The route I’m about to describe is not the full Alta Via 1, but an adaptation to fit it in one full week. This route is also known by the name Alte Via Dell Adamello. It is a 8 day hike and 1 resting day, 9 days in total. It is possible to skip the resting day if you are fit.The route starts out easy and gets tougher every passing day. This helps the participants that aren’t that experienced in this terrain to prepare before getting into the heavy stuff. It is possible to do the route the other way around, although it might get a bit boring at the end. If I have to repeat the route I would do it again south to north. I walked this route in 2016 and it might not all be the same in a year’s time. Also a different time of year or different weather might make that you will experience this route completely different.
Since the terrain is quite heavy at times, good weather is important. When you have bad luck and experience bad weather, don’t expect to make this trip in the same amount of days. It is possible to leave the area at various locations. We hiked the trail in the first week of september and had a lot of luck. In the 9 days we were there we had a total of one hour of rain. Also no thunder storm predictions so no early start either. If you encounter thunderstorm predictions make sure you arrive at the next hut before 3pm, to reduce risk of being stuck in thunderstorms. Always inform yourself about weather predictions for the next day. The people living up there have tons of experience with the weather out there and can give you great advice.
Marking of the route
Most stages of the route are extremely well marked, with the well known red and white markings. Even though markings were harder to find on the last stages, there weren’t any worries of getting lost. There aren’t many junctions along the route, but the ones you encounter have perfect directions. Mostly using signage, and sometimes arrows painted on rocks with the different route numbers. You will see the red white red with the number 1 inside a few times a day. A great feeling to know you’re still on the right path.
The food was arranged very well in every hut. Upon arriving they give you a few choices on the meals. The meals were always served around 7pm. The choice for starter was usually for minestrone soup or pasta, main course was a choice for meat or cheese most of the times with vegetables, dessert was always a piece of cake. We usually were very fulfilled after dinner. Breakfast was a different story, since italians are not very big eaters. There was usually white crackers or white bread with your basic nutella, jam, honey etc. With that you had the choice for coffee or tea at breakfast. Most mornings we had a bowl full of it. Many of us were not satisfied after breakfast. It is possible to get a lunch packet, quality and price of it varied per hut. Sometimes it was just a sandwich other times it was a big pack with water, apple, chocolate bar etc. Prices varied between 3 and 13 euro’s. Snacks were available in all huts, although the choices varied a lot. I was very happy with my own lunch food that I brought along, this saves a lot of money.
Almost every hut didn’t have drinkable water, and some of them didn’t have enough bottled still water. You can buy bottled water around 3 euros for 1,5 liter, but you will also be fine when you filter the water or use a chemical treatment (Hadex). There is more than enough water available all along the route, all streams that were marked on the maps were full with water, even in september. The water was always clear, but there are quite some areas where you won’t be sure if there is livestock roaming about above you. In case you are not sure, treat the water.
Always make reservations for all rifugios so they know how much people they have to expect every evening. They make sure there is enough food, and a bed for every person. In case you change plan due to various issues a hut will always take you in, no matter how full it is. You might end up on a mattress in the hallway, but you will be dry and warm enough. It might occur that you have to change plans due to weather or sickness, ask the host of the hut you are staying in to call ahead to all other reserved huts, so they won’t have to worry about you.
Flora and fauna
As for the flora, we were there in the wrong month. September is the last month before winter comes. Hardly any flowers to be seen, on the other hand the grass slowly turning yellow has it’s beauty too. We hoped to see more animals, we were not that lucky unfortunately. We saw a few marmots, one ibex, and a few chamois very far away. There were a few birds of prey, but also nothing really spectacular. We are not sure if it had to do with how high we were up in the mountains or there was a different explanation for it.
Day 1 Rif. Bazena – Rif. Tita Secchi
3 hours – 600 m ascent
We travelled by train to Trento, Italy. We ordered a taxi in advance who would take us to the start of our route, Rifugio Bazena (1799 m). Public transportation is non existent to rif. Bazena. The drive was about 3 hours over very small, curvy roads, when having trouble with motion sickness be sure to prepare yourself. There is enough space to park your car, so you have the option to park you car there and hitchhike or take a taxi back.
After arriving at Bazena we took of directly for Rifugio Tita Secchi (2367m). This is a day hike route, so the path was fairly easy walking material. With this in mind the path will be quite busy during summer time and in weekends. We took off around 4pm and we met quite a few people going back down.
Rifugio Tita Secchi is a modern hut with all needed facilities. Showers uses coins you have to buy for a short shower, and only available before dinner time. The hut is located next to a reservoir, this means enough water, but not drinkable. Bedrooms were all sturdy wooden bunks giving room to about 8 persons.
Day 2 Rif. Tita Secchi – Rif. Maria e Franco Lomini
4 hours – 700 m ascent, 200 m descent
This day is a great practising day, we took about an hour to practice with the full group on grip on steep rock and going through blockfields. The hike from Tita Secchi up to the first pass (Passo di Blumone 2633 m) was similar to the day before, quite easy and not to steep. From the pass the route is a long traverse going up and down just a little the whole time, passing quite a few block fields. After the traverse a very steep climb starts to the second pass (Passo Brescia 2713 m). Here is the first introduction to steel cables. They are there just for support, but are not always placed ideally. Many times it was easier not to use them because with the cables you where more off balance. After the pass the descent started towards rif. Maria e Franco Lomini (2574 m). The descent isn’t that long, but the blocks you are moving through are quite big. This will take quite some time to get through.
Rifugio Maria e Franco Lomini is a traditional hut with very basic facilities. No drinkable water is available. There are no showers available, and the washing room is quite small. There are three sleeping areas upstairs with metal bunks, sizes of the three rooms are different. With all this negative being said, it is a lovely hut, with very friendly hosts. This hut gives you the most traditional outdoors experience.
Day 3 Rif. Maria e Franco Lomini – Rif. Citta di Lissone
5 hours – 300 m ascent, 1000 m descent
From the rifugio we started of with a long descent, passing some very beautiful landscapes. Make sure that you follow the markers painted on the rocks in the first part and not the map. The map we had was showing us we were passing the lake on the right side, while marking let us go down to the left side of the lake. For this part the route was easy going, nothing too heavy or complicated. After the pass (Passo di Campo 2298 m) there is a traverse of a very narrow path through steep terrain. The traverse suddenly switches into a climb. This steep climb requires the use of cables and footholds and finishes at the waterfall that you cross at the top. From there the terrain is still steep, but not complicated.
This ends in in yet another pass (Passo Ignaga o di Casinelle 2524 m) with a great view of a village deep down below. This was one of the few places on the full week where we had mobile phone reception. From this point, it was downhill all the way, but it wasn’t easy . The path follows the mountain ridge for a long time. The use of cables and footholds was very welcome at times. Being scared of heights won’t work to your advantage in this passage, there are places where you will be on a meter wide top with steep terrain on both sides of you. Slowly the terrain will change from rocks to grass, the steepness will remain. When being in the grassy area the path will be really small with beams to prevent the path from washing away. The descent ends in another traverse. But don’t let the map fool you, the path moves through a chasm. It is stunning but again for people who are scared of heights might have some difficulty out here. Coming out of the chasm you will be directly at rifugio Citta di Lissone (2020 m).
Rifugio Citta di Lissone is one of the few huts with drinkable water. Not inside the hut but besides the hut you will find a nice well with lovely drinkable water. The hut has showers. You’ll pay 5 euros and this gets you a key to the shower. Patience is needed because it takes a long time for the water to turn warm, but no time limit so you can enjoy as long as you like. Although people waiting in line might feel differently about that. The bedroom we stayed in was big, space for 20 people, but it isn’t cramped. Nice stable wooden bunk beds and enough space to place bags etc.
Day 4 Rif. Citta di Lissone – Rif. Prudenzini
5 hours – 700 m ascent, 500 m descent
Leaving Citta di Lissone we started with an easy walk, about half an hour till the next hut, rifugio Baita Adamé (2150 m), following the river upstream. It is possible to have a coffee, tea or hot chocolate at this hut. It would also be possible to spend the night in this hut, but considering the time and distance you will walk on day 3 and day 4 the choice for rif. Citta di Lissone is more logical. Baita Adamé is however a rock climbing based hut, so when planning to do some rock climbing, this might be your ideal place to stay. Once the hut is passed you quickly make a left turn, the route is directed very clear on the rocks, and then a very steep climb starts. Starting of in a grassy environment, later switching over into a block field. There are a few pieces of metal here and there to assist on the climb. Since the climb is fully on the south face the climb is very warm on a sunny day. The climb ends at Passo di Poja (2810 m). After the pass the most of the descent is through an enormous block field, having some gravel bits here and there. The last bit of the descent is fairly easy walking and ending in a beautiful meadow, with a river streaming through it. At the end of the meadow rif. Prudenzini (2235 m) is located.
Rifugio Prudenzini is a cosy hut in a beautiful landscape. Facilities are basic, but good enough. There are three bedrooms, with 3 layered bunk beds. The rooms are not that big, so when being with many people in one room there is a need of getting creative with luggage. There is one shower in the hut and costs 5 euro. The water is warmed with a wood fire and it takes about 40 minutes to warm. Also there isn’t drinkable water , although the host drinks the water from the well outside without treatment. The lakes and the river close by the hut gives you the possibility to take a swim.
Day 5 Resting day at Rif. Prudenzini
There are a few options on what to do this day. One of them is to skip the resting day and keep going. Another one is to take the day of and relax at the nearby lake or river, just keep in mind that you are up at 2200 m, temperatures are a lot lower than down in the valley, and the risk at sunburn is a lot higher. With a small group we took a hike to lake Bos (2131 m) and up to Coll du Bos (2432 m). Our initial plan was to hike up to the bivouac (Biv. Giannantoni 3169 m) at the bottom of the glacier. We were advised not to go because the terrain was more like alpine climbing than hiking. It is also possible to leave the area, to walk down to the valley below. There is not really an option to walk to any mountaintop from this location.
Day 6 Rif. Prudenzini – Rif. Baitone
6 hours – 700 m ascent, 700 m descent
The route starts right from the hut with a steep climb, quite similar to the one on day 4, grassy and on the south face. Gradually the path is switching into a climb and traverse over enormous amounts of blocks. The finale is a zigzag over a grassy south face, ending up at the pass (Passo di Miller 2858 m). Going down on the other side over way more blocks, a 2 hour scramble from block to block. There is no real option to have a break in that area so make sure u rest long enough when being on the pass. After leaving the block field the path moves through a beautiful valley with a reservoir where you can find rifugio Gnutti (2166 m). From that point on, a beautiful traverse starts through steep terrain. A part of the path was carved out of the rocks, which was a real cool path to walk. The day ends with a short climb through some sort of a town up to rifugio Baitone (2281 m).
Rifugio Baitone is not the prettiest of huts on the outside, but we had a very warm welcome on the inside. The hut is run by a fierce Italian lady and a friendly Nepalese man. We had a great time there and we had the whole hut to ourselves. The hut has around 5 bedrooms with an average of 8 sleeping places per room. All beds are metal bunk beds. Drinking tap water is available in the hut, so no water treatment for a change. Showers are also available, with no time limit.
Day 7 Rif. Baitone – Rif. Garibaldi
5 hours – 800 m ascent, 500 m descent
The marking of this stage is not as good as all the previous stages. It might be the case that this is the only stage left for remarking and it might be different even in a year’s time. The day starts with a walk halfway around the reservoir. From there the path starts off as fairly easy but gradually gets harder . It consists of a long walk through the block field with bad marking, so being on guard to make sure you are still on track is necessary. The blocks in this area are the biggest of the whole route. Moving among them is quite challenging at times. The diversity in this part of traversing and climbing is a relieve. The last part to the pass (Passo di Premassonne 2847 m) requires the use of cables and footholds. The top of the pass has a great view, but not really any place to have a proper rest. Going down there are more cables for support, this might be a tricky point for people who are scared of hights. Then more blocks on the way down, that gradually changes into grassy slopes. At some point during the descent you can see rifugio Garibaldi on the other side of the valley. Going down all the way to yet another reservoir, and crossing the weir to the other side of the valley. From there on another climb to a pass and coming back down to some valley, on my map still marked as the end of a glacier. It was down there that we spotted an ibex. From that point on it was an easy walk, over another weir, ending at rifugio Garibaldi (2550 m).
This hut provides room to a lot of people. Many rooms with space for about 8 persons per room. The rooms are not that big, so it’s hard to find a spot for everyone’s stuff and the bunk beds are really weak. Showers are available for 6 euros for one coin. Water is not drinkable in this hut.
Day 8 Rif. Garibaldi – Rif. Sandro Occhi
8 hours – 900 m ascent, 1500 m descent
The day starts of with a descent of 600 m. The path is easy, quite like the first day going up. Since the path is quite close to a road this is a popular day hike route. Going down in the morning we met a lot of people going up, since it was saturday. I didn’t take too much water with me on the trip down to save my knees. Just before reaching Lago Bendetto (1932 m) we crossed a stream where I collected water and treated it with Hadex. At the end of the lake the route turns left uphill. Another very steep climb through a grassy area, slowly turning more rocky. The climb is 900 meters long. This does make it very intense. The climb ends at Passo Gole Larghe (2798 m), and from there it’s another 900 meters back down. The terrain on both sides of the pass is block fields. The descent is very steep at times and if you do bring your walking sticks, this is a good time to use them. The complete group had painful knees when we arrived at rifugio Sandro Occhi (1920 m).
Rifugio Sandro Occhi is a large hut which is used to have a lot of day hike visitors. They also have a group coming out there to fish in the beautiful lake close to the hut. Our group was placed below the main area. We had two rooms with enough space and stable bunk beds. We also had a shower down there. There is more space upstairs in the hut, but I have no idea about facilities and how much room there is up there. Out front there is a well where you can get drinking water.
Day 9 Rif. Sandro Occhi – Rif. Alla Cascata
1 hour – 500 m descent
Because we had a long trip back home we left rifugio Sandro Occhi at 6 in the morning. It was still completely dark at that time, so we used headlamps to see our path. The path was quite steep, muddy and full with cow poo. After an hour we ended up at a parking area, from there it was a short walk down the asphalt road to Rifugio Alla Cascata (1453 m). From here it was a drive of about 2 hours back to Trento. We had a taxi waiting for us to get us to the train station in time.
Items to bring
Waterfilter / Hadex or other chemical water treatment
Sleeping bag liner & pillow casing
Hiking boots, at least B category
Map (Kompass 71 Adamello La Presanella)
Rifugio Bazena – https://www.rifugi-bivacchi.com/it/289/bazena-tassara/
Rifugio Tita Secchi – http://www.rifugiotitasecchi.it/
Rifugio Maria e Franco Lomini – http://www.rifugi.lombardia.it/brescia/ceto/rifugio-maria-e-franco.html
Rifugio Citta di Lissone – http://www.rifugi.lombardia.it/brescia/saviore-delladamello/rifugio-citta-di-lissone.html
Rifugio Baita Adamé – http://www.rifugi.lombardia.it/brescia/saviore-delladamello/rifugio-baita-adame.html
Rifugio Prudenzini – http://www.rifugi.lombardia.it/brescia/saviore-delladamello/rifugio-prudenzini.html
Rifugio Gnutti – http://rifugiognutti.it/home-it/
Rifugio Baitone – http://www.rifugio-baitone.it/
Rifugio Garibaldi – http://www.rifugi.lombardia.it/brescia/edolo/rifugio-garibaldi.html
Rifugio Sandro Occhi – http://www.rifugioaviolo.it/
Rifugio Alla Cascata – http://www.rifugi.lombardia.it/brescia/vezza-doglio/rifugio-alla-cascata.html
I didn’t create this route, I was a participant.