Dolomites – October 2011

I had a four day weekend in Dolomites in the beginning of October 2011 with Teppo Saarenpää from Turku. The original plan was flying to Milano and climbing whatever in condition. We discussed Marmolada, Tre Cime, Val di Mello and Valle del Orco among other options. We even discussed driving all the way to Calanques if everything else was out of condition. But this time we didn’t need to utilise any of the plan B’s. Two days before the trip Teppo asked me if we had won the lottery. The prognosis was isotherm 3800 and blue skies for Dolomites for four days! It was more or less summer conditions and this was the first weekend of October…

Our plane landed in Milano at 22.30 and we started driving towards Marmolada one hour later. Somewhere after Trento we put up the tent and three hours later we were on the road again. Once we arrived at the Marmolada parking it was already 9 AM. One thing was sure – we weren’t going to climb up the hill and walk down again in one day. After all Marmolada was supposed be about 800 meters of steep limestone. As we couldn’t see any such wall from the parking spot we guessed it would be a fair bit of walking before the climb, too. Understanding the circumstances we packed bivy gear with us and planned a bivy on the mid way ledges.

Marmolada: Vinazer (6+, 800m) – October 1st, 2011

OK, it didn’t go as we planned. We got a big kick on our fat butts on a mere UIAA 6+ (French 6a) pitch about 200 meters off the ground. We had a topo which said the variation pitch was supposed to be 6+ but it sure was a fair bit harder. Actually it was harder than any of the pitches we did later on the trip. In any case it was hard enough to get us worked out and we lost too much time. We reasoned being too slow and abseiled down. We were also quite worried about any other 6+ sandbags higher up.

Cinque Torri: Via Finlandia (7-, 140m) – October 2nd, 2011

The next morning we woke up at Passo di Falzarego with no real plans. We knew the Finnish route Via Finlandia by Matti A. Jokinen was supposed to be somewhere around. We browsed through the books decided to have a go on that one for historic reasons. We were also slightly distressed about the grades and wanted to check our level before trying anything big again.

Via Finlandia was very nice climbing and the grading was normal. We “accidently” climbed a 7+ pitch on the right side wall and that felt ok, too. This boosted our confidence again and we drove towards the Tre Cime. On the way there we stopped for some pizza and cakes in Cortina.

Cima Piccola: Spigolo Giallo (6+, 380m) – October 3rd, 2011

The alarm woke us at the parking at 4 AM. We were preparing for Comici on Cima Grande but then I had second guesses about the weather. Just before going to sleep we’d met two climbers from Munich who said Brandler-Hasse had been wet the previous day. Teppo said he ain’t going to suggest not going there and I said the same. Then I reasoned if we skip “what would be cool” and focus on “what would be nice” I’d like to climb in the sun in stead of shivering in some shady waterfall on the north face. Teppo said he might have problems of “giving up” if we went back home without trying. Then I spoke about “downshifting” and doing what you actually want to do instead of what you’re expected to do and he started laughing. Few moments later we decided on climbing the Spigolo Giallo and continued our sleep for three more hours.

Spigolo Giallo was stellar climbing and we were both very happy about our decision. The climbing was somewhat runout in the middle part and slightly runout higher up but it was never too runout on the hard sections. The pitons were generally speaking ‘ok’ although some were spooky. For me the most memorable lead was the pitch after the long traverse left. It was steep and the pitons were old. If it had been any less steep it would have been utterly dangerous but now it was exposed climbing, complex route finding, good holds and a potentially huge but clean fall. It really can’t get any better than that!

All in all the climbing went smoothly although there were some 6+ pitches and three parties ahead of us. We started the route at 10.45 and topped out five hours later which was more or less the guide book time. The climbing was as sunny and relaxed as we reasoned. Maybe next year we’re more into climbing something cool again but this time Spigolo Giallo was spot-on decision… =)

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