ASIC 2008
Seventh Annual Summer Interdisciplinary Conference


A very useful resource is the Tourist Office in Madonna di Compiglio, at which English speakers can normally be found:

Address: Via Pradalago 4, I-38084 Madonna di Campiglio
Phone: +39 0465 44 20 00
Fax: +39 0465 44 04 04


General information in English on the Brenta, with descriptions of the various mountain subgroups and areas in the Brenta.
This site is mostly in English, though some links are in Italian. It gives some general information about the Brenta and its surrounding locales.
This site was constructed in English (except for some sublinks) by a group of hotels (apparently), but is nonetheless quite useful, for example giving information about walks and tours in the Brenta, and including many photos.
This site gives the most detailed information about activities, walks, via ferrata, and climbs in the Brenta, but is unfortunately only in Italian (and German).
This site, in Italian, is the site of the Alpine Guides, and gives much information about climbing and mountain excursions.
This is the site (mostly in Italian) of our conference guide, Guido Bonvicini.


For tourism during the conference, the cities of Trento and Bolzano are closest, and Verona, Vincenza, and Padova (and possibly Venice, Milan, and Innsbruck) are close enough for day trips that would allow return to Campiglio in time for the daily conference proceedings. Not far from Campiglio (south) is Riva del Garda, a pleasant and accessible resort town on the northern tip of Lake Garda. However, generally speaking, tours taking significant amounts of time to the old cities of Northern Italy and elsewhere had best be planned for days before and after the conference.


(This website contains a pictorial guide to many of the activities discussed here).

The conference is being held in the Dolomites, a remarkable set of rocky crags in Northern Italy, with valleys typically starting about 3000 feet and peaks rising to 10,000 feet. Most of the Dolomites are east of the highway to the Brenner pass, with a single group, the Brenta, to the west of this highway. However, the Brenta group is often considered the most spectacular of all the Dolomite groups. Madonna di Campiglio is situated directly at the base and against the west side of the Brenta group, which rises about 6000 ft directly from town. The area in general has many enormous sheer cliffs rising from green valleys and beautiful lakes, and large numbers of sharp pinnacles and spires. There are many beautiful hiking paths and via ferrata linking extremely well appointed huts throughout the Brenta group.


The hiking opportunities are plentiful, dramatic and pleasant. The hiking trails (as well as via ferrata—see below) often link huts situated throughout the Brenta, some quite high in the mountains, almost always in spectacular settings. The Brenta has numerous beautiful and spectacular hikes at all levels of length and difficulty, many of which can be done during the conference, and others that require more time or multiple days. Especially interesting possibilities for days prior to or after ASIC are hikes from Refugio to Refugio for several days. The websites under ‘LINKS’ give a good deal of information.

There are a few books in English:

The Dolomites of Italy; James and Anne Goldsmith; ISBN 1-55650-162-5.
-In English. Walks and hikes and much information. Brenta pages 154-167.

Trekking in the Dolomites; Henry Stedman; (Trailblazer 2001) ISBN (British) 1-873756-34-8.
-Long multiday Dolomite Treks, but only trek covered in the Brenta is a short one day trek, on pages 196-7.

Brenta Dolomites: Scramblers' Guide; Anderson; (West Col, 1982).
-May be hard to find.



Via Ferrata translates as ‘Iron Ways’ or ‘Iron Walks’, a term referring to the iron cables that are strung along the paths hacked into cliffsides. These paths also link the huts in the region, and provide an exciting and spectacular alternative to the regular hiking trails, an alternative that provides the feel and exposure of climbing, without the technical requirements or any danger. One wears a harness with two attached slings and carabiners, each hooked onto the cables. One walks along the path, sliding the carabiners along the cables as one walks. When one reaches a staple (attaching the cables to the cliffs) one unclips one carabiner and moves it to the other side of the staple, and then does the same with the other carabiner, so there is never a time that one is not safely attached to the cable. This system insures safety and as a result many families and children take these walks, as do school groups and the equivalent of boy scouts and girl scouts. Safety aside, the settings and exposure are spectacular enough to provide a thrill to those following the via ferrata, and the views are unparalleled. There are many Via Ferrata scattered throughout the Brenta, and these vary in terms of length, difficulty, and ease of access. The Via Ferrata are rated for difficulty, allowing one to choose one to match one's abilities and maximize enjoyment.

There are several methods to enjoy the Via Ferrata. One can hire a guide locally; the prices are generally modest, and the guides will supply all equipment needed for the outing. Alternatively one can choose a suitable Via Ferrata (see below) and self guide. Guido Bonvicini will again be at the conference, and will bring 10 sets of gear (Harness, Helmet, Ferrata kit such as slings, carabiners). He will rent these at a very modest fee to interested parties. We will also provide advice concerning which Via Ferrata are suitable for use on conference session days, and which are better reserved for days prior to or after the session days (on which days more time is available). We intend to offer at least one group outing on a suitable Via Ferrata during the conference, led by Guido or a local guide. Email the organizer with the number in your party who might wish to join, and the days of the conference on which this would be possible.

There are at least two good books in English on Via Ferrata in the Dolomites, including those in the Brenta:

Via Ferrata-Scrambles in the Dolomites; Hofler/Werner; (translated by Cecil Davies) Cicerone Press, 1992. ISBN 1-85284-089-7.
English translation of classic text. Brenta covered on pages 204-236.

Via Ferratas of the Italian Dolomites: Vol 2; Graham Fletcher/John Smith; Cicerone 2003. ISBN 1-85284-380-2.
Newer guide. Brenta covered pages 174-210.


The Brenta Dolomites have a scale that can fool visitors not acquainted with the Alps, making some tours into day long outings, or even longer. As a result, at least a few of the best and most spectacular hikes and via ferrata cannot really be done starting in the morning at the hotel, and returning in time for the sessions at 16:15. We will provide advice at the conference concerning which hikes and via ferrata can be done in one day in time for a return. However, some of the most spectacular and worthwhile activities on earth involve hikes and via ferrata that link the Refugios (huts). Many locals and visitors make a point of planning multi-day trips moving each day from hut to hut, and we highly recommend such an activity for any of our conference attendees able to do so before of after the conference itself.


The refugios are typically very inexpensive and surprisingly well equipped little hotels. They usually have both semi private rooms (for four) and large rooms with multiple beds. The ones lower in the mountains sometimes have hot showers available, and all are supplied by small cableways, so that fresh food arrives daily form the nearby village(s). As a result, the refugios have waitress and waiter served dining rooms, and one orders from a menu hot meals prepared to order and newly made desserts. The refugios also have fresh bed linens and towels available for a modest fee. The refugios are placed on rocky promontories in the most spectacular settings that can be found, with remarkable scenery. I strongly recommend arranging one’s trip to the Brenta group so that a few days at least can be spent moving from refugio to refugio. In early July, reservations are usually not essential, but can be made by telephone.

Telephone numbers for the refugios are given on the website (subheading Brenta Refuges).

Aside from overnight stays the refugios are a nice target for a hike or a hike plus a Via Ferrata: One can have lunch/dessert and drinks in a most pleasant setting. Approximate time to reach some of the refugios (others are also quite possible) by the most direct means are:

See for more and very much more detailed information. Just click on the name of the Refugio.



(I should begin by noting that Guido Bonvicini is an expert on climbing in this general area, and especially the Sarca Valley south of the Brenta).

There are numerous opportunities for climbing in and around the Brenta Group. In the Brenta itself, there are many famous and classic very long multi-pitch routes, usually not so technically challenging (except for route finding), but demanding a great deal of time. If time can be found to do one of these, it would definitely be worthwhile, spectacular, and something to remember lifelong. A very famous climb high in the Brenta is Campanile Basso, a large spike about 400 meters high (see for example: This was the last major Dolomite Peak to be climbed, but has routes varying from beginner level to expert (many pictures are included on this website, because this was my first major outdoor climb). This climb is at the top of the group, and likely requires a stay overnight in one of the nearby huts and an early start the next day (to beat the crowds). A return can be made that day in time for the sessions.

There are many other climbing areas in the Brenta, some directly above Compiglio, of various lengths and difficulties, and at various altitudes above town. The old guide (in Italian) is hard to find. A new one is in the last stages of preparation and should be available in town by the time of the conference. There are a number of books giving information about the classic, long climbs:

Dolomites- Selected Climbs; Ron James; Alpine Club (London. 1988) ISBN 0-900523-55-7.
In English. Mostly classic and long climbs. Brenta climbs pages 19-45.

Classic Dolomites Climbs; Annette Kohler, Norbert Memmel ISBN 0-89886-693-6.
English translation. Brenta climbs pages 196-214 (again long easy classics)

Dolomites West and East; Ron James; Alpine Club (2005) ISBN 0-900523-65-4.
In English. Updated selected climbs. Brenta climbs pages 17-64.

There are also a number of climbing areas in the area surrounding the Brenta, and reachable for day climbing during the conference. The climbing areas in the Sarca Valley south of the Brenta are famous (Arco is the city that is renowned as the jumping off place for climbs in this area). The area has numerous climbs at all lengths and difficulty levels. Two books in English that describe some of these are:

Gardasee Kletterfuhrer Climbing Guide; Matthias Heinkel; ISBN 3-928719-15-7.
Both German and English. Sport climbing (shorter climbs) from Lake Garda north through the Sarca Valley, ending just south of the Brenta Group.

Italian Rock; Al Churcher; (Cicerone 1988) ISBN 0-902363-93-X.
In English. Many northern Italy areas, but only covers Arco (just north of Lake Garda and south of the Brenta—pages 136-148.

A few useful links, though mostly in Italian, are:
This site, in Italian, is the site of the Alpine Guides, and gives much information about climbing and mountain excursions.
This is the site (mostly in Italian) of our conference guide, Guido Bonvicini.


There are wonderful opportunities for both biking and mountain biking in the area. Bicycles may be rented in Compiglio. There are many tours, and many (most) are quite beautiful. Some itineraries and maps may be found on: Although the text is in Italian, the maps are excellent and largely self explanatory.


Canyoning is an excellent and exciting sport that can be done without prior experience and by children (above a certain age). Participants don a wetsuit and enter a stream that drops rapidly through a gorge, having sections with rapids, whitewater, and waterfalls. One descends with a combination of swimming/floating, jumping, and rappelling (controlled by the guide). There are excellent streams a short distance from Compiglio, and this makes a wonderful outing. Some of you may have been on such an outing on a rather short stream the last time we were in the Dolomites, at Cavalese. Guido Bonvicini will lead a group (if there is interest). The costs will be given later. Please let me know if you are interested , and how many might be in your party.

For some photos that will excite your interest see:


These can only be done alone by experienced practitioners. However, completely inexperienced attendees wanting a real thrill can have a wonderful time in a tandem ride on a single (extra large) parasail, with an expert running the show. This opportunity should be available at Pinzolo.


Sailing is found at Lake Garda, south of Compiglio. The other water sports mentioned are found in the area, and further information about these will be added to this site later.


At Male and Dimaro several companies offer excellent tours. One of the best rafting rivers in the Alps is not far. See: This gives one company’s website in English.

Example Costs

Minimum costs for an alpine guide are Euro240/day, for Hiking, Via Ferrata, or Climbing. Costs move higher for harder, longer, or more technical activities. Costs increase for more members per party, though the per person cost decreases. Sometimes there are discounts available through the local tourist boards or hotel. With the decrease in the value of the dollar, these costs may seem high, but from great experience, I can assure everyone that the return on value is exceptional, and one should never hesitate to engage the services of guides. They are rigorously trained and certified, regularly recertified, extremely knowledgeable, and (as opposed to some Swiss and French guides) very eager to provide a good experience to clients.