If you go
THE BEST WAY TO THE DOLOMITES
From LAX, Lufthansa, KLM, Air France, Alitalia, Delta, US Airways and British offer connecting service (change of plane) to Venice, Italy. Restricted round-trip fares begin at $1,086, including taxes and fees.
Most people coming to the Dolomites fly into Venice or Innsbruck, Austria. There are trains from either city to the general area, and from Venice there's also bus transportation. Or, there are private shuttle services available. Tour company Dolomite Mountains can help with arrangements.
WHAT TO DO
Dolomite Mountains ( 748-8867, http://www.dolomitemountains.com) offers a broad range of group trips in summer and for skiers and snowshoers in winter. They also will plan custom trips based on your interests and the degree of difficulty you want.
Our custom trip was adapted from a group trip. Cost was about $2,475 apiece and included two nights' lodging in the Hotel & Spa Rosa Alpina in San Cassiano, three nights' lodging in rifugi, one night at the five-star Cristallo Hotel Spa & Golf in Cortina d'Ampezzo — the endpoint of our hike — all breakfasts and dinners and services of our guide, Karin. Our luggage was transferred from lodging to lodging, with the exception of two nights in the rifugi when we carried just the essentials in our packs.
We typically hiked about 10 miles a day, often with elevation gains of 3,000 feet or more and elevation losses of 1,000 to 2,000 feet.