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Via delle Bocchette, Italy
Route: The Via delle Bocchette is rated at 11 hours for an average hiker, but schedule additional time for hiking approach trails. Alpine huts provide bunk bedding (bring a sheet or liner), dinner, wine, and breakfast for about $25 per person. Reserve in advance. For hut information, visit the Italian Alpine Club's www.cai.it. Click on the hut symbol, then on Online, English, Central Alps, and Brenta Dolomites.
Access: Travel by trail or gondola from the town of Madonna di Campiglio, about an hour's drive west of Trento, Italy. Rent a car or ride a bus. Season: June through September offers the best weather.
Safety: Wear a helmet to protect against falling rocks. Bring an ice axe and crampons early in the high season for occasional steep snowfields. Special via ferrata braking systems, along with a climbing harness, are a wise investment (about $50 for the carabiner system alone, available at most mountain shops in Europe). For more information, consult the guidebook below or visit Petzl's Web site (www.petzl.com/FRENG/tech/viaferrata.html).
Guides: Via Ferrata: Scrambles in the Dolomites, by Hofler and Werner (Cicerone Press, 011-44-151-01539-562069; www. backpacker.com/bookstore; $21.95). Kompass Naturpark/Parco Naturale Adamello-Brenta #070 and Gruppo di Brenta #73 maps (Omni Resources, 336-227-8300; www.omnimap.com; $11.95 each).
Contact: Parco Naturale Adamello Brenta, 011-39- 465-804-637; www.parcoadamellobrenta.tn.it