Climbing in the Dolomites – part 2

Wednesday – Trad day – Cinque Torri

… so, the reason I came to the Dolomites was because I saw this amazing rock group in a photo, decided I wanted to climb it, found out where it was and booked an apartment. In fact our planned parking to get to Cinque Torri (pronounced Chin-kway), was a good hour and 20mins drive from the apartment (book says an hour – have you seen my car…)

The route itself was great, taking us right up to the Marmolada where we could see the glacier and more exciting rock to form plans about. We also saw a black squirrel (?!), a dude of a goat walking on the top of a narrow wall about 10ft above the road (proper horizontal horns and a massive goaty bear swaying tin the breeze, and lots of dangly eared sheep being watched over by black sheepdogs. And of course there were many twisty turny bits, today even requiring first gear

This bit was fun

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Arriving at the Baitta Bai des donnes we had two options, walk the hour up the slope to the rifugio, before the 20min walk to the towers, or get the skilift

Bai de dones is at 1889m, Rifugio Scoiattoli is at 2255m but only 1km horizontally, we were carrying all the gear for our first multipitch trad day, and I’d never been on a ski lift – job done.

Actually I can see why people might pay just to go up the lift, the views are breathtaking and its a lot of fun! This of course was one of the most famous spots and that was obvious when we got there. Numerous walkers and other climbers were around and we knew we were probably going to have to wait for a route. I had forgotten that as well as being beautiful Cinque Torri is also the location of one of the on-site ‘museums’ to the 2nd world war. I realised that the well cut paths, hewn into the rock, were not for the benefit of tourists, but to make gun placements to fire down on the valley.

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But we had come to climb, and this was what we had come for

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We were heading for Torre Inglese, however as that route had three climbers on it already we moved to Torre Quarta (just behind the rectangular block in the picture).

20150805_115359The second route we were looking at, Via Normale Quarta Bassa, was also taken but by two very quick climbers, and we set up to get ready. Our decision started to feel like a mistake when three more parties joined us in succession, particularly when they set up round the corner in order to get to the belay stance first. This was after Gemma had started on the route, so she spent a long time near the top of the first pitch waiting for, first a German couple, then a guide with a small family! To move out of the belay ledge so she could get on and share it with the 2nd guided group!

By the time I was on the 2nd pitch (leaving Gemma stuck in a horribly cramped belaying position) the Europeans had given up on us crazy British Trad people going slowly up the rock, and left us in peace.

Actually we’d been suprised to find when we arrived that the route was completly bolted when we were expecting a mixed route of bolts and protection. It turned out that the grade in the book was for a route on the left that no one bothered with and now everyone climbed the bolted route on the right – so god knows what we were doing!!

Lesson 2 – European grades only give you technical information and no information about risk or danger!! (I’m fairly certain I’ve already been told this and will probably be told off when I get back, or at least suffer sarcasm)

This meant that although technically easy there was very little protection without the bolts, and the rock had an unpleasant tendancy to snap away or wobble. I was pleased with my belay anchor though and Gemma got up some fairly shift rock to get us to the top of our first multipitch trad climb, the first time I had lead on a multipitch route, and the first time I’ve had to abseil into a hole!

The view from the 2nd pitch (and to prove I was there – see my feet)

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Slightly wobbly ‘Summit’ photos

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Heading back to the rifugio

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Cinque Torri and surroundings

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Now we are planning for the next few days, we’re not trying to ‘bag’ numbers of climbs, there would be no point, you’d need a year to start making a dint on what’s here. A next Trad project would have to be a longer multipitch and the afternoon weather / our pace, may scupper that. But we have some amazing locations we might pick, and some possible exciting project routes to look at as well. Roll on the Marmolade…

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