Page 35 - 2016 AMA Autumn
P. 35

                                WEEK 2 ACCOMMODATION
Once you have spent a week in Cortina, it is time to move on to Canazai, which is 40 miles west of Cortina, the journey will take about 1 hour 40 mins due to the steep mountain pass terrain. The best campsite to stay at is Camping Marmolada which is located in the town of Canazai. The facilities are not as good as week one, but there are plenty of restaurants and pubs within a 5 min walk. One of the liveliest pubs in the town is the ‘Kaiserkeller`, which is great for an end of trip party!
There is an abundance of places to climb in the second week. Most will be much more mountainous and adventurous than week one, however there are still single pitch crags available too. The Sella pass is fantastic and has many long multi-pitch routes. Be aware that some of the descents may require instructors that are Advanced Summer Leaders as well as RCI.
A fantastic route which provides a long day out is ‘Rampa del Torso’ which is a UIAA grade IV, ten pitch route.
There are other great routes in the immediate vicinity such as ‘Rossi’ 8 pitch grade IV and ‘Via del Guide’ 8 pitch grade VI-.
The First Sella Tower has some shorter routes which are less committing. Chimney Direct is a six pitch grade V which has the added bonus of having to jump across a 110 cm gap near the top of the route. It might not sound like much, but it feels different at the time!
Without any shadow of doubt, the jewel in the crown for any Dolomites trip is the Vajolet Towers which are made famous in the opening scenes of ‘Cliffhanger’. A visit here is a
must and something that I will never forget! This will involve an overnight stay in the Alberto Rifugio which is 2621 m above sea level.
The logistics for this are fairly simple. Book the hut via telephone, the number is in the Rockfax guidebook and available from tourist information. It is best to book as early as possible. If you need to cancel for any reason, please inform the hut guardian. Drive the short distance from Canazai to the Ciampede chairlift in Pera. Park in the large car park and catch the shuttle bus up to the Refugio Gardeccia. From here it is a pleasant walk up to the Refugio
Vajolet where there is a fantastic restaurant for lunch.
The more adventurous approach to the hut involves a well bolted four pitch route called ‘Via vuoto d’aria. This will certainly build an appetite for lunch when you get to the top. There is also a Tyrolean traverse to negotiate!
After lunch it is another steep walk up to the Alberto Refugio which will take less than two hours. Once here you can chill out with a few beers and have your evening meal. The rooms are comfy but make sure you bring a sleeping bag liner and ear plugs. If you stay for more than one night it is wise to bring a small sachet of shower gel and a travel towel so that you can use the shower. Ensure you bring sufficient cash for your stay, there is free Wi-Fi in the hut but they don’t take card.
It’s time to talk about the climbing as this is why you came. Without doubt there are certain routes that are need to be added to your bucket list. The Vajolet Towers are made up of Torre Delago, Torre Stabeler and Torre Winkler. They are possibly the most famous towers in the Dolomites.
Torre Delago is on the left as you
look out from the hut and steals the
show. It is a six pitch route graded
as IV+. The second pitch is utterly
amazing and the exposure is the best I have experienced. Once you step round the arête, you are presented with a sheer drop of 500m below your feet. If you want to avoid the crowds, get up at the crack of dawn and walk the short 5 mins to get to the start of the route first.
Torre Stabeler and Torre Winkler are much less dramatic but still lots of fun. If you make the effort of getting to the Vajolet towers, you may as well do all three when you’re there. Torre Winkler appears in the opening credits of Cliffhanger , that is reason enough to climb it! Be careful on the descent. It is easy to go the wrong way especially if using the Rockfax description.
There are a few guidebooks for the Dolomites. The most obvious choice for UK based climbers is the Rockfax as it’s what a lot of us have now become used to using in the UK. Unfortunately for the Dolomites it is the wrong choice. The routes here are far too long to be accurately described with a photograph and short description.
The best books by a country mile are
by Mauro Bernardi. They include a photo of the route but also have a hand drawn sketch with symbols depicting the features you should see on route. When I used the books for the first time they were in Italian and German (I can read neither) yet they were still much easier to understand than Rockfax. Bernardi has now just released a book in English (Aug 16) it doesn’t
get much better than that.
The routes are long so I would recommend bringing 60m ropes. Half ropes are fine, but triple rated ropes are better as they offer more flexibility. The vast majority of the routes are bolted and have ring belays, but be prepared as it can feel a little bit run-out compared to normal. It is wise to bring a small rack of wires and cams to supplement the spaced bolts.
The Dolomites are a fantastic climbing venue which should be high up on your list of places to go. There is a lifetime of climbing here with routes to suit all abilities; the area is particularly good for long multi-pitch routes. A trip here is easy to plan and execute and is suitable for late summer trips. Two weeks is the minimum time you should spend here as there is so much to see and do. Finally, a trip to the Vajolet Towers will be the icing on the cake!

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