Alta Via 2 (day 5): Piz Boè to Rifugio Castiglioni Marmolada
Drop from the highest point on AV2 to the shores of Lago di Fedaia beneath Marmolada, the tallest mountain in the Dolomites, enjoying spectacular views and flower-filled meadows en route. The day has a wonderfully scenic lunch spot and an exciting alternative to the busy trail, but isn’t overly demanding!
This comprehensive guide to Day 5 of Alta Via 2 contains detailed section times, route recommendations, adventurous side trips, via ferrata, and heaps of insider tips— use it to plan your hike & then refer back on the trail so you always know what to expect!
For a complete Alta Via 2 planning guide, check out this post: LINK
Alta Via 2: Day 5 overview
Stats quoted here are for my recommended “adventure route” that incorporates side trips, summits & via ferrata whenever possible (in brackets, see stats for the standard AV2 route with no additions).
- Trail hours: 4.5hrs
- Distance: 9.5km
- Elevation gain: 580m up & 975m down
- Huts: Rifugio-Hütte Forcella Pordoi, Rifugio Maria, Rifugio Sass Bece, Rifugio Fredarola, Rifugio Viel dei Pan, (Rifugio Luigi Gorza), Rifugio Castiglioni Marmolada
Piz Boè to Forcella Pordoi (45min)
The morning begins with a 45min descent from Piz Boè at 3,152m along a steep, rocky trail with continuing views of Marmolada. There are a few cable sections along the route, but no need for gear.
Eventually, the path levels out and then climbs slightly to reach Rifugio-Hütte Forcella Pordoi and its sweeping views of the Val di Fassa from 2,848m, at which point you’re reconnected with the official AV2 route (Piz Boè is technically a detour).
Forcella Pordoi to Passo Pordoi (1hr)
The standard AV2 route descends from the Rifugio to Passo Pordoi via a series of steep switchbacks through the scree. Views are excellent in good weather, and even though we were met with high clouds that obscured some of the peaks, it was still beautiful.
If your knees would prefer to avoid the steep and somewhat unyielding 600m descent from Forcella Pordoi to Passo Pordoi at 2,239m, you can instead hike uphill about 100m (15min) to the Sass Pordoi cable car at Rifugio Maria and catch that down to connect with AV2 (13€ one way).
Passo Pordoi to Rifugio Fredarola (15min)
From the bustling Passo Pordoi, it’s a gradual 20min ascent to reach the second of a series of mountain huts— Rifugio Fredarola— which I highly recommend for an early lunch (you’ll probably be ready, because breakfast at Campanna Piz Fassa is super light).
The outdoor balcony has absolutely jaw-dropping views of Marmolada and their pizza menu is extensive. I also recommend a Radler (2 parts German lager, 1 part lemonade) as the perfect mid-hike beverage!
Rifugio Fredarola to Sasso Capello to AV2 (1.5hrs)
From the Rifugio, AV2 continues along the right side of a grassy ridgeline beneath the north face of Marmola. The trail is incredibly busy and even cement in some sections— everyone I spoke to said this was their least favourite part of the entire AV2.
For a better experience, you can instead deviate upwards just after the Rifugio onto a narrow dirt trail that climbs up and along the ridgeline for spectacular full-face views of Marmolada. The track is certainly steep and a fair bit more rugged than the popular trail below, but you can easily find yourself alone with postcard views of the Queen of the Dolomites— I definitely felt it was worth it!
This alternate route dips back down to connect with AV2 for half a second at the extremely busy Rifugio Viel dal Pan (about 40min from the original junction) before ascending straight back up along another rocky trail to the summit of Sasso Capello.
Allow at least 45min to get up and down this second section of the alternate route and be warned that there’s a small scramble up to the summit (without cables), as well as an awful descent through steep rutted dirt and a smattering of ankle-twisting rocks. See photos below for reference.
This should only be attempted by experienced hikers confident in manoeuvring through challenging terrain with a full pack— if you’re wary about this description or these photos, just retrace your steps down from the summit to connect with another side trail that rejoins AV2 a little sooner (as opposed to continuing onwards after downclimbing from the summit).
AV2 below Sasso Capello to Rifugio Castiglioni Marmolada (1hr)
Back on the standard AV2 route below Sasso Capello, it’s an easy 20min walk to another trail junction— straight would bring you to Rifugio Luigi Gorza, while the trail to your right descends steeply along a series of switchbacks to Lago di Fedaia.
We travelled slowly down this section of trail because my geologist father was stopping every 100m to pick up some rock and marvel at the sudden shift from Limestone (characteristic of the Dolomites) to the conglomerate and even volcanic rock that predominate in this region.
As soon as you hit pavement, Rifugio Castiglioni Marmolada is within spitting distance.
Nights 5 & 6: Rifugio Castiglioni Marmolada
Tonight’s accomodation is a large and bustling hut that feels more like a hostel than a true rifugio— it does still offer the standard half-board dinner, but showers are unlimited, beds are single rather than bunks, and there are even washing/drying facilities on-site! Reserve Rifugio Castiglioni Marmolada by email.
Climbers will want to stay here 2 nights to complete both of the challenging via ferrata nearby, including one of the only true alpine via ferrata (Hans Seyffret) to the glaciated summit of Marmolada and the WWI-tunnel-laden Via Ferrata della Trincee on the opposite green mountain. The latter is discussed in my post for Day 7, but sadly the route up Marmolada was closed in the summer of 2022 due to a tragic avalanche that killed a dozen people. I can’t offer any personal information for Day 6, but I’ve been assured by countless people that the climb is AMAZING!
If you’re not experienced in alpine climbing, or if you don’t have the funds available to hire a local guide, then you can easily shorten this proposed itinerary to 12 days (omitting day 6 entirely) OR enjoy a rest day, either at Castiglioni or tomorrow at Passo San Pellegrino.
- Rooms: 27€ dorm or 39€ private room
- Food: A la carte (approx 10-15€ for dinner, add 6€ for breakfast); half board 50/60€ (dorm/private, includes 3-course dinner and breakfast) *note: there is also a pizzeria next door and a cafe across the bridge serving light snacks
- Showers: Unlimited & free!
- Connectivity: Wifi & very weak mobile signal (go 100m outside for better signal)
- Bonus: Washing machine and dryer (4€ for each, must have 2€ coins)
- Alpine club discount: no
RIFUGIO GUIDE COMING SOON
Read more about Alta Via 2
- Alta Via 2 (day 1): Bressanone to Rifugio Genova + Via Ferrata Sass d’Putia
- Alta Via 2 (day 2): Rifugio Genova to Rifugio Puez + Via Ferrata Piz Duleda
- Alta Via 2 (day 3): Rifugio Puez to Rifugio Pisciadú + Via Ferrata Gran Cir, Piz da Cir, Brigata Tridentina
- Alta Via 2 (day 4): Rifugio Pisciadú to Piz Boè + Cima Pisciadú
- MORE COMING SOON