My old friend Aidan was in town for an interesting filming project. We went to the Dolomites and had time in between work on the film to do a little bit of climbing and scrambling. First up, was the classic climb “Via Miriam” (UIAA V), on the South Summit of Torre Grande in the Cinque Torri Dolomites above Cortina.

The first pitch is a bit polished, and rather steep. Then a spectacular traverse goes around to the left, and another sustained grade V pitch follows. After this a steep but easy bit of chimney climbing, and a scramble to the summit. It was great to finally climb this route, I’d heard of it for a long time.

Later, after dinner, I hiked up alone to the Nuavalu Hut, and met the owner, a very interesting woman named Joanne. She was originally from Vancouver B.C., but had lived in Cortina now for 40 years. I walked down as darkness fell.

Later, one afternoon, we went to climb “Via Finlandia” (VI+), a steep route on a vertical yellow wall. Aidan started on the first pitch, a sustained and somewhat intimidating grade VI corner crack. He wasn’t feeling great about it so then I went up and climbed to the anchors. Whew…exciting pitch! The anchor is in a spectacular location, right in the middle of a vertical yellow wall, with an overhanging traverse to follow. And the climbing on the pitch was wonderful. The protection was a mix of bolts, cams and nuts over the 40 meter length. Aidan came up and we decided that to continue was too hard for our blood. So we rapped off and invented a crazy plan to go climb the Hexenstein. I didn’t want to mess with the car and roads, so I argued to just set off across country to reach the Falzarego Pass and our route, with the gear that we have. Aidan thought that was pretty dumb, so we compromised: I walked, he drove!

My walk over was a fun adventure. I started on trail then cut across perpendicular bedding planes with some 3rd class downclimbing to reach another trail that led to a lake, and eventually the pass. I’d promised to be there in an hour, but it was at least 1.5 hours…oops!

We hiked up to the start of the climb in sometimes-heavy afternoon showers. By the time we began climbing, it was over. We climbed very easily in several pitches up the south arete, finally ending up at a spectacular little grade IV+ crack that was the icing on the cake for the route. Aidan led this then brought me to the summit.

We hiked down in interesting war ruins, that I didn’t remember seeing when I was here on a rainy day with Dan P. 4 years ago.

Another day, after doing some easy climbing for Aidan’s project, we went and climbed “Via Olga” (V+), a short 3 pitch route on the West Summit of Torre Grande. Quite sustained corner climbing marked the first pitch, and the second had some short strenuous moves to gain a pillar atop a chimney. From there, easy climbing led to the summit. This was great!

After a beautiful evening sleeping in a meadow, we finished our duties for the project, and returned to Munich, intending to stop and climb on the Martinswand on the way. Alas, the north was too rainy. But we did find some dry rock at the Frauenwasserlwand. We climbed a 6, 6+,7- line. Aidan led the 7- slab very easily, and I, wanting to work on my slab technique top-roped it a few times. He led part of a grade 7 slab on the left, but heavy rain came and we had to scramble to collect our gear and make two rappels to the base of the short wall.

Thanks Aidan for a great visit and some fun climbing!