Trip Report
Sunday September 23, 2018 5:27pm
After doing a Brenta Dolomites hut to hut hiking & climbing trip for 5 nights in 2014, I wanted to also hike & climb in the “real” Dolomites, but we were interested in staying in hotels rather than huts/refugios. The refugios are super-deluxe compared to huts in the U.S., but sleeping is in bunk beds, sometimes with many other people in the same room, bathrooms down the hall, & noisy climbers getting up in the middle of the night, slamming doors, & flushing toilets

Hut fun in the Brenta Dolomites 2014
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We found a British company that offered a 7 night hotel to hotel, guideless hiking trip in the high Dolomites at a very reasonable price (for us). The hotels mostly included breakfast & dinner, & the Brits provided a map & very-detailed instructions for hiking. We started with two-nights in the scenic village of Kaselruth at about 3,500’. Unfortunately, due to a flight delay we over-nighted in Munich, but caught an early train & made it to Bolzano, then took a taxi to Kastelruth, arriving around 2:00 PM. It had been stormy the week before & the clouds were still hanging low over the mountains when we arrived. However our friends Jerry & Angie had arrived on schedule the previous night & had hiked around in the clouds that morning. Heidi & I were content with hiking around the small village, changing some dollars to Euros, buying some local wines in a small grocery at amazingly low prices, & finding a replacement for a trekking pole that broke in transit.

Evening view from our hotel window in Kasteleruth.
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Day two, the hotel moved our baggage to our next hotel & we set out for a 3,600 vertical feet, 9 mile hike to the small ski town of Compatsch aka Kompatsch. However, we took a chairlift for the first mile & shortened our vertical gain to about 2,400’.
Fritz, vastly enjoying the chairlift.
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It was a steep hike to the Sieser Alm, which is Europe’s largest high-altitude meadow. It was also the start of 5 days of near perfect weather for us, with only an occasional rain cloud sighted.

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I try to make friends wherever I go.
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Looking back down to Kastelruth from the edge of the plateau.
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We arrived above Kompatsch, which sets at about 6,050’ mid-afternoon & enjoyed the sounds of a Germanic Oompah band, as we strolled down to the town. The Dolomites had been part of Austria until WWI & still have a very Germanic culture & feel. We had arrived the day of their annual fall festival & after checking into our nice hotel, we strolled around the venue & of course drank some beer, ate some sausage, & danced a little.

The view down to Compatsch.
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Jerry & Angie demonstrated western swing beer-dancing for the local's enjoyment.
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The next day, afternoon thunderstorms were predicted, so we did a moderate hike of about 6 -7 miles & around 1,500 vertical feet above town. We were mostly hiking around a large ski area & there were plentiful lodges to stop by for lunch. The thunderstorms never happened & we started using local weather forecasts, rather than Acuweather, which was pessimistic & wrong every day of our trip.

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The trails were mostly very-well marked & signed, but every now & then they got a bit obtuse, & we referred to maps.

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Day four was another moderate, but somewhat longer hike, that carried us up to some great views, then down to the 3 hotels of Saltria, at about 5,600’. After 3 days of viewing a large but very accessible - looking mountain to our east named the Plattkofel 9,704’, we decided to hike the steep trail up it the next morning.

Sunrise clouds above the Plattkofel 9,704’ from our hotel balcony in Kompatsch.
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Fritz & Heidi with the Plattkofel 9,704’ at right.
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Hiking down to Saltria.
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Our Saltria hotel.
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OK! Much more to follow. Will the old folks make it up the mighty Plattkofel 9,704’? Or will a sudden thunderstorm fry our asses with lightning? Or will we just stop at the refugio under it & eat & drink?

Stay tuned!

  Trip Report Views: 1,419
About the Author
Fritz is a trad climber from Choss Creek, ID.


Boulder climber
Andy Cairns
  Sep 23, 2018 - 05:36pm PT
Great visuals. Much to like, in the scenery and in the people.

Trad climber
  Sep 23, 2018 - 05:43pm PT
Nothing with a spitz?? Looks great! My wife and I had our honeymoon over there. It was interesting how after figuring out the maps in Italian we would go over a pass and have to learn German. The refugios were nice with lots of wine but can be a little raucous.

Good for you!

Thanks for posting.

Social climber
  Sep 23, 2018 - 06:01pm PT
hey there say, fritz... this is so wonderful!! thanks for sharing!

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Sep 23, 2018 - 06:03pm PT
Roughing it eh! Keeping us in suspense too. How was the wine?

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
  Sep 23, 2018 - 06:06pm PT
How was the wine?

I didn’t see nuthin to wine about!

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
Author's Reply  Sep 23, 2018 - 06:50pm PT
Thanks folks for your kindly comments.

Donini! We bought local wines & enjoyed them. The Bardolinos were a little sweet for me, but easy drinking.

My first choice for a robust red was a little tart, even for me.

I blush to admit, since Ghost or Wayno may be listening, that I really enjoyed the local cabernets.

The grocery store price range of 4 to 8 Euros a bottle made the local wines even more enjoyable.

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
  Sep 23, 2018 - 07:00pm PT
super cool.enjoy! :)

Social climber
my abode
  Sep 23, 2018 - 08:13pm PT
buying some local wines in a small grocery at amazingly low prices,

I love Europe.

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
Author's Reply  Sep 23, 2018 - 08:24pm PT
Although the Seiser Alm has park status, that does not impede grazing. We saw lots of happy cows, mostly with melodius bells.

There were a few horses around & goats seemed to favor hanging with humans at the chairlift & gondola stops.

About 10% of tourists & locals appeared to be dog owners & although frequent trail signs asked folks to keep dogs leashed, special dogs got to run free.

Heidi found a kitten to play with her trekking pole strap, near one refugio.

Larry Nelson

Social climber
  Sep 23, 2018 - 08:23pm PT
Thanks for the TR Fritz, brings back good memories of a dozen years ago.
Sounds like you don't need the winter pee bottle without the bathroom down the hall, you sly old dog ;-)
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Sep 24, 2018 - 01:56am PT
More cowbell Fritz,
Good stuff!

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
Author's Reply  Sep 24, 2018 - 08:35am PT
On summit day, after riding a chairlift up about 1,400 vertical feet, we had another 3,150 vertical feet to the summit.

A nice refugio sets on the ridge below the Plattkofel & Heidi & I made a brief toilet stop there, while our 10 year younger & much-fitter friends Jerry & Angie race-walked up the trail. As is common in the Dolomites, there was a dead climbers shrine at the base of the Plattkofel 9,704’. I always find it significant to hike a mountain folks have died on.

Heidi hiking up the good trail to where the climbing starts. The climbers trail was initially well marked & chiseled out of the dolomite, but the chiseling mostly stopped about 3/4's of the way up.

We remembered to stop & smell the flowers along the way.

About half-way up, the trail often turned into 3rd class scrambling, with occasional spots of red paint to mark the easiest route.

I found some fresh blood on the rock & made a mental note to be carefull on the descent.

Heidi & Jerry & Angie, near the top of the Plattkofel. Jerry had raced to the summit in an hour & 10 minutes from the refugiio & they were already descending. Note the red paint above Heidi marking the "trail."

Fritz & Heidi on the summit!

A view down to the Val Gardena area & a crow-like bird on top of the Plattkofel. The birds needed our food-crumbs & were very astute beggers. Within seconds, they trained us to toss them choice crumbs, which they would catch.

A view to the south. For the next day, we planned an easy hike along the ridge that goes from thee refugio at bottom center, off to top right.

We had a great time! Neither Heidi nor I had been fit enough to do that much vertical in several years & my repaired left knee worked perfectly. We were 7 hours hotel to hotel, but we caught up with Jerry & Angie for a long lunch stop at the nice refugio, on the ridge at the base of the mountain.

More to follow, as we spend two more daze "cheating-death" in the high Dolomites!
Ney Grant

Trad climber
Pollock Pines
  Sep 24, 2018 - 08:35am PT
Looks like a fantastic trip in a beautiful area!

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
Author's Reply  Oct 1, 2018 - 08:11am PT
At dinner that evening we sincerely toasted "cheating death" on the Plattkofel.

The next day was supposed to be an easy day, but we first had to climb about 1,400 vertical feet back to the same ridge, before hiking easy & scenic trails to the south. It ended up as about a 10 mile, 1,800 vertical feet day for Heidi & me, but Jerry & Angie hiked to yet another high pass & hut.

The pleasant trail.

Heidi checking out a valley to the east.

Alpine Campanula

Ridgetop cows.

The next mountains to the south. There are trails & refugios up there too.

The first Lamborghini tractor we'd ever seen, on what we thought was a trail, not a road. The company made tractors before they made luxury cars.

Fritz & Heidi with the Plattkofel in the background.

We started back down towards our hotel after Jerry & Angie took off to the next high pass. After a long traverse that started uphill towards another hotel & the top of the chairlift, we turned down an inviting little-used road . We escaped hikers & mountain bikers for an hour while the road meandered through spruce forest & meadows towards the valley below. There were more Amanita Muscaria mushrooms on our hike off the ridge, than I'd ever seen before. This area is legendary for its medieval witches & these were a perfect mushroom for witches, since they are both slightly poisonous & hallucinogenic.

Other mushrooms were abundant too.

Afternoon thunderstorms were predicted by the local weather, for our last Dolomites day, but we also were spending the night in a Bolzano hotel & catching a train to Florence at 7:15 the next morning. We got an early start & a short hike on a nearby scenic attraction, witches trail & were back at our hotel by 10:30 for a late breakfast.

The witches trail:

Heidi presides over our gathering as the senior crone present.

This suspension bridge was a little scary.

As was the witches cottage.

The adequate breakfast buffet was waiting for us when we got back to our hotel.

A half-hour shuttle ride got us down to Bolzano, which is the regional capital & shopping center & was very busy that afternoon. We managed a short visit to the museum that houses the well-preserved mummy of the “Iceman” who surfaced after 5,000 years frozen in a nearby glacier, a few years back. Then we enjoyed pizzas & called it a night.

Six days of “bluebird weather,” with about 41 miles of hiking, combined with cushy hotel living, good meals, & fine local wines. It was great fun for us old folks.

On to Tuscany, but that's another story.

Boulder climber
Andy Cairns
  Sep 24, 2018 - 06:27pm PT
Congrats on the recovery of your knee, and on the trip into the past.

Trad climber
Clovis, CA
  Sep 24, 2018 - 06:37pm PT
I loved the trip report. My sister and I hiked along the Munich to Venice trail from the Innsbruck area to Allege, Italy early this summer. We passed through the Dolomites. I know what you mean by the difference between the huts and the hotels, although some of the huts are really nice.

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
  Sep 25, 2018 - 03:24am PT
most excellent!
D Murph

  Sep 25, 2018 - 07:34pm PT
Fritz this looks awesome! Do you mind if I ask what company you booked this with? You can email me at dennis dot h dot murphree at gmail if you prefer to discuss offline . this looks like a perfect trip for my family . Thanks!

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
Author's Reply  Sep 25, 2018 - 08:01pm PT
Not a problem to share the company. I feared our hotels would be crowded with their customers. The first two hotels had tour groups & were crowded. The 3rd hotel was the best, & we were the only group for our day's tour. Two couples arrived the next day & although the hotel had other guests, they would likely appreciate more.

Our large (for Europe) room, with balcony, walk-in closet & large bathroom, in the 3rd hotel.

D Murph

  Sep 25, 2018 - 08:35pm PT
Thank you!

Trad climber
Punter, Little Rock
  Sep 25, 2018 - 08:44pm PT
Sweet! TFPU!
Happy Cowboy

Social climber
Boz MT
  Sep 27, 2018 - 05:32am PT
Thanks Fritz, looks like a fun trip!

Boulder climber
  Sep 27, 2018 - 06:11am PT
Climbing "comfortization" for a change! Thank you!

Trad climber
Salt Lake City, UT
  Sep 28, 2018 - 02:22pm PT
Leaving for Cortina next week Fritz! PSYCHED!!!

Sport climber
  Sep 28, 2018 - 02:29pm PT

Another cool TR. And as always with many different experiences and a lot of fun. A lighthearted walk through life with people who know that all the days that remain on this planet is a bonus and acts on it... :o)

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
Author's Reply  Sep 28, 2018 - 03:42pm PT
Thanks again folks for your kind comments!

Grippa! Have fun lad, & if you are packing heavy & have open days, do some mineral research & bring a geologist's pick.

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
  Sep 28, 2018 - 06:44pm PT
love the goats! and the mountain! :)