Monday, 4 July 2011

Climbing in the Dolomites

After spending too long sitting around sorting out insurance, police reports and repairing Fred, we finally got around to doing what we came to the Dolomites to do... climb! On Kalymnos we'd met a friendly Dolomite local, Helmut, who volunteered to give us an introduction to climbing in the Dolos, so off we headed to Piz Ciavazes near Sella.

Two Tourists and the Local
We geared up (not taking long - Helmut needing only the sparsest of racks) for a gentle multi-pitch classic route (Rosi-Tomasi), leaving lots of time for Helmut to get back to work. There were a few people in front of us but we figured we had a few spare hours up our sleeve - how slow could they be? Well... a few pitches up, after spending an hour and a half on one belay waiting to climb... we bailed. Unfortunately Helmut, not being the slacker that we are, had to work for the rest of the week, so we'd be left to our own devices, but we'd had a taster of the long, sometimes loose and sometimes crowded climbing the Dolos has to offer.

Helmut hot on the heels of another party.
Over the next two days we climbed a few more routes, swinging leads with a random Kiwi, Calum, who we found sitting in the bar looking a bit forlorn – his climbing partner had decided that Sport was the way forward for him, leaving Calum partnerless for his Trad ambitions. 

After finding our first choice for routes, Schubert, with a queue, we quickly settled on Bergfuhrerweg instead, avoiding a repeat of the day before. With no-one in front, and on more solid rock, we romped up quickly and had to jump on another route to fill out the day, heading for Vinatzer Corner on the upper level.
One route done, one more to go to the top ...

Team Antipodean (at a very crowded belay)
A bit looser but fun climbing and leaving us in awe of the days of the pioneering climbers with what we would consider primitive gear. (Some of which is still rusting away in situ...) Mark was glad of every piece in his modern rack though, which seemed small to him (Helmut would probably disagree). As a bonus until 3 o'clock the valley was extremely peaceful with only bikes on the road below for a cycling day, making the atmosphere fantastic for a normally busy part of the mountains.
At the top!

The day after we teamed up again with Calum and climbed the south west wall of the first Sella tower. We took a twisting line up the face that often came close to some recently installed shiny ringbolts... teasing us when the protection we had available was not always available at friendly 2m intervals. Everyone had a lead, this time Calum getting the crux to make up for missing out on the Vinatzer. After the long day before we were tired enough to leave it at just the one route for the day.

And then we had to head north to collect a numberplate, leaving the Dolomites as a place with many climbs demanding attention. Maybe we'll be back in September...

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