Sas dla Luesa (2,603m), via "Vinatzer", 250m, VI-

The grand finale: after sitting out a week of rain and thunderstorms on a campground near Calfosch we were eager to get out and climb again. While we could squeeze in some cragging in between all the rain, the weather never allowed for a big outing. Finally we had a scorching hot day in the forecast. We opted for the optimistic choice and climb a North face. This implied significant risk that the wall would still be wet, but in the end this gamble payed off big time and we enjoyed an amazing climb and wall.

Our route goes up the largest piece of rock in the center, just left of the dark chasm. I was amazed by the quality of Google maps for this area - you can clearly see the dihedral and everything in this 3D view.
Picture perfect day with the moon still visible in the sky above.
Nice framing.

We picked a route by Batista Vinatzer, one of the grandmasters of the area. This particular route was lauded as his crowning achievement and most beautiful line. We'd quickly agree. The approach is super comfortable, you just drive up to the Passo Gardena and hike up for thirty minutes to the most impressive hunk of rock in sight. Then you climb it.

The dihedral. AMAZING climbing.
The dihedral from above.
Steep face. For variety. This route has it all.

Most routes we've climbed in the Dolomites started with some underwhelming easy pitches on crumbling less than vertical rock. Not so this one. Right off the ground it is challenging. It follows a beautiful picture perfect dihedral for two pitches. Luigi had his first climbing orgasm barely 10 meters up. And the route only kept on giving. 10 pitches of pure climbing bliss. Never an easy or boring pitch. Always uncompromisingly straight up. Amazing.

A short traverse. With growing exposure.
A chimney that turns into a fantastic crack. There is a modern alternative that avoids the somewhat difficult, steep and often wet crack. But I opted to follow the original line and go straight up. It payed off.
You can tell we are having a terrible time.

I led the final pitch up a couloir and was surprised when I suddenly found myself on a nearly perfectly flat plateau. After all this steep exposure this was a very unexpected and strange way to top out. Almost looked like a helicopter landing area. From here we had to find a regular hiking trail to get back down. Thinking we were clever we followed faint tracks that led generally in the right direction. However, they crossed directly on a steep scree slope over a vertical drop into a canyon. We still slid and slipped our way past that. But ended up cut off by yet another canyon. So we had to take the long way towards the trail after all. Luigi misstepped on a loose rock which hit him in the ankle. This caused a very painful bruise. I'm writing this two weeks later, and the bruise has since been diagnosed as bursitis and still prevents him from wearing normal shoes. Ouch!

Me pointing out the overhanging crux section that Luigi will have to lead.
A tiny bit of a traverse, before...
...it gets steep again!

When we finally meet up with the proper trail it is crowded with people. There's a hut somewhere close and the trail is a shared descent for a popular via ferrata. So we are queuing with dozens of people to scramble down the metal wires. We are way faster than everybody else, even with a painful ankle, but getting past folks safely is difficult, so we content with a leisurely pace and conversation. We end the day in our favorite beer garden with the kids happily playing on trampolines while we get drunk with aperol spritz, celebrating our accomplishement and grand finale of a great vacation.

Growing exposure.
Another small roof to negotiate. Vinatzer was a genious. What a route.
Cruising terrain.
Gigi in the exit coiloir.
The routebook is 40 years old.
Chimney climbing. Luigi's favorite (not!) ;-P
Framed picture of a mountaineer ;-)
Summit selfie.
Scrambling on scree over the abyss.
Tons of people on the shared descent. Very weird - we were completely alone on the face and mountain for most of the day and suddenly you find yourself in a crowd.

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