Twelfth Annual Summer Interdisciplinary Conference


Via Ferrata near Cortina d'Ampezzo

The picture above shows part of a Via Ferrata, protected hiking paths that are found throughout the Cortina area, and offer exciting and extraordinarily scenic but safe opportunities to explore the heart of the Dolomites. The opportunities for outdoor activities in the summer in the Cortina area are endless, and include walking, hiking, scrambling, Via Ferrata, canyoning, mountaineering, rock climbing, mountain biking, road biking, and parasailing. Cortina is also a center for arts and music in the summer, with many concerts, shows and performances at about the time of our conference. There are also museums, parks and adventure parks, and nearby towns and villages with rich histories.

It is perhaps easiest to get to the start of these activities by car, but there is excellent bus service in an around Cortina, including schedules that stop at the various lifts and access points for activities. A bus schedule is available at the tourist office.

A general website for the Dolomites is found at: And the summer website for Cortina is at:

These websites have much useful information, not only about activities, but travel and much more. The tourist office has many maps and brochures and is found at: Piazzetta San Francesco, 8 32043 Cortina d'Ampezzo +39 0436 3235?. This office is about two to three blocks slightly uphill from the hotel, at the town center.

Some Books that could be useful: a) Hiking:

b) Via Ferrata: c) Climbing:

Many more books can be found on

This section of the ASIC 2013 website will target mainly the various outdoor and adventure activities available in the Cortina area, but there are a variety of other activities that are noteworthy and could of interest to attendees and their guests: I list here a few:


The main Dolomite groups surrounding Cortina are listed here. Note that these are large mountain groups, sometimes with many summits and towers, and extending in many case for many km. Not all groups are listed here and within each of these groups there are often many other names of local regions. Access sometimes starts with roads to rifugios, mountain paths from the road, and sometimes with a lift or cable car followed by mountain paths.

Access to climbing, via ferrata, and hiking often begins with one of the many rifugio (high mountain lodges) scattered throughout the area. Because these are large groups, the starting point will depend on one’s exact plans. I give here the group name, the maximum height, the approximate distance from Cortina, and the likely nearest highway access.

West North and NW East and SE South

Via Ferrata near Cortina d'Ampezzo

Chairlifts and Cablecars near Cortina d’Ampezzo:

Via Ferrata near Cortina d'Ampezzo

Cortina is surrounded by a system of chairlifts and cablecars essentially all of which are open in the summer. They open at 9 AM, and the last rides down occur at 5 PM. They give access to the higher reaches of the Dolomites; one system of cablecars starts in Cortina and goes all the way to one of the highest peaks in the area (Tofane). These lifts may be used simply for sightseeing, or for ease of access to the most dramatic hiking trails, bike paths, walking paths, via ferrata, or climbing areas. They can be used for one-way trips as well (often walking is done upward, and the lifts are used for descent, to save wear and tear on the knees).

The placement of these various lifts can be found on the hiking or bike maps of the area (available for example in the tourist office) or on:

Note that there is a huge system of marked and labeled trails throughout the Dolomites, and these allow connections to and from various lift systems, rifugios, restaurants, via ferrata, and other mountain venues. In a number of cases one has a choice of driving to some lift or taking lower lifts to get to the same site.

I do not list below all lifts in the general Cortina area, but the main ones closest to Cortina. Detailed descriptions with hours and prices may be found on the following website (download the pdfs for each lift):

In the listing below I give some of the major lifts closest to Cortina, their starting and ending altitudes in meters, and whether the lift is a chair or cablecar.

Lifts near Falzarego-Lagazuoi:
Falzarego - Lagazuoi 2100 - 2742 Cablecar
5 Torri 1889 - 2225 Chair
Fedari 2000 - 2416 Chair
Lifts near Pocol-Tofane:
Rumerlo - Duca d'Aosta 1660 - 2092 Chair
Duca d'Aosta - Pomedes 2092 - 2305 Chair
Cortina - Col Drusche 1250 - 1778 Cablecar
Col Drusche - Ra Valles 1778 - 2472 Cablecar
Ra Valles - Cima Tofane 2472 - 3191 Cablecar


Via Ferrata near Cortina d'Ampezzo
A typical Rifugio situated scenically

A rifugio is a mini-hotel usually perched on a dramatic and scenic site high in the Dolomites. It generally offers a restaurant (and sleeping accommodations (though sleeping would not be useful except prior to and following the ASIC conference). The Dolomites are famous for their rifugios and many people make multiday hikes (and via ferrata expeditions) from one rifugio to the next, never descending to the ‘lowlands’. Such expeditions are highly recommended and attendees who arrive prior to or stay after the conference should consider a multiday expedition from one rifugio to the next.

For conference days, attendees must return by about 16:00 so cannot stay overnight in rifugios, but the rifugios are still very useful, being starting points for day hikes and via ferrata, and nice choices for food and drink during any of the various mountain activities.

Rifugios may be located on the hiking map listed earlier, and the dolomiti website. About 80% have their own websites; e.g.:

Here is an alphabetical list of some rifugios near Cortina. Altitude in meters is the number given for each. Most have restaurant, bar, café, lodging. Access by lift, car, jeep (4WD), or foot only is indicated, although this information may not be accurate, especially concerning whether one can get access with a regular car.


A general introduction and overview is on the hiking map:

A good introduction is a series of photos in a youtube video:

Many hiking itineraries (and much more including photos, videos, panoramas, terrain and via ferrata) are found on Google Earth (G.E.) Ask G.E. to go to Cortina d’Ampezzo, Belluno, Italy.

Via Ferrata near Cortina d'Ampezzo

The books and websites listed above have a number of hikes described in some detail.

The Cortina Tourist Office has a nice hiking map.

There are hundreds and possibly thousands of hiking paths and trails everywhere in and around Cortina. These are well maintained and marked by number, and vary considerably in length, difficulty, vertical gain and loss, and access. It would be impossible to try to list them on this website, but they offer outstanding opportunities for attendees at every level of walking/hiking/scrambling ability. In one way or another most connect the various rifugios, and often include peaks and dramatic viewpoints.

Via Ferrata near Cortina d'Ampezzo

Via Ferrata

Via Ferrata are protected hiking paths in the dramatic heights, cliffs, and spires of the Dolomites. The hiker uses a harness, slings and carabiners, and uses these to attach to cables that are themselves attached to the mountain cliffsides. Many via ferrata also use ladders and bridges and some involve a bit of protected scrambling. They offer dramatic scenery and exposure normally available only to climbers but in almost perfect safety.

The via ferrata range from easy to difficult in terms of effort and exposure, and are all rated and described so the hiker can choose one that is appropriate. The books at the beginning of this section include several listing the many via ferrata including those near Cortina.

One website:

Cortina area Via Ferrata:

A few possibly useful web links:

Via Ferrata, although by definition protected, nonetheless can vary considerably in difficulty. The usual grading is on two scales, technical difficulty that ranges from I (easiest) to 5 (most difficult), and seriousness that ranges from A (easiest) to C (most serious). There are many via ferratas in the Cortina area. Here are some with brief descriptions (extracted from Via Ferratas of the Italian Dolomites: Vol 1, pgs 187+, by Smith and Fletcher-- each VF is described in detail, most with a map). Below the three numbers indicate meters ascent, meters descent, and max altitude in meters.

The estimated average time is given last; some routes have starts and exits that are easy to reach by car or cablecar/chairlift. Others may require a fair amount of walking. Some times are for start or exit at a rifugio. Note that the start and end points sometimes can be altered by use of lifts, changing the estimated times for completion. The opportunities for passing slower parties varies considerably by route, and some of the more popular via ferrata can be slowed by traffic (if one is unwilling to detach from the cables, then passing a party ahead can be hard and the times can slow, although many parties do pass others, especially when this is a safe option). Thus the times given should not be taken too seriously, and one should carefully read the detailed route descriptions in any of the via ferrata books or other materials.

Some of these routes have sections that are simple paths, unprotected, but of course any potentially dangerous sections are protected. At some times of the year a few via ferrata have sections which may require crossing snow or ice, but this is unlikely in late July. A few have long tunnels (constructed during the wars--read the detailed descriptions) in which case a headlamp or flashlight is needed.

Experienced via ferrata users sometimes forego use of equipment on the easier routes and sections, but this is not recommended to ASIC attendees because the quality of the talks is too high to miss. Thus via ferrata walkers should use climbing harness, slings and carabiners, and helmet. In some earlier eras, some shops rented full via ferrata gear, including a full body harness, but this is almost never done today.

Here are a few of the local Via Ferrata:

Alle Cascata di Fanes nel Parco: Short and easy, but nice and goes behind the Rio Fanes waterfall. At entrance to Ampezzo Nationaql Park. 4 hrs.

Cortina West:

Cortina North: (SS51 ~ 6 km north of Cortina)

Cortina (Cristallo): (East of Cortina: Lifts from Rio Gere to Rif. Lorenzi)

Cortina (Tofane): (SS48 west of Cortina, or by cablecar/lifts)

Cortina (Sorapiss): (8 km East of Cortina on SS48 to Passo Tre Croce, or lifts from Cortina to Rf. Faloria)

Misurina: (15 km NE on SR48 and SP49)

Sesto: (44 km north SS51, 49, 52)

Auronzo: (a lake ~35 km to the East of Cortina on SR 48)

If one does not have the harnesses, slings, carabiners (and helmets) needed for a via ferrata they will in most cases be available from the conference guides and failing that can be rented from a number of stores in Cortina. Generally speaking anyone used to mountain hiking can manage most of the via ferrata without guides, but guides can be hired for this purpose, and can make the experience even more enjoyable, allowing choice of the best and most scenic and adventurous routes, ease of navigation, and safe instruction. We anticipate that one of the two conference climbing guides will lead a group at least once on an especially noteworthy via ferrata (we will have sign ups).

Mountain Biking and Road Biking

Cortina is well known for summer biking, both mountain biking (many lifts give access to high starting points that allow exciting descents) and road biking (many of the climbs have been used in the Tour de France). One can bring one’s own bicycle, but there are shops in Cortina that will rent. There are two Cortina bike parks (bike park and skill park), shops to rent bikes, and an enormous system of bike trails of all descriptions. A bike trail map is available at the tourist office. There are far too many trails and itineraries to list on this website.

Rock Climbing

Via Ferrata near Cortina d'Ampezzo
Climbing on Cinque Torri, a site to be used
in ASIC 2013 for a 'group climbing' day.

The rock climbing possibilities around Cortina are endless. The books listed on this website give descriptions and locations of many of the more famous climbs.

We always arrange at least one and usually two ‘group’ climbing days that allow beginners, novices, and children to try rock climbing. The sites are chosen to have many one pitch ‘top rope’ climbs at all levels of difficulty but especially having a good number of climbs suitable for beginners. We have climbers at all levels of ability come on these group days. Both the two conference guides and the better climbers help the beginners at the start of the day, and after a while the better climbers move on to the more difficult climbs in the same area. Time permitting the group traditionally stops for gelato on the way back to the conference.

A note on grades and a note on crowds:

When planning routes it will therefore be important to discuss options with Guido Bonvicini and the other climbing guide associated with the conference.

Via Ferrata near Cortina d'Ampezzo
On top of Torre Grande in Cinque Torri.
Conference guide Guido Bonvicini enjoying the day.


The many peaks in the Cortina area allow a variety of mountaineering ascents, albeit the distinction between long rock climbing routes, scrambling, via ferrata, and hiking to gain these peaks sometimes gets blurred. Perhaps the main ‘mountaineering’ concern is time: If one attempts a high peak from a low starting elevation the extremely large vertical relief will generally entail a very long day, likely making it impossible to return in time for the conference talks. Thus this type of mountaineering, at whatever degree of technical climbing is sought, should likely be planned for days prior to or after the conference.



Canyoning is suitable for beginners with no experience but is an exciting and enjoyable outing. One wears a wetsuit to insure warmth, then enters a stream in a narrow canyon high in the dolomites. Then one descends the stream, by walking, scrambling, floating, and sliding, whenever conditions allow. When cliffs are encountered the guide lowers the client on a rope.


Parasailing, or paragliding, is a sport in which one leaves a high point in the mountains by use of a large parasail (see photo), and then sails with the wind currents high over the mountains and cliffs, until eventually descending and landing (gently) at a designated pick up spot. This activity appears to be suitable only for experts but is actually available for anyone without experience, with use of what is known as ‘tandem’ flying: The flight is done with an expert guide and the client on a single large parasail: The expert does the flying and the client enjoys the experience. Tandem paragliding provides an exciting and exhilarating experience and is the closest one can come to what it feels like to be a bird in flight. Paragliding in the Dolomites gives the additional benefit of extraordinary scenery.


There is an adventure park in Cortina called the ‘Adrenalin Center’.

Cortina has two bike parks, one at Via Stadio 12.