Dallying with the Dollies

(by Gerry Moss, July 2008)
A short trip to the Dolomites.

Just back from a short trip to the Dolomites.

We kicked off with a visit to the Cinque Torri, a collection of impressive limestone spires and towers, providing climbs of from 2 to 6 pitches in length, spread over all grades between III and VII. Being lower than many of the other areas, this was a good place to start our climbing, giving us a chance to get used to the heat and the altitude and, in addition, there are two huts within 15 minutes walk of the towers.

A playground for rockclimbers, it comes complete with steep slabs and ridges, walls, overhangs, airy summits and even airier abseils.

We then moved on to climb on the Torre di Falzarego (a training ground for the Italian Army’s Alpine Corps) before continuing to the Sella Pass where we caught the last telecabin up to the Demetz Hut. The hut serves the Sassolungo group of mountains and is overlooked by the Punta delle Cinque Dita (that’s the Punta delle five fingers, for those of you who have forgotten the bit of Irish you learned at school) which is the central mountain seen here:

… with the hut perched on the col to its right.

Our route took us to the top of the Index, highest point of the Cinque Dita, and the fact that the start is only five minutes walk away from the hut door influenced our decision to base ourselves there.

A long and popular route, we were the first away on the Index, though overtaken by faster ropes as the day progressed. We had fine views of climbers scaling the Thumb, a lower summit, as we climbed.

A satisfying mountaineering route, the Index gave 14 pitches plus some scrambling and a clatter of abseils on the descent.

From the Demetz hut we moved down and across the road to the Sella Towers …

… though our plans were curtailed somewhat by a huge cycle rally that took the cyclists (all 9000 of them!) over the Pass, resulting in the road being closed for some four hours.

We stopped off on our way back to the airport (Bergamo) for a day’s climbing in Arco. We only managed one 4-pitch climb here, during which we sweltered in temperatures in the mid-thirties, much too hot for the likes of us, so we rounded the trip off with a spin down along the river to Lake Garda on hired bikes. Very pleasant.

Incidentally, while you were having wet weather here, we were experiencing some pretty bad weather too – violent thunderstorms and hours of torrential rain – but all of this occurred at night, when we were cosily ensconced in the huts, and interfered not a whit with our climbing. A very civilised arrangement.