Category Archives: Ice Climbing

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Ice climbing at Torre Coldai, Civetta

Torre Coldai hangs ominously above the Civetta ski area in Alleghe. If you are looking for a route in an alpine setting, somewhere that really feels wild and has fantastic quality routes, this is the place. The approach is either quite easy if you ski down to it, or a bit of a slog if you get there on foot. Having done both, the 6 euro ticket (2019) from Piani Pezze to allow you to approach by ski was well worth it.

Approach

Start from the lift station at Piani Pezze, walk up the ski runs towards Torre Coldai, the obvious and closest tower. After a few hundred metres you will reach a junction in the ski run. Here you can either continue directly up the bed of a stream or turn left and continue up the ski runs, increasingly steeply until you can go right through low scrub. The slope above the junction is long, maybe 300m of ascent on either loose rubble or snow. Eventually you climb into a deep corner where you will start to see both Paperoga and Hypercoldai.

Paperoga WI3+ 5-6 pitches 170m ***

A fantastic route which is a full notch easier than Hypercoldai, Paperoga is the first cascade you come to in the gully.

Optional entry) WI2+ 40m, Low down there is an entry pitch which can be taken a number of ways, or which can be circumnavigated by climbing higher up the gully and traversing left, especially after snow.

1) WI3+, 50m The main cascade can be taken anywhere across it’s width, possibly slightly steeper the further right you go.

Climb 30m up a shallow gully to reach a small cave  where there is a rock belay, three old pegs and cord.

2) WI2+, 40m Continue for 40m past a narrowing to a rock belay on the right wall of the gully.

3) WI1, 30m Continue up easy ice to a further rock belay, pegs and tat low down on the right, possibly behind an ice stalactite.

You can continue above for another couple of pitches at a lower grade.

Abseil the route from belays and abalakovs. Belays are in a mixed state of deteriation, take tat and possibly some pitons to supplement the belays. The length given does not include the lower pitch or snow slope transitions.

Hypercoldai WI4 150m ***

This is a world class route – the setting, the ice formations, the climbing it self all add up to make a super special routes. The first couple of pitches are clearly the crux but there are still sections of tough climbing after this.

Continue up the gully past Paperoga until you reach a rock outcrop on the right side of the gully where you will find a rock belay. In general, a small set of nuts was useful on the route to back up pegs.

1) WI4, 35m Climb a surprisingly steep wide section of ice in a gully to a cave on the right where you will find a three peg belay.

2) WI4, 50m Traverse diagonally left to climb around a curtain of ice to a sloping ledge. Now either climb directy with difficulty (4+) or much more easily up to the left. On the right bank of the gully there are two rock belays, the second is better than the first as the pegs appear quite rotten on the first.

3) 60m climb the gully on snow to a corner. There is a thread high up above the niche before the ice steepens again, but the slings are old – an abalokov is probably a better option.

4) WI3+, 60m climb ice in a series of steeps to a cave where you would expect a belay. Step left on thin ice and rock to reach a niche.

Descend on abalokov threads and peg belays.

 

Ice climbing at the Fedaia Dam

At the western end of Fedaia Pass, a dam overlooks Val di Fassa. Standing on the dam and looking down, if you blinked you’d miss the ice falls cascading down the Southern side of the valley below. But look more closely, especially from near Rifugio Castiglioni and you will see 4 streaks of ice. Furthermore there are others here and due to their high altitude, these stay in condition for far longer than some others. Conversely when it’s cold in the valley, here you will find the ice brittle and not much fun to climb on, so this venue is perfect later in the season when substantial ice has formed.

Cascata della Galleria 10m WI2+

Cascata della Galleria is easily accessed from Rifugio Castiglioni – just part by the hut and walk 10m! First climbed on a whim, and almost too ridiculous to include, it’s actually kind of fun and you can be on it in approximately 30 seconds, it will take all of a few minutes to climb and you’re back at the car in no time at all! The ice fall is actually a gutter from the roof of the gallery and forms a pillar in quite a stunning spot.

Above there is an icefall which occasionally forms, I have no idea whether this has been climbed. If you know, please write to me and I can include it here.

Below the dam

Access to routes 1, Das Schlusselloch and 2 is relatively easy, from the southern end of the dam. Drive over the dam and immediately on your right you will see a souvenir shop and bar, called Bar Diga. Park in the carpark at the back of the bar and then walk to the end of the carpark where you will find a marked path that descends into the valley, quite steeply to begin with. After about 5-10 minutes depending on conditions you will see the first icefalls on the left. If you continue beneath the cliff you will reach a deep twin gully which is the location of das Schlussellock and 2.

If you have names for the routes, and a first ascensionist, please let me know!

Route 1 WI 3+, 40m.

This is the first route on the left and climbs a wide slab at its left most extreme. Start by climbing from a small cave directly up a short steep wall onto the slab, the ice may be quite tin here. Here you can either continue directly up steep steps, or trend slightly right but the smooth ice slab to a final wall. We climbed it in two pitches, but it should be possible to climb it in one given the right conditions and enough screws.n Finish at a pair of trees, to the left of a higher set of falls which form a slight curtain of ice.

There are a number of other features to the right which we feel almost certainly have been climbed – please let me know if you have information.

Das Schlusselloch WI4/M, 100m?

From Route 1 descend another 150m to find a deep twin gully which climbs towards an obvious streak of left trending ice. This route follows the first gully, on the left.

1: WI2 Climb the narrow gully easily to a boulder choke where you can belay

2: After climbing the boulder (may not exist after snow) you reach a wide open bowl, climb left to a thin streak of ice below a small tunnel in the rock.

3: WI4/M Climb to the tunnel, take off your sack and then drag yourself through it, pulling your sack behind you. Then climb the very thin ice diagonally leftwards, eventually reaching a tree

4: Either descend from here or continue up snow for 50m to reach the aquaduct which crosses the mountainside. You can use the aquaduct to return to the dam.

Route 2 – information needed

The original objective when climbing Das Schlusselloch was to see if we could connect to the obvious ice smear. At the time, the ice from this had not connected to the ground, but recently I went back and saw that it should be possible with good late season conditions to climb a fine look line which would give a fine route, with a steep first pitch, maybe WI4+? If you have climbed it please let me know!

Access to routes 3&4 is best from Pian Trevisian, where you can park at a haripin in the road to Canazei or at Albergo Villeta Maria and walk into the valley. When there is snow, even after a warm spell it is likely that you will need snowshoes or skis as the snow stays cold and powdery for a long time here. When coming from Pian Trevisian, follow the path and after 1.5km, cross the valley to the southern side. In amongst the trees there are two parallel cascades, some 50m high.

Route 3 – information needed

The cascade which we did not climb is a clear objective and starts from a terrace. It seems there would be substantial volumes of ice.

Route 4a and b – Information needed WI 3+

The cascade to the right can be taken two different ways, on the left or the right. Start by a large open cave and climb an initial short steepening, either going left up a continuously steep cascade in one pitch to the top, or go to the right of a rock, then rejoin the fall higher up for a final steep section. This second line is what we climbed, finishing at a tree where we found a cord and Maillion and seemed to be easier than the lefthand line, which I would expect to be WI4/+.

Gran Poz

The Gran Poz is a large outcrop which hangs above the dam and is quite obvious and slabby. It is home to some easy rock slab climbs and some other lines which we know exist but have no information about. Again, if you know what these routes to the right are, please get in touch as we would be interested to publish a guide here!

Gran Poz seems to have several ice lines, but only one has been recorded in Ghiaccio Verticale:

La Cometa di Bous 55m WI5***

La Cometa di Bous has quite a long approach across a steep terrace. Take care when crossing as it is easy to slip here and when conditions are firm underfoot, it could end in a fatal slip, as has happened in the past. Park in the upper car park by the lift to Pian di Fiaconi. Walk up 20 yards and then head right across the ski piste to find a path through the trees and scrub. This leads up and west to the aforementioned terrace which steepens and narrows the further you go across until you are directly beneath the Gran Poz. Follow the cliff round for several hundred metres into am open bowl beneath Marmolada and you will see the large icefall of Cometa di Boes on the left. 1.5hrs Climb the icefall start on the left, slowly working up to finish on the right.

 

 

Ice climbing in Malga Ciapela

Malga Ciapela is a beautiful spot. Currently it is dominated by the ski lift to Marmolada, but look carefully and here there lies some potential for ice climbing but also Dry Tooling. I will split this area into two sectors, west and east. The west side of the valley consists nearly entirely of very hard dry tooling, in the Tomorrows World cave, first climbed by Tom Ballard. On the east side, the climbs are easy ice climbs, ideal in the early season when it is cold, as they nearly all catch the sun in the afternoon for a while.

Tomorrows World Cave

This sector holds one of the highest concentration of drytooling routes in the world. First discovered by the alpinist Tom Ballard, the routes climb through the roof of a huge limestone cave. The holds are natural and the routes are generally long stamina fests. Park by Capanna Bill and cross the ski piste to the cave.

Real Steel D9

Fear Index D12

French Connection D15-

Let them eat Cake D13+

Edge of Tomorrow D13

Tomorrows World D14/+

Oblivion D14

Je ne sais quoi D14+

A line above the sky D15-

Invocation D14

War without end D15+

Parallel World D16

East Side Sector.

The routes on the east side of the valley are located around Capan Bill. They follow natural water courses and under heavy snow would become impractical. But for the last few years when the start of the season has been snowless, they provide good sport and are useful for beginners as they have short pitches and are at maximum WI3. As they are a little higher than the gorge, they can be reasonably reliable in the early season when the sun barely touches them. They are very close to the road so you can easily find them and see what sort of condition they are in.

Minion WI2+

Park in a small layby below Capanna Bill from where you will see three streambeds descending the hillside. The right hand most forms Minion. Walk up to where the stream splits in two and climb the streambed easily, with a couple of trickier steps no more than 4-5 mtres long. Take the left branch and bash through bushes a little to reach some more vertical ice. Take the obvious line of weakness, 25m. Then descend by either ascending the right bank of the gully and abseiling and down climbing from trees or possibly more sensibly, set an abalakov and abseil the last step and walk down the hill.

Ituuk, il cattivo malamute WI3 *

Park in the layby near Capanna bill and walk up to the middle streambed. Currently you have to start by climbing up behind a fallen tree which provides some interest. Then continue up a stepped fall with one steep section around 10m high. Continue for another 1-2 pitches where you can then either abseil down from the right side of the gully or continue to the hillside above and walk around and down to the road.

The third streambed often looks dirty and rotten from the sun and as yet I have not climbed it.

Piccolo pillar WI2+

A short free standing pillar high on the hillside above Capana Bill. Drive up the fist few hairpins of the pass until you reach a barrier on the right and some small cabins. Park here and take a track into a small re-entrant and then strike out left up to the falls.

The climbing is brief at around 15m but kind of fun and in a nice location. Almost ice bouldering, and a good opportunity to climb a short vertical pillar for the first time. Descend the hill side.

Ice climbing in the Serrai di Sottoguda

The Serrai di Sottuguda is a deep slash through the base of Val Pettorina formed during the ice ages as glacial meltwater gouged down through the rock. It is a UNESCO site, as is Marmolada which towers above the gorge to the west. So narrow in places that the walls almost meet, this natural phenomenon ticks every box you can think of as an ice climber. With a total of 29 routes in the guide book (and a bunch which aren’t!), it’s a really extensive venue to visit.

The valley which faces east-west is very deep, hidden from the sun through most of the winter and acts as a cold sink for air dropping from Marmolada’s glacial north face. With temperatures in November usually in the minus figures and water pouring into the 150m deep gorge from both sides of the valley, conditions couldn’t be more perfect for an ice climber.

Access

Please note – there is officially no current access allowed to the gorge. If you enter, you do so at your own risk, and also if caught may be taken to task by the Carabinieri.

This is what makes the Serrai di Sottoguda so appealing – essentially roadside ice. The car park at the end of Sottoguda village is large and only occasionally full. From here take the small road which leads uphill into the gorge. Within 3 minutes from the car you will reach the first icefalls, and the far end of the gorge is a further 20 minute walk uphill. Alternatively you can park in Malga Ciapela and walk down into the gorge if you plan to climb higher up the valley.

Routes

Over its 2km length, amongst its 29+ lines, the gorge has a great number of classic routes. I’ve decribed the canyon from it’s lowest end, nearest Sottoguda and in sections to make it a little clearer.

Sottoguda Entrance

Starting just after the gorge office building the gorge narrows. This is home to various shorter routes, both mixed and ice and finishes by the large cave with a Madonna in it.

Baby WI3 15m.

The first ice fall on the right as you enter the gorge from the village. Although short, it is worthwhile as a warm up or for beginners. The belay is equipped with bolts.

El Dent del Guidizio WI5+/M5 15m.

Just to the left of Baby, there is a cave. Climb the initial wall to this, then climb to the hanging ice with sections of M5. Descent is by abseil from the trees above.

Baby Killer WI5+ 25m

The climbs the wall opposite and slightly further up from Baby. It is short but hard with difficult protection as the ice forms very thinly over a slab. There is risk of a ground fall with the ground being the river below!

Luna Nera WI6 25m

Another short, extreme route with ground fall potential. The route starts just as the river disappears beneath the roadway and climbs a corner by a section of brutal looking mixed climbing. Higher it reaches a smear of ice which is climbed to the end of the route.

2 mixed/dry routes which are fully bolted exist on the right side of the gorge.

Cascata del Sole Bowl

Straight after the Madonna the gorge opens out into a large bowl, dominated by the fantastic Cascata del Sole on the right.

Immediately on the right there is a line of bolts in a cave – currently I do not know what this line is, presumably either a summer line or an tough drytooling line, although the bolts look old.

Cascata del Sole WI3+, 3 pitches, 80m ***

One of the few routes to receive full sunlight, this route comes with the usual caveat. However, choose an early morning ascent or a late afternoon time and you may just strike the right conditions. A massive volume of ice which funnels down to a narrow gap at its top. The access pitch climbs to a small cave with a bolted belay. You can either stop here or continue up the initial steep section to a bolted belay on the right. This is advisable for afternoon ascents as the second belay is far over to the right and out of the way of dripping water and falling ice. It also allows you to assess the condition of the upper falls which are slender at the best of times.

Le Ciandeline WI3+, 30m

This fall is partly hidden from view up in the woods more or less directly opposite Cascate del Sole. Start at the left of the falls and then climb up and right with some vertical steps. Descent is by abseil from the trees above. Not often in condition.

Cascata della Luna WI4, 2 pitches, 70m**

The first pitch is often climbed in it’s own right. There are two lines above, one slightly harder than the other. However in recent years these have been slow to form fully. Climb a short free standing pillar to an easier ramp, usually covered with snow. Climb up to a tree (currently there is a tree which has fallen across the path making gaining the tree awkward. Eitherdescend from here or traverse rightwards to the step upper pitches. The line on the right is climbed at WI4, the one on the left 4+. Abseil from trees if possible as above there is steep, snowy ground which often is difficult to wade through.

The Narrows

Immediately after the bowl the gorge pinches down into a very tall, narrow section with the road bridge going directly overhead. There is a high concentration of hard routes in this area, mainly on the left side of the gorge but also there are some dry routes on the right.

Cascata del Serrai WI6+, 2 pitches 90m

This rare line climbs a huge hanging curtain of ice which descends from the buttress below the road over a large overhang. Climb to the cave formed by the curtain, belay and then very very carefully climb the curtain to reach more sucure graound above. A big tick.

Clessidra WI3+, 25m*

Nice climbing although a little broken with an easier middle section. The route which starts beneath the road bridge on the left hand side of the gorge. Jumping over the barriers allows access to a point at which the river goes beneath the gorge wall and affords an easy step across to the ice. After an initial steep to vertical section above the river, the ice becomes shallower and more stepped leading you to a bolted belay.

Abseil descent.

Simpatiche Canaglie WI-5+/M6, 3 pitches, 85m

Mister Wawowi WI-5/M8+, 3 pitches 60m *

Star Trek WI-6+/M6, 2 pitches, 80m

This rarely formed route represents an advance in climbing at Sottoguda, ushering in the use of bolts to protect climbing. It has mixed climbing with sections of M6. The route climbs an old rock route – you will find some old pegs in place which should be treated with caution owing to the damp nature of the gorge in the summer!

Abseil the route.

La Roccia Nella Spada WI5/M7+, 2 pitches 45m

Beneath the road bridge you will find the famous Spada nella Roccia. This twin route runs paralell and to the left of the huge column of ice up an obvious corner with sections of hard drytooling and climbing up to M7+. At the end of the route, climb right to the belay of Spada on a ledge.

Abseil of bolts.

Spada nella Roccia WI5, 40m ****

This is a route of national importance and the first ascent during the 80’s represented a major leap forwards as far as Piolet Traction was concerned. As such it is regarded as one of the finest routes in Italy, if not the Alps. Dropping directly from a ledge beneath a road bridge, the route is unremittingly steep, although its nature is often highly featured. Generally climbed on its right hand side, you will need a full complement of screws to tackle this route.

There are three dry routes on the right side of the gorge, currently I don’t have details for them.

Spirale della Contingenzia WI4+, 4 pitches, 110m

Strictly speaking this comes after the narrows, where the gorge opens up again into a tall amphitheatre. This route climbs the enormous diedre to the right of the gorge. It only forms in exceptionally good conditions as it is extremely long and requires extended cold and a plentiful supply of water from the slopes above. When it does form though it is a very impressive and imposing feature.

 

La Catedrale area

The Catedrale is an utterly stunning cascade, so wide that it supports at least 4 independent lines, all of which have first pitches that are frequently climbed in their own right and on many lines, usually dependent on where the boulders are located in the stream bed! All of them are classic and see very regular ascents, with perhaps the exception of “sinistra”, the WI 6 mammoth at the far left side of the falls. Walking up the gorge, the falls are utterly unmistakable as they are simply huge.

Cascata del Gelato WI3, 15m

Before reaching La Catedrale there is a short quite an enclosed line, on the right with the upper section following an almost chimney like section. It’s great as a warm up or for beginners and is slightly awkward which makes it fun! Start in asmall cave and climb up and left to some chains.

Destra Destra WI5, 2 pitches, 100m ***

Climb the extreme right of the cascade below an obvious pillar. Belay beneath a curtain of ice in a cave on bolts. Climb the steep, freestanding pillar to a vertical wall above which gradually eases with height

Destra WI4+, 2 pitches, 100m ***

Several lines possible, with a max of 2 freestanding pillars forming to the right of the falls. Climb WI 4 lines of your choosing to the halfway ledge. In the rock section, you will find at least 2 fixed belay/abseil stations. Then choose between the Right, Central or Left hand lines. All are steep mushroomed ice. The pillars take time to form but are often thick and solid. Be careful with the left hand variant exit as it can be thin in early season.

Centrale WI5, 2 pitches, 100m ***

The first pitch attacks the steep central groove of the first tier. The second follows a wide steep wall with relatively few spots to take a break.

Sinistra WI5+/6, 2 pitches, 100m ***

The left hand variant is usually the last to form as it is an immensely slender column of ice, with intricate, steep climbing. The main upper pitch is a colossal 60m pitch and it’s truly breath taking to watch climbers picking their way up it.

Cascata delle Attraversate WI4, 2-3 pitches, 100m ***

On the opposite side of the valley, there is an obvious and tall cascade which starts with a wide shallow slab of ice, followed by two pillars, one on the left, on on the right

The first pitch is also climbed as an ideal beginner’s/warm up route at about WI2+. At the top of this pitch, belay to the left and then climb a steep, mushroomed column to a ledge. Either belay here or continue by traversing the ledge to a final pillar. The falls can be climbed directly to the final pillar which looks to be 4+ or 5.

The Upper gorge

From here on, the routes are a little more spread out so I will describe them as you come to them, starting after the chapel where you cross a bridge.

On the left there are two, short hard dry lins, grade unknown.

Palestrina Destra WI2+, 30m

Cross the river and start by a fallen tree. The route climbs up and left to a tree just where the angle of the slope becomes a little shallower.

Palestrina WI2, 35m **

An ideal route for the beginner, or as a first ice lead. Cross the river to the right hand side of the gorge. The line follows a shallow stream with a short step

Kill Bill WI5/M, 25m

This is a mixed route on the left as you approach Excalibur. It climbs a leftward trending corner using bolts for protection

Moulinette WI4+, 40m*

To the right of Kill Bill, this follows a right trending corner and has massively variable amounts depending on the year which affects both difficulty and protectability!

On the right there is a bolted dry line which rarely holds any ice. No details of dificulty at this stage.

Excalibur WI4+, 3 pitches, 100m ****

Winter transforms this gushing waterspout into a long, excellent route, and is considered to be the crown jewel of the gorge. The falls have a huge volume of water and so often form a thick column of ice on all the pitches. The first pitch has 2 main lines, left or right of the column whereas the top two pitches are more wall climbing, with the climber choosing their line.

Lingua d’Argento WI5, 2 pitches, 100m

Just to the right of Excalibur. This route climbs thin ice up a slab to a cave near the top of the cliff in two pitches. Requires a wet season to form. Often the first 25m of te route are very thin indeed. Equipped belays.

Rugadia WI4, 20m

Continue up the valley from Excalibur and just before a bridge on the right you will see a small ice fall which starts with a mixed section. An ice hook for this initial section is useful protection as there is no other protection available when the ice is thin. Climb thin bridging moves up a corner and then pull up left onto buried turf. This section requires care. Then climb through a narrow section with increasing volumes of ice to reach a fat icicle. Climb this to a poor bolted and peg belay. Alternatively if you’ve had enough there is usually a piece of tat on a tree to the right just of the ice fall before you commit to the steep ice moves. The belay does require replacement.

Vecchia sosta WI5/M6, 30

Placca d’Argento WI6, 55m

Arbre Magique WI4, 30m

Follow the valley until you see a relatively new pumping house to the left with information boards. Directly opposite there are some ice falls. Arbre Magique climbs the right hand line. Make a long span to reach over the torrent and climb an initial vertical wall for 10m’s. The angle eases and the route becomes a little stepped before reaching a tree belay. Abseil descent.

Arbre Magique Sinistra, WI4, 30m

At the top of the gorge opposite a new pumping house there are some falls. This is the left hand line which weaves it’s way up to a steep step of about 8-10m. There are often hooks and chandeliers here. Surmount the bulge and then move right to a small pillar where you exit to a tree and an abseil descent.

 

Ice climbing – Prezzi Pazzo Sector, Val Pettorina

This is as far as we know a completely new sector for ice climbing with a large number of worthwhile routes. Access is quick and easy and the routes are of a more traditional nature compared to other routes in the Serrai di Sottoguda – they are mainly in gullies.

Approach

Park at a car park in Palue, which is obvious and on the left hand side as you go up the valley towards Sottoguda. Currently access from near Col di Rocca is not possible as the bridge was washed away during the storm of 29th October 2018. This situation may change in the near future.

Cross the river and follow the track east towards 2 large holiday condominiums. When you reach the condominiums start to climb the hillside through the woods towards a deep and obvious canyon marked on Tabacco maps as Ru dei Minieri. After 5 minutes walking through the woods you will approach a stream bed, walk and scramble up this to the mouth of the entrance to the left of the summer climbing crag, L’Ander.

Routes

Prezzi Pazzo WI 2+/3+

Climb the stream bed. From the mouth of the canyon you will enter a large bowl and encounter a short 20m ice fall WI2. This fall becomes banked out after snow and more or less disappears. However under these conditions be careful as the water may still be running beneath the snow. Continue up various smaller steps easily for 150m to reach a longer pitch to the right of an obvious loose yellow cave. This we believe used to be a pirite mine. Climb a 45m pitch WI2+. Now you will reach another large bowl in the valley where you will see other icefalls, manily descending from climbers left. Climb another short pitch and start to climb right towards a stream coming fown from the right. Climb this indirectly at WI 2/2+ fo 50m, or cut the corner up a short vertical wall at 3+. Now cut through the woods diagonally right to find a very faint track to descend.

Low Price WI 4- 40m

This climbs the first large ice fall on the left in the upper valley. It is very obvious and follows a groove from left to right and then back left. There is a second pitch above at a lower grade and which is less worthwhile.

Crazy Price WI3+/4- 40m (150m)

The second ice fall on the left flank of the gully again climbs a right trending groove to a final steep step. 50m after Low Price, climb leftwards directly up to the ice falls. to take a belay at the start of the groove. Potentially you could climb more steeply in a direct line, (WI4?). Above, the stream bed is less steep but can be climbed for it’s full length giving around 150m in total of climbing. At the top you can continue with difficulty through trees to walk down to Ca’Sciota, a small barn and from there return to the valley via a steep short path down through the woods. Or abseil from trees after the first pitch and continue up Prezzi Pazzo.

RIP Crazy Dog WI3+/4- 60m

Climb Prezzi Pazzo into the upper canyon until you reach the split where the main route climbs right. Now continue up a short steep fall to continue up the canyon into an upper amphitheatre. Here you have three water courses. RIP Crazy Dog follows a line up the middle of the central gully. Start by climbing to a large terrace up a short step and take a screw belay. There is a short easy angled piller to the left of the falls, and then a groove. Climb the groove to a ledge, then continue up directly to the top of the stream bed. To decend abseil from a tree on the right, but be careful under heave snow conditions then your ropes make become stuck due to rope drag in the snow. Or go up through the woods to the right of the stream, then descend into another stream bed and follow the rim of the gorge to rejoin the main path back to the valley.

This upper amphitheatre has many possibilities for new routes (between 4 and 6). Please let me know if you climb any of these lines so they can be reported here. Indeed we climbed a line to the right of RIP Crazy Dog on top rope which under good conditions would I expect to be WI4 or 4+.

The Right Price WI2+ 200m

This route climbs a gully to the right of the main Prezzi Pazzo canyon. It’s visible from the road by De Grandi sport in Boscoverde. Start by entering the canyon and when you reach the first bowl, climb up a ramp to the right following a very faint path. When the ramp runs out you will reach a clearing – go steeply up diagonally right until you find the path going through trees. It narrows to pass along a rock terrace and at the end of this you will find yourself in a second gully. Follow the stream with several steep steps up to 75-80 degrees. A really enjoyable climb at the grade. After 4 pitches the gradient becomes shallow and you can climb into the woods to the left. Countour around the mountain to find the path back down the mountain (very faint) to return to the start of the route and then the canyon.

Cascata Boscoverde WI4 60m

When you drive through Boscoverde you will see an ambulance station on the right side of the road. Pull in here and you will be able to see the falls. To reach the falls go over the bridge just down the road near Col di Rocca (at time of writing this is missing – there is a smaller bridge 100m further down the road in Col di Rocca – follow the path back up to meet the road on the far side of the Pettorina) Follo the road to the first shallow stream that crosses the road and a path on the left. Follow the streambed steeply up the hill to the start of the cascade. Climb in 3 pitches, 3+ 20m, 4 20m, 3+ 20m.

Marco Russo on the first ascent of Cascata Boscoverde

Guest Blog: Pete comes ice climbing

Last year at the end of January, I hosted a weeks ice climbing at Casa Alfredino. Amongst the guests was Pete Derrett who some of you may know from Dicks Climbing in Bristol. It was his first time in the Dolomites and I asked him to write a guest blog about his experience.

Months back we at Dick’s Climbing ran a promotion with Casa Alfredino in the Dolomites and at the time it was mused that we should head over and check it out ourselves, with promise of roadside Ice climbs and long mountain routes the seeds were definitely sown for me. I finally had a chance to head out and see for myself.

Excalibur

The mighty Excalibur. Falling 3 pitches from the South side of the gorge, this famous route is one of the plum lines of the gorge. Floodlit by night, this route is as spectacular by day!

Casa Alfredino is located in Col di Rocca, a couple of hours drive from Venice Marco Polo airport and consists of three floors all fashioned into their own individual lodges with their own community areas and bedrooms coupled with a shared, attic drying room. Fifteen minutes walk or two minutes drive away is Italy’s hidden Ice Climbing gem, Serrai di Sottoguda, a monstrous cleft with water ice routes pouring down along it’s whole length. It had been a funny winter in the Dolomites, no snow meant that several routes which look monstrous in the guidebook simply weren’t there, yet others forming on natural, high volume watercourses were fully formed and ready to go. What this meant in practice was that we had plenty to go at, with plenty more to look forward to next year. There will definitely be a return visit in order!

Catedrale Centrale is a line through the wide expanse of ice you find halfway up the gorge. It has no less than 4 main lines on it with a great number of variations on it and is over 100m in length!

Catedrale Centrale is a line through the wide expanse of ice you find halfway up the gorge. It has no less than 4 main lines on it with a great number of variations on it and is over 100m in length!

 

Jason Bailey starting up Excalibur. Vertical for 40m, 2 different lines and fantastically mushroomed ice characterise this climb.

Jason Bailey starting up Excalibur. Vertical for 40m, 2 different lines and fantastically mushroomed ice characterise this climb.

 

Equipment-wise, it’s your standard ice rack; pair of technical tools, nice stiff pair of  boots and crampons, monopoints were popular amongst our party, and finally as many screws as you can muster, don’t worry too much about the stubbies, you’ll be sinking 22cm screws full depth most of the time, the ice is that fat – I took thirteen screws and was finishing some forty to fifty metre pitches with just one left! Whilst I did sling a V-Threader and cord in my pack, it was soon clear that bolts and tat tied off around trees were de rigueur.

Cascata del Gelato, a short WI3 perfect for warming up or indeed your first cascade ice lead.

Cascata del Gelato, a short WI3 perfect for warming up or indeed your first cascade ice lead.

If you’ve got a mixed bunch of abilities Sottoguda is the perfect location to start; short WI2 ramp routes lead into two of three pitches of WI3 to the top. These give a great introduction to ice and by the end of a week trip I imagine many first-timers will be happy to have a go leading these given the large volume of training they will have been able to pack in. Talking of training do what the Italians do and set up top-ropes and run laps on the routes if you  really want some mileage!

The first WI5 in Italy, Spada is one of the most striking lines you could imagine. 45m and plumbline vertical.

The first WI5 in Italy, Spada is one of the most striking lines you could imagine. 45m and plumbline vertical.

Once feeling a bit more confident there’s several routes of WI5/5+ routes to get your teeth into. Long routes …
Some times though, 100m multi pitch routes just won’t cut it, it’s then time to head out into the mountains.

Jason Bailey high on Cascata Nevere in Val Corpassa on the flanks of Moiazza, a 5mm WI3+

Jason Bailey high on Cascata Nevere in Val Corpassa on the flanks of Moiazza, a 5mm WI3+

Less than an hour hour away, my final day was spent in Val Corpassa heading up hundreds of metres of outrageous virgin ice (be aware that ascent lines are marked in dotted red lines, with descent routes in solid green …) On these routes all the alpine tricks should come out; get ready for some healthy walking in and out, simul-climbing and soloing and an early start to get back before nightfall and into the pub in time for last orders. A real full value day out was had and the views from the top as dusk set in were magnificent, again full marks to Mike from Casa Alfredino for suggesting a top class day out.

Searching out the route.

Searching out the route.

View 1

Looking out towards Sass Bianch after a long day climbing the casacades.

View 2

Approaching the foot of Moiazza after out ascent.

With copious Pizza and Italian wine consumed sadly the trip drew to a close and I took up Mike’s kindly offer of a drive across Western Europe home, Vodafone welcoming me to Austria, Germany France and finally back in the UK. Recharged by time spent amongst the snow and ice, it’s now back to relative normality.

So who would enjoy a winter trip to Casa Alfredino?

Anyone.

– Pete –

Ice Climbing Venues across the Dolomites

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Hi everybody, tonight I compiled a fairly extensive list of ice climbing venues within a reasonable drive from the house, no more than 1.5 hours. Its in the form of a Google map – the plan is to add more layers for Via Ferrata’s, Sport climbing, major climbing venues etc, so that you can appreciate the spread of what there is on offer! Hope you enjoy it!

Here are the individual crag logbook pages on the website:

Serrai di Sottguda

Digonera-Laste

Caprile

Val di Fassa

Val di Gares

Val Torcol

Mezzocanale

Val Corpassa

Val Gardena

Vallunga

Alta Badia

Armentarola

Civetta

The Sassolungo Group

Ice climbing in the Serrai di Sottoguda

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The “Serrai di Sottoguda” or quite literally the “narrowing of Sottuguda” is such an appropriate name for this deep slash in the bottom of Val Pettorina. Relatively unknown to Brits, Sottoguda has long been a firm favourite with Italian climbers. At 150m deep in places this gorge doesn’t catch any sun for several months of the year and really retains the cold. Even in summertime the temperature drops and the air becomes dank and moist as you walk into it. Quite the most perfect conditions for forming the best fat ice one could possibly hope for. Add the huge elevation on either side creating a huge catchment area for water, trees to hold that water allowing it to gently seep as the winter sets in and you are left with a super regular ice climbing venue with a plethora of falls. As the gorge was at one time the only way up to Passo Fedaia, a track was built, needing regular rebuilding after the spring spate. That all changed when in the 50’s and 60’s, an enormous power generation scheme was constructed. The old road became impractical and was bypassed with a series of tunnels and bridges up the valley above the gorge, leaving the gorge free of all but pedestrian traffic and the odd bike.

Parking at the top of the village of Sottoguda leaves one with a 5 minute walk to the first baby ice fall. Not much further on, as the gorge deepens, the falls become taller and more spectacular until you reach the Cathedrale – the unmistakably enormous cascade on the right. It doesn’t stop here – rounding the corner after the beautiful little chapel dedicated to those who died in the war, there are more falls. At worst, it takes an easy 15-20 minute walk to reach your chosen climb from the car park – with the beautiful cascades, it’s hardly a chore!

With free standing pillars, gentle flows, overhanging fronds of icicles you won’t fail to find a challenge. There are routes at WI2 through to WI6+ aswell as a number of modern mixed lines and from 20-25m through to 100m, 3 pitch behemoths, there’s enough climbing here to last anybody for a while. Some you abseil off trees or fixed anchors at the top, others you finish at the upper new road! Typically climbers will need a large selection of ice screws – it’s doubtful that traditional rock gear would be of any use at all, although it never hurts to take 4-5 wires just in case. The ice is usually thick and fat, and stubby screws will be of little use and instead we’d recommend mainly 16-20cm screws with maybe a couple of 22’s for Abalakov/Andreson threads and a main belay screw. Usually we’d suggest 12 screws would be about right, but obviously you will have your own preferences. It’s also useful to have a variety of types – where possible hitting deep ice is best and often the type of screw with a small hanger and a bent wire winding handle like those make by Grivel are invaluable, allowing you to achieve extremely strong placements without chopping away surrounding ice. Of course these are not as neat to rack, so a good mix is what we generally use.

As mentioned above, some retreats are from fixed anchors, but often a single rope will not get you to the ground, so it’s best to carry 5-7mm cord to install Abalakov/Anderson threads. If you forget it or run out, you can get more easily at the local shop, De Grandi sport in Boscoverde, who also hold in stock screws, extenders, crampons, axes etc and also rent equipment should you require it.

For information on routes a great place to start is in the UK Climbing logbooksAs we climb them we will bring you more blogs to let you have the low down! We have also compiled a fairly complete list of ice climbing venues within a reasonable drive from Cas Alfredino:


 

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