Climbing in the Dolomites – part 3

Thursday – Mini Crag day – Penia di Canazei

A lack of planning (due to being late the night before) and a slow move wake up meant our longer sport route plans weren’t really feasible today. We got all excited about a route we were going to do but neglected to look in detail at the logistics of getting there! This meant that by the time we had sorted ourselves out, a more relaxed day was going to be sensible.

Lesson three – however tired you are plan the logistics (not necessarily the fun stuff) the night before, and if you’re too tired to do so, you’re probably going to be to tired to carry out the plan safely or sensibly the next day.

(p.s. can someone tell me which to or too is right – yes I know you’ve told me this before!)

Gemma had spotted the mini crag ‘Penia di Canazei’, so a quick decision (Penia vs Vajolet) was made as it meant that we could climb in the morning and then have a relaxed lunch and do some serious planning in the afternoon.

At 15m this was by far the smallest crag we had climbed / come across, ridiculously easy to get to, and although close to the main road it was alongside a lovely path and stream. This provided a useful position from which the locals, cyclists and passing families could gather to watch us attempting our routes! I swear, and I am not lying, one gentleman phoned his friends.. at one point an elderly gentleman was wheeled down the path to watch us (joining the aforesaid chap who had been on his mobile) stayed for a little while and was wheeled home again… Everyone was lovely and most of the group made no comments to us, just chatted amongst themselves whilst appearing to make value judgements. Only one guy stuck around and spoke to us, a younger chap called Francesco, he had been cycling past and stayed the whole time we were climbing. He hadn’t climbed for a while but was going on a guided mountaineering trip the following day on the Marmolade.

We had started climbing one section of the crag, which was a beautiful conglomerate slab, in the shade, and were getting really excited about all the routes when we were asked to go around the corner. To be fair a huge boulder had fallen out of the rock and was lying surrounded by mechanical gear and which we had strategically ignored..

Around the corner there was a little shade for the belayer but none for the climber. We were left in peace (except for Francesco) when the sun fully came around. This backfired with both of us getting too much sun and being very tired. I climbed the first route on top rope, missing out on my lead for the day as this was when we were asked to move. We then climbed a lovely corner route, with Gemma killing herself trying the harder direct start. Being a supportive friend I let her have some water before making her try a full route at the same grade, which she promptly did (possibly with much internal swearing at me). Having persuaded her up this route I had to put my money down and follow up it – so I did second the route (removing the quickdraws on the way up, meaning you have to hold in similar positions to the leader rather than just climbing through and quickly as when you’re top roping – requires more stamina) but only just! This route, plus the sun, plus two previous days climbing meant we needed a rest.

We had lunch in a restaurant just opposite the crag and made up for being exhausted by tucking into a fabulous pizza. This was enjoyed to a setting of beautiful scenery…


…and some excellent mid-meal entertainment.

During lunch a chef came out of the restaurant with a bowl of carrot peelings and lobbed them over the fence next to us, making the worldwide chhing noise that means ‘non-descript animal come this way I may have food’. Gemma had been inside at this point and I mentioned it to her wondering what type of animanl it was, hoping it was a goat. Nothing emerged as whatever sensible creature it was it was clearly sleeping.

20150807_072054After around 30mins  we heard the classic sound of a mountain bell, I gleefully called out ‘goat’ as a fabulous 3 horned goat and its friend trundled down the slope to start munching. (I have no qualms about yelling like a small child when necessary, a) I can claim sunstroke and b) the staff had noted us down as crazy ‘english’ before we even started speaking due to our fabulous climbing/crag ‘fashion’).

The animal entertainment only got better when a miniature pony, clearly a creature of compressed pure evil, bounded in a sprightly fashion down the slope. The goats (who had hardly had any carrot) backed off in fear, hovered for a little while (at least Nana goat did, baby goat just backed off and stayed away) then went back to eating grass. The evil pony polished off every last scrap of scraps and glared at all surrounding, including all the diners taking photos of it and one lady I was watching (with a level of morbid interest) who seemed to be trying to get it to come over for her to stroke. Fortunately for her it didn’t, seriously, that goat had 3 horns and it wasn’t taking any chances.


An afternoon with some slow walking around Canazei in far too much sun meant we needed to get home. After a rest, and as it appeared to be cooling down, I then decided I wasn’t allowed any beer until I’d been for a run…?!

This is because Strava is evil; being able to track all my runs and my improvement (or lack of it) is an incredibly good motivator. Right up until you’re running along a path in 27o heat, frankly dying, watching other people sitting by or in the river drinking beer and thinking ‘wtf am I doing’…

And then you look around, at the deep dark green trees, and the mountains and the river, and the friendly people all around (encouraging nods from other runners and cyclists), and you go ‘oh yeah, that was it)


Suffice to say, whatever the weather, tomorrow is a rest day

0 thoughts on “Climbing in the Dolomites – part 3

  1. I love the three horned goat. Ponies are always evil – I enjoy watching the Dartmoor ponies stealing things out of bags or turning around on unsuspecting tourists before waving a casual hoof with speed 😉
    Sounds like you are having a fab time, eat lots of coffee and ice cream for me 🙂 xx

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