/ Dolomites weather
I've been to the dolomites twice now as part of longer trips to the alps and I've struggled to get good weather there. According to the stats on yr.no cortina gets a similar number of rainy days per month to Chamonix (june-sept). About double what ailefroide gets but that's a diffrdiff discussion.
Has anyone found any area of the dolomites to have be weather than cortina? Is there some rain shadow I'm unaware of? Any hints appreciated.
I'll be out there this summer, finally getting round to converting a van and spending some serious time in the Alps so I'm making tentative plans now.
The simplest tip is don't go in late July to August. The weather generates thunderstorms like clockwork. It's much safer to go June-mid July and then September with the added benefit of less people as the whole of Italy kicks off work for August and there is a mass exodus to the mountains where the temperatures are cooler. If you want to avoid the crowds, also explore the southern Dolomites which are less crowded than the usual suspects and perhaps even more spectacular and rugged than Cortina and Val Gardena and Alta Badia.
I am aware that this might not be that much helpful hint regarding your question, but usually, Meteoblue has much better mountains-type weather forecast models then yr.no (yr.no's model seems to, among other things, understate the wind speed at elevation a lot, compared to actual readings). Also, their year-long stats for a given location are much more detailed, e.g. here: https://www.meteoblue.com/en/weather/forecast/modelclimate/cortina-d%27ampezzo_italy_3177952
Hope you enjoy it there though! September has been pretty nice the few times I have been to Dolomites, but I am no expert...
Another vote for September. Also I think the forecasts out there are fairly pessimistic and also quite general whereas the area itself actually has lots of complex little systems moving about in it which are harder to read but tend to be consistent within that valley or whatever.... you know, until they're not.
Yes this is true too. If you insist on going in August, know that at some point you will get wet. Prepare by getting up early and being prepared to stop soon after lunch when it's hot. As a rule of thumb, if it's 22 degs by 10 at valley floor level, it will most likely rain. Generally if it doesn't get much hotter than that, it will be brief, maybe an hour which you can sit out and wait for the cooler afternoon. Aim to be at a hut to drink a beer between 2-3pm! Then walk down once the rain has gone. If its really warm, the weather often follows a 3-4 day cycle where moisture builds in an area until there is a sorting big storm. But all of this is hard to predict and have any degree of certainty about. The most certain way is to be at the base of a route as early as you can, climb like Honnold or Steck has possessed your body and then relax on your way in search of your afternoon beverage...
It can be hot and thundery there, but I think if you are prepared to move round a bit you can get good weather in July and August as well. Had a great three week trip there the year before last in July/start if August. As others have said, always start early as it is notorious for thunderstorms even if the risk is low. If it's too bad you can often escape for a few days to the Sarca valley /Arco. I have found over the years that the worst seems to be the Brenta Dolomites for thunderstorms.
2017, August was perfect. Mid sept everything shuts doesn't it?
Seemed to give the most accurate forecasts. The Italian side of the site has considerably more info than the English side.
+1 for September. Perfect weather every day bar one (needed a rest!) in mid-late Sep this year for us. No crowds, climbed all day. Sunset is obviously a little earlier than in midsummer but then it sounds like the storms put pay to late afternoon climbing anyway...
As for the closedown of facilities, we had no problem at all and most of the lifts/huts seemed to still be open, apart from on our last few days when the huts at the Vajolet towers closed just as we had decided to head there.... So basically hundreds of routes still doable, just as long as you don't let it slip into October or final week of Sep...
June would be nice, though, if only to see all the alpine plants which are missed by September.
That entirely depends on the lift or hut. And also your attitude to having lifts!
We were there the first two weeks of October (2018) and it was a perfect trip. Eleven days in the Dolomites and it only rained for one of those. That day was forecast well in advance (I found YR to be spot on) so we planned it as a rest day. All other days were blue skies and cool temps.
All tourist infrastructure seems to be open until 31st September. Almost all major lifts seemed to be open until 15th October. Campsites, refuigios and restaurants do start to close from the end of September but nothing that you can't plan around. For example, we climbed on the Vajolet towers and while Refugios Alberto and Vajolet had closed for overnight stays, Refugio Gardecca was still open. Several of the campsites and lifts we used closed October 15th so I suspect late October would start to become trickier with planning.
The benefit was having the classic routes completely to ourselves along with accommodation being cheap, roads being quiet and weather being perfect. Any downsides of shorter days and some restaurants and campsites being closed were easily worthwhile.
If I was to go back I would almost definitely plan to do so between mid September and early/mid October.
Check https://meteoexploration.com, they have some long term statistics and good forecasts in the short term. I always check a few sources meteoexploration is GFS + WRF models, www.Arpa.veneto.it/previsioni/it/html/meteo_dolomiti.php is probably ECMWF, it is always good to compare.
I'd echo what others have said about early starts. I've had two, two week holidays in Badia around the end of July. Looking back at photos, it seems I had about a 50:50 mix of wet and dry days. However, on some of the wet days it was possible to stay dry by getting up early and being off the mountain as the storms arrive. The dry days were warm and glorious.
I did have one scary afternoon on the Pralongià plateau above Corvara when lightning arrived. A nearby group of Germans didn't look too concerned, but I legged it pretty fast to the Berggasthof Rifugio.
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