I've just come to the end of a week's climbing trip in the Dolomites. It was my first ever trip to the region. Even though I had seen plenty of photos of the famous Tre Cime towers, gazing up at the imposing north faces was very impressive, and quite intimidating!
|Tre Cime North faces in late evening sun|
|Open-air car carrier Valais to Bernese Oberland|
|The closed Susten pass 2224m in the Swiss alps|
|Auronzo car park 2330m|
|Negotiating a gap on the ridge near the summit of Clima Grande|
|Team on summit of Clima Grande 2998m|
Although the difficulties of this route are more sustained than the Brandler-Hasse, being fully bolted and easily accessible made it a more appealing warm up option. After a 5am coffee at sunrise we managed to knock out the first five pitches, all onsight before the sun hit the face.
|Seconding the 'warm-up' 7a first pitch!|
|Setting of on P.6 of Gelbe Mauer, Clima Piccola - the last 7a+ pitch of the route|
On the whole, the rock on the route was pretty good (for the Dolomites) but care is still needed when choosing holds. Missing out on the onsight of the last hard pitch was a bit of a shame, but at least I've done my bit to make the route have fewer loose holds for subsequent parties! At the beginning of seconding the 7th pitch Chris developed cramp in his fingers and was unable to continue; we descended. It would have been nice to finished the route but we were pretty happy to have climbed most of the best and hardest pitches of this great route onsight.
|Our high point|
|Approximate line of Gelbe Mauer on Clima Piccola|
The following day we took a much needed rest-day. In the afternoon there was a massive thunderstorm and a lot of rain. The Brandler-Hasse is on the north face; it's slower to dry after rain than the sunny south faces. In the evening we wandered round to the north face of Clima Grande to take a look at the conditions, it was obvious the route was totally soaked, we were constantly being showered with drips of water falling from the upper (crux) pitches!
The next day was our last full day's climbing, we opted for an easier and quicker drying alternative on Punta Frida's south face. We choose the Via Dei Riocordi, 6 pitchs of VII+/6b+ crux , the route had bolted belays and a few bolts on the crux pitches, a bit of trad gear was needed in between. The route was very enjoyable, we got up and down the route in well under guidebook time.
On morning before driving to Arco we all nipped up a via ferate above Cortina. It was a great day out. I love the exposure and the physical nature of the activity and I think it's great how it allows non climbers to experience ascending a big face. However, personally for me it lacks the movements, body positions and immersing problem solving I enjoy so much while climbing.
I'm currently in Finale Ligure, yesterday we climbed in the most amazing natural limestone open-air cylindrical cave accessibe via a underground tunnel....this will have to wait till for the next blog post!
|Last day in the Dolomites, Misurina lake in early morning sunshine|