The Dolomites is a great place for hard and exposed climbing and I have a long lasting love affair with the area and I keep coming back each summer. This summer the focus is on Cima Grande and Cima Ovest. Tre Cime di Lavaredo is a superb group offering really hard routes like the 8c Pan Aroma set up by Alexander Huber om Cima Ovest. There are also a number of more reasonable routes up Cima Grande and Cima Ovest but they are all serious venues and really committing as its impossible to get off most them due to the fact the wall is so overhanging.
Above: Cima Grande as it should be in good weather.
We had our eyes set on the Italo/Svizzera route on Cima Ovest and on ISO 2000 on Cima Grande both routes about 500 meters and 7bish. As you would expect from big alpine walls the routes are demanding and run out, protected by old pegs, the odd bolt but mainly with own gear. As we all know alpine routes are never predictable and the same goes for alpine weather. As we could not see an end to the rain we where fed up with waiting and opted for the "lesser" west face routes. Arriving way to late at the start in virtually no visibility and just a vague idea about the line (topo was still in the tent but I had a photo in my camera of the topo...) we had no real hopes of sending the route. But if you only try alpine routes in good conditions you will not end up doing much climbing so joking around we said lets do it the Slovenian way and just go for it. As I lead off light rain started to fall adding misery to the already cold (my guess it was about 5 to 7 degree celcius not counting wind) and damp conditions.
Above: Suboptimal conditions...
The route Via Marco Zambelli Franz (7a) was set up in 2006 and is a mostly bolted 10 pitch line possible to get off by rapping the line but you really need to clip in on a few points on the way down as two pitches overhangs about 7 meters. The climbing is pumpy but the crux was quite delicate for being on a mountain route. All in all it’s a 3 star route and a great alternative for short days with marginal weather but beware as it is still a big mountain and the West face is off the beaten track.
Above: A committing abseil descent down steep ground.
For now we just need to stay put and wait for dry conditions and see if our main objectives can come in to play.