Returning from exploration
Venice marked the end of the first 'chapter' of our trip - visiting towns, cities and cultural areas in Italy. The second chapter was focused on the outdoors: a five-day stint exploring and climbing in the Dolomite mountains. Here, we'd introduce Roland and Stephanie to the dinstictive sub-genre of via ferrata climbing - following fixed mountain climbing routes up, through, and around towering crags.
Switching over to the Dolomites
I had planned an itinerary that introduced via ferrata climbing gradually, starting at the easiest of difficulty levels and working upwards. In between climbing outings, we stayed at quaint and hospitable Italian mountain huts (known as rifugios). In addition to providing a dry, comfortable place to sleep, these rifugios also offered delicious food.
Glorious Ridgeline Hiking
We started off in the southern reaches of the Dolomites and gradually worked our way north and east, returning to our rental car in the middle of the day to reposition ourselves to a new location, but otherwise staying up in the mountains on trails, routes, and in rifugios.
The first few days of ferrata climbing offered mostly good weather, with plenty of spectacular views on offer. By the middle of the third day, however, the weather started to change, and by the time we arrived at our rifugio for our third night in the mountains, gloomy rainy conditions had settled over the entire region.
Bad Weather Descends
I had planned a pièce-de-résistance multi-day loop for our fourth and fifth days in the mountains, but the bad weather forced us to abandon that, and we spent a rather boring day cooped up inside one of the mountain huts, waiting for the weather to clear up. When the weather finally did break 36 hours later, we salvaged what we could with our remaining time, doing a fairly strenuous day-outing that climbed along several ferrate and which saw us reach the top of one of the higher peaks in the local area.
In addition to the hiking and climbing, we took in many examples of artifacts and emplacements from both world wars. Roland was especially excited with a cool world war II in-mountain defence complex that we stumbled upon at the end of our long day out.
Wartime defensive positions