ULGMC Dolomites trip 2013

Dates: 13-21 July 2013*

Travel update:  *Mike H, Mark S, Heather and Stephan will be there from the 14th until the 22nd. We have booked on the following Easyjet flights:

Sunday 14 July: London Gatwick to Venice Marco Polo, flight 5263 d 0730 a 1035

Monday 22 July: Venice Marco Polo to London Gatwick, flight 5268 d 1810 a 1920 (NB Easyjet have rescheduled the flight times to slightly later in the evening than originally stated)

Location: Cortina D'Ampezzo, Italy

Introduction to Cortina and the Dolomites

The Dolomites is a part of the Southern Limestone Alps in NE Italy and is now a UNESCO World Heritage area.  The area is famous for some of the most stunning Alpine rock routes (eg the Marmolada or Tre Cime di Lavaredo (which includes one of the famous Alpine North faces - the Cima Grande di Lavaredo - an 18 pitch, F6b+ monster)) as well as Via Ferrata (literally ‘iron way').  There are a number of peaks over 3000m offering an ideal introduction to the Alps as well as plenty of options for the more experienced mountaineer and alpinist.

The Southern Alps was the scene for some of the most difficult fighting in WW1 as specialist alpine troops from Italy and the Austro-Hungarian empire fought each other at altitude.  The result was a network of tunnels, metal ladders and wires which now allows walkers and climbers to experience some stunning situations in comparative safety. The Via Ferrata (VF) are graded to give you an idea of seriousness and technical difficulty though competing grading systems seem to abound!  The VF range from protected walks, to scrambles and through to some technical climbing moves and long alpine days.

Cortina is possibly the most famous town in the area and has previously been the site of the Winter Olympics. Lino Lacedelli, one of the first ascent team of K2, lived in Cortina for his whole life and ran one of the many outdoor shops.

Possible activities: walking, via ferrata, alpine climbing are the most obvious choices but a wide range of outdoor alternatives are available including watersports on some of the Italian lakes or mountain biking. Multi day walks and routes are easy using the network of Alpine huts (which also serve excellent cake, coffee, beer and grappa).

Getting there: Flights into Venice Marco Polo or Treviso are the most convenient option and offer a choice of budget airlines. Alternatively it is possible to (and people do) drive from the UK, just be aware that it is about 850 miles!

Flight transfer: the easiest (and most spectacular)  way to get from Venice to Cortina is to catch the train from Venice Sant Lucia station to Calalzo di Cadore where a connecting bus takes you to Cortina (you can buy a joint ticket which covers the whole journey).  If you fly into Treviso then you can join the same train in Treviso.  The rail + bus journey takes approximately 3.5 - 4 hours provided you take one of the direct trains.

Travel in Cortina: Dolomitibus runs an extensive and reasonably frequent bus network all across the Cortina area making it easy to travel to all the places you might want to visit unless you wish to have an Alpine epic (in which you may find you have missed the last bus!). It used to be possible to buy a tourist bus pass covering all your travel for the period you are in the region.

Accommodation: we propose that we camp to help keep the costs down, plus the quality of the Italian campsites is normally very good, however there is plenty of choice of accommodation in Cortina if people prefer to have more luxurious lodgings!

All the campsites in Cortina are on the outskirts of the town.  We plan to stay here at Camping Dolomiti (2.5km S of town centre) http://www.campeggiodolomiti.it/

Costs:

Flight: £55 - £100+ depending on exactly which dates you choose.  Shop around as lots of budget airlines fly into the area (Venice or Treviso are probably the nearest, but Verona or Milan are both possibilities).  www.skyscanner.net is a useful tool for searching for flights.

Rail + bus: approx. €25 return

Local buses: €12 for a weekly pass

Camping: €9 per person per night

Cable cars: some of the routes use cable cars to approach. Allow €15-30 per return journey.

Equipment: I won't cover climbing or walking gear, but if you intend to do any Via Ferrata then you need a special VF shock absorbing device.  You can buy them in the UK (eg from Needlesports) but you may find it cheaper to buy (or hire) a set in Cortina.

A decent pair of leather-palmed gloves saves your hands being shredded by VF wires though gardening gloves make a great, cheap alternative!

Helmet - an absolute necessity!

Useful links:

UKC introduction to climbing in the Dolomites: http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=2708

UKC introduction to the Dolomites and Via Ferrata: http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=86

Booking on the trip: if you are interested in coming (or would just like some more information) on the trip for either the whole period or even part of it then please get in touch with Mike Hale (contact details in the December 2012 newsletter).  We will try to co-ordinate travel and camping bookings as much as possible so it would be helpful to know if you are interested in coming as soon as possible.

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