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Steve, Katherine, and Norah | profile | all galleries >> Galleries >> Austria and Italy 2014: Stubai Alps, Dolomites, and Cinque Terre tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Austria and Italy 2014: Stubai Alps, Dolomites, and Cinque Terre

The summer of 2014 was an adventure for us in more ways than one. Life was a little chaotic as we bought a house, sold a house and moved. Our timeline was tight and everything had to go off without a hitch if we wanted to squeeze in a two week family vacation before school started. Due to our circumstances, we couldn’t book a trip far in advance and were at the mercy of plane ticket prices. Plus with such short notice we couldn’t do a trip that required detailed planning or advanced reservations. We had no idea where we were going until we finally booked tickets a mere three weeks before our vacation. To Milan. Did I mention the tickets were for seven days after we moved? So yes, a little nutty on our part, but one way or another we were on our way for a two week hiking trip in Austria.

On previous trips to the Dolomites we often had views of Austria. The mountains looked big and dramatic and we casually said we should go to Austria some day. Looks like the “some day” had arrived! The Austrian Alps have a similar hut system (see our Dolomites 2013 trip report for more information on the mountain huts in general) and good public transport like the Dolomites, so it was a style of trip we were familiar with. Austria was also attractive because it’s not as crowded as the Dolomites (or other mountain ranges in Switzerland and France) during the popular August travel time and we did not need reservations in the huts. We had read from multiple sources that they won’t turn you away in the huts there, even if you have to sleep on a mat in the dining room (and we indeed put this to the test!).

So with plane tickets and a hiking guide in hand, we were off to Austria! Our plan was to travel by train from Milan to Innsbruck, then take a bus to Neustift to start the Stubai Rucksack Route (Stubaier Runde Tour in German) in the Stubai Alps. The route connects eight huts, traversing 80km/50 miles and over 8000m/26,000 feet of ascent and descent. The guide book we used, Trekking in the Stubai Alps by Allan Hartley, breaks the trek into nine stages. We had no set time frame; we would complete the route as weather permitted then visit another area with our remaining days. Easy peasy, right?

Well, Mother Nature had something to say about our plan. Multiple times we were told that part of Europe had an unusually cold and rainy summer and the weeks we visited were no exception. It snowed on our first night in the mountains. Ah, snow, our old foe. It disrupted our travel plans on our two previous trips to the Dolomites and we decided any future trip, no matter what time of year, should include microspikes! Despite the first night of snow we hiked for three days, staying at Innsbrucker, Bremer, and Nuernberger huts, before we abandoned this route due to weather. When we woke up at Neurnberger Hut Tuesday morning a hut worker told us it was supposed to rain until Sunday. At that point we decided it was time to make a retreat.

So now what? We wondered if the Dolomites at lower elevation were maybe less affected by the poor weather and decided to take the train back to Italy. At the very least we had visited the Dolomites on two previous trips, so we were familiar with the mountains and towns and could easily navigate the area. After our most recent trip in 2013 we thought for sure it would be awhile before we were back. But apparently we just can’t stay away!

In the Dolomites we stayed in two different locations: Canazei in Val di Fassa and Ortisei in Val Gardena. Both are lovely mountain towns that afforded us some great opportunities for day hikes (when the weather allowed). We hiked to Forcella Pordoi, Piz Boe, around Secada/Alpe di Cisles, and through the Rosengarten (starting at Ciampedie, over Passo Principe and Pass
Austria: The Stubai Alps
:: Austria: The Stubai Alps ::
Italy: The Dolomites
:: Italy: The Dolomites ::
Italy: Verona
:: Italy: Verona ::
Italy: Cinque Terre
:: Italy: Cinque Terre ::