Also posted at Summitpost here

Winter is coming…

Dan Protz and I had the first weekend of November free to climb. We went to the Dolomites for a grab bag of easy climbing. I was hoping to climb Torre Venezia after reading Radek’s great report. But I was worried about cold and also felt out of shape for difficult climbing. Let’s just do “5.easy” as a way of getting out and saying goodbye to the summer mountains!

I’d like to make a route page for the Sas Ciampac climb, but sorely feel the lack of pictures especially for the crux chimney pitch. Did anyone here climb it the way I did by climbing inside and thrutching? Man, that was tough!

Southeast Face of Sass Ciampac (Via Adang, IV+)

Daniel Arndt and I had tried to climb this two years ago, but rain one pitch up turned us around. It was nice to have a chance to finish the route. It is a very nice climb with good views. The chimney at the end is kind of a “sting in the tail” though. My favorite pitches involved crack climbing on the slabby face.

From the end of the technical climbing we scrambled a faint trail marked with cairns to the summit. Descent on the north side of the peak back to the Grödnerjoch was pretty icy and snowy at times. This was a strong hint to avoid north facing climbs or tricky north facing descents!

Civazes Gamsband, the “Big Micheluzzi” Route (attempt)

We only got one pitch up! But it was very nice climbing with a promise of better pitches above. My notes on the pitch:

P1, V-, Michael - Exciting unprotected start on a slabby near vertical wall. I chose a hand traverse to the right which was difficult, and nerve-wracking without pro. Dan, on follow, found that a foot traverse below was less work. From the first protection on the right, continue up and slightly right on good pockets in the compact slab. Belay at a good station equipped with ring bolts.

In the middle of the pitch a huge volley of rocks screamed down and thumped into the trees far out from the wall. I looked down to see Dan making himself small by lying down against the rock! I just put my head down and waited.

But then when Dan arrived at the belay another volley came and this time it landed all around us. The rocks had incredible speed! There was an amazing fluttering sound. We beat a hasty retreat, making a 40 meter rappel to the ground.

Once safely down and away from the wall we saw the great ice runnels above the wall. They are so high up we didn’t really notice them before. Clearly, they were warming in the sun and falling apart.

Oh well, next summer then!

First and Second Sella Towers

We scrambled up to the notch between the “Locomotive” and the First Sella Tower. We climbed the Steger Route, which is the West Ridge of the First Stella Tower (IV+).

Now we walked (too far) to the right along the ledge. Failing to read the topo, I went to the end and found a piton belay. Dan started up the “next pitch,” but ominous overhangs and rotten pitons finally convinced us we were in the wrong place. We walked back along the ledge, this time noting that the topo only asked you to walk 10 meters! Actually it was more like 5.

Descend via a climbers path on the south side to the notch between the First and Second Sella Towers. From here, follow a ledge leading diagonally up into the Southwest Face of the Second Sella Tower. We found the start of the Glück and Kostner routes at an enormous Sanduhr. We decided to walk past this to a slung block a bit further up the ledge. We climbed the Glück Dihedral on the Southwest Face (IV). Actually I wanted to climb the Kostner Dihedral, which is on the left, but I got confused. There are so many different routes on the Sella Towers!

Here is the Second Sella Tower viewed from near the summit of the First. The Glück Dihedral goes up on the right, just left of a section of smooth yellow rock near the right skyline in the middle of the picture.

To descend, we followed a climbers path down from the summit to a 20 meter rappel (station). Then lots of grade I-II downclimbing on a path to the south. Finally, a 25 meter rappel down a steep wall. Apparently, this can be avoided by taking a left fork in the path about 30 meters above the rappel point.

We followed a path back to the Sella Pass. As always, I wanted to linger, I hate saying goodbye to this truly magical range.