Yes we are in Italy and it was a quick 2 weeks in Singapore running Elephant Slacklines Singapore’s biggest event till date – Singapore Night Festival and also put up a presentation of our Yosemite Rock Trip for climbers who are interested to visit the mecca of granite climbing with us in future.
“Dove il Bagno” is the first phrase I learned in Italy and it means “where is the toilet?” Its pretty useful eh?
Our first stop is Dolomite or Dolomiti, the plan was to get on the North Face of Cima Grande via Comici route. It was the end of the season and we are hoping for a late season ascent but as usual the alps weather is never predicable and the first day we arrived it snowed up till 1500m. Cima Grande tops at 2937m and when we arrived, the peak of the Tre Cime group was covered with snow! Climbing the north face would be cold and getting there and off the route would be difficult.
As usual, we left our options open and went ahead to do some preparation climb. The shortlist climbs were the Cassin route on Cima Piccolissma and Spigolo Giallo on Cima Piccola. Taking note that this is only one of the few alpine routes we have done apart from those in Tuolumne.
So we camp at the bottom of Tre Cime park for 2 days in Misurina while waiting for the weather to turn better and also for us to eat well and sleep the jet lag away. The second day we head up to check out the approach to Cima Piccolissma and realize it wasn’t too complex to get to any of the route base since they are all scree field and all you would need to do it to find a line and muscle your way up! Most of the time it will be 3 steps up and 2 steps slide back down.
On the 3rd day we decided that the weather was warm enough to get on the walls. Since Cassin Route is on the South West face and its calling 7 degrees at 2000m it seems like the sun should warm up the walls for the afternoon. Off we go for our first climb in the alps, with 20 minutes into the approach, I had to turn around and run back to the car for the quickdraws which was sitting at the back seat. -_- The approach to the wall is an hour and for sure we take longer than that as Kelly is not too use to such altitude she was walking a little slower than the day before.
So we got to the base and started the 12 pitch long day, not knowing how the classic Tre Cime climb is like we link P1 and P2 to a 3 piton belay which was kind of decent. But I have to say the amount of loose rocks i dislodge on the first 2 pitch almost killed my wife. It was not a good idea to kill my wife during our honeymoon. So P3 and 4 i took it easy and climbed it out in short pitches hoping for rock condition to be a little better. In Dolomite, there is no better rock condition, there is only less shitty rock condition and there is no crack to place gears in some pitches. You bascially have to climb it out and look for the ‘right’ pitons to clip into and hope that you are on the right route. However the ‘right’ pitons are everywhere, you will find 3 belays 5m apart and they are all not on the topo! I have to say by the time i was hanging off P4 I was starting to feel the adventure of the day is about to begin.
P5 was the crux pitch and I was scared shitless after pulling on a couple of loose stuff and the climb seems to be the steepest at this point. I did the A0 aid and pulled on the sling that was on the next piton and continued climbing to the traverse of the route. Linking P5 and 6 was not the plan but I wasn’t planning on belaying Kelly on the single giant piton ring that was the belay on P6.
By the time we got pass the traverse, the southwest face wasn’t that much of a SW facing anymore as the sun dissappeared behind the pillar! It’s now maybe less than 4 degrees and about 15km/hr winds blasting at us. Kelly has her Base layer, mid layer, Thorium AR Down jacket and her Alpha SL hard shell. She almost look like a teletubby making it up the Tre Cime. But hey it was really cold and its one of those climbs that I lost my smile and just want to get the hell out of the place. But wait a minute, there is no bail stations like those in Yosemite big walls! So the best way is to finish the climb and descent fast! P7 and 8 got us to the top of the pillar where we could see the sun slowly disappearing behind Cima Piccola and we were also near the valley between the 2 peaks so it was even colder here. Pitch 9-11 were just confusing as we were no longer sure which pitch we were on and there was no sure indication of the routes. We got to a anchor with no more pitons around it but it seems like were only 30 – 50m from the fore summit. I knew I was suppose to do a III traverse to the left but i never found it and now i have a super loose traverse which seems to link me up to the chimney to the top of Cima Piccolissma.
It was a hard choice to make since it was like a 20m traverse with one gear in some unstable rock and everything i held seems to be coming off. I wasn’t too please about the traverse and just wanted to climb to the top of the tower. Right on top all I found was a single piton cemented into the ground without other means to protect the seconder. Kelly followed the pitch and we climbed up to the summit.
It was a interesting experience. The next day we decided that Tre Cime is a little too much for our first climb in Italy and got off Misurina to get another guide book for climbing in other areas in Dolomite. It has been 2 weeks and we climbed in various parts of Dolomite and even went to Austria to IMST for a glimpse of the climbing scene there.
For now we leave Italy for Barcelona tomorrow for the second part of our adventure. But the Tre Cime continues to be on my mind and I will be sure to be back for the north face of Cima Grande.