Thursday, July 19
The Big Leagues
Another clear day dawned in the dolomites - our fifth straight day of
clear, perfect weather. However, now that we were several thousand feet higher
than in Riva del Garda, the temperatures were refreshingly cool.
View from the town
We had spent some time during the previous evening preparing for today's climb: The ferrata Bolver Luigi, which climbs a wall below the towering Cimon
della Pala. As is usually the case with something new, un-tried, or
un-tested, especially when it involves an increase in difficulty, I felt
a little bit of trepidation. This was our first true 'high-alpine'
grade 4 route (one grade down from the hardest in the fletcher / smith
guidebook). The guidebook's wording warned of a long approach
consisting of exposed scrambling where a 'certain head for heights' is
required. Also, since I had not yet fully calibrated the book's
descriptions of climbs to my own climbing experiences, the true degree
of what was being described was still unknown to me. In fact, looking
back on it, I wasn't much concerned about the actual ferrata itself - it
was the nature of the unprotected scrambling that worried me more. Also of consideration was that I had to consider the safety of the others in our group, and so therefore had to be mindful of their skills, mentality, and experience levels.
On the positive side, it sounded like a great route - "One of the finest
in the dolomites", it proclaimed. Sounded like a good one! We planned
to climb the ferrata, then hike to a high-altitude alpine rifugio - the
Rifugio Rosetta, where we would stay the night. This was to be the
first of hopefully several stays in mountain rifugios over the duration
of our vacation.
Based on my guidebook's
recommendations, I had strongly suggested that we bring crampons and an ice
ax, for there was supposed to be the possibility of steep snowfields on
the descent route (this caused much grumbling on the part of people who
don't like carrying extra weight).
S. Martino Chairlift
Quickly packing up and heading to the bottom of the Colverde-Rosetta
chairlift system, we arrived shortly after 8am. There was a large pack
of what looked like schoolkids, perhaps out on some sort of summer field
trip. They didn't look like they had any climbing gear, so we weren't
too worried about them clogging up our climbing route.
If we'd been a bit more forward-thinking, we might have guessed where
they were headed: the Rifugio Rosetta - and our ultimate destination for
the day, too.
After being whisked to the mid-point of the lift system (at Colverde),
we immediately started on the steep path that leads up to the base of
the climbing route.
We were close to the wall now, and it loomed up
high and flat above us. I scanned back and forth across the wall,
trying to discern the path of the approach scramble, and the path of the
ferrata itself. Wasn't possible from this distance. There were a few
other ferrata climbers ahead of and behind us on the trail, and I hoped
that we wouldn't get stuck holding anybody else up. I really dislike
having to hold others up.
Soon we'd arrived at the start of the route, marked by a big iron
plaque. Our guidebook said we had 35 to 40 minutes of exposed
scrambling ahead of us, and again I'm hoping that this is the type of exposed
scrambling that I'm comfortable with, rather than the other type.
The scrambling portion turned out to be a climb up a steep (but less
steep than the wall out of which it juts) prow of rock. It is
definitely class 4 (north american class 4) scrambling at first, but the
holds are excellent and the rock is sound. Higher up, much of the
scrambling is actually just steep hiking, albeit with a bit of airiness.
After about 30 minutes of this, I relaxed, because it was obvious that
this was the type of scrambling that I am (and apparently, all of our
group) quite comfortable with. My mind was able to dial in an increase
in the brain-to-guidebook calibration: *that* particular type of
exposed scrambling description would now worry me much less if I came
across it again in a future description.
After about an hour of scrambling upwards, we reached the start of the
wires. This was where the fun started! The route led up, steeply but
not vertically, over very sound rock.
The view back down
The quality of the rock was
fantastic, with good little knobs of climber-worn polished dolomite to
use as hands and footholds. Overall it is a very airy and exposed
climb, but not consistently so - there are places along the climb up the
wall that are much less exposed. About halfway up, by my guesstimate,
is the best part of the route - a rising leftward traverse that was
distinctly steeper and more exposed, but still with excellent holds.
Down at the start of the climb, I had decided to try and see if I could
climb this route 'free' - meaning, using the wire only for protection,
and climbing entirely on the rock. I was quite pleased that I was in
fact able to do this, even on the crux section of the route. What a
great way to practice climbing without all of the usual encumbrances.
View from the wires
With all of my worries about the difficulties of this 'serious' route
fading away, I thoroughly enjoyed this climb.
Pu, too, was beside himself as the beauty of the Pale revealed itself to us, and he was also
having a ton of fun climbing on this excellent rock.
Daryl, Jenn and S. Martino
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