30 Sep 2014


Looking up at the route

Elijah hikes to the wall

Rowan is whistling!

Elijah with Smarties

Here is my troop

The view to the east

Stopping for a snack.

At long last, we had our chance to make a family climb of the Tridentina via ferrata. 12 years ago on vacation, Kris and I climbed this…it was one of our first via ferratas. She loved it, and long declared it to be her favorite one.

I’d been keeping weekends free so we could depart for Gardena on short notice with good weather. I also knew that by mid-October we could expect snow on ledges of this north facing wall, so I wanted to go before then. One Tuesday in Munich, I idly checked the forecast to see three great days for the weekend down there. Yes! Thursday night we booked a pension, and were joined by our friend Cesar, veteran of a previous Dolomites adventure.

We headed down after work Friday, the adults breaking into the excellent Maple Whiskey Cesar brought from Montreal. Woo hoo!

In the morning, Elijah said “my throat hurts!” Groan! I’d been fighting a cold since the Oktoberfest night earlier in the week with my team at work. And maybe I passed it to him. We decided to go anyway and just see how far we get.

Yes, this is Cesar

Elijah and Cesar

Rowan clipping his own way

It’s getting pretty airy.

Cool customer

Every upward.

Boys in a cave

Everyone had all the right gear, we were a small army! We marched from the pass on the trail up and west, then traversing the mountainside below north faces. A wrong turn meant we had to descent a loose scree hill (“Michael!” said Kris). Finally we were at the base of the route. Smarties all around, then we started up with Kris in front, Elijah, Cesar, Rowan and myself. Cesar and I had ropes to secure the kids if needed. We wouldn’t need these at all, but it was the first time for the boys to have their own gear to clip with, and this did take extra energy.

We climbed a long time, with Kris especially enjoying herself up in front, basking in previous memories and feeling very free! Cesar took a bunch of hilarious selfies. It’s so much fun to be together out there with the boys, too. What a perfect, perfect day and man, I am thankful to be a dad at this stage of life!

We took a rest when the angle relented, then set off again. I climbed with Elijah now, and did more of his clips for him because he got noticably more tired. Above the waterfall, after a long steep section we made a short traverse and I rigged a handline along a narrow ledge so we could have an extended rest.

Here, we could exit to an easier way to the hut. I was a little worried, because Elijah was really tired. I’d already decided to go that way with him, but we rested a while to see if there was improvement. I was still a bit amazed that he put up no fuss and was content to go the easier way. Rowan was eager to continue for the “crux,” a couple of ladders and steep ground leading to the tiny suspension bridge that marks the end of the route. I was super happy that Cesar was there, so he could go with Kris and Rowan while Elijah and I took the exit.

Love the shoes

Kris and Rowan

Oh yeah

Decision point ledge

It’s a popular hike!

Massive views

The bridge looks fantastic from here.

Once I knew it was safe, I could unrope and walk the trail easily with Elijah. We had a fantastic view of Kris, Cesar and Rowan on the climb which was really impressive looking! I took many pictures. Later, we watched them cross the bridge one at a time, and we whooped when each one stood at the midpoint of the bridge.

Elijah and I hiked to the hut, where he collapsed into a nap. We got a nice meal. It was about 4 oclock. 30 minutes later, the family arrived. We ate and I got nervous that we should head down soon. I really felt worried about getting caught in the dark in the semi-technical descent gully. Everyone felt like we had plenty of time, but I remembered how long descents can take sometimes!

So in the early evening we started down. We put our harnesses and helmets on for the cable-protected descent. I mandated a “single-clipping” strategy, where only one carabiner was used. We have to try and be efficient now, it was getting dark.

But still, we had fun, and I was happy to see that Elijah was okay as long as he didn’t have to walk uphill which really tired him out. Eventually we finished the technical terrain, then had some fun with a steep and icy snowfield. Kris did especially well with that.



A Mexican Selfie

Kris, Rowan and Cesar

Elijah was worked here!

The hut for late lunch

On the way down

As we reached the trail of the morning it got almost full dark, and the stars were out. Elijah was dead beat by the end, and I compounded things by helping him take off his helmet at the car and pinching his skin painfully. Doh! Finally it was all too much!

But soon we were in the warm car, driving away in the dark to a warm bed and a take out pizza for dinner. This was an epic full day for the kids. They did fantastic, and we made some good memories.

The next day we hung out in a meadow looking across at the Langkofel. Cesar put the boys through some training paces, and we played a game of baseball with a pincecone and a log for a bat. It was just me at the boys for that, so they had to “spawn” copies of themselves to be able to bat and leave players on the bases!

What a full and fantastic weekend, thanks so much for joining us Cesar!