In all honesty this second outing to the Dolomites has been one long hard week of fun! In eight days we have had seven of them out in the mountains, with one off in the middle, my body is feeling sore, but it has been worth it. Last time I left the area feeling disappointed I had not done enough, this time I am satisfied!
For our final fling, we took on the Comici arête on the Falzarego Towers, we seem to have based most of our climbing in this area, and it is easy to see why, the approach times are generally short, the routes have an amendable length, and all have had good climbing. I know that you can climb high here, 6-700 metres in some places, but after about 3-400 I usually have had enough and want to finish up, so this area is just right!
The climb started with a grade V- pitch, which although lower than what I usually climb on granite, it’s as high as we have climbed in the Dolomites. I was not super psyched for this route, mainly due to tiredness, more mental than physical, being in the mountains, day after day starts to wear my mind down first. The stresses of being on the edge, navigating, exposure, dangerous climbing and descents all amount to stresses that are not found in a regular lifestyle, and it takes it toll.
Although I soon got in the zone once I kitted up and was on the rock, sometimes I’m just not there and struggle through each move, other times like this pitch, I’m 100% in the moment, and climb like clockwork, every hand and foot placed with precision, feeling strong and able throughout, mind concentrating on the task at hand and nothing else.
I took a more direct route as again, the guidebook was wrong, on this as well as subsequent pitches. Once we gained the arête proper, the route came into it own, and opened up some amazing scenery and exposure, especially with the wind cutting across the face, vying to unbalance you. I had one belay that was directly on the arête and throughout the time spent there I could feel my nerves slightly on edge throughout.
The route took a very logical line up the arête, so, although we were the only party on the route, finding the right line was easy enough. Soon enough the climbing got easier as the tower gradually sloped its way to a point, and we reached the summit, where a you had the choice of which old cemented anchor you wanted as there were loads to choose from. We met a couple of Swiss climbers at the summit, who had climbed the west arête, and took the obligatory summit photos.
No sooner where we at the top had we found the abseil and set off down the route, a short abseil followed by a gully down climb, some obligatory scree and we were back at the starting footpath. On our return to the van we were able to look back at the tower and trace the arête and the route we had just climbed. I surmised at the time that it was one of my favourite routes in the Dolomites so far, and I still agree.
So, where next? The weather is closing in on us, and we plan a couple of down days before heading for a week or so in Slovenia, before heading further south. The future is looking good, and I hope all the hype about Slovenia turns out to be true as it sounds like an amazing place! Let’s hope the weather plays along with our plans…