Italy is often associated with good food, romantic piazzas, Roman ruins and turquoise beaches – few know about the majestic mountains that run through Italy. From the Dolomites to the Apennines, the peaks of Italy boast dramatic heights and grandeur but are often overlooked by tourists and locals alike. Thanks to Reinhold Messner, one of the most famous mountaineers of all time, Italian peaks are slowly moving into the travel spotlight and getting the attention they deserve.
Greatest Climber of All Time
Having conquered the highest and most challenging peaks around the world, Reinhold Messner is lauded as the greatest climber in history. Of course he didn’t earn this reputation overnight – in 1978, Messner made the first ever solo ascent of Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen and in 1986, he became the first climber to ascend all fourteen “eight-thousanders” (peaks over 8,000 metres above sea level) in history.
Originally from Brixen, Italy, Messner grew up in the mountains, spending his early years climbing the Alps. The Dolomites in Italy, was his playground and it remains one of his favorite places in the world. At the age of five, his father Josef had already led him to his first summit. In his early twenties, he became one of Europe’s best climbers. Today, he remains one of the most successful climbers of all times having broken several records in mountaineering.
His Love Affair with the Dolomites
Before conquering Mount Everest and other peaks in the Himalayas, Messner led over 500 ascents in the Dolomites. This was where he found his love for mountaineering, trained hard and perfected his climbing skills.
The Dolomites mountain range is located in North-eastern Italy, extending from the River Adige in the west to the Piave Valley in the east. The mountain range was declared a UNESCO natural heritage site in 2009 and it is protected as a national park.
These days, most people visit the Dolomites to climb the Via Ferrata, a mountain route equipped with fixed cables, stemples, ladders, and bridges. The Via Ferrata in the Dolomites was the first mountain route system ever to be built. It was constructed during the First World War, to aid the movement of the Italian mountain infantry. The long trails that run across the Dolomites are numbered from 1 to 8 and most climbers take at least a week to walk all of them, sleeping over at the numerous refuge huts along the way.
If you’re curious to see how Messner fell in love with mountaineering, be sure to make the Dolomites your next adventure – you won’t be disappointed.
Photo | dsearls
When you visit the Iberostar Hotel in Italy and you’re curious to see how Messner fell in love with mountaineering, be sure to make the Dolomites your next adventure – you won’t be disappointed.