Tofana di Rozes (2820m), 2nd Pillar, 700m, VI

We picked the Tofana di Rozes as the grand finale of this year's romp through the Dolomites. Graded VI, it wasn't necessarily the hardest climb we did, but at 700 meters in 14 pitches of climbing and some scrambling it was easily the longest. It's one of the great classics and as such doesn't have very many pitons. We started very early, driving up the Passo Falzarego and the tiny gravel road up to the Rifugio Angelo Dibona. From there it's a short hike to the base of the massive wall. We brought several topos. Unfortunately they disagreed on where the start of the route was. We compromised and I started climbing a dihedral roughly in the middle of where the topos thought the first pitch should be. Talk about a stiff warmup pitch! We later estimated my variant to be one of the hardest pitches we did that day.

Dramatic scene in the morning: when we arrived, the second fox you can see fleeing on the left was still nurturing its deceased colleague on the road.
This is a mighty face! We climbed the first big yellow tower on the right.
Beautiful morning atmosphere.

Just when I topped out on my first pitch, a mountain guide showed up with a father/son pair of clients. Of course he knew the correct route perfectly well. They proceeded to climb two trivially easy ramps to catch up with us. Not before dropping some widowmaker boulders down on Luigi. Luckily he avoided them, but this was a lesson for the rest of the climb. For most of the day the guide would be chasing us up the mountain. We were a little proud that despite the route finding and placing more gear than the guide, we always stayed a few pitches ahead of them.

Scenery for the soul.
Looking down from the top of my first pitch. Harder than it looks and links the first two actual pitches.
Dihedrals ftw!

We topped out after seven hours of climbing, just when the clouds started moving in. A good hour faster than the guidebook suggested. It was a clean onsight for the both of us and we even opted for the optional harder variant of one of the later pitches. Extremely satisfying. This left only the descent. Three options available to us: certain death; exciting; or long. The guide led his clients down the suicidal route and we saw them struggle but somehow make it. Luigi and I chose the exciting option instead. A narrow and exposed path left over from WWI times. Hard to imagine soldiers scrambling around here in winter, carrying heavy gear and taking pot shots at the enemy.

In the flow.
Me leading one of the steeper pitches in the middle of the face.
Luigi leading a delicate grade VI traverse.
Cruising up one of the easier top pitches.
Summit selfie.
The descent. If you squint, you can see the party with the guide just past the avalance cone on the tiny "trail" in the center of the image.
Our "safe" alternative descent: follow WWI trails through the walls.
The hut. Just some gravel surfing left to get there. Do admire the humongous overhanging wall just behind it!
Enjoying well deserved beers while admiring a girl with the worst sunburn we have ever seen. Her face was glowing bright pink.
First time I've seen this road sign: the material ropeway for the hut runs low enough to hit you in the face ;-)

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