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Chockstone Forum - Crag & Route Beta

Crag & Route Beta

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Cam McKenzie
11:59:33 AM
So, after living the dream of sitting in front of a computer for 8 or 9 hours a day for the last 10 years, my employer has sadly insisted that I take an extended climbing holiday.

Thinking of heading to the Dolomites for a while (3 or 4 months). I'll be going with my partner in crime and our 2 year old daughter, so living in the dirt isn't an option.


-Where should we be staying?
-What are the classic routes that shouldn't be missed (up to say 21 or so)?
-What are the best guide books?
-Anything else I haven't thought of.


12:12:31 PM
a) I hope you like choss rock.
b) avoid during peak school holiday season (august?). Traffic and camping gridlock.
c) expect snow at any time of year
d) do some via ferratas
e) buy climbing equipment and get guides in Arco which is an hour south.
f) I hope you like choss rock

1:11:06 PM
I think with a 2 yr old in tow, climbing in France/Spain may be a better option. Sport crags galore. We have done a fair bit of climbing in France with our kids and happy to pass on ideas or suggestions.

3:40:27 PM
On 28/11/2010 Garrath wrote:
>I think with a 2 yr old in tow, climbing in France/Spain may be a better
>option. Sport crags galore.

I have to agree. Dolimites generally has pretty rubbish single pitch stuff. It's all about the big days of epic adventures. Man against rubble, snow, sleet, hail, crowds, poo, rusty pitons, rotting slings and 1940s era ladders.
Cam McKenzie
7:49:15 PM
Wo real plans to climb together, other than when we have the parents visiting to baby sit. We certainly have no plans of hauling our kid up on an epic choss fest.

Clippping bolts doesn't really hold that much interest to be honest, much more interested in epic trad routes given that we don't have anything even vaguely like that in Australia.

Is the rock really that bad? I've heard varying reports, but generally it sounded like it's reasonable most of the time and pretty bad at others.

The big cliff at Cape Woolami is my gauge for bad rock. How do the dolomites compare?

8:50:40 PM
If you want epic trad go to the USA. So much more variety and better rock quality - but obviously you have to deal with fast food and big trucks.

Rock quality in the Dolomites is pretty suss in places. Hard to compare to anything i've climbed in Australia. Maybe a bit like the bad bits of the Warrumbungles? It's not like chossy sandstone - no sand, but instead sort of blocky gravelly bits. Lots of routes have lots of mangy fixed gear - which you have to trust as the trad gear is equally crap.

Beautiful scenery though...

This was a memorable belay somewhere in the Sella group. I probably should have equalized it but I really couldn't be bothered since it was all so shit.

"summer" conditions (mid august!)

Spot the little climbers on this awesome Via Ferrata! Bolting from 1940 something.

Incredible descents.... this one was covered in a thin layer of hail.

Just a little scenic

9:45:16 PM
i recommend Paklenica in Croatia. Lots of long routes, great accomodation, the sea to swim in. go in june and then up to Austria. good granite there.
Cam McKenzie
9:51:42 PM
Classic belay.

Climbing in America is pretty appealing, but culturally we're not really interested. Food's much better in Italy too.

The long stuff in France sounds pretty awesome (around Chamonix), but logistically, it seems like there's much more involved in accessing routes (glaciers etc.) which we couldn't be bothered dealing with. Worth the effort?

10:21:41 PM
Verdon and Preles are two amazing spots in France for long multipitch limestone routes with very easy access. Both areas have trad and adventure sport up to 300m long. Superb rock quality. I haven't done any of the alpine rock stuff in Chamonix but by all accounts its awesome but usually involves expensive cable cars and alpine gear.

Eduardo Slabofvic
11:43:08 PM
On 28/11/2010 nmonteith wrote:
>a) I hope you like choss rock.

Yes, you really really have to like loose rock.

>b) avoid during peak school holiday season (august?). Traffic and camping

No worse than anywhere else on the Alps.

>c) expect snow at any time of year

... and ice. I've torn out all the pages in my guide book that have the word "north" in them, as I will never have any use for them ever again.

>d) do some via ferratas

Yes, they are great fun.

>e) buy climbing equipment and get guides in Arco which is an hour south.

Cortina is a nice place to hang out, and quite central to everything. They have cabins at the camp ground. I think the hut in the Dolomites are the best huts in the world. Do yourself a favor and find a climbing area that is serviced by a hut thats reasonably high up; even better if it's access is a little intrepid. Base yourself there for a week and bag a whole bunch of routes. It'll be awesome.

>f) I hope you like choss rock

Climb on the grey rock, it's good. Red rock is like climbing on a paving stone exhibit, with free samples for you to share with your belayer. The yellow rock would look nice in the garden as a water saving mulch around some succulents, take a wheelbarrow with you. The white rock isn't rock, don't even look at it, in fact most of it will be crumbing now just because I've written the words "white rock" in a passage about the Dolomites.
Cam McKenzie
8:31:14 AM
Hmm, always been kind of keen on Verdon, and Presles looks pretty cool. A bit more research may be in order.

Cheers for the beta.
9:25:00 AM
Cam the Dolomites in absolutely awesome. So many responses, but not one that answered your questions...
Staying.. As Eduardo said, the huts are an awesome place to stay. Photos of first ascents adorn the walls, they always have a stunning view and you'll be glad to return for a jug of red wine after flogging yourselves all day. Some must stays are the Rifugio Vazzoler (1725m) in the Civetta group. It's one of the most idyllic spots in the whole of the Dolomites to stay.A bit of a walk up a hill, but then you're well placed for an assault on the magical Torre Venezia. Rifugio Auronzo is on the end of the road to Tre Cime, another must visit area. If you can't get in here then the little town of Misurina is very pretty. Rifugio Scoiattoli again is at the end of the road at Cinque Torri, and a primo spot to stay. You must visit the Tofana group and drive to stay at Rif. Dibona. Climb a route on the Tofana di Rozes and then stay up high at the Rif. Giussani before walking back down the next morning. We did this, it was the highlight of our trip. There's a monstous camping/caravan park in Cortina that was pretty cheap too.
Classic,so many. There's good reason why the likes of Fantini return year after year. The rock is far from choss. The routes are run out though. We looked hard to find the book "Classic Dolomite Climbs" by Anette Kohler and Norbert Memmel. It lists 100 of the highest quality classics between UIAA 3 and 7, soup to about 23. Classics we enjoyed were Yellow Edge on Cima Piccola at Tre Cime, The Cassin route on Piccolossima at Tre Cime, the Tissi route on the south face of Torre Venezia, the Pilastro route up the Tofana di Rozes and the routes Via Miriam and Via Finlandia on Torre Grande at Cinque Torre. The Messner route on the Neunerspitze looks phenomonal too, with the remote Rif. Fanes a great place to stay.
Too many climbers wait for the good conditions over there. They miss out. We got wet most days, but not for long, and we had a ball.
If you can't find the guide book e-mail me and you can borrow mine.

Cam McKenzie
9:31:14 AM
Cheers Ado,
Much appreciated mate. Glad to see someone's psyched about the place! Will try and track down the Classic Dolomite Climbs guide.

9:56:01 AM
On 29/11/2010 Cam McKenzie wrote:
>Glad to see someone's psyched about the place!

After being snowed out on my first trip there in late summer - I returned in August a few years later - and got snowed out again. I'd probably be a lot more psyched if I we had better weather! If you like adventure (which is sounds like you do) you'll love it. I'm quite sure i'll go back there one day but will plan for a longer period of time so I'm not at the whim of the weather gods.
10:01:02 AM
What ado said above.

I used the guide he mentioned and found it very good. The rock isn't as bad as others above have said. I left my rain coat on the lounge at home. Bought a cheapy over there and hardly used it. Guess we got weather lucky.

By an esky. Beer from cafes is expensive but takeaways really cheap but not chilled. If its cold at night leave the esky outside with the lid off at night and lid it at breaky for some iceless cold beer. Local drop forsters was good. Vino in the refugios is good.

We went to (excuse spelling) Catinaccaio, Laverado, Cortina and sella. Recomend all highly.

Dare you to eat 6 Wurtzuls in a sitting.

Go out of Italian holiday season if possible. The sound of German walkers with there trekking poles is like being swarmed by locusts.

10:04:09 AM
On 29/11/2010 Cam McKenzie wrote:
>Hmm, always been kind of keen on Verdon,

It's AMAZING! Rock quality is simply superb and the whole location - perched above a river with swooping eagles and leaping base jumpers just makes the place even better. And the fact you can park your car at the top of the cliff and practically rap off your bumper will make it good for the family.

The Verdon Gorge - those cliffs are 300m+ high with climbing on both sides of the gorge.

Trad climbing at Verdon. This was a multipitch 20 something crack route. Really fun and seemingly rarely done.

Cam McKenzie
10:05:39 AM
Cheers lads,
Hopefully with 3 or 4 months, we should get a decent weather window in there somewhere. Need to be back in Australia early October, but it will be getting cold and snowy by then anyway, so thinking June-September maybe.

I'm sure we'll find something to entertain us during August when it's Euro holiday time.

I have no idea what Wurtzuls are, but being a vego, I reckon I'll probably give them a miss. Good beta on the beer though.

10:33:10 AM
On 29/11/2010 Cam McKenzie wrote:
>Need to be back in Australia early October, but it will
>be getting cold and snowy by then anyway, so thinking June-September maybe.

Don't under estimate how hot it can be in Europe in summer! The same trip we were battling snow in the Dolomites we were baking in 35'C++ temps at Verdon. That's the awesome thing about Europe - you can really use the altitude to your advantage.

Eduardo Slabofvic
10:37:28 AM
It's a huge place, and when you add in via Ferrata, mountain biking, eating gelati, and perving at Italian Super models, you'll need plenty of time. I've spent 6 months there over about 4 trips, and am just getting my head around what's what. I hope to do my next trip in winter and ski. The place is very well set up for skiing.

I also recommend ditching the "Clasic Climbs" guide books. There are recent guide books that are in German and Italian that are very detailed, and have excellent topos. I can't remember the name or publishing details, but they have a red cover. The Classic books give you some of the routes, but can be really poorly written. The Cicerone one is particularly bad. Some of the routes are so obvious that you wont need a topo, but others can wander around quite a bit so as to avoid sections of bad rock. So when you've got a bad topo for a wandery route and your book only shows 1 route on the wall, but you can see 5, confusion can creep in. Also descending from a peak via a different route than the one you climbed, which you will need to do often, can be confusing. For example there are about 20 ways to get off of Cimi Grande.
One Day HEro
5:19:52 PM
Yup.....take a 50/50 mix of Hipster, Wide and Eduardo's positivity with Neils negativity and you're just about spot on. There is lots of ultra-choss but its still one of my favorite climbing spots.

We had 2 months and needed that long to get enough climbing in between the shit weather.....make sure you don't waste any good days

I found the 'hard' routes (21ish) much easier than the 'easy' routes (17ish) as the 'easy' routes have bigger runouts and chossier rock.

Torre Venecia was my favorite spot, best rock and beautiful hut......1 hour walk up to the hut from the car. Tofana scared the shit out of me, but maybe cos we got off route.

Despite what Ado says, the Doli's has a fair bit of objective danger. A lot of people have been killed by rockfall and big plummets. There have been cases of belays ripping and the whole party going the distance......might be worth backing things up (and not climbing with your mrs on the really dodgy routes) to avoid orphaning your child :/

Two bits of advice Fantini gave me before I went over;

1) Get up really early! Be at the base of the route by the time its light enough to see the rock (we did a few 4am starts). There will be multiple parties on every route every day, and rock will be flying. Given that rocks will be getting dropped, its better to be dropping them than catching them!

2) "Back up your fuching belays, mate!"

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