IV Torre del Sella (2605m), via Parete ovest, "Glück", 265m, V-

After praising the limestone paradise of the Dolomites a sufficient number of times to our climbing group back home, we got Kai and Mark to visit us over an extended weekend and check it out in person. Kai doesn't have super much experience climbing outside, so we decided to again pay the fourth Sella tower a visit. An easy and short approach and a descent that Luigi and I already knew from our climb a few days ago made this seem like a safe choice.

Clear skies on the approach in the morning.
The wall. If you squint you can spot a bunch of people climbing already.
Mark getting off the ground.

We picked the other major route on the tower, the "Glück". It is significantly easier than the one we climbed and may be considered the normal route to reach the top. As such there was a queue of parties climbing it. We had to wait our turn. A party showing up after us decided to bail and do something else instead. We stuck it out, but were a bit dismayed that the two parties immediately ahead of use were mountain guides with incredibly slow and inexperienced clients. As it turned out soon enough, we'd be even slower ;-)

Luigi's lead. We had bumped into the guide in front of us so we improvised an anchor below them. The actual anchor would have been the two pitons you can see clipped in this picture.
My lead through the slightly overhanging and slightly wet crux section.

Luigi and I went first and made good progress on the first couple of pitches. At some point we noticed that we had gotten too far ahead of Kai and Mark and decided to wait in place. Luigi had just led a pitch and waited at the top, while I waited at my anchor at the base. It was a comfortable belay that allowed me to recline a bit. The sun just hit the wall. Beautiful views across the valley. Sun gently warming my face. Easy to drift off... I woke up startled when Mark suddenly appeared next to me. We had waited for more than an hour and I actually fell asleep at the anchor. A first for me ;-)

Kai coming up.
Family photo!
Luigi's "moment of shame": he's way off route here. The actual line follows the couloir on the left. He had to undo all of this in a bit of dicey maneuver on bad crumbling rock. I ended up leading the proper pitch.

We changed our tactic and from that point onwards climbed overlapping pitches with Mark leading concurrently with either Luigi or me. The follower could then support Kai. A much better and more beginner friendly approach that we should have adopted from the beginning. Changed the group dynamic to a more collaborative effort, instead of one party always feeling rushed to keep up with the lead. This way we reached the summit without much difficulty.

View towards the third Sella tower. We climbed the "Vinatzer" on that one. Glorious route, but horrible, horrible descent. The ramp you see in this picture is where you scramble down. Then you traverse the tower on the tiny ledge loaded with loose scree about half-way up. Urgs.
Bird posing on the summit cairn.

To get back down from the summit requires around ten rappels. As a group of four we were fairly slow here too, even with simu rapelling (the safe version, so instead of two rappels with two people each, we had three rappels, one with two people and two with one). To pass the time when waiting around at the anchors, Luigi started blaring bad nineties techno from his cell phone. At this late time in the day we were the only people on the mountain and felt OK about this. Intentionally being the assholes in nature ;-) It did lift our spirits and led to some spontaneous dance parties at the anchors. In a narrow couloir enclosed by vertical walls on either side it also led to some funky audio. Especially when boom-box Luigi was floating down the rappel lines towards us.
Major kudos to Kai for maintaining high spirits and a good mood all the way through. Talk about baptism with fire. Well done!

Mark, Kai, me.
Floating down the couloir.
More rappels.
Anchor dance party. This one to "I Like To Move It". Chosen because we had to get a move on to escape the incoming thunderstorm.
We did get a little wet in the end. But only once we were back on "solid" ground, surfing down the scree slopes.

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