Anulare Delle Cinque Dita (2,960m), via Spigolo sud, 300m, V+

The climb that nearly wasn't. Described by the guide book as a rarely repeated "interesting climb in alpine terrain that offers beautiful rope lengths in an extraordinary environment". Sounds good so far. So we take the first gondola up to the Sassolungo in the morning. Hike down from the hut for a little bit and start scrambling back up and around the first massive pillar. Lots of loose scree and only faintly visible tracks from other adventurers. We eye-ball the rock and at some point decide that this must be the start of our route. The 80 meters of climbing for the first two pitches feature a total of two pitons. So we can't expect to find a well marked route.

Floating up in the "coffins" - an ancient cable car that you enter and exit running. We climb the left corner of the central pillar.
A nicely equalized anchor. Luigi's handywork.
Adventure climbing. No obvious route. Brittle rock. This is after I finally discovered somethig that might be an anchor and a sign we were on route.

We scramble up some 50 easy meters. And stall. We are on a ledge as described by the topo. But the next pitch is supposedly an easy IV+ and we are looking at an overhanging wall terminating in a huge roof. While this may be climbable, it is most definitely not a grade IV. Even if on a good day I might be able to climb this hard, I'd definitely want proper protection for it (pitons, bolts, even a good crack would do). None of that here. We go back and forth on the ledge, try to read the topo and squint hard at the walls for any sign of people venturing here before us. There seems to be a rotting old sling about 50 meters above us - dangling from an overhanging wall under a roof.

Ancient slings and hourglasses - surely this must be the anchor?
More adventurous route finding - will there be a passage through the roofs? Note how we climbed around the crumbling overhangs of the cave on the left. Getting out of here required some V+ moves through an overhanging chimney. The topo dryly remarks: "sostenuto" - "sustained".
Growing exposure.

Luigi seems a bit discouraged and pissed off at the topo. At this point it is clear that the photo in the routebook disagrees with the drawn map and it is not at all clear what to trust. Fighting up the steep section in all likelihood would mean taking a lot of risk and in the end having to abandon gear on the inevitable defeat and retreat. He's tempted to turn around. I don't want to let a good weather day go to waste, so I take heart and climb blindly around the corner and into the unknown. My line avoids the steep section and is fairly comfortable climbing, if somewhat difficult to protect. Finally I discover a nest of faded slings attached to natural hourglasses. Heureka! And we're back in business. Apparently we just came up a very different way than intended.

A fantastic crack. Super fun to climb and great for protection. Unfortunately way too short.
View towards the North.
A bit of traversing towards the summit.

I'm glad we continued because the pitches only get better from now on. The rock quality improves markedly and so do the climbing difficulties (in a good way!). This is one of those routes where topping out is only half the battle. We reach the ridge, have to rappel, climb another pitch back up on the other side and then keep scrambling and traversing and maneuvering for many more rappels. All this route finding in the beginning wasted a lot of time so by the time we glide down the final rappel towards the hut we see the cable car stop. Damn. So running down it is. After a rocky (?) start, this turned into a great day after all!

Route book.
Rappeling. The hut just visible in the corner of the image. Still many rappels away.
Adventurous descent.
Running down the slope.

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