It was 2:30 p.m. on Monday when we sat on the half way ledge, finishing all but two sips of water. Susanne enjoying the heat; me wilting in the baking sun. At that point I felt content that we had climbed 350m and that we could just make the sensible choice... to walk round the ledge, start descending in daylight and be back at the van by early evening. We didn’t make the sensible choice!
So at 8 p.m. the climbing finally stopped as I scrambled up the last 20 of 700 meters to the summit of Torre Treste, of the Cevitta Group in the Italian Dolomites. Susanne and I had climbed the Cassin (Southeast ridge) VII- or VIII- or VI/A2 depending which guide book you believe. It only has one pitch of VII-, or five, or one pitch of VIII- many of VII and a few IV+ pitches on loose rock that were actually VII. Either way both of us, having had a full-on fulfilling adventurous experience since leaving the van sixteen hours ago, now relaxed and enjoyed the summit for a mere thirty seconds. Looking towards the banks of cloud, with the setting sun colouring them red as they made the dreaded deep rumble of thunder, we each had a last sip of water that we had saved, and felt happy we had continued to the top as the second half had provided some superb climbing. We swapped tight rock shoes for comfortable trainers and started to follow the varying guidebook descriptions of complicated descent. At midnight we were only two thirds of the way down the decent, wandering around some rubble strewn gully, trying to figure out the way down. Up, down, left, right... nothing but loose limestone and head-torches searching the blackness of night. The dreaded thought of having to spend the night up here seeping into our heads, must have forced our brains into gear and we somehow found the way and arrived at 2 a.m. back at the bags.
The next day we slept in late and ate lots of food, all of which my body quickly rejected. I had picked up food poisoning from somewhere. I decided it would pass and tried to ignore it as much as I could. We stuck with our plan and headed off to climb the Hasse Brandler on the famous Tre Cima. The next morning it hadn’t passed; my body rejected breakfast on the walk in. I decided to eat nothing on the route as there was definitely going to be other people around and somehow I doubted even the Europeans would find the consequences of me eating acceptable. I enjoyed the struggle of running on no energy, fighting stomach cramps for the top half of the route and all the other feelings that come with pushing yourself hard. We could have just taken the easy option on Monday and bailed from half way. We could also have not climbed on Wednesday when I was ill - but that would be easy, or would it actually be harder?
Leading somewhere on the lower half of The Cassin. Rock solidity was fairly low on this pitch! © Susanne Süßmeier
Susanne about 300m up The Cassin
Deciding if we should bail on or not, me looking bit red! © Susanne Süßmeier
Enjoying the upper pitches of solid rock and non sandbag grades! © Susanne Süßmeier
Feeling content on the summit!
Back at the bags the moon showing us the way back to the van.
The next morning with Torre Treste in the background.
A few more pics from the week.
Costantini-Apollonio Tufana di Rozes.
All my Scottish winter grovel skills about to be put to good use on the Costantini-Apollonio Tufana di Rozes. © Susanne Süßmeier
Walking back from the Costantini-Apollonio Tufana di Rozes.
First light on the Cima's.
Hasse Brandler immaculate lower pitches. © Susanne Süßmeier
The Tri Cima car park at sunset! © Susanne Süßmeier
Thanks to Susanne showing me round the Dolomites it was a great trip!