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The Dolomites - 5 Easy Route Recommendations

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 UKC Articles 05 May 2015
Looking down onto the Valparola and Falzarego passes, 4 kbThe Dolomites have a fearsome reputation when it comes to trad climbing and when viewing the peaks with their characteristically steep faces it is easy to see why.... but it isn't all desperate!

There are plenty of easy routes to go at in terms of technical difficulty, just bear in mind that 7 pitches is a relatively short route and many of the descents require multiple abseils!

Here James Rushforth gives you five of the best lower grade days out...

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=6932

 derryclimbs 05 May 2015
In reply to UKC Articles:

What a great article. Love nice long easy routes and am definitely inspired by some of these. Does anyone know if the ledge on Fedele is flat enough to bivvy with a small tent?
 GrahamD 05 May 2015
In reply to derryclimbs:

If by the ledge you mean the terrace, its about as wide as a football pitch ! Basically a gentle scree slope. I'm sure you could find somewhere to pitch but much better to aim to get the last cable car down and get some beers in
 Casa Alfredino 05 May 2015
In reply to derryclimbs:

It's a pretty large ledge and offers an out at 2/3's height as you can walk off to the right and exit back to Passo Pordoi. However, I would suggest it's better to go fast, light and make it to the top. There is a hut not far from the summit which is excellent and not too expensive. The guardian is very sympathetic to climbers... There is a slightly easier route to the right - the Dibona which is by all accounts not as good as the Fedele but runs the same course at the top.
 derryclimbs 05 May 2015
In reply to GrahamD:

ha, yeah terrace not ledge!

planning on going heavy and slow. take it all in really. The missus loves climbing, and has been up to about 6 pitches before and climbs about VS or 6a. but has expressed interest in camping out on a climb. I know this isn't exactly extreme portaledging, and quite contrived, but would make for an interesting 2 day climb for someone who's not that speedy.
 GrahamD 05 May 2015
In reply to derryclimbs:

Obviously check the weather forecast ! Its really not somewhere you want to be if an afternoon thunderstorm hits.
 henwardian 06 May 2015
In reply to derryclimbs:

I wouldn't bank of being able to pitch a tent there. It is a huge terrace but it is scree, as someone else said. I've been up there twice and on neither occasion did I remember seeing any flatish bits, the whole area is tilted at quite an angle. For comparison, the ledge on the Marmolada is a lot smaller but is actually a flat ledge with plenty of places where it would be comfortable to pitch a tent.

As Graham said, do not start up if there is any forecast for rain (infact, if there has been any recent rain, take a good look with binoculars at the top of the wet streak it zig zags through to check it isn't more than a dribble). When there is a downpour, the waterfalls off that face are something to behold; you are not going to be continuing up and the waterfalls and wandering nature of the route would make any attempt at retreat into something out of a Hollywood disaster movie.

None of which is to put you off, you should do it because it's a great route. Also, the walk over to the back of the pordoi, followed by turning left and descending back round the North (I think) end of the mountain and thence to the start point is a really lovely walk and quiet too; I didn't see a single person when i did it late afternoon.
 AlanLittle 06 May 2015
In reply to UKC Articles:

Nice article James. The Fedele/Dibona is high on my to-do list.

I know your guidebook doesn't cover the Pala, but do you have any experience of the Gran Pilaster? Sounds like another classic that is technically easy, but big and quite serious.
 derryclimbs 06 May 2015
In reply to henwardian:

cheers, very good advice. Will go there with one of my more experienced climbing partners I think. Sounds like a proper adventure alright.
 Casa Alfredino 06 May 2015
In reply to derryclimbs:

To be honest, if you want a route which is more reliable in this respect, look at doing the Dibona to the right of the face which tops out the same as the Fedele. The first 2/3's of the route is far away from the waterfalls and so makes it a less serious prospect in the case of rain. The climbings decent enough and the top section is excellent. If you are planning on a night out, then take a bivi bag and sleeping bag or maybe even rely on finding an overhang to sleep beneath or a fair night and just take the bag? I can't guarantee that though! Just make sure that your sleeping bag is well protected from rain in your rucksack so that if it pours you still have a dry sleeping bag!

But seriously, I would consider a fast and light approach anyway - it will make moving quickly possible - in my book carrying a tent on that route would just be bonkers and totally unnecessary. I did the Dibona with a friend, with me leading all the pitches and it was is first alpine climb - the previous longest route he'd done was the 1st sella tower the day before. If you plan to take all day, start at first light and plan to top out after last lift, it's actually not that hard to achieve and if you have to, you can escape along the terrace. I know you don't get to spend the night out, but it will make the outing more fun to be honest... even the lightest tent is heavier than none! Build up to it with other routes, or trying to do a couple of similar length routes in a day - the nearby Civazes would be an excellent training ground for this as you could to two routes there in fairly short order if you abseil down the face on the bolted abseil piste. That would give you 600m plus in the day, so the Dibona would be a small step up from there...
 d_b 06 May 2015
In reply to UKC Articles:

I remember climbing the Torre Delago around 2003. One of the best routes I have ever climbed anywhere. The exposure when you step left onto the arete is just wild.
 Casa Alfredino 06 May 2015
In reply to derryclimbs:

Thinking about it, the other route which would be worth doing if you really want to do it over a couple of days, maybe even three if you want to take your time, would be Tofana di Rozes via the Dimai Eotvos. This is a complex route to find, but it has the advantage that there are some spots which would be ideal for a bivi. For example you could walk in and climb up to the first amphitheatre on the first day. Just after the amphitheatre there is a spot which is large enough and flat enough to sleep. It's pretty well protected from dangers being on a spur and beneath a short rock pillar. Then the next day you could do the climb up to the summit shoulder. Here again there is a large flat area where you could sleep. Then the next day traverse the summit and walk back down. Well worth a look I'd say and it has some breathtaking positions on it... https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.867129576692067.1073741841.719723218099371&type=3&...
 derryclimbs 06 May 2015
In reply to Casa Alfredino:

cheers for that. Will check it out. Sounds amazing already
 James Rushforth Global Crag Moderator 07 May 2015
In reply to AlanLittle:

Thanks all, glad the article provoked a bit of thought

Alan the Gran Pilaster is excellent, though the route finding isn't obvious despite been a classic and there are some decent runouts (quite compact rock in places) for a grade IV. Well worth a look though. If you're over that way I'd also have a look at the Spigolo del Velo, superb outing, albeit at a slightly harder grade (but still very reasonable).
 Offwidth 07 May 2015
In reply to UKC Articles:

Nice article spoilt a little by calling these routes 'easy'. Frankly a lot of protectable single pitch E1 routes are a less of an undertaking than some of these beautiful beasts. Mostly orange dot in the Rockfax codes to boot.
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 AlanLittle 07 May 2015
In reply to James Rushforth:

Yep, did the Spigolo del Velo. Fantastic area, thought the G.P. looked techically easier but longer and a bit bigger approach & descent.

Perla Nera is my actual big ambitious Pala target, but well outside the "easy" category
 Casa Alfredino 07 May 2015
In reply to Offwidth:

I don't know, I'd say all of them bar the Fedele/Dibona are achievable within a weeks holiday given the right preparation and fitness before you get there. Yeah, maybe not for the vdiff weekend warrior, but if you climb VS regularly and get ready for it, why not?
 Offwidth 07 May 2015
In reply to Casa Alfredino:
We have routes called 'easy' in the UK they are scrambles (tricky exposed paths where some very basic climbing skills are required). VS means very severe not easy. Most experienced VS leaders are more than capable of leading the odd low extreme that suits them. These routes are mainly big days with intricate route finding at times and sometimes with imperfect rock and mountain weather to deal with (I've topped out in mid-summer in the dollies in a blizzard once).
Post edited at 12:28
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 Casa Alfredino 07 May 2015
In reply to Offwidth: Well absolutely, but as I say, with a representative amount of training and fitness, I still maintain it is possible for a VS leader to climb 4 out of these five climbs by the end of a weeks holiday. I mean Sass di Stria has a 30 minute walk in walk out. The Vajolet towers are a bit of a hike in - up the Santnerpass VF is the most pleasant, but at least you can see the weather coming and it's not exactly a long route if you need to bail. Sas Ciampac again has a trivial approach. Yes it is more serious, but the climbing is actually pretty straight forwards, probably HS at most. I've not done the Dibona on Cima Grande, and of all of them, I would personally say it requires the most mountain nouse. The descent is really complex, the approach is not the easiest if only in terms of getting out of puff, and you are in an exposed position for sure. But having said all of that, I did a route on Cima Grande on my first trip to the Dolomites. You're right scrambling skills on this are a must. Piz pordoi, again, I've only done the Dibona from the bottom to top, but really in terms of scrambling there is none, and the descent is absolutely the most trivial of the lot. Sure it's a big wall, but really the difficulty comes from the mileage you're putting in. It's the only one I'd say you need to work up to as it's such a big face. I guess easy is a perception based upon what you've done before, but considering many climbers in the UK would profess to be comfortable on VS, I would say it's actually not that big a step to make to start on say the Sella towers climbing a route like the Steger, moving on to the Little Micheluzzi on Civazes, doing the South Arete of Sass di Stria and then building to larger routes. Sure you have to build up to them, but it's not something that is achievable for the average climber. What is required is a change in attitude and proper preparation.
 Casa Alfredino 07 May 2015
In reply to Offwidth:
Plus you refer to easy meaning a scramble. You can't refer to a grading system used in the UK and instigated when Very Severe WAS very severe because you were climbing it in hobnailed boots with a rope tied your waist and a roll up hanging from your lips to describe alpine routes and then say well that's just not cricket. I don't think anybody would make a connection between these routes and a scramble - they are climbing routes and it would be pretty naive of someone to read the title and then expect a scramble. All you've got to do is look at the pictures!
Post edited at 13:11
 Offwidth 07 May 2015
In reply to Casa Alfredino:

Nothing you have said makes any of these routes easy which was preciesely my point. An unqualifed 'easy' is this context a lazy term for better climbers being silly and snobbish. If the climbing started at IV- big multipitch you could maybe say easy for the area, but it doesn't.
 AlanLittle 07 May 2015
In reply to Offwidth:

> We have routes called 'easy' in the UK they are scrambles

So what? You are being ridiculous. What do parochial gading scales from the century before last have to do with whether or not alpine routes are hard or easy by current standards?

Yes, these routes require certain competences that one does not necessarily acquire at Stanage - the ability to keep going at a reasonable pace all day, the ability to move briskly with little or no protection on technically straightforward but exposed terrain. But these are basic mounaineering skills and don't make the routes "hard" by any vaguely contemporary standard.
 Offwidth 07 May 2015
In reply to AlanLittle:
They are hard for a good proportion of contemporary UK trad leaders (at least 1/4). Nigh on impossible for some.
Post edited at 14:10
 James Rushforth Global Crag Moderator 07 May 2015
In reply to Offwidth:

Can I assume you've lumped me into the Rockfax camp and will now argue if the grass is green with me?

They are easy routes in relation to others in the area. It was not an attempt by myself to be arrogant regarding climbing abilities.

It should be obvious to anyone that climbing a big route is different to a Stanage single pitch. I seriously doubt people needed that clarifying.

'Easy perhaps moderate (length dependant) classic routes in the Dolomites' doesn't make for so catchy a title .
 AdamCB 07 May 2015
In reply to James Rushforth:

Grade comparison tables suggest UIAA IV+ is somewhere between UK S and HS - or is this misleading?
 Casa Alfredino 07 May 2015
In reply to Offwidth:

> They are hard for a good proportion of contemporary UK trad leaders (at least 1/4). Nigh on impossible for some.

Sorry, we'll have to disagree on that one. IMO, any average VS climber could climb the Sass di Stria and find it pretty easy - it's no harder than climbing Munich Climb or some of the routes at Idwal slabs.

You are basically implying that a total novice is going to just jump on the Fedele without thinking. I can pretty much guarantee that if you stood a novice infront of the Pordoi they would swiftly tell you where to shove it. I think its well known that climbers serve a bit of an apprenticeship and progress their skills autonomously. This will usually include learning to scramble and climb efficiently and build up to a route like the Fedele. In the context of an alpine big wall the Fedele is pretty easy. And James has suggested other routes here which could help lead up to it. And yeah, OK some people will not find the Sass di Stria easy, but then saying only scrambling can be counted as easy is a bit extreme... So come on then, suggest some routes in the Dolomites which WOULD be easy?
 Offwidth 07 May 2015
In reply to James Rushforth:

I'm not sure what your opening question means so for the moment I can only assume its the usual lazy ad-hominen (when in fact Rockfax/UKC in my view are normally good at avoiding pointless elitist labels).

I wouldn't have been fussed if you said easy for the area but you didn't. '5 classic dolomites adventures' would be best for me (in the sense of classic rock)

Moderate is a standard US term for the routes described but also risks confusion with the UK perspective.
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 Offwidth 07 May 2015
In reply to Casa Alfredino:

Munich is HVS now
 Casa Alfredino 07 May 2015
In reply to Offwidth:

Really? Why?
 Offwidth 07 May 2015
In reply to AdamCB:

Yes, its more like HS to VS. It's translated the technical crux without taking the other factors into account that make an adjectival grade.
 Offwidth 07 May 2015
In reply to Casa Alfredino:

In the guidebooks its now HVS (I disagree but am in the minority).

https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/c.php?i=50660 and also in the definitive.
 Casa Alfredino 07 May 2015
In reply to Offwidth:

Well OK then. It's easier than Munich climb. Let me think. Direct route on Glyder Fach... It's really not that hard or committing what with bolted belays, not that many pitches and the harder ones being early on in the route...
 dsh 07 May 2015
In reply to Casa Alfredino:
> Sorry, we'll have to disagree on that one. IMO, any average VS climber could climb the Sass di Stria and find it pretty easy - it's no harder than climbing Munich Climb or some of the routes at Idwal slabs.

A friend and I with no Alpine experience did this route after a year of climbing, it was easy, easier than VS. It also has easy route finding, fixed belays and an easy walk off through man made tunnels. I would agree that it is comparable to something like grooved arete. So I'd definitely agree that it is a beginner route. Not elitist at all.

Great article and it really made me want to go back to the Dolomites.
Post edited at 14:47
 James Rushforth Global Crag Moderator 07 May 2015
In reply to Offwidth:

> I wouldn't have been fussed if you said easy for the area but you didn't. '5 classic dolomites adventures' would be best for me (in the sense of classic rock)

Only then you'd be missing the main point of the article as the routes are selected towards the 'easier' end of the spectrum

People climbing E5 would probably prefer the Hasse-Brandler to the south arete of Sass di Stria... The point of the article was to try and avoid that by selecting less hard routes that people can enjoy. Apologies for offending you with the title.
 Offwidth 07 May 2015
In reply to James Rushforth:

I'm not offended. I already said easier in that context would be fine: I'm just pointing out the climbs are not easy to a UK trad audience. The mean grade of routes led on the UKC databases is easier than most of those routes.
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 Alan Bates 07 May 2015
In reply to UKC Articles:

Oh well back to the purpose of the article. i.e. to whet the appetite of those of us who might be looking to climb at easy grades i.e. those at VS and below in Europe.
So it fits me perfectly, 30 years of climbing (mainly trad), and mountaineering, rarely leading harder than VS but who recognises when he sees an article with the title ‘The Dolomites - 5 Easy Route Recommendations’ that it might just be aimed exactly at me.
Good article, thanks. Did make me wonder how I’ve never been to the Dolomites, did make me think I’d like to get out there and every route in the article looks very doable and enjoyable, even if 4 of them in a week might be an overdose for me.

To Offwidth, who seems - let’s just say pedantic, I think you’ll find most of us who climb at VS and below recognise that in the big scheme of things we’re climbing easy routes, even if they can still sometimes scare the sh*t out of us. So in my opinion there is no snobbery or offense in calling these routes easy, the grades (mainly IV+) are instantly recognisable as not English graded scrambles, nor did I look at the article expecting to find scrambling routes. Furthermore in most international Grade comparison charts IV+ is one of the first grade on the chart. i.e. one of the Easier grades.
 BruceM 07 May 2015
In reply to Alan Bates:

I've climbed a lot in the Dolomiti and I only do easy stuff. Only III-IV generally. The only one on the list that I've done is Sass di Stria - which was at the upper end for me, mostly because it is quite polished in places and quite vertical. Which makes it a little bit bold given it is just as spaced out as anywhere else over there. Very nice though!

One thing I always say about the place -- which I love, by the way -- is that you have to be cautious with the grade because climbing there is all about navigation and being run out. The topos don't look quite as straightforward when you are 2-300m up a big grey face. You don't want to get lost on a III and end up on a VI+ or something with 7-10m to the last rusty peg -- with polish! So go conservatively till you know the scene.

Hence after about 6-8 trips there over the years I still mostly climb big long III+ to IV+ s. Been on a handful of pitches of V- . But I can't wait to get back for more. See you all there.
 Offwidth 07 May 2015
In reply to Casa Alfredino:
https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/c.php?i=85392

votes average easy VS.

Thing about the Dolomites is there are more serious hazzards than the average ascent of something like Direct Route on Glyder Fach. The routes listed are longer (route finding and escape is more complex), there is more loose rock, there is way more bad behaviour (heavy traffic and loose rock isn't a great combination to start with but people climbing over you is sadly not uncommon and I was once seconds from being killed on a route having just clipped the belay when someone impatient below leading up over my lead ropes fell and grabbed my ropes), much more seriously changeable weather (the snowstorm in August that hit me wasn't predicted and dumped 20cm in a few hours...I was lucky to at the top of difficulties when it started). Its a great place to climb for those seeking long adventures at the VS/HS technical standard of climbing but its not 'easy'.
Post edited at 17:20
 AlanLittle 07 May 2015
In reply to Offwidth:

Oh for Christ's sake. You're either being absurdly pedantic, or trolling, or both. Hardly anybody would consider putting a rope on for a III, so IV is at the bottom end of what anybody likely to go to the Dolomites would regard as actual climbing, so "easy".

That it might not be easy enough for somebody for whom a diff at Stanage is the outer edge of the conceivable is completely irrelevant, because there is no danger of such a person reading the article and thinking "right, I'm off to Cortina tonight".

James wrote a good article about some great routes (perhaps pimping his book slightly in the process, but I have no problem with that). Why do you feel the need to point out to the world that the Dolomites are a bit more serious than Birchen Edge, when anybody likely to have any interest in going there already knows that?
 Offwidth 07 May 2015
In reply to AlanLittle:

"Hardly anyone would bother to put a rope on for a III " well done, that makes the appropriateness of the 'easy' point pale in comparison.... tell it to the queues at Cinque Torre.
In reply to BruceM:

@ BruceM, Casa Alfredino, James Rushford and all the other knowledgeable people out there:

without getting into the how long is a length of rope discussion regarding what's easy: do you have some some grade III to grade IV suggestions?
In reply to Offwidth: yes, you are right, it is more serious and you need more developed skills. They are still the same skills you use in the uk, which is exactly my point. Yes you have to exercise your right to caution, but there is not much which can't be practiced and prepared for before you get there. But i would still say its a more moderate and achievable skillset than is required to go and do high alpine mountaineering routes in Chamonix, which plenty of people go and do quite safely. Yes, you have to deal with thunderstorms, bigger routes and more complex route finding, but also there is often far more fixed gear, abseil pistes and pretty steady approach routes. And also there is an excellent and well developed hut system which can help you significantly with somewhere to shelter. I just don't think things are quite as gloomy as you are saying...
 Offwidth 08 May 2015
In reply to beardy mike:
Close friends and quite a few acquaintances of mine died in the alps (all I know well have had close calls) and yet only a small minority of the climbers I know climb there. More of my pals climb UK multipitch and climb this more often but close calls are rare. Risk levels in climbing vary massively depending on venue, with past risk of the world's best on some climbs having odds at times that were worse than russian roulette. The dolomites risk level in my experience fits in between that in the alps and that in UK trad mountain multipitch, alongside UK winter. Part of this risk increase is the terrible risky behaviour of some European climbers on what are very busy routes with loose rock about (something you don't see say on popular big 'moderates' in the US). So I repeat these routes are neither easy nor the same risk level as UK mountain classics. Its not gloom its just my honest view on risk levels in an activity I love. No climbing is safe.

The two easiest graded climbs I did in the Dolomites were IIIs on Cinque Torre. I've soled loads of long mountain VDiffs and the odd S but no way would I solo them. Then to what happened on those routes: someone was seriously injured on a VI near us when on one of the routes and the rescue helicopter showered us with rocks for 5 minutes whilst they lifted him off. On the other route it started raining lightly and the second of the pair in front panicked and either dropped gear on us or left it in the route. We cllmbed and rapped as fast as we could (to try and hand expensive cams back) and then shot off to the cable car but they had gone. There was also terrible belay practice on view here (some from a guide) and even, here on shorter lumps, the odd morons trying to overtake people in front.

I've also had lovely experiences in The Dolomites but the best of all was an accessible IV route just after heavy rain (so that the normal crowds on that climb were missing).
Post edited at 13:16
 Casa Alfredino 08 May 2015
In reply to Offwidth:

I do agree with you about about other mountain goers in Europe sometimes being downright hazardous. I share your experience on that count for sure. I think the level of training and learning UK trad climbers experience is far far higher than in europe. Our instruction system is absolutely second to none IMO, whereas european climbers I have the impression rely on learning from mates of mates and old, bad practice is carried on down the line. Indeed like you some of my worst experiences on this front have been with guides who have a macho, complacent attitude. Certainly not all of them, but one was a Trentino guide and the other an instructor from CAI. It IS a hazard of being in the mountains there which you wouldn't experience here for sure.

On the front of risk, I don't think anybody here is claiming that it's less risky or equally risky to UK climbing. What I've been saying is that the average UK climber would be able to attain the required skillset to be able to climb quite a number of these routes. If the average ability of a climber on UKC is HS, then that indicates that many are climbing at a higher level, otherwise this wouldn't be an average! So citing routes at IV as being attainable to most is IMO accurate. That it has a different risk level and skillset required is also pretty obvious. At any rate, I am busy writing an article to cover the extra requirements the average climber would need to fulfill to make climbing in the Dolomites a serious proposal. So actually although I seem combative, this is actually a useful and interesting discourse and has made me think about it in a modified way...
 Offwidth 08 May 2015
In reply to Casa Alfredino:
I actually agree that IV is easily obtainable for most UK HS multipitch leaders, thing is you would expect 'easy' routes to be part of the means of that learning process, not what most would regard as big aims once you have sorted out the basics. The learning process involves moving fast enough to meet (or be close enough to) book times on longer routes, in terrain with navigation complexity, possible queues etc. I think articles or books on climbing in The Dolomites tend to understate this (James is much better than most) and also understate the additional objective risks of crowds, dangerous practice and loose rock.

This is an example of what happens when things go wrong (with no-one hurt but partly in consequence we now face higher BMC insurance premiums)

http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=585185

Another risk story for you... just been new routing in Sinai desert and some pals wouldn't come due to the terrorism risk, some of whom had expedition climbed on smaller himalayan peaks.
Post edited at 16:11
 Tam O'Bam 22 May 2015
In reply to Juan S:

I don't know how long a length of rope is, but I CAN tell you how long a piece of string is. 14.2 cm. I know because I've measured it. I have it in one of my kitchen drawers!
 Jamie B 22 May 2015
In reply to UKC Articles:

Interesting topic. I'm a solid VS leader and I found that 4/4+ was enough for me in the Dolomites, feeling more like VS than HS. And I certainly wouldn't have soloed any of the grade III pitches we encountered.
In reply to Jamie B:

What was it about the climbing at that grade which made you feel it was more like VS? The steepness, exposure, technical difficulty, the gear? Or sommit else?

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