December 5, 2014
Indian summer in the Dolomites - Part 1
Summer is over and the last guiding jobs of autumn are finished. So what do mountain guides get up to when they’ve got some free time and the autumn weather is great? That’s right – they go climbing! Our work is also our hobby, and that’s just the way we like it.
There’s a stable high pressure system sitting over the Alps and the first snowfall in October was not as heavy in the south as it was in the north, so we decide to head to the Dolomites for a few days of fun in the mountains. We set off from Innsbruck in the afternoon, our sights set on Sella, the Marmolada and the Civetta. The plan is to use the via ferrata on the Civetta – 2000 metres of height gain from the valley to one of the best summits and finest viewpoints in the Dolomites – as a warm up for a few days climbing.
Prelude on the Civetta
We bivouac next to the car, cook some risotto with bacon and onions and hunker down in our sleeping bags. Sleeping under the stars is more pleasant with a full stomach and a cup of wine and even at -5 °C our bivi gear keeps us nice and warm.
Next morning we set off at sunrise on the approach walk to the start of the via ferrata. The surrounding peaks glow red in the morning sun. The Civetta via ferrata is long but not that technically difficult and we are soon standing on the summit, with bright sunshine and a cloudless sky. The views are breath-taking. We can see almost the whole of the Eastern Alps spread out in front of us, with long distance views stretching from the Dolomites to the Großglockner. After a lengthy rest break on the summit we head back down the Normal Route and past the Rifugio Torrani to the valley. Ice and snow on the slabby rocks makes the descent more exciting than expected but we manage ok and after a while we arrive back at the parking place, tired but with satisfied smiles – and ready for more Dolomite adventures.
More majestic views
The next stop is the Sella Pass at the head of the Val Gardena and our next objective a classic route on the First and Second Sella Towers. As we start up the first pitch the panorama is once again unbelievable. The Marmolada, Sassolungo, Piz Boè, a gleaming blue sky and gold-tinged larch trees divert our attention from the route. There are even a few edelweiss still flowering in the autumn sun. We have to concentrate hard to stop ourselves staring into the distance. Topping out on the First Tower, we can really enjoy the view. We’ve still got the Second Tower to go, but after an hour or so we are standing on the top. Again, the descent is via the Normal Route. We treat ourselves to a room Corvara, fuel up on pizza and get ready for the high-point of the trip.