/ Dolomites advice. Group and end of May
I am thinking of organising a trip to the dolomites in the last week of May this year.
It is a climbing club thing, with maybe up to 20 folk going.
We are a mixed group, motivated, competent and average in our abilities/expectations.
It will be viewed as a holiday by many rather than an endurance test.
1)Is the last week in May likely to be too cold & wet to get a decent number of days climbing/enjoyment in? I realise that crystal balls aren't common.
2) Any accommodation recommendations for such a group. We'd probably want a mix of rooms ideally and, maybe dorms if needed. Self accommodation, close enough for a beer somewhere, etc.
3) I know its somewhere I'd like to go, is it suitable for such a group in reality?
Anyone out there who's got some first hand?
Routes in the shade will still be decidedly fresh, and north facing gullies will still have lots of snow (in normal years, assuming it snows at all at some point this "winter" etc.)
I had a less than fun time in approach shoes in the gully between the second and third Sella towers in June a couple of years ago, where my mate in big boots was fine. (Otoh he probably enjoyed carrying his big boots on the route less than I enjoyed carrying my approach shoes)
Probably worth taking an axe and light crampons for any high via ferrates etc.
I was there for the last two weeks of May last year (Whitsun). It was snowing down in the valleys, snowing like hell higher up. The Sella Towers looked like the N face of the Eiger in winter and no climbers, skiers and walkers were to be seen. Plenty of choice for camping though, we were the only people there!
I went to Arco.
I have friends were there at the end of JUNE last year and it was still snowing, although I think that's fairly unusual (the previous year I'd been there in late June and temps in the valley were touch 30c). End of May any year I'd expect to find some snow and certainly very cold temps in shady north-facing areas....
I was one of rippers friends there last year in June,from what I can gather its not always like that, but whilst we were there it snowed about 3 times in the valley!having said that we did manage to get one long route in at a comfortable temperature.the rest of the week was spent mostly sports climbing, which given the location was a great shame! I think ripper knows details of the accommodation we stayed in which was ideal for a group of your size.
Hope that's some help.
Also if you end up sports climbing due to snow, the sella boulders were very good!
Ive had snow on a Route in late June and ended up going to a spot near Venice to get some sun ,horrid wet June that year ,but its a bit of a pot luck thing ..but you know what they say. Better to travel hopefully than not at all ...
The problem is that itīs all high up, the Sella pass is 2240m and mostly the climbing is over 2000m so itīs a bit weather challenged in early spring. When the sun is out on a S facing route itīs boiling but the cracks are freezing and the backside of the cliff is full winter conditions. That early the via ferratas probably havenīt been repaired and the huts and lifts are shut by the way.
Best is to be flexible so if it is hopeless then go down lower to somewhere like Arco. Or go somewhere else!
I abandoned a trip there in early July last year as I was terrified of the amount of snow. Instead we had a really great time in places which UK climbers never mention; the Val Rosandra near Trieste Italy staying at the campsite at Osp Slovenia, then touring the Istria peninsula in Croatia. You would need several vehicles though.
Last year was a bit unusual. That was the 3rd year in a row for us and the first where we had to take into account the snow.
Still got out every single day, they were still digging out the higher ferratas when we left.
And I've been there in early spring to ski where it was so warm you could easily have done the 1st sella tower without any difficulties.
Take good boots and places with easy descents preferably south facing. Base yourself around cortina, fiames is dry early, as are south facing routes around falzarego. There's lower cragging as well ...
1) When we went two years ago as a group at the start of June the snow had literally just cleared - we were lucky. We were planning on going this year same time but it was just too snowy! We were Cortina both times, climbing Cinque Torre.
2) We camped in Cortina, which was good for walking but not great for lower-grade climbing. VF is also something to try whilst you are there.
I also went to Arco last year for a while which was very nice: Lots of rock and short walk ins but very polished! Arco you can guarentee there won't be snow in May.
3) We ended up doing a lot of driving because we were staying in Cortina and driving up to Cinque Torre every day or so, which was a pain, but other than that its great for groups!
I'd go for Arco, the snow will wipe out any climbing or VF aspirations high up. There are plenty of good VF round Arco, long multipitch for those that like that, plus sport climbing. It's only 2 hours drive up to Madonna Di Campiglio (Brenta) for those that 'need' mountains. Bochette Alte VF will still be impassable without ice gear in July due to the north facing couloirs.
As others have said, end of May is very early for Dolomite climbing. Most people consider the realistic season mid June to October. The best is September.
There is a huge amount of snow about at the moment with more on the way, so this year is likely to remain snowy to end of June.
Arco is an option - don't believe that everything is polished ... simply avoid the classic routes on Cima Colodri above the campsite (via Katia Monte on Colodri is not polished, for example). There are hundreds of new multipitch routes nearby that are not polished.
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