2017-07-24

Climbing Pian Schiavaneis

Anita and I wanted to go somewhere on vacation that didn't require a flight (we want to spare Leonie the discomfort for a while yet) and allowed us to escape the Zürich summer heat. This meant either going to the sea or into the mountains. Luigi, Silvia and their 2 months old daughter were headed for their vacation home in the Dolomites. A great opportunity for us and so we booked a hotel in the neighboring village Campitello di Fassa. At 1500 meters altitude the weather was sunny and warm without the oppressive heat of the valleys. Luigi and Silvia proved to be fantastic local guides and great company and we enjoyed a fantastic 13 day vacation. Thank you so much!

The creek and bike trail directly behind our hotel. Not too shabby.
A trail in the Val San Nicolò.
Beautiful meadows in the Val San Nicolò.

We had never been to the Dolomites before. Of course I was aware of their status in the climbing community but I had no idea of how great they really are for climbing. There are limestone walls and towers frickin' everywhere. It is completely ridiculous. It seems unfair that some areas get all the good rock. Over our time there we fell into a rhythm of Luigi and me getting up before the women and "commuting" up one of the passes, strolling up to a face and climbing it. Meanwhile the women would spent a slow morning and eventually go up the same pass, waiting for us in a cafe with the first gelato of the day. We'd rejoin for a shower and joint dinner. Rinse and repeat. Good times.

One of the neighboring valleys is famous for its wood carvings. Usually they do religious statues, but there were a few cool ones like this one too.
Swimming in the glacier water of the Lago di Fedaia at 2100 meters altitude - cold!
In the Serrai di Sottoguda. Luigi daydreaming and pointing out ice climbing lines from winter.

We spent rest days and days with uncertain weather forecasts (although in the end the weather turned out great on all but one day) with hikes along the creek behind our hotel or exploring. We hiked the Val San Nicolò which turned into a bit of "offroad extreme strollering", we dipped Leonie's feet into the Lago di Fedaia directly underneath the glaciers of the Marmolada North face and we walked through the narrow gorge of Serrai di Sottoguda - an ice climbing mecca in winter.

Just before entering the crux of the easiest route on the wall.
Our rope dangling from the top of the 7a route. Ever so slightly overhanging.

For our first day of climbing we chose the overhanging crag of Pian Schiavaneis. Described thusly:

"Beneath some of the Dolomites finest mountains, the massive Sella and the imposing Pordoi, lies Pian Schiavaneis, a seemingly insignificant boulder compared to its mighty neighbours. Yet Pian Schiavaneis is anything but insignificant. It has evolved into the Dolomites' crucible of modern sports climbing, a playground for all and testing ground for the best."

We thought getting used to the local rock on single pitch crag routes might be a good idea. We could also bring the kids. Lastly, the weather forecast predicted a thunderstorm and the overhanging wall would still allow us to climb and stay dry. Luigi and I cruised up a 5c and then projected a 6b, 7a combination. I could barely do the first 6b part while Luigi managed to piece together the second 7a half as a series of boulder problems. A sign of things to come - the Dolomites are famously hard for their grades. On later multi pitches we'd climb overhanging walls graded at just UIAA IV (!).

Anita with Leonie tugged away in her jacket, Silvia with Marzia in the down bag.
A thunderstorm turned the dry riverbed from the approach into a roaring creek on the way back. Silvia carrying Marzia through the currents. Our babies stayed completely dry and warm, but we got thoroughly drenched.