The flexibility was great, probably essential, and one member of our group could choose to not participate in certain Via Ferratas (which made him more comfortable and happy). It was surprising how busy/crowded a few areas were that had easy access by bus/cable car to those sections of trails. I generally would prefer the less-traveled routes, but it was great to experience those special, iconic spots even with a LOT of people. The huts were excellent, top quality food, but much more than we would usually eat, even in the mountains. There was no shortage of food! The 7pm dinner time was tough for us, but that is the tradition and probably not much to be done about that. 6pm (or even 6:30) would suit us better, especially since we would arrive at the huts by around 3pm or so and want to go to bed fairly early, to get up early. Hard to get to sleep when I eat such a big meal so late. 10/10 for sure, excellent, glad to recommend highly.” Michelle B., VT, USA

“Great experience. Walter is very knowable of the required mountaineering skills. This provided options that my wife would not have taken otherwise. He also, has the ability to analyze the group strengths and weaknesses. Also, great to learn about the history of the area. Looking forward to future trips (Mont Blanc and Haute Route) with Walter. Recommendation to future clients from North America would be to fly into Venice and not Munich. We were exhausted (jet lagged) by the start of the trip or recommend two day to relax before trying to keep up with Walter (the “Energizer” bunny). But in all honesty, even at my best I couldn’t keep up with Walter..All accommodations and food were excellent! The need to bring extra food was over stated, but this does vary from person to person. ”
Ron B., NH, USA

” Paolo was great! He was great with the kids – easy going, friendly, gave the kids room to be independent but also was vigilant that they were safe and safely participating in the via ferrata climbing. Paolo communicated well with all of us – discussing the plan for the day, changes in weather, adjusting plans, checking in with each of us on comfort level and having a good time. He was also great with sharing stories and information about the areas we were in. We felt safe. We were also happy that we felt Paolo evaluated us well as climbers and adjusted the original plan to include a more challenging via ferrata route for our final day. He was fun to be with and we had great confidence in his knowledge and expertise. I would adventure with Paolo again and would not hesitate to recommend Paolo to friends, especially friends with kids.
Also, each day had thunderstorms in the forecast and we felt that Paolo, being a Cortina local, was very familiar with weather patterns and kept an eye on the changing skies and made the right decisions to balance fun and safety. We got back to the Lavaredo Refugio with only minutes to spare before the impending hours of afternoon rain showers, thunder, and lightening. He adjusted our goals based on weather and his excellent knowledge of the trail, climb, and area.” Private/Custom Via Ferrata Hut Trek 2018 – Kerry S., CA, USA

“I had such an amazing trip with you and with Walter, and I recently commented about the experience in the New York Times. If you go to the comments section of the article you will see OnTop mentioned. Thank you again for the amazing trip!” P. Carl, MA, USA

“Walter did an excellent job leading the group to achieve a variety of goals/ abilities and also work around some weather issues. He is an excellent climber as well.
General trip organization / communication:  There were some technical via ferrata sections that my wife wasn’t comfortable with as well as hikes that required more advanced conditioning. A hiking guide was secured after day 1 – thanks. It wasn’t completely clear what sort of mountaineering experience was necessary during the trip organization phases. We optioned for this trip as it was touted as one that would accommodate couples with mixed abilities. It seems there would always be a need for alternate routes/ guides, unless one group of dedicated climbers/ hikers with the exact same skills booked a private trek together. I enjoyed the adventure. I think getting a balance of mountaineering/summits and easier hiking objectives given available routes and huts makes this a challenging endeavor in the Dolomites. ” Mark M., OR, USA

Guide: Brilliant! Organized, professional, friendly, on-time, answered questions. Safe yet encouraged participants to push themselves. I would have loved it if he shared more history and info about flora/geology, but that’s ok—easy to read about elsewhere. As a guide, I couldn’t have asked for nicer. What a sweet soul.
Organization, Communication:  Excellent. Before trip, extremely prompt re: trip logistics, equipment, answered all my annoying questions with good knowledge, (eg reserve the bus) patience and warmth. Thanks!
Itinerary: Good variety. Didn’t love the “highway” trails where ATVs could goo (mostly encountered first day, but loved going along the waterfall trail that day). Preferred single track. Each via ferreta was different and loved the variety of trails, huts (luxurious and not), and views. Felt a bit rushed some days, mainly because we were trying to avoid the afternoon rains. I would have liked some rest stops to just “chill” and enjoy the scenery—but again, the weather!
10++ for recommending. Really and truly LOVED our trip. Thank you so much. Thank you for encouraging me to join the group for via ferrata. We could have done a self-guided but having the lovely small group and being able to experience the VF took it to another level. Rob wasn’t really interested in doing VF (too frightened) but in the end he was glad to do it. We had so much fun with our group. I thought it might be tiring to be with a group, but it actually made the trip even better. I wish we had a day or two to acclimatize to the time change but our schedule didn’t have that. It made the first day of hiking tough for us due to jet lag. I would recommend to others who have more flexibility to give themselves a few days in Italy (can’t complain about that!) We loved our extra days after the trip in Padova aka Padua. What a fabulous historic small city, an hour west of Venice. ” Laura R., BC, Canada

” Hi On Top. I finished the July 12-19 Via Ferrata trip. More than a trip it was an exciting and at times thrilling adventure and a most positive experience. I have hiked in many places but the Dolomites are special to me for their beauty. At first, the Via Ferrata made me nervous and then it was just interesting and always fun. However what kept me on edge was walking narrow paths on mountain sides. And yet, I did that and here I am writing to you. On day 4, I got to try rope climbing and rappelling. Now that was fascinating, an excellent experience.
I was told the food in the huts would be very good. Sometimes it was better, much better. Finishing a dinner was a challenge I accomplished once.
The guides were excellent! They know their occupation inside out. What stood out was their constant attention to the group’s safety conducted and delivered with patience, calmness, support and endless smiles. They answered all our questions and concerns and stuck to a schedule. There was not moment I felt short changed on the trip. Each day was packed tight with activity. But to be honest, on some days I was exhausted at the end. That is not a complaint; it’s an observation. Thank you Walter, Tomas and Kurt. You guys were great. ”
Larry G., ON, Canada

“:I really had a wonderfull time ! 9/10 experience – Walter is a great guide! patient, relaxed and always in control.Maybe put a warning that one must not only have a head for heights but also be able to walk/balance on loose rocks and gravel. The food, accommodation was a nice mix and enjoyable. Thank you very much for running this trip! I will remember it for a long time and would love to return to the Dolomites. ”
Esti P., South Africa

“Kurt is a superb guide. He is a skilled professional, demonstrating the technical abilities, knowledge and the interpersonal skills it take to guide strangers in a new experience. He has patience and knew how to pace our days. When we signed up for the trip, I did not plan to attempt the via Ferrata. I thought we would hike and enjoy the scenery. Shortly after we began our first day, we were in climbing gear learning on an easy via Ferrata. Once we learned how to enjoy the steep climbs, it was a thrill. Gary thoroughly enjoyed it too, and is still smiling! Throughout our trip I felt safe and pleasantly pushed out of my comfort zone. We could not have done this without Kurt’s expert guidance and coaching. He knows his way around the mountains and can easily handle situations that arise with grace.

The pre-trip information, including what to pack was extremely helpful. I appreciate the communications. While we were unsure who our guide was and the logistics just prior to leaving California, I understand how frantic it can be during the peak of your guiding season. It all worked out very well and we felt well informed and prepared – no surprises.

The itinerary was excellent. I liked the variety of terrain and different types of refugios. It was fun to meet and travel a bit with the other On Top group, too. The break in Cortina for one afternoon and evening was well planned for restocking and washing a few clothes. It is unfortunate that there is no laundry facilities in Cortina, although we were able to easily adapt. For some reason, I was not as enthralled with Rifugio Lagazoui, although it was in a stunning setting. The other rifugio’s were “10s”.

Excellent pre-trip information on travel logistics. all the taxi shuttles were well planned and well timed…….”
Marlene F., CA, USA

Guide:Walter was wonderful in all aspects of the trip. I would gladly consider Walter a friend and invite him to stay at our home when he comes to the southwest. His credentials and experience in mountains speak volumes more than my uninformed judgements about mountain guides but I never felt I was not in the presence of an expert guide. This trip must have been easy for him except for dealing with my trepidations about the ferratas. Walter always me us feel safe.
Organization: We don’t know how much organization it takes to insure a good trip considering the often need for flexibility and a plan B. Our party of 4 was always met on time by ground transportation and by Walter (who did not stay with us on most nights). Lodgings always expected us and were prepared to present us with wonderful meals. Our tables were often designated/reserved for us.
Communications: As I review my numerous emails and your detailed and patient responses to my naive questions I am again impressed. I didn’t know what I didn’t know and was being very cautious. Not being mountaineers and hiring a “mountaineering” company (rather than a hiking company) was our decision and I felt that we were at the low end of the appropriate skill levels for your mountaineering services.
Itinerary: The mid trip holiday in Cortina was a great idea for us for many reasons.
I was not initially fully aware of the range of trails and trail alternatives and ferrata options and skill requirements; nor the location and distance to the lodgings. However, each day seemed to be just approach our limits and then the refuge was in sight. I’m sure somewhere you told us the daily distances and climbs but until it is experienced there it is hard to judge.
Lodging/Food quantity and quality: The hotel in Cortina was great. Americans should be warned that restaurants generally don’t serve – anything – until after 7:00 and we were generally tired and hungry when in Cortina and/or had to get up early; so tasting all that Cortina offered was difficult – but we persevered and could have stayed longer!
All the refugios were excellent but our favorite experiences were at Fonda Savio where the proprietress wore traditional dresses. She sparkled with energy for anyone coming through the door or making a request. She treated everyone as a special guest and almost family. The other special experience for us was the impromptu sign along of guests and staff at the Buellelejoch- again we felt included like family.
I think we underestimated the experience of staying in tightly arranged bunks in dorms with 10 other people. Sleeping was often difficult due to the obvious issues of such arrangements. (Ear plugs were available at one refugio for 50 cents.) All the refugios were kept super clean. Surfaces were scrubbed more often than wiped. No boots upstairs is great anywhere.
Food at the refugios was excellent and far better than we imagined. Excellent multi-course hot meals served with dishes, glassware and metal utensils by friendly staff. Always plenty of good food to eat.
10/10: The trail system is well documented and marked. Refugios can be booked by individuals or agents who can plan unguided trips for folks – this you know. We selected a guided trip (costing significantly more) in part because of our inexperience with the trail system, challenges of the foreign mountains and the potential of ferratas. Also there is the challenge booking your own refugio lodgings there. So our 10/10 would be for friends like us with relatively little experience doing such activities in a foreign mountain range. I also think your company would do well with a family group with mixed ages and skills. I can’t speak for more experienced mountaineering folks but Walter seems to be able to handle all mountaineering skill levels.” Paul T. & Madelyn S., AZ, USA

“Just a quick note to say that our trip was great and Paolo was FANTASTIC! Huts were superb and we all just had a great time and beat the afternoon thunderstorms each day. Great variety of via ferrata and we loved Punta Ana today – woo hoo!!! Private Sexten Dolomites Via Ferrata_Kerry S., CA, USA

“Kurt is a great guy: helpful; considerate and keen to introduce others to the mountains of his homeland. He was great with our two 11 year old boys and with safety paramount he led them up several “interesting” via ferrata, provided a morning or bespoke rock climbing on cinque Torres. The itinerary was good but perhaps one of the most valuable benefits of having such a great guide was that he was regularly able to customise it depending on weather, people’s energy etc. The lodges were outstanding ranging from climbing huts to one that even offered a choice of dessert wine! 9/10″ Private Cortina Dolomites Via Ferrata Hut Trek_Adam R., UK

“Thomas is a great guide, very easy going and well suited to handle the varied personalities in the group. He has an abundance of patience! The group was great also…although varied in abilities and strengths, we all got along really well, which is a bonus in these situations. I don’t think everyone had the same idea about what the trip was going to be, which is human nature. The accommodations in Cortina were good and the huts were well above my expectations. The hut system in the US could definitely stand to upgrade. I felt more like I was in a hotel than a hut. The food was fantastic in the huts. I think it was actually easier to handle my special diet (no gluten) here than in restaurants at home”
Leslie H. Colorado, USA

“……I was very pleased with the Cortina Ferrata Hut Hike trip and with Martino as a guide. It all worked out super well and I would be happy to recommend, my itinerary, your company, and Martino…..”.
Richard C, Madrid, Spain

“……..We had a great trip. Years ago Jorg had told me that I would like the Via Ferrata so I had wanted to do it for years. I am not sure how much our trip deviated from the standard one, I think just a little bit. One day we weren’t able to do a via Ferrata due to the weather (when you’re going is much more stable. We just hiked all day instead. Our guide Walter was Italian, and we absolutely loved him. Since he grew up in the area he knew a fair bit about the WW1 history, which was great because Paul is a big war history buff. The huts were great, as they always are. The huts on this trip were much nicer than the Swiss and French huts, though I love them all. The Italians really only built them where access was easier so they’re nicer.

There’s a fair bit of steep up and down, so the knees were pretty tired by the end. There’s quite a bit of scree (loose stones) also, a bit more than I prefer, but I would do it again in a second. There’s definitely some pretty exposed parts, so I think in addition to being fit, you have to have to be mentally tough. Paul is a little afraid of heights, so it took a little getting used to, but he loved it as well and is already planning on going back.

I would highly recommend any of the trips I’ve done, and On Top Mountaineering for sure. I plan to do as many trips as money permits! I did alot of research when I first booked with Jorg, and his prices were very reasonable compared to what else I looked at. It was nerve racking trying to pick the right trip, location, and company. Now I wouldn’t consider using someone else.”
Sarah R., CA, USA

“…..Martino was a superb guide. At times I thought he was a little conservative in terms of what he thought we should do, but I understand that he had to consider the abilities of everybody in the group, and didn’t want to split up the group. He was careful, friendly, knowledgeable and very competent.
The lodging and food were excellent — a good mix of experience in the refugios, and the Villa Alpina was very nice.
The trip organization and communication worked very well. The itinerary was appropriate although I had hoped to include a few more exciting via ferrata that were excluded because of the weather and abilities of those on the trip.
Transportation on the Cortina Express worked well……”
K Allen, CT, USA

“Thomas was a fantastic guide: knowledgeable, encouraging, open, patient, humorous and an incredibly nice guy.
The lodging and food was terrific, but diverse, at each place – this should be viewed as very positive as it gave us a richer and more rewarding experience…”
Andrew C., Australia

“The lodges were very nice with plentiful food. I can’t say that I was fond of the “dorm” accommodations, and two nights of that was pushing the limit for me…”
Nichole K., CA, USA

“Franz was among the best guides we have had on our hikes in many parts of the world. He has a great store of knowledge and he managed a group of people with different abilities extremely well…”
Margaret B., Australia

“We loved the ferratas and am seriously thinking of going back in 08 to do some more.
Huts:great lodging, though the diet is more carnivore than veg. I was warned, but the guides went out of their way to see that I was looked after….” Tim G., Australia

“Thoroughly enjoyed the trip and found the guides exceptionally nice and social…” Stacey K., Australia

“I thought both Christoph and Gudrun were terrific as guides. Skilled, cautious, attentive, and good attitudes. In particular, I laude them for making sure I could participate in the trip despite the fact my climbing gear and clothing never arrived…” Laura G., CA, USA

” I was very impressed by the food in particular! Ok, the steak at the Lavarella was rather leathery, but that’s about it – the pasta was great and the sleeping and showering accommodations were excellent. The Lagazuoi had quite an elegant meal, and good sleeping accommodations. The Savio hut food was phenomenal. Admittedly the sleeping accommodations there were spartan, to say the least, but it was a good bonding experience smile ..” Tim S., BC, Canada

“Walter was great! He customized the trip to fit the weather and our abilities. He was very informative of the gear, techniques and mountain areas, always concerned with our safety especially on the snow and ice we had. ..” Judy E., MA , USA


Gear List


1. Technical Equipment

  • Sturdy, waterproof leather trekking / hiking boots
  • Backpack (35-45 liters)
  • Climbing helmet**
  • Climbing harness**
  • Via Ferrata clip-in set with shock-absorbing device**
  • Collapsible trekking poles ( optional, most participants bring only one pole if any)

All items marked ‘**’ can be provided by OnTop.
Please bring your own equipment if you have it.

2. Clothing

We suggest using the ‘layer system’: Light technical clothing that doesn’t take much space in your backpack and dries quickly if sweaty or wet.
Layers can be put on and taken off fast if weather conditions change during the day.

  • Wind and waterproof shell jacket with hood (Gore Tex or similar)
  • Wind and waterproof over pants with side zippers (Gore Tex or similar)
  • Mountaineering pants
  • Light-weight hiking shorts
  • Fleece or heavy jacket
  • Medium weight fleece sweater
  • Long underwear or running tights (e.g. Capilene or polypro)
  • Undershirt – preferably long sleeves (e.g. Capilene or polypro)
  • Warm socks for mountaineering boots (wool/synthetic outers)
  • Warm hat, covering your ears
  • Pair of warm gloves (warm finger gloves sufficient)
  • Pair of thin leather gloves, bicycle or work gloves for via ferratas
  • Light, “shorty” gaiters (for early and late season departures)
  • Sun hat, with a wide brim if possible
  • Bandana (optional)

3. Hut lodging (if included in the program)

  • Down vest or light insulated jacket (optional)
  • Very light youth hostel sleeping bag or thin sleeping bag liner for the huts for sanitary reasons (lightest is silk, weighing less than ½ pound). Wool covers or duvets are provided by the huts
  • Light hut slippers (optional). Some huts provide a limited selection of slippers.
  • Light stuff sacs or zip lock bags to keep your backpack organized (optional)
  • Small towel
  • Alpine Club card (if you hold a membership)
  • Ear plugs (optional but very useful)

4. Other Items

  • Rain cover for backpack (unless already built into backpack) Otherwise bring a big plastic (garbage) bag as an inside liner for your backpack or pack everything that needs to stay dry in plastic zip-lock bags.
  • Spare underwear, socks
  • Toiletries
  • Clothing and shoes for hotels / B&B in the evening
  • Sun glasses (with good UV protection)
  • Sun screen and lip protection
  • Water bottle, preferably insulated, minimum volume: 1 liter or Camel-back
  • Light head lamp or torch
  • Blister kit (optional)
  • Snacks (candy bars, dried fruit, sandwiches, nuts, etc.)
  • Personal items (prescription medicine, extra contact lenses and maintenance equipment, extra pair of prescription glasses, etc.)
  • Pocket knife or Leather-man (optional)
  • Passport
  • (Health/Travel) insurance documents
  • Zip-lock bag for wallet and other documents to keep them dry (recommended)
  • Camera, batteries (optional)
  • Compass, maps and GPS optional
Cortina Dolomites Via Ferrata Hut Trek
  • Up to 8 hrs/day
  • Via ferrata trails
  • Exposed trail sections
  • Light multi-day packs
  • Many itinerary options
  • Excellent Via Ferrata Intro
2019 DATES:
Cortina Dolomites Via Ferrata Hut Trek

8 Days Trip,
6 Days Trekking

Custom trips any time!
Shorter trips possible at pro-rated pricing

  • June 2 – 9
  • June 9 – 16
  • June 16 – 23
  • June 23 – 30
  • June 30 –  July 7
  • July 7 – 14
  • July 14 – 21*
  • July 21 – 28*
  • July 28 – Aug. 4*
  • Aug. 4 – 11*
  • Aug. 11 – 18*
  • Aug. 18 – 25*
  • Aug. 25 – Sept. 1
  • Sept. 1 – 8
  • Sept. 8 – 15
  • Sept. 15 – 22
  • Sept. 22 – 29
  • Sept. 29 – Oct 6

*High season surcharge applies

Cortina Dolomites Via Ferrata Hut Trek
US $1790
CA $2290
€ 1390
£ 1250

Guide & guide expenses, 3 x hotel*** Cortina, 4 x hut or mountain lodge, 4 x dinners, 7 x breakfast, via ferrata equipment rental, 4 x taxi or bus

Airport shuttles (from Euro 25), 3 x dinner in Cortina, drinks, lunches

Single room:
US $105, CA $125
€ 80, £ 75

High season surcharge:
US $160, CA $200
€ 125, £ 110