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Two weeks of hiking in the Dolomites

I am back from a 2-week-vacation in the Dolomites, South Tyrol, Italy, and after handling all my e-mails ( less than 300, not bad ) today I find some time to blog about this: Tofana seen from Lagazuoi
We (my wife and me) stayed in Colfosco, located in South Tyrol between the Sella and Puez mountains, in a small family owned hotel, with very friendly people, very clean rooms and very good food.
In the first week we did five hikes with a group of people and two mountain guides, one of them Hans Kammerlander, famous for climbing almost all 8000m peaks, now finishing his Seven Second Summits project and also for his ski descents of Nanga Parbat and Mount Everest. The second guide was an interesting character a well: besides being a good mountain guide he also was a great cittern player and singer. And believe it or not: he always carried his cittern with him on top of all the mountains we climbed.
Among the hikes during week 1 was the highest mountain I climbed so far: the Tofane di Rozes ( 3225 m ). Supposed to be a technically easy but of course strenuous hike it turned out to be more difficult due to some snow and ice we encountered starting at an altitude of about 2.800 m. Nevertheless, we made it to the summit and safely back down.
After week 1 the group was leaving and my wife and I stayed there for an additional week and some more hikes we did on our own, including the climb to the Lagazuoi (2775 m), a neighbor peak of the Tofane di Rozes.
German readers can enjoy a more detailed travel report in my external German blog here.
All the others might want to check out some of my photos I have published on flickr here.

4 blog comments below

Sounds like a wonderful time. Glad you were able to get through the snow and ice safely. Your pictures are incredible. Thanks for sharing your journey.
standready on Wed Oct 03, 2012 2:24 am
Great hiking Amagard. Provides us with some ideas for our next vacation as well. Thanks for sharing your photos with us. They're awesome!

I imagine you must have experienced much wind and cold as well at the higher altitudes?

Climbing to an 8000 peak must be quite something. Imagine Hans Kammerlander must have used oxygen at that point? When I was in the Andes mountains during my recent trip I did a very tame hike near Cuenca, Ecuador (Cuenca is 2500 metres above sea level). We were driven to 4200 metres in the Cajas Mountain Park nearby, then had to climb 200 metres or so to the point of the intercontinental divide at 4200 metres, and wow, all of us, even the fittest were struggling for breath. We were then driven down to 3200 metres and did an easy 3-hour hike with intervening hills down the mountain. VERY cold and VERY windy though.
deanhills on Wed Oct 03, 2012 2:45 am
Thanks for commenting, deanhills and standready.

Wind and temperature up there on our peaks wasn't that bad in most cases. As a matter of fact on most peaks we stayed for a while, enjoying the incredible views and music played by Reinhard.

As far as I can tell Hans is actually not using oxygen when getting up to those 8000 peaks. His strategy is always to get up and down as fast as possible. In the German wikipedia article about Hans it is said that he is always attempting to get to those peaks "by fair means", meaning: no oxygen, no storage camps and even no fixed ropes if justifiable safety wise. He became famous for climbing Mount Everest in record time, just using an advanced base camp and a rest point somewhere at 7450 m, carrying as less weight as possible, and using ski for getting downhill fast.
He is a very fast climber. Once he climbed Matterhorn from all four sides in one day ( and of course had to climb down a few of these sides to make that happen ). On that trip he and his fellow passed a few climbing crews several times. They must have been very frustrated.

The problem with trips like you described, deanhills, is that you get too high too fast. Not doing proper acclimation increases your chance of getting altitude-sick or headaches or other problems. Best approach actually would have been to hike up to 4200 m in a couple of days and always hike a few more 100 meters every evening and back down before going to sleep. I believe this is the best method to adjust to the immense altitude we are usually not used to. And of course: you have to drink a lot. If 2 liters should be you normal daily amount, 4 liters is recommended at that altitude.
amagard on Thu Oct 04, 2012 8:57 am
Your points about taking it slowly are right on of course. Altitude sickness is a big problem for any traveler to Ecuador, as one usually disembarks at high altitude. Quito, the capital city is 2800 metres above sea level. I'm lucky as I did not have problems, but the local remedy is to chew on cacao leaves. They sell the dried tea leaves at popular tourist sites in Quito. I only discovered that though towards the end of my travels. At the beginning I tried to hydrate as much as I could, made sure I got regular sleep. Was also careful with my diet. And tried to get as much oxygen as I could spending time in the outdoors.
deanhills on Thu Oct 04, 2012 9:41 pm

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