Fifteenth Annual Summer Interdisciplinary Conference


The Val Gardena area offers the variety of activities, spectacular scenery, and nature of the surrounding area that was present for ASIC 2013 held in Cortina d' Ampezzo. In particular activities include hiking, biking, via ferrata, rock climbing, parasailing. There is easy and convenient accessibility to most activities from roads, lifts, and refugios.

The photos above and below show parts 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 Val Gardena area are endless, and include walking, hiking, scrambling, Via Ferrata, canyoning, mountaineering, rock climbing, mountain biking, road biking, and parasailing. In Val Gardena in the summer there are many concerts, shows, performances, museums, parks, adventure parks. There are many 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 and around the area.

In addition to the various outdoor activities, summer in Val Gardena offers concerts, shows, performances, museums, parks, adventure parks. There are also many towns and villages with rich histories.

It is possible to access the various sites in Val Gardena by car, but there is excellent and frequent bus service throughout the valley, and Hotel Oswald provides a free bus pass to its guests. Because there is limited parking at some sites, and/or paid parking, attendees might well choose to use the bus system. Hotel Oswald is adjacent to a bus stop, making bus use particularly convenient.

Websites with useful information (also be sure to use Google Earth):

The tourist office in Selva is at:

Str. Mëisules, 213
I-39048 Selva Gardena (BZ)
Tel.: +39 0471 777900; Fax: +39 0471 794245
Hours: Monday – Saturday: 08.00 – 12.00 & 14.30 – 18.30
 Sunday: 09.00 – 12.00 & 16.00 – 18.30

A Selva town map is found at the link on:
or at:

A map of Val Gardena showing terrain, hiking, and other features is found at:

Some books that could be useful:

  1. Hiking:
    • Trekking in the Dolomites; Henry Stedman;
      UK: ISBN 1-873756-34-8
    • The Dolomites of Italy; James and Anne Goldsmith;
      ISBN 1-55650-162-5; 1-55650-190-0; UK: 0-7136-3128-7
  2. Via Ferrata:
    • Via Ferratas of the Italian Dolomites: Vol 1; Smith and Fletcher;
      UK: ISBN: 1-85284-362-4
    • Via Ferrata-Scrambles in the Dolomites; Werner and Davies;
      UK: ISBN 1-85284-089-7
  3. Climbing:
    • Classic Dolomite Climbs; Kohler and Memmel;
      US: ISBN 0-89886-693-6; UK: ISBN 1-898573-34-4
    • Dolomites-Selected Climbs; Ron James;
      UK: ISBN 0-900523-55-7
    • Dolomites, West and East: Alpine Club Climbing Guidebook (paperback). Ron James.
      ISBN-10: 0900523654; ISBN-13: 978-0900523656

Many more books can be found on Amazon.


Immediately adjacent to Selva, to the south are the Sassalungo, Langkofel, and Sella dolomite groups. Also close, just to the north is the Odle group. North East is Stevia Southeast is Piz Boe. Heading east 32 km (toward Cortina) is Lagazuoi. South 35 km is the Rosegarten/Catinaccio group (with the Vajolet Towers). In this whole area, including the sites between these major groups, are uncountable numbers of well marked hiking paths that allow connections to and from various lift systems, rifugios, restaurants, via ferrata, and other mountain venues. All these allow convenient access to walks, hikes, scrambles, via ferrata, rock climbs and ever other sort of mountain activity one could want.


There are about 12 lifts and cablecars in Val Gardena open in the summer. There are others open in adjacent valleys and areas. These do not in most cases go to the tops of the dolomite peaks and towers, partly because the vertical relief is enormous, but they often gain several thousand feet of altitude and thereby give convenient access to the most dramatic hiking trails, climbing possibilities, biking trails and descents, Via Ferrata, parasailing options, and views and photo opportunities.

Generally one can purchase individual ride tickets, but it is more of a bargain, if one intends to uses many lifts, to buy a multiday pass. This year a three day adult pass is 60 euros, and a six day pass is 79 euros (children passes are considerably reduced, depending on age). A multiday pass is worth considering given that (this year) a one way single rides on most of the large lifts are about 11-16 euros, and single purchase round trips are about 14-28 euros. Lift hours vary but most start about 8:15 - 8:30.


Access to climbing, via ferrata, and hiking sometimes is accessible from the roadway, and other times by cable car and lifts. Hiking, cable cars, or both often bring one to the many rifugio (high mountain lodges) scattered throughout the area, and the rifugio often serve as bases for excursions. I will describe the locations of the main refugios as this website is elaborated in the future. (I will also later indicate the location and hours of operations of the many lifts in the area).

Rifugios, Mountain Huts, Restaurants

There are a huge number of refugios, mountain huts, and restaurants of all sorts in Val Gardena. Some are on the roadside, but many are perched in dramatic positions high in the mountains. Even those high on the mountains typically offer lodging (for attendees possibly useful for days prior to or after ASIC) and meals (food being brought up daily from the valleys via cableways).

The site listed here describes and gives details about 62 of these:

Even during the days of the conference these refugios, huts, and restaurants are an extremely useful resource. They provide excellent possibilities, while out and about in the mountains, for rest, food, drink, and views. Many are at the top of the lifts and cable cars, and provide easy access to climbing, via ferrata, biking and hiking, greatly cutting down the time needed for the same activities if started at the nearest road in the valleys.


Many hiking itineraries (and much more including photos, videos, panoramas, terrain and via ferrata) are found on Google Earth.

The books and websites listed above have a number of hikes described in some detail. The Selva Tourist Office has hiking maps.

There are hundreds and possibly thousands of hiking paths and trails everywhere in and around Val Gardena. 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 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 in Val Gardena and the nearby areas.

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).

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).


Val Gardena is well known for summer biking, both mountain biking (many lifts give access to high starting points that allow exciting descents) and road biking. One can bring one’s own bicycle, but there are shops that will rent. A bike trail map is available at the tourist office. There are far too many trails and itineraries to list on this website. A useful resource giving information is at:


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

We will arrange at least one and likely two ‘group’ climbing days that allow beginners, novices, and children to try rock climbing. We usually try to have all climbers of all levels of abilities join in the excursion. The better climbers join the guides to help at the start of the event, but then move on to harder climbs in the same area. The sites are chosen to have many one pitch ‘top rope’ climbs suitable for beginners, but also have climbs of all levels of difficulties so that all climbers enjoy themselves.

The first group climbing day is scheduled for Monday July 4, the second day of the conference. As the conference date approaches we will assess the likely number of climbers coming, and their levels of experience, and will arrange for the appropriate number of guides. There will be a modest charge for attendance, to cover costs of equipment and the local guides. A second day will be chosen later, depending on interest.

The group climbing day(s) have proven to be a very popular activity and the numbers attending seem to grow every year. Please consider giving this a try at ASIC 2016. This is particularly to be recommended because we will be going to Sella Pass on Monday, an incredibly dramatic and pleasant site. It has many easy and moderate climbs (and harder ones) in an area peppered with large boulders with bolted routes in a see of trees and grass, and surrounded by enormous and startling Dolomitic peaks, particularly Sassolungo and the Sella group.

Time permitting the group traditionally stops for gelato on the way back to the conference.

There are several climbing guide centers in Selva, one directly across the street from Hotel Oswald. Several shops sell climbing guide books and maps, one being also across the street from the hotel.


The many peaks in Val Gardena and the surrounding areas 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. The canyoning areas are some distance from the hotel, so when considering any outings, please look carefully at the times of the itinerary so that a return can be made in time for the day's conference.


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 are too many Via Ferrata accessible by day from Selva to list on this website, and I suggest examining the Cicerone guidebook by Smith and Fletcher for details (or other sources on the web). There are 6-7 Via Ferrata northeast of Selva (near La Villa), 4-5 very close to Selva, 7-8 near Passo Gardena, 4-5 southeast of Selva near Arabba, 15 or more southwest near Canazei, and 5 or so near Falzaego Pass to the east. In sum, there are something like 45 Via Ferrata accessible for day tours from Selva, covering the full range of lengths and difficulties.