After a long journey down from the UK I went up the gorge today to take a look at how things are shaping up for early season ice. Thus far the snow is utterly dismal – all the slopes have been made up with artificial snow and its a rather bizarre sight – white pistes descending through the brown and green fields. So what does this mean for the ice? The weather has been unsually warm thus far with the jetstream coming either from the Carribean or hooking north too early to provide the moist warm winds required for snow in Italy. The temperatures have been a little odd too – for example yesterday whilst driving over the Sella pass the temperature was 8 degrees at over 2000m, whereas as we drove through Sottoguda at 1300m it was 2 degrees. Anywhere consitently shaded is considerably cooler. Secondly, the complete lack of snow and the extended period of dry weather experienced during October and November has left the slopes above the gorge bone dry. This is evidenced in the gorge by lines formed by seepage being underdeveloped or absent at the moment.
All that said, the cold temperatures in the valley have helped for quite number of lines well, with quite a few being climbable and others being maybe a week away. The high volume drainage lines are the ones to go for at the moment.
Cascata del Sole.
This is complete to the end of the main difficulties. The final section to the ledge is thin and looks somewhat fragile. With this in mind the belay inside the cave to the left of this section could be used to retreat should you find it in poor condition or too thin for you liking. Given a snow fall and another week to form it should be pretty climbable if at the upper end of its grade.
Spada nella Roccia
Meanwhile the great Spada is almost ready. There is just a short section of about 1m at the top which looks thinly verglaced. The rest is thin and featured but very nearly ready. I think given another week it will be ready to go.
The main event is looking to be in good shape. The central falls are a little thin at the top and need another week. Left seems complete and as solid as it needs to be, whilst right is also complete although a little thin on the pillar. The furthest right options for the second pitch have not yet touched down but the ottom tier looks emminently climbable just about everywhere.
Cascata delle Attraversate
The initial pitches were being climbed today with the left hand line looking etter than the right, the opposite to the situation last year. It’s thin but all there. The pitch up the pillar, ramp and then the second pillar look pretty well formed, maybe a little thin at the start. Again another week should see it in good condition.
This seems to be the best option at the moment. Whilst the third pitch thins at the top, it seems complete. The first is quite vertical on the left hand line at the moment and a climber with considerable cohones had climbed it with just 4 screws. Whether this was because these were the only options I’m not sure but it certainly looked pretty impressive!
Further up the valley, Arbre Magique looks thin at the moment maybe another 2 weeks to go for that one. Over the next week I’ll try to bring you more info about outlying areas. I suspect Digonera and Laste are well on their way to being in good condition. Hopefully I can get up high to take a look at some of the routes on Marmolada too as the pistes are now open affording a ski descent to get to their start. The Couloir Serauta looked to be dry but Tre Magi had snow in most of the gully.