Alta Via 2 (day 7): Lago di Fedaia to San Pellegrino + Via Ferrata delle Trincee
Today’s recommended route features a wonderful via ferrata just out the door of Rifugio Castiglioni Marmolada. Ascending and eventually wrapping around the distinctive Padon Ridgeline, its volcanic rock at immediate odds with the limestone (dolomite) that dominates this region, Via Ferrata Della Trincee is an extended and challenging route that offers as much in the way of wartime history as it does in views— most notably of Marmolada, the highest mountain in the Dolomites.
*As discussed in my post for Day 5, there are several variations available that might influence how you use this post. Most importantly, if you are not climbing Marmolada (or you don’t wish to take a rest day), then you’ll be a day ahead of the itinerary as I’ve written it here and this will be your day 6.
This marks the approximate mid-point of AV2, but more significantly, crossing from South Tyrol into Belluno represents an immediately perceptible shift away from Austrian language and cuisine towards more Italian culture (basically: less guten tag, more pasta).
This comprehensive guide to Day 7 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!
All my AV2 knowledge in one place: Alta Via 2: complete hiking + via ferrata route guide
Alta Via 2: Day 7 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: 6.25hrs
- Distance: 14.5km
- Elevation gain: 950m up & 1465m down
- Side trips: Via Ferrata della Trincee (loop; 4B)— refer to Tabacco Map 07 & Cicerone Vol.1 (route 33), Cima Mesolina
- Huts: (Rifugio Castiglioni Marmolada, Rifugio Padon), Hotel Costabella (& others) in San Pellegrino
Lago di Fedaia to Rifugio Luigi Gorza (45min)
From Rifugio Castiglioni Marmolada, cross the road and ascend steeply for about 45min to reach the cable car station and nearby Rifugio Luigi Gorza. This is a great place to gear up for the via ferrata, which is reached in a further 10min.
Via Ferrata delle Trincee (3hrs)
The cables begin on the left side of the rock under a blank white sign, climbing up the wall with a challenging but very fun series of moves. This is the hardest part of Trincee, so if you can make it up this, the rest of the day will pose no issue!
New to via ferrata? Read this post: Introduction to via ferrata + complete via ferrata gear list
Allow a little over an hour to work your way through first cable, which ascends and circles several of the rock spires high over Lago di Fedaia with the perfect backdrop of Marmolada.
After the first lengthy stretch of cable, drop onto a little pass before connecting to the next cable, which will bring you around the south side of the mountain for about 30min.
The next half hour is spent on intermittent cable, interrupted regularly by easy scrambling across the grippy volcanic rock.
Shortly after passing a cave, you’ll travel through the first tunnel of the day, an incredible living relic from the First World War. Keep your headlamp handy as you wander through the dark underground spaces.
The second tunnel is reached after a short section of cable and is an absolutely enormous network of corridors, stairs, rooms, and little windows looking out onto Marmolada and the surrounding mountains. Allow at least 10min to wander through the tunnel end-to-end, keeping a close eye on the reflective red signs that denote your path onwards.
Unlike the first tunnel, it would be all too easy to lose yourself in the maze of paths that exist within this incredible cave system, and when you finally pop out the other side into daylight, you’ll have a new appreciation for what it may have been like for the soldiers who spent days hidden in these tunnels. In just a few steps, arrive at Bivvaco Bontadini.
Side trip: Cima Mesolina (15min)
From the Bivouac, climb for about 10min up the hillside to arrive at a little side summit— marked, as always, with a cross. The view is sprawling and an easy addition to the day!
Return to Rifugio Castiglioni Marmolada (1h15m)
Back at the bivouac, descend a steep but manageable trail towards Rifugio Padon and then continue around the right side of the mountain, gradually losing elevation as you return towards Lago di Fedaia.
The path eventually fades into a series of goat tracks and you’ll no sooner have found what appears to be a well-trodden trail than arrive at a dead-end in a steep hillside of grass. Just keep making your way across and down, generally following the GPS track to finally connect with a discernible route above Rifugio Castiglioni Marmolada. Common-sense route-finding is essential here.
Lago di Fedaia to Penia (1hr)
Just below Rifugio Castiglioni Marmolada, a steep trail descends through the forest and occasionally along the creekside for several kilometres to reach the nearby town of Penia. This is a beautiful walk, and although it does cross the road about 3 times, you’re largely in the trees and even shaded on the descent.
Penia is a fairly small town, but only 2km down the road, Canazei is a bustling holiday destination— this is a great place to pop into a pharmacy or pick up any last minute supplies, as you won’t really find another town of this size on the second half of AV2 (I couldn’t even buy cold medicine in any of the tiny Passos we hiked through, so stock up here as needed!). It’s an easy walk along a footpath to Canazei (photo below).
Penia to San Pellegrino
If you opted not to do Via Ferrata delle Trincee today, you’ll certainly have time to hike onwards from Penia to Passo San Pellegrino via Rifugio Contrin (this route saves a considerable amount of road walking compared to the route via Malga Ciapella)— allow 6hrs+ for the long but manageable journey.
If you did tackle the morning excursion on Via Ferrata della Trincee, I’d recommend catching a bus from Penia to San Pellegrino (bus fare ~1.5€). A third option would be staying in Rifugio Contrin to break up the walk, which you could finish on the morning of day 8.
Night 7: Passo San Pellegrino
This is a rare night on AV2, in that you’ll have your pick of several hotels right along the route. Passo San Pellegrino isn’t much more than a couple cafes and a handful of hotels (don’t expect to find any supplies here), but you certainly will have a a private room, a sparkling bathroom, and access to a sauna in any of the available hotels. Expect to pay more than you’ve been paying at the rifugi, but for one night, it’s a treat indeed!
I stayed at Hotel Costabella, which had a scorching sauna, a bathtub in the room, and a spectacular dinner that I felt sorely underdressed for. Reserve Hotel Costabella online.
For more information on what to expect in a mountain hut & how to prepare for your stay: Everything you need to know about mountain huts (rifugi) in the Italian Dolomites
Read more about Alta Via 2
- start here ->Detailed AV2 Route Guide
- 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
- ALTA VIA 2 (DAY 5): PIZ BOÈ TO RIFUGIO CASTIGLIONI MARMOLADA
- ALTA VIA 2 (DAY 7): LAGO DI FEDAIA TO SAN PELLEGRINO + VIA FERRATA DELLE TRINCEE
- ALTA VIA 2 (DAY 8): PASSO SAN PELLEGRINO TO RIFUGIO VOLPI AL MULAZ
- ALTA VIA 2 (DAY 9): RIFUGIO MULAZ TO RIFUGIO PRADIDALI
- ALTA VIA 2 (DAY 10): RIFUGIO PRADIDALI TO RIFUGIO TREVISO + VIA FERRATA PORTON & NICO GUSELLA
- ALTA VIA 2 (DAY 11): RIFUGIO TREVISO TO PASSO CEREDA + VIA FERRATA CANALONE
- ALTA VIA 2 (DAY 12): PASSO CEREDA TO RIFUGIO BOZ
- ALTA VIA 2 (DAY 13): RIFUGIO BOZ TO CROCE D’AUNE