Our first climb

What the hell was it like here in WWI?

Speaking with the Gods

We are having fun

Thursday

Barbara and I went to the Dolomites, we had a long weekend to climb - Thursday through Sunday.

After a very nice drive, we pulled up to the lift station for the Cinque Torre below the Falzarego Pass. Barbara was skeptical, but I insisted on using the lift to get as much climbing as we possibly could!

We hiked over to climb the Bergführer Route on the Torre Grande West Summit (IV+). But there were several people waiting, and it seemed hard/scary. We decided to do something else first.

In a Hexenstein chimney

Time for pizza

Yes, this really happened

G’schafft!

We hiked over to Torre Latina, to climb the Normal Route (III+). It was three easy pitches.

This went great! We enjoyed the easy climbing. Being a cool dude, I think I wore tennis shoes. On top, we met a nice couple from Saxony. The man was bedecked with a bunch of slings with knots in them. That was his protection rack. Much cheaper than all my expensive gear!

We abseiled from the other side of the mountain, making two rappels. Barbara had a funny exchange with the woman…she wasn’t really sure how safe things were, and after asking a lot of questions felt better.

This couple told us that we should climb the Ostkamin (East Chimney), rated IV, which was just around the other side of the peak. It offered two fun pitches. Barbara belayed me up the first pitch, which I did according to the advice of the nice fella. He suggested following an easier line coming in from the right and trending left. I found it to be loose but doable. The second pitch was more adventurous, climbing a vertical chimney to the summit. I ended up going the wrong way and having to climb back down some distance. When Barbara came up, she was kinda freaked out from the deep exposure. She looked down between her legs and decided that had been a mistake!

On our first summit

We ate at Croda Cafe every night

She is fun

A rack of knots

Her last moves to the summit were marked by considerable tension! She was very happy to finish the pitch. It wasn’t long however, before she was obsessing over how unreasonably it had scared her. This led to a determination to always look down…practicing her ability to tolerate steep terrain and constantly improving it.

We made another rappel and used the early evening hours to climb an old favorite…a route I’d climbed with Fred Beckey a few years before - the Normal Route on Torre Quarta Bassa (IV-). It’s three wonderful pitches. Barbara enjoyed this one very much. We had to rappel down the backside.

We went down to our apartment in Cortina and began a tradition of eating pizza every night at the Croda Cafe. It was wonderful!

Friday

Free of the crowds

The scary spot

“How do we get down, now?”

This was a long pitch.

I let us sleep in. A girl has to be gently lowered into this world, and 5 am starts aren’t the best way to do that! We got some coffee at the little shop below our apartment, bought a few apples for snacks, and were underneath the Hexenstein at about 11:30. We were climbing the classic and popular Südkante (IV), which has 8 wonderful pitches. I’d done the route twice before, once with Dan Protz and once with Aidan. Super fun memories. We hiked up to the base and waited for several parties to get started and move a bit up the route. I think we were climbing around 1 pm. Pitch 4 had some strange moves, and I was worried that Barbara would have a hard time following them (so was she). But she did fine, climbing up a chimney with just a few good holds. Later, there was a traverse into a deep chimney that was intimidating. And just after some easy ground on pitch 6, she slipped unexpectedly. Everything was fine, but it reminded her to be careful.

We avoided the crux crack below the summit for easier terrain on the left - Barbara had done fantastic and we didn’t need something hard!

On the summit we signed the logbook, which would prove to be helpful later.

Barbara had left two cams on the route somehow, an Alien and a Camelot #2. I didn’t even notice, because I was placing very little gear. As our trip ended, I realized I’d lost the gear. And then Barbara got a message on Facebook saying someone had the cams! Fantastic! In time they were mailed to us from some new friends in the north of Germany. They’d climbed behind us on the route, and found us by photographing our names in the summit log book, then looking on Facebook and finding Barbara. Amazing.

Sitting with Barbara

The Falzarego Pass

On the Hexenstein

Here we go

We really enjoyed the walk down through trenches from the first world war. Again, pizza at Cafe Croda. Barbara was so happy and amazed to discover this kind of life. I was so happy to share it with her.

Saturday

The weather would be sunny and nice on Saturday, and I was determined to get in a full climbing day. But I couldn’t wake my sleeping angel. Finally, around 10:30 am, we were hiking up to the Nordwestkante on the Kleiner Falzaregoturm (IV-), which gave four fun pitches of climbing in a beautifully exposed location. Barbara found the climbing pretty easy, but she enjoyed the sun and the rock. There is a picture of her sitting on the summit and just feeling the magical mountain air.

We made a steep 25 meter rappel from the summit, then descended travelling in coils back to the base in a chimney and gully system.

At about 3 o’clock, we were ready to climb the West Face of the Großer Falzaregoturm (IV). Five fantastic pitches got us to the top, where we found a beautiful patch of Edelweiß. The first pitch was the most exciting, with steep and solid IV moves. Barbara was really getting some good mileage on the rock. On the summit, we were going to share a double rope rappel with an Italian couple. But I became dubious of the need for a double rope rappel. Instead, Barbara and I descended a marked scrambling route, finally making a few single rope rappels lower in the gully while the Italian couple dealt with their impossibly twisted double ropes. Barbara loved descending in coils of rope. She likes the excitement of “finding your own way,” and fully understands that the terrain requires concentration and care. She likes the improvised protection, found when necessary.

Interesting descent

Coming down the back side

Cold summer day

Going home

Really amazing, to me, and fun, to experience this with her.

We like our traditions, and I’m pretty sure we ended the night with another trip to Cafe Croda, our last delicious pizza in Cortina!

Sunday

On the last day, we went and climbed the Ostkamin again on Torre Lusy. Barbara had been practicing “looking down,” and was ready for the scary last pitch again. This time, she did it with more control. It was still a bit creepy. The thing is, you can see your packs and shoes down beneath your feet, 60 meters directly below. And the chimney feels kind of wild, rotten and steep. After this, we thought we’d try the Bergführer Route again. But I went up one pitch and decided that it was too much for us this trip. I climbed back down, happy to save this route for next time.

Barbara and I hiked over to Nuvolau, had some drinks on top, then hiked back to the car and drove home. What an amazing trip.