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Enjoy wonderful solitude even in August
Explore the land of lakes and glaciers – Stelvio National Park
Walk through vast moraines and approach the glaciers of the Ortler-Cevedale range
Sleep in some of the most hospitable huts according to the feedback of our customers
See a mix of the Middle Ages and Liberty style architecture in Merano – the basecamp location
Relax in the thermal spa Terme Merano after the hike
Spectacular panoramas of glaciers, vast moraines, placid high-altitude lakes and a skyline crowded by snow-capped mountains are what awaits you when you visit the Ortler Group on our hut-to-hut trek through this Alpine region.
The hiking itinerary begins in the quiet and out-of-the-way Ulten Valley in the northwest of the spa resort town of Merano. On the very first day of the trek you will reach the ridges of Monte Cevedale and from there much of your itinerary will be at elevations of 2,200 to 2,800 meters above sea level. You will scale a few steep slopes to mountain ridges and walk on moraines underneath ice tongues of glaciers. Much of the trail snakes over exposed slopes of mountain ranges and ridges that offer breathtaking views of the tallest peaks of the group: Gran Zebru and Ortler. You will end your hike by descending to an old Alpine village of Trafoi lost amidst the mountains. From there you will return to Merano by bus .
You will spend 4 to 8 full days hiking through the mountains depending on the route variant that you chose. The High Ortler hike is available as a self-guided or guided trip. In a self-guided hike, you will have a detailed day-by-day description of the itinerary with an altitude profile and checkpoints. In a guided hike, you will be accompanied by a local English-speaking mountain guide. Daytime treks on this trip are moderate in length. While prior mountain hiking experience is not required, a good physical shape is a must. You will be overnighting at hospitable mountain huts most of which are at elevations of 2,400 to 2,600 meters in this region.
StyleHut to Hut Hiking
Tour Duration6 - 10 days / 5 - 9 nights
Start / FinishMerano
This is a private tour on the dates of your choice.
Validity of prices: Summer 2020.
Self-guided tour: supplement € 90 applies to one-person bookings.
Guided tour: minimum 4 participants.
Day 1: Merano
You arrive in Merano and check in at one of our basecamp hotels where you find your tour package prepared for you. We have chosen Merano – a spa resort town and one of the most beautiful Alpine destinations – as the base camp for our Ortler hike. For centuries Merano had been the capital of Tyrol. It is surrounded by ancient castles and insurmountable mountains. Merano features a unique old town with a rich history and culture, a scenic embankment with a promenade dating from the Belle Epoque, one of the best Alpine spa facilities, and magnificent botanical gardens.
Day 2: Corvo Lakes
Ascent 1070 m. Descent 50 m. Distance 9 km. Walking time 4 hours.
You begin your hike in a valley 1,500 meters above sea level by climbing to the eastern ridge of the Cevedale group. Shortly after, you find yourself on seldom-traveled trails with minimal infrastructure. It's an uphill trek for about 3 to 4 hours before you reach the destination of today's hike – the Corvo Lakes. It is a group of some 20 lakes that fill hollows between the granite projections of the ridge at elevations of 2,400 to 2,600 meters. The Corvo Lakes are very diverse. There are lakes the color of turquoise located in exposed areas of the ridge and reflecting the blue skies. In the shadows of tall escarpments you will find deep lakes that refuse to give up their chilling dark-blue color even on a bright sunny day. Some lakes have gentle sloping shores with beaches, while others are surrounded by vertical cliffs. You will be overnighting in a nearby hut to be able to admire the sunset from an exposed portion of the ridge.
Day 3: Lakes Sternai
Ascent 600 m. Descent 600 m. Distance 8 km. Walking time 4 hours.
Today you proceed deeper into the central parts of Ortler-Cevedale over the scenic eastern ridge. This is the last day when you get to walk on warm, sun-drenched slopes. The high mountains await you up ahead. A notable landmark along today's hiking itinerary is the Mount Collecchio that offers a view of the valleys at the foot of the ridge and nearby mountain groups. On reaching the hut around midday, you can have lunch, leave your backpack at the hut, and go up to the lakes of Sternai that feature a view of the Cevedale glaciers in the south-west. This is an optional 3-hour loop hike that adds to your hiking route a 400 m ascent, same descent and a 5,5 km walking distance.
Day 4: Passo di Saent
Ascent 700 m. Descent 850 m. Distance 10 km. Walking time 7 hours.
You will have to climb to the Passo di Saent pass – one of the few points where the ridge can be crossed. It separates the Saent Valley from the Martell Valley. The mountain pass elevation is 2,965 m. Right ahead of the pass, the trail gets fairly steep, and it takes some effort to scale it. The pass offers a spectacular view of the valley and nearby summits. An ice tongue of a glacier dips into a hollow under the pass in the northwest and feeds a few small lakes. On the other side of the pass you cross a typical rocky high-altitude landscape with glacier lakes and next to no vegetation. Later, as you descend into the valley through the gorge, the landscape changes, giving way to green meadows and streams. You go down to the green belt and arrive at the hut after traversing slopes sparsely overgrown by woods.
Day 5: Solda moraine
Ascent 890 m. Descent 560 m. Distance 9 km. Walking time 6 hours.
Alpine glaciers have been quickly receding in recent decades, leaving behind vast moraines over which mountain streams cascade down into valleys. Today you will be hiking towards one of the largest moraines in the region – the Solda moraine. The gorge above the Solda Valley to which the trail takes you today was filled with glaciers not so long ago. Now the glaciers have receded, exposing a gigantic hollow and leaving accumulations of glacier-polished boulders. Towering above the hollow are three mountains – the Ortler, Monte Zebru, and Gran Zebru, the dominant pinnacles of the Ortler group. A strip of red-brown boulders descends from one of the Gran Zebru slopes, resembling a river running through the dark-gray bed of the moraine. The panorama of the Solda moraine with the Ortler mountaintops towering above it is one of the most beautiful sights in this part of the Alps. You overnight at a hut perched on a cliff above the moraine and facing the Ortler mounts. This is an exceptionally good location for a hut envied by many.
Day 6: At the foot of Ortler
Ascent 510 m. Descent 540 m. Distance 11 km. Walking time 6 hours.
The hikers who wake up this morning to the sight of the Ortler summits basking in the first rays of sun will never regret going on this trip. The main range of the Ortler group is facing the northeast, and the rising sun colors the mountain tops gold-yellow, setting them off against the backdrop of the moraine that has yet to leave the shadows of the night. Today you will traverse very steep slopes at the foot of the Ortler, skirting it above the Solda Valley. Along the way you will encounter a few moraines, cross a few ridges with only insignificant changes in elevation. As the day draws to a close, you will reach a hut built on an exposed ridge descending into the Solda Valley. The most striking landscapes can be seen from this vantage point when the valley at the bottom is shrouded with clouds, with slopes of the Ortler towering above them.
Day 7: Trafoi valley
Ascent 340 m. Descent 1370 m. Distance 11 km. Walking time 5 hours.
Today you hike along the slopes of the northern Ortler down to the Trafoi Valley. After several days of hiking in high-altitude conditions, today will bring a very pleasant change of scenery with the warm air of Alpine meadows and the freshness of pine woods. The Trafoi Valley is nestled between the slopes of the nearby Frontier Ridge that traces the border between Italy and Switzerland. This valley is famous for a switchback road with 48 hairpin turns leading to the Stelvio Pass. From the valley you return by bus (self-guided trip) or with a private transfer (guided trip) to Merano where rest and the comfort of the basecamp hotel await you.
Day 8: Merano
The trip has come to an end. You can spend the rest of the day in Merano and recharge your batteries in pools of the spa facility or visit the ancient Tyrol Castle that lends its name to this Alpine region.
The shortest High Ortler route with 4 hiking days
This itinerary takes you from the Ulten Valley to Solda – a village at the foot of Ortler. It follows to the days 2 to 5 of the primary hiking itinerary. You will see most of the highlights of Ortler including the lakes of Corvo and Sternai, the Passo Saent and Martitschjoch passes, the moraine of Solda, and the Ortler and Gran Zebru peaks. When you reach the moraine of Solda, you can use the nearby cablecar to descend to the village and then take a bus to Merano (self-guided trip) or go with a private transfer arranged by us (guided trip).
From the Ulten valley to Solda in 5 hiking days
This itinerary follows the main route from the Ulten valley to Solda. It is one day longer than the shortest 6 Day Tour as you will stay overnight at a hut at the foot of Ortler on Day 5 and walk through the moraines on the following day before you descend to Solda. There are 5 full walking days on this route.
The classic High Ortler route plus an ascent to the Sternai summit
This 9 Day Tour is for experienced hikers as it includes an ascent to the Cima Sternai peak (3,443 m). This peak is located at a distance from other summits and offers an excellent panorama of the Ortler group. The ascent requires a dedicated day, while the rest of the route remains unchanged with respect to the primary 8 Day Tour itinerary. You will stay 2 nights in a hut at the foot of Cima Sternai, and thus can ascend the peak with a light backpack. There is a normal walking trail to Cima Sternai, but it crosses a small glacier. We are providing you with the gear that you will need for the glacier crossing: you will pick it up in the hut and leave in the same hut when you are back from the peak. Near the peak, you will walk on several sections of secured trail, not a via-ferrata.
The classic High Ortler route plus Passo Stelvio
This tour extends the classic High Ortler hiking route to the Passo Stelvio pass (2,758 m). This itinerary reaches the western extremity of the Ortler Group and then takes you to the Fallaschkamm mountain range. Fallaschkamm is the natural border between Italy and Switzerland. It features a panoramic trail on the Italian slopes with exciting views of the Ortler Group. The 10 Day Tour itinerary has a more difficult hiking schedule compared with the primary itinerary. It includes two 8-hour crossings with a daily cumulative ascent 1000 – 1150 m, similar descent and the walking distances of 12 – 15 km. There are no glacier crossings and no via-ferrata. This is itinerary includes 7 hiking days and is good for experienced and fit hikers.
The classic High Ortler with the Sternai summit and Passo Stelvio
The 10 Day Tour adds two options to the classic Ortler route: an ascent to the Sternai Summit and an extension of the itinerary to the Passo Stelvio pass. This is a more difficult itinerary: you must be comfortable walking 7 – 8 hours with daily cumulative ascent of 1150 m. You will stay 2 nights in a hut at the foot of Cima Sternai, and thus can ascend it with a light backpack. The path to the Sternai Summit crosses a small glacier. We are providing you with the gear to cross the glacier: you will pick it up in the hut and leave in the same hut when you are back in the afternoon. There are several recently built sections of secured trail near the summit, not a via-ferrata. Two daytime treks to Passo Stelvio are relatively long. You will reach the western extremity of the Ortler group the Stelvio pass, from where you will walk on the slopes of the Fallaschkamm following a panoramic trail in front of Ortler.
This is a private tour on the dates of your choice.
The prices are per person and include the VAT tax.
Validity of prices: Summer 2020.
The indicated tour duration includes the days of arrival and departure. Accommodation on the day of arrival and night before departure is included in the price.
Self-guided tour: supplement applies to one-person bookings
6 Day Self Guided Tour € 90
7 Day Self Guided Tour € 90
8 Day Self Guided Tour € 90
9 Day Self Guided Tour € 90
10 Day Self Guided Tour € 90
Single supplement includes single room accommodation in the basecamp hotel on the first and the final nights of the tour.
Guided tour: minimum 4 participants.
The closest airport to the Stelvio-Ortler region is Verona. It takes around 4 hours to arrive by train and bus from the Verona airport to the valleys of Stelvio: Val di Sole, Val Venosta and the city of Merano.
Other possible airports are Venice, Bologna, Innsbruck, Munich and Milan.
We can help you plan the logistics and provide you with train and bus schedules: please contact us before you buy the plane tickets.
Proper hiking boots are a must for the mountains. We recommend high boots because they support the ankle better than any low boots and provide better stability on a rocky terrain. Ortler is a high-altitude region, therefore you will need warm clothes during the trip: waterproof and windproof jacket, fleece jacket, long trekking pants and a cap. A raincoat, poncho or other type of rainwear is necessary. Other necessary items are the toiletries, light clean footwear to use in the huts, sunglasses and at least 2 one-liter bottles for water. You'll receive a detailed packing list specifically for your trip at the booking. We ask all the participants to read it carefully and be well prepared for the hiking trip.
For detailed information on the gear and clothing please read Trekking gear.
The first and last nights of your trip are in one of our basecamp hotels. While hiking, you will stay overnight in the mountain huts. You can count on the following services in the mountain huts: a bed in a shared room or in a private room (must be booked in advance), shower with hot water, toilets, meals, and a possibility to buy take away water and snacks such as sandwiches and chocolate. Shared rooms are equipped with bunk beds with mattresses, pillows and blankets. Bed linen is not provided in shared bedrooms: you must have a sleeping bag liner with you. Typically, it is a light cotton bag. Warm sleeping bag is unnecessary, since there are blankets in the bedrooms. In private rooms you are often offered bed linen, thus a sleeping bag liner is not required. If you book private rooms, we inform you on whether you need to bring a sleeping bag liner. Most huts have a heating system, but it is normally not required in the summer months. You will need clean footwear for the huts: light slides are an ideal solution. For detailed information on the huts please read Mountain Huts in the Alps.
In hut-to-hut hiking tours you are served a breakfast and a dinner in the huts and mountain hotels on the route.
Normally, the breakfast is served from 7am to 9am. It usually includes an unlimited quantity of coffee and tea, bread, butter, jam, honey and chocolate spread. In addition, some huts offer ham, cheese and muesli for breakfast. After breakfast we recommend filling your thermos with hot water or tea: ask the staff, and it will be for free in most huts.
The dinner time in the mountain huts is 7pm or 7:30pm for all guests. A typical dinner in a hut is very rich and includes a starter, the first course (such as pasta, risotto, dumplings), the second course (meat with a side dish) and a dessert. Any drinks at dinner (water, wine, beer, tea, coffee) are not free and should be ordered and paid separately.
Lunch. During most day crossings there will be no huts on the way where you could stop for lunch. We recommend taking a packed lunch from the hut in the morning. A typical packed lunch includes 1 or 2 sandwiches, yoghurt, chocolate bar, water, and it normally costs 7 - 8 euros. Tell the staff in the evening that you would like to take a packed lunch. Alternatively, on some days of the route, you can reach the next mountain hut in 4-5 hours and have lunch there.
Our guided hiking tours are led by professional guides, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience and with passion for mountains. They permanently work in the region of the exact hiking tour, have professional licenses, are experts in emergency situations, regularly upgrade their qualifications and work in accordance with national regulations.
For self-guided hiking, it is necessary to be properly dressed, follow the safety rules and make realistic time calculation for day crossings – preferably according to the hiking schedule that we provide. Our self-guided hiking trips are planned so that they do not require specific skills or gear, unless it is clearly specified in the tour description. You can expect well-maintained trails equipped with direction signs. Exposed sections of the trail are secured on the self-guided routes: it makes them safe provided that you follow the basic safety rules for hiking in the mountains.
Mountains are a natural environment with a high level of risk, so we insistently ask all participants to read the safety rules and emergency procedures: Safety Considerations. If you have questions about the safety rules, please contact us +39 0463 63 60 80.
Insurance. It is important to have an appropriate insurance that covers the hiking activity. You don't need to include the climbing activity in your insurance, unless you are planning to climb during the hike.
Visa. We will provide you with a booking confirmation for all days of your trip. If you need the Italian visa, you can enclose this document with your visa application.
The hiking season in the Rhaetian Alps starts at the end of June and finishes in the middle of September. The best period for hiking is from mid-July till the last week of August when the weather is normally stable. Till the end of June vast snowfields may remain at the altitude above 2200 m (7,220 ft) and block the passes. In September the temperature drops, and snow is not unusual in the Rhaetian Alps and especially in the Ortler and Bernina groups. The September snow melts away quickly after the weather conditions improve, but it causes troubles if you must walk on a snow-covered terrain, because the snow hides the trail.
During the summer months of July and August the Rhaetian Alps are still prone to sudden temperature and weather shifts. It is necessary to be prepared for an unexpected rain or thunderstorm and have appropriate warm clothes and rainwear.
In the exposed areas at a level of 2,400 m (7,870 ft) and above the temperature does not exceed 15° C (59° F) in a warm day. On the passes at 3,000 m (9,840 ft) the maximum temperature can reach 10° C (34° F). It is warmer in those areas that are protected from the wind and on the sunny slopes even at a high altitude. In a very cold day at 2,700 m and above sparse snow can fall even in August, but this is unusual. Nights at the high altitude are always fresh, frosts are possible above 2,900 m (9,510 ft) throughout the entire summer. At the same time, in the nearby valleys at the altitudes of 800 – 1,200 m (2,620 – 3,940 ft) the daytime temperature can reach 27° C (81° F) in a hot day.
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