Perhaps the most famous climb on the face and arguably in the Dolomites. This much-coveted route takes its name from the fish-shaped niche it passes through in the middle of the huge Ombretta slab. The climb unfolds on steep slabs that are notoriously difficult to protect. The route is equipped with fixed pegs but these are few and far between and often of dubious quality. The route is rarely climbed onsight and most parties will benefit from taking a couple of skyhooks. Whilst it is possible to abseil back down the route from the niche or halfway ledge, this is a major undertaking and most parties choose to complete the climb to the summit.
The original route, as described here, begins about 50m right of the large brown water streak which descends directly from the cable car station. Scramble over the rocks at the base to reach the start of the route, below a series of small bulges. It is also possible to avoid the initial two pitches of the original route by scrambling right to reach a large ledge. Follow this easily left for 200m to the foot of a grey crack at the start of pitch 3.
1) V+, 35m. Climb direct through a bulge then move right through a second bulge. Continue more easily direct to a ledge.
2) III+, 25m. Move a few metres left then climb easily diagonally left to a second ledge below a grey crack.
3) V+, 50m. Climb the grey crack then follow a flake left to reach a good ledge. Belay below a crack on the left.
4) II, 25m. Traverse easily left. There is an alternative direct variation (V, 45m) which climbs a crack direct, keeping left of a series of roofs then moving left, avoiding the next pitch.
5) V, 45m. Climb a grey crack above the stance towards a roof. Avoid this on the right to a stance below small roofs.
6) III+, 40m. Follow a ramp right to a belay on a ledge.
7) VI-, 50m. Move left to a small roof, avoid this on the left then climb vertical cracks to reach a bulge. Pull through this to reach the base of a grey corner.
8) VI, 40m. Climb the corner on excellent rock, trending slightly right to reach a stance on a small pulpit.
9) VI, 35m. Climb a crack above the belay then continue in the corner, moving right to an uncomfortable stance.
10) VI+, 25m. Climb the cracked bulge just left of the belay then climb a lovely pocketed slab leftwards then vertically to a stance on a narrow ledge.
11) VII-, 35m. Climb direct from the belay then follow a narrow crack right to a small roof. Avoid this on the right then pull through to the stance.
12) VII- 40m. Climb a crack just left of the belay then follow an easier ramp in the same line to reach a roof. Traverse 3m right then climb a difficult pocketed face to a belay in a small niche.
13) VIII/7a or VII/A1, 35m. Climb direct for a couple of metres then make an awkward traverse left to reach a small ledge. Traverse left to reach a vertical crack, climb this then move slightly left on loose holds to a stance.
14) VII, 35m. Traverse left, climb direct then move slightly left to reach the left edge of a niche. Traverse a few metres left to reach a second niche. From here, climb a vertical crack to reach a narrow ledge.
15) VIII+/7b or VII/A2, 35m. Move right then climb direct, following a grey open corner on very sloping holds (usually aided) to an uncomfortable stance on dubious pegs.
16) VIII-/6c or VII/A1, 20m. Traverse 4m right then make a powerful move (often aided) to reach a small hollow. Climb this then move right to enter the famous fish-shaped niche, belaying on bolts on the right side. There is a possible but uncomfortable bivouac in the fish itself on uneven ground which is poorly sheltered from the elements.
17) VIII/7a+ or VII/A2, 40m. Exit right from the niche with technical and delicate climbing then climb vertically and dynamically to reach a good thread. Traverse left past more threads to a point directly above the left side of the fish, then climb direct on pockets to a stance. Ignore this and continue on pockets for 10m moving slightly left then back right to reach a good thread.
18) VIII+/7b or VII+ A2, 20m. Climb direct to reach a niche on the left, then continue with difficult moves diagonally left on pockets. This section can be overcome with difficulty using a skyhook and is rarely freed. Make a smeary traverse right then continue direct on small pockets before moving diagonally right to an uncomfortable stance.
19) VIII/7a+ or VI A1, 35m. Climb a slab leftwards, then descend for 5m (either down climb or use the rope to swing, using feet on the face) then climb a delicate slab on small sloping pockets, with minimal footholds, to reach a crack. Follow the grey crack to a belay on the left of a roof.
20) VII-, 15m. Cross right over loose rock to reach a yellow corner. Climb this to a crack through the roof, then move right to overcome the overhang. Continue to a belay on a pulpit above.
21) VII+, 40m. Climb direct above the belay, then move right to reach an open corner. Climb the well-protected corner, overcoming a shattered overhang at the top then continue more easily to the large ledge.
Possible bivvy 8m right of the stance, flat and sheltered from rain and with space for 6 people. It is possible to abseil down the route from this point, making 12 abseils on old pegs and tat.
22) VI, 15m. Begin 10m right of the bivvy (pegs). Climb a grey slab on small holds, then move slightly right then back left to a good peg belay.
23) VI-, 40m. Climb the grey corner above, then make a 2m traverse left before trending back right. Follow the corner on shattered rock, overcoming two bulges to reach a stance.
24) III+, 40m. Climb easier grey slabs to a good stance.
25) II, 40m. Continue in the same line to reach a stance in a niche, just below two overhangs.
26) V+, 50m. Climb the bulge above the stance (alternatively traverse right beneath it then climb a vertical crack to rejoin at the next belay) then continue right up the cracked grey slabs (numerous possible lines).
27) III, 50m. Move right up slabs, keeping the large yellow corner to the left until the final set of chimneys comes into view.
28) III, 40m. Continue up the slabs, taking the most solid line.
29) III+, 40m. Follow the slabs right for a few more metres then move back left, climbing a slab direct,
30) III, 30m. Climb direct to a small roof at the entrance to a deep chimney,
31) III, 45m. Move left to enter the chimney and climb this rightwards without major difficulties.
32) IV, 25m. Continue following the corner.
33) V+, 30m. Climb two successive bulges to reach a stance in the narrowest section of the chimney.
34) IV+, 35m. Continue up the chimney (sometimes wet), ignore a small ledge on the left and belay below a small roof at the base of an open corner.
35) V, 40m. Climb the roof on the left then enter the right-hand chimney/corner, then continue up an excellent pocketed slab.
36) IV, 40m. Move left to regain the chimney then follow this to an awkward stance.
37) VI-, 30m. Climb the right wall of the chimney, then exit right onto easier ground and continue for 10m back left to a comfortable stance.
38) III+, 55m. Continue on easy ground to the saddle, with a good view of the glacier. Climb easily left to a good ledge close to the Punta Rocca cable car.
Descent - Take the cable car down to Malga Ciapela. Alternatively, follow the normal route down the glacier on the north side down to Rifugio Pian dei Fiacconi, initially on the ski piste then keeping right (be aware of possible crevasses on the glacier, particularly later in the season) to reach a service track. Follow this back to Passo Fedaia. © Rockfax
UKC Logbook Description
A legendary route, and quite rightly so; a true masterpiece of Dolomite climbing. Nowadays the “Pesce” has become a classic extreme, and even if the original protection has been modified, it nevertheless remains a route not to be underestimated.