Sella Towers & Piz Ciavazes have a reputation
for short approaches, easy descents, and well-protected routes
that are not too long. However just on the other side of the
Sella Pass is the Sassolungo area, where the routes are a
much more serious undertaking and have an "alpine"
experience about them.
Between Cortina and St Kassian is the Falzarego Pass,
which offers some of the best rock climbing in the Dolomites.
There are plenty of south-facing mid-grade routes; with short
easy approaches; uncomplicated descents; and solid, well-protected
The highest mountain in the Dolomites is Marmolada,
with its impressive 800m high and 3km wide south facing limestone
wall. All of the routes on this face are long and serious,
and unique to the Dolomites, may take longer than a day to
complete. Hence it is wise to pack a bivouac bag. Unless you
catch the expensive last cable car from the summit then the
descent is down the north side of the mountain, which has
the only glacier in the region! It is therefore recommended
that in-step crampons and lightweight boots be worn.
The north face of Cima Grande is one of
the great alpine north faces and is breathtakingly steep -
a real big wall. At 450m & 16-pitches long, and graded
at UIAA V11- (UK E2 5c or French 6b) it is very sustained
for long periods and therefore demands the prestige attached
to it. However as with many of the routes in the Dolomites
it is possible to aid across the difficult sections, which
reduces this route to V1/A1 (UK E1 5B or French 6a).
The Dolomites - Logistics
The best time of the year to visit the Dolomites for rock
climbing is the summer months of July through to September.
However it is not possible to guarantee good weather during
this time - after all this is still the Alps! During prolonged
periods of bad weather it is possible to escape to the superb
rock climbing area at Arco which is
only a 2.5 hour drive away.
With regards to equipment it is sensible to bring duel ropes
if you are going to attempt some of the longer routes. Though
a lot of the routes are bolted it is advisable to bring a
full rack of nuts and friends.
The nearest international airports are Venice and Verona
in Italy or Munich and Salzburg to the north. As the Dolomites
area is vast, it is advisable to hire a car in order to easily
travel around the different areas.