So called because of the huge grey slabs which can tenuously be likened to a whale's back, Moby Dick is a long and challenging route. The lower part is particularly worthwhile, with climbing typical of the Marmolada on slabs and water-worn grooves. The upper section is longer and somewhat laborious in places. The rock is incredibly compact, making gear placements hard to find, but there is generally some fixed gear when most needed. Nonetheless this is an excellent route which, like all of the routes on the south face, should not be underestimated.
From Rifugio O.Falier, ascend west towards Passo Ombretta on path 610 for about half an hour until level with a prominent black streak - the waterfall which runs down the south face of Punta Ombretta. Leave the path here and cut across grassy slopes to the base of the face. Keep to the right of the line of the waterfall to a large yellow overhang. Climb easy ground to a ledge and follow this right below a large chimney to a slab, bordered by a grey corner on the right side. Start in the centre of the slab between a chimney on the left and a corner on the right, just below large yellow overhanging on the right.
1) V+, 30m. Climb the slab to the left of the corner to a small roof, then move diagonally left over a series of stepped ledges to a stance below a bulge.
2) V+, 30m. Move left to climb the small roof then follow a short corner left. Where this ends climb a slab diagonally right.
3) VI-, 35m. Climb to an overhang above, either direct or slightly on the right (easier), then make a rising traverse left below it to a stance below a small roof.
4) VII, 35m. Move left then climb direct between two small roofs, using the left edge of the rightmost roof to pull through onto a technical slab above. Climb this then traverse right to a stance below roofs.
5) VI-, 45m. Move right to below the rightmost edge of the roofs, then climb direct to reach them. Traverse left below them, breaching them at their weakest point, to then continue direct to reach a series of ledges.
6) VI+, 20m. Step right then climb direct then diagonally left up the steep wall above to a stance by two parallel niches below a slanting roof.
7) VII or VII-/A0, 50m. Move left from the niche then climb a short crack direct, traverse left then climb direct again. From here, either descend a short distance before traversing left again to reach a crack, climb this direct, or climb direct to a roof and move left to the stance just left of this.
8) V, 50m. There are two options here - either step left to enter a funnelled gully then exit this left below a roof to climb a slanting corner right before traversing below a roof to the stance on a ledge (easier). Alternatively, move right from the belay up a steep slab then follow a crack to the ledge.
9) V, 35m. Ignore the corner above, climbing direct a few metres to its right, then enter the corner and follow it right then direct to a stance just below and right of an overhang.
10) V-, 25m. Step right then follow a flared corner direct past various bulges to a stance on a small ledge below a roof.
11) V-, 55m. Move left below the roof to follow the continuation corner above. Exit this right at the top, crossing a slab to a good ledge.
12) V+, 50m. Climb a crack direct then continue in the same line before moving right until a small roof below two niches.
13) IV, 30m. Follow the ledge right then skirt around the niches before climbing direct then back left, keeping left of a line of three higher niches.
14) VI+, 40m. Climb diagonally left then move back right up a steep face to a series of steep grey slabs, the so-called 'Whale's Back' from where the route takes its name.
15) VII-, 35m. Climb the steep slabs right then climb direct to a niche.
16) V+, 40m. Move right from the niche, keeping a good 20m left of a prominent black streak and climb direct to a roof. Climb this on its right side then continue direct to reach the half-way ledge. Possible bivouac on the ledge.
17) I, 30m. Continue up the ledge to the face above then follow a smaller ledge left.
18) IV+, 50m. Step further left on the ledge then gain a gully slanting right. Climb this then exit direct to roofs, then follow a ledge left to reach a damp chimney. Climb this for a few metres to a stance below a bulge.
19) V-, 45m. Continue up the chimney for a few metres then climb the slab on its left to a slanting roof. Move left to reach an abseil station.
20) VII-/A0, 40m. Make a short abseil then traverse left below a small overhang before climbing a crack direct to a stance below another small roof.
21) VII-/A0, 50m. Climb to the left of the roof then follow the black crack above direct to a line of roofs. Pull through these with difficulty then move more easily left to a stance between two black water stripes.
22) VI-, 55m. Climb a slab direct then enter a crack. Climb this then move left into a wide chimney and follow this to a stance in its widest point.
23) IV, 40m. Climb the narrower chimney above then exit right on looser rock to a ledge below a corner.
24) IV-, 30m. Climb the corner to where it slants right.
25) V-, 50m. Climb a slab above, weaving left, right then direct to a stance in a niche.
26) V-, 40m. Exit left from the niche then continue up the slab direct to a crack.
27) IV+, 35m. Continue up the crack to a roof, move left below this to pull through into a corner.
28) IV+, 50m. Follow the corner to another small roof then exit right before climbing an open corner direct to a ledge on the right.
29) IV+, 40m. Follow a chimney/gully then the subsequent chimney, then climb a short crack before stepping right to a good ledge.
30) V+, 35m. Climb direct to a line of small overhangs then pull through these via a loose crack to a short chimney. Climb this to exit onto the top of the pillar.
Descent - Make a short abseil from the pillar's summit to reach the rocky ridge, and follow this west to the Punta Rocca cable car station. Take the cable car down to Malga Ciapela or alternatively follow the normal route down the glacier, 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
Ticklists: Euro Alpine Rock.