Climbing in Arco 2019

After our dolomites mission we spent a couple of days climbing in Arco. It was like returning to summer. We arrived in the afternoon and camped at “the zoo” which is right next to a huge line of cliffs full of climbing and about a kilometre from Arco. We made a sensible start by going out for pizza in the evening.

The next day we drove into the hills above the lake stopping near where Frauke and I, now almost 10 years ago, went mountain biking. I’ve been in Europe for a long time.

We walked down a busy rode and where it disappeared into a tunnel we followed a small side road. We branched off and went upwards to the start of our climb (named Kain und Abel). It was an interesting, well bolted, multipitch route with great views. This meant enjoyable climbing and low stress. Perfect.


View down to Lake Garda (Climbing in Arco)Johannes leading a pitch (Climbing in Arco)

Above left: From our happy multipitch we could see down towards Lake Garda. It’s the bit of blue in the distance. Above right: The climb was well protected and not particularly difficult.

Cris on route (Climbing in Arco)At the top of the climb (Climbing in Arco)

Above left: The climb was interesting. Above right: From the top we were able to walk back down a track to the road.

Kain und Abel Topo (Arco)

The following day we did another multi pitch climb (the via Calliope) which felt much more scary. I lead the first pitch. Someone had removed the bolts at the top so I set up something around a tree. Johannes wasn’t keen on leading the next pitch which was up a scary slippery chimney which wasn’t well protected. I scrambled up it not enjoying it at all.

I lead the next pitch which also wasn’t much better, starting with a traverse that you couldn’t protect. The climb itself was very funky and technically not so hard just not protected to the level I’d had liked and occasionally a bit polished.

I continued leading the following pitch also which was the crux but had nice big holds. Johannes lead the next one but stopped half way due to rope drag and set up an anchor around a tree. One of his placements between bolts was laughably bad. He had placed a friend into a small groove in the rock so that it faced up out of the rock. He didn’t have any other choice though. It was a case of not protecting it at all or putting in a dubious bit of pro. Probably others wouldn’t have been phased by the amount of bolts but I found it a bit sparse.

The pitch was cool but the rock looked unstable and like it might randomly break. It looked like it had been put down in a big pile with random bits sticking out and looking a bit loose.

I lead the last pitch and set up a final anchor around a tree. Julie and Phil arrived not long afterwards and we walked back down to our campsite.

Johannes belaying (Climbing in Arco)Johannes belaying (Climbing in Arco)

Above left: This pitch was scary. I lead up through a chimney with polished sides. The climbing wasn’t particularly difficult but it wasn’t that well protected and I was not keen to go hurtling down towards Johannes. Above right: Someone had chopped the bolts at the top of the first pitch so I had to set up an anchor around a tree near where Phil and Julie are standing.

Julie climbing (Climbing in Arco)Scary placement (Climbing in Arco)

Above left: Julie almost reaching the anchor on the 2nd pitch. Above right: Johannes was forced to make this dubious placement for lack of anything else.

Phil climbing (Climbing in Arco)

Above: Phil leads the last pitch.

Via Calliope Topo (Arco)

Johannes and I drove back to Lindau the following day and left again in the evening for the last time, getting ready for his new life in Norway. I packed for my Croatian holiday.

Dolomiten ohne Grenzen 2019

Johannes wanted to do a trip in the dolomites before leaving for Norway and Philip, Julie, and I were easily convinced.

Day 0 Lindau to Lunelli Hut

We drove from Lindau to the dolomites and up to the Lunelli Hut. It was raining as we arrived and we weren’t sure whether we would have to re-plan the trip a little.

Julie and Philipp ate the wraps that I had brought from my flat while Johannes and I sampled the polenta that was included in the halb-pension.

Day 1 Lunelli Hut to Carducci Hut

We got up early to beat the electrical storm that was expected after lunch. At 6:30 we headed off with bellies full of bread and jam. We arrived at the Berti Hütte after about an hour of ascending. From there we headed more steeply up into the mountains and the first ferrata route began. This was the Via ferrata Aldo Roghel. There were a few harder moves but it was generally quite ok. It lead us steeply up into the typical dolomite shaped mountains. We reached a pass and descended before traversing around through the rocky mountains and doing the second ferrata Cengia Gabriella. We arrived a the Carducci Hut in the evening.


Via ferrata Roghel: C, section D

Because of its length and demands, this stage is less frequently walked. There are hardly any other via ferratas in the Alps in such a wild environment. The route therefore requires solid Alpine experience and reliable weather conditions. Especially in early summer when there are still some old snow fields around, it is recommended to pack light crampons and an ice axe in your backpack. The crux of this tour is the very steep upper section of the via ferrata Roghel, where strong arms are required. If there are several climbers in the group, there is a risk of falling rocks in this steep draw. Long distances between the anchors require secure climbing and Alpine experience. The via ferrata is reasonably well secured but this could be improved. Because there is no simple short descent the tour must be continued using via ferrata Cengia Gabriella. The only refuge would be the Bivacco Cadore situated between the two via ferratas.

Via ferrata Cengia Gabriella: B,C

The route across Cengia Gabriella leads through the eastern and southern flank of Monte Giralba di Sotto to its west face. As a day tour from Rifugio Lunelli via both via ferratas to Rifugio Carducci, this is a long enterprise with over 1900m altitude. Top fitness and reliable weather conditions are required. On the upside, you will be on a little used route in a fantastic landscape!

Outdoor active has a fairly cautious description of the first day.

Weirdos (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)About to start (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)Julie and Phil (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)Phil strikes a heroic pose (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)

1) Weirdos ready to head off on a mission!

2) We had a big drive form Lindau to Italy.  It’s possible to drive to the Lunelli Hut and we did that staying the night there. Here we are for our before 7 a.m. alpine start. Julie and Phil are carrying bananas for added safety while Johannes, normally the most cautious, opted to take only his helmet.

3) We walked up the stony path to the Berti Hut in the morning arriving there after about an hour. From here the path  traversed around the mountains slightly before ascending sharply to the base of the rocky cliffs.

4) Phil takes a moment to put on a heroic pose as we get ready to start the first ferrata, Roghel.

Johannes on the first klettersteig (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)Looking back towards Phil (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)Taking a break (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)Posing (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)

1) The ferrata Roghel is mostly C with a D section. Johannes gets going.

2) Awesome views. Looking back in the direction we came.

3) Johannes and Cris taking a break in the valley above Biv. Cadore.

4) More posing in the sunshine.

Clipped in (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)On the ferrata (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)Dinner time (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)

1) My pack looks fairly large in this photo. I did really try hard to pack light though…

2) We continued around the side of the mountains.

3) We stayed the night at the Carducci Hut. The staff were friendly and the food was good.

Day 2 Carducci Hut to Drei Zinnen Hut

Good weather. We followed a klettersteig “Toni” up to a biv where we stopped for a snack. From there we were at a saddle and had a great view of the Drei Zinnen. We followed a path along below huge cliffs until we reached another saddle. From there we followed an easy klettersteig “Kriegsteig” to the Büllelejochhütte. It was crowded with many tourists so we ate our last wraps on the grass nearby before continuing to the Drei Zinnen Hut.

Phil sets off (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)Keeping low (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)Awesome view (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)Crossing snow (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)

1) Phil sets off.

2) The route had sections that required some being small.

3) Awesome dolomite views.

4) We came across a slope of snow despite it being late late August. There weren’t many sections like this though.

Cris and dolomites (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)Johannes and dolomites (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)Julie and dolomites (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)Yellow flowers on route (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)

1) Posing in the mountains again.

2) Johannes poses too.

3) And so does Julie.

4) Yellow flowers beside the track.

Lakes (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)Sitting at the Drei Zinnen Huette (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)The Drei Zinnen Huette (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)View of the Drei Zinnen by night (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)

1) A lake shortly before the Drei Zinnen Hut.

2) Us sitting outside at the Drei Zinnen Hut.

3) The Drei Zinnen Hut in the evening. It looks pretty nice but the hut itself was quite a tourist trap complete with unfriendly staff. I guess that’s what lots of people cause.

4) The Drei Zinnen in the evening looked particularly impressive.

The Drei Zinnen by night (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)The Drei Zinnen hut by night (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)

1) The Drei Zinnen in the evening looked particularly impressive especially with the cloud.

2) The hut again in the evening. Actually not the hut. We booked here but they put us in a small overflow hut nearby.

Day 3 Drei Zinnen Hut to Zsigmondsy Hut

In the morning we headed up behind the hut to do a short klettersteig up onto a rock tower. I really enjoyed it. It was steep with some ladders and cracks that we had to climb up.

We descended and headed back to the Drei Zinnen Hütte. After I had consumed an Apfelstrudel we headed up to the next klettersteig. It started with a tunnel up through the mountain that had been built in the war. We continued up to the summit of Paternkofel where we ate lunch and then along towards the Büllelejochhütte. After another Apple strudel we headed down to the Zsigmondsy Hütte for the evening.

At the top of the Torre di Toblin (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)Phil looking epic (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)Johannes climbing (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)Phil and Julie taking a lunch break (Dolomiten ohne Grenze August 2019)Route 101 (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)

1) We left the Drei Zinnen Hut in the morning and walked behind to a tower of rock. The Torre di Toblin has a ferrata on it’s Northern side. It’s graded C/D and climbs up a crack in the tower with interesting iron ladders. We’re at the cross at the top which has a good view back to the Drei Zinnen. The descent off to the North East is easier.

2) Phil looking epic.

3) Johannes climbing through the rocky dolomites. The hut in the background is the Drei Zinnen Hut and the spire behind it is the Torre di Toblin that we climbed first after leaving the hut.

4) After the Torre di Toblin we headed up to the summit of Paternkofel. We admired the amazing view from there.

5) The walking tracks are numbered.

Day 4 Zsigmondy Hut to Rotwandwiesen Hut

We headed off from the hut and began with an ascent. Then we had an easy traverse around the side of the mountains. After some time it became more technical and we ascended with steel rope. We reached a point where the path split into two. One part kept ascending into the Sentinellascharte and the other lead to the Anderter Scharte. We descended a bit and followed a narrow path into the scharte. We stopped for lunch and Philipp attempted to throw his back pack down the mountain. Luckily it was harder than he expected and we could recover it. We descended down and then along and down a ridge to the Rotwandwiesen Hütte. I was feeling a bit tired and we lazed in the hut until dinner time. It did its usual trick of raining but luckily it started after we arrived.

The Rifugio Zsigmondy Huette (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)Leaving the hut (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)Snow on route (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)Johannes and snow (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)

1) We spent the evening at Rifugio Zsigmondy. It was a pretty nice mountain hut and the food was good. I preferred it to the Drei Zinnen Huette, which felt more like mass tourisum.

2) We left the Rifugio Zsigmondy in the morning and sidled around to the other side of the valley and the beginning of our first ferrata, the Alpinisteig Strada degli Alpini.

3) We found a large patch of snow on the route.

4) Johannes and snow.

Johannes walking (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)Navigating the snow on the track (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)

1) Johannes striding purposefully.

2) Navigating the snow.

Day 5 Rotwandwiesen Hut to Lunelli Hut

The weather report made us a little uncertain what to do. Rain was predicted as early as midday and we were not keen to get caught in a storm up high. We decided to head up towards the Rotwand and if the weather looked bad at the Anderter Scharte we would bail early and backtrack the klettersteig we did yesterday and head up to the Sentinellascharte. From there we could drop down into the valley to the east and head to the Rifugio Berti.

We headed up into the hills at a speedy pace and by the time we reached the Anderter Scharte the weather was still ok. We decided to go on. The ascent to the Rotwand was fun. It began with an easy climb without rope and then continued with a steel rope. My legs felt good and I enjoyed the climb to the summit.

We didn’t spend long there as it looked like the weather was coming in. Grey clouds were forming and mist started to rise out of the valley. Instead we headed down slightly and began traversing across to the Zandonella Ferrata. The klettersteig was nice. We were descending instead of going up it. We found it reasonably technical. It felt quite alpine. We could see old snow across in the valley and the spiky dolomite peaks looked impressive.

From the bottom of the klettersteig we descended into the valley. I chose to slide down a stony scree slope to a patch of snow and glissade down that. It didn’t work terribly well and Johannes waited further down. We spent a wee while at a small but nice lake before continuing down past the Berti Hut to the Lunelli Hut where we drank hot chocolate and coffee. We then drove to Cortina del Ampezzo to camp for the night.

The following day we did a fun multipitch climb at the Cinque Torre in the hills above Cortina. It was the same two pitch climb that I did with Leonie back in 2017. This time I had friends with me and I placed them along the way.

We had a coffee at the refugio after climbing and then drove to Lake Garda.

Johannes going up (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)Green beside the track (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)Us at the top of Croda Rossa di Sesto (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)Descending to Rifugio Berti (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)

1) The following day we headed back up into the mountains. Johannes wore his tight pants again to show of his shapely butt. Or something.

2) The track on the way back into the mountains.

3) We ascended the Rotwand Klettersteig ending up at the top of the Croda Rossa di Sesto (2936m).

4) The descent via the ferrata Zandonella was steep and the weather threatened to go bad for a bit. But it ended up holding and we made our way down into the valley stopping at a little lake for a break.

Nice lake (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)Camping in Cortina (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)Cris and Johannes (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)

1) We stopped at this little lake with the nice colours for a bit before continuing down past Rif. A. Berti and back to our cars parked at Rif. Lunelli.

2) We drove to Cortina del Ampezzo and stayed the night at the campsite that I’ve stayed at a few times in the past.

3) We spent a day climbing at the Cinque Torre not far from Cortina.

View from the top of the climb (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)Phil climbing in the Cinque Torre (Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)View out from the Cinque Torre(Dolomitten ohne Grenzen 2019)

1) We did the same two pitch route that I did with Leonie back in 2017. This time I had cams so could protect the second pitch better.

2) Phillip in nachstieg on the second pitch.

3) View out into the hills from the carpark.

Giro delle Dolomiti 2019 – Stage 4

Between Stage 3 and 4 there was a rest day. Leonie got some of her studies done and I rode around Bolzano looking for new cycle shorts.

We got up at 5 am as today’s stage started in Bruneck. It was going to be hot, as usual but the temperature was still ok as we cycled to the usual start area. We took a bus from their to Bruneck and at 9 am the race started.

We cycled up a valley that Thomas and I had driven up a few weeks back while we were in the dolomites for our training week. It was the usual snail’s pace. Actually some snails are probably faster.

We had a food stop and then continued towards Passo Valporola. The timed section began just before the last steep climb to the pass. Leonie had already started and I took a short break to drink some water.

I cruised past the hordes and caught up to Leonie near the top. The timing finished below the pass and we had a short ride to the refreshments at the top of the pass.

Leonie (Giro delle Dolomiti 2019)Leonie and Cris cycling (Giro delle Dolomiti 2019)In the bunch heading to Passo Valporola (Giro delle Dolomiti 2019)Cris  (Giro delle Dolomiti 2019)Cris at Passo Valparola (Giro delle Dolomiti 2019)Leonie and Cris (Giro delle Dolomiti 2019)Us at Passo Falzarego (Giro delle Dolomiti 2019)

Keen to avoid another slow decent and mindful that the weather seemed to be deteriorating we left before the race car and rode down to Cortina more or less at our own pace. Not long before Cortina it started to rain. I stopped and put on my jacket and continued. Leonie was waiting ahead and we continued together to Cortina. We found a spot beside the road under the eaves of a house and waited. Instead of the rain easing it got heavier and heavier.

Hiding from the rain (Giro delle Dolomiti 2019)Leonie about to head off into the rain (Giro delle Dolomiti 2019)

The group wasn’t following, just a handful of cyclists. After perhaps 20 minutes it cleared a little and the lead race car came by with about 15 cyclists behind it. Leonie decided to join but I wanted to wait until the rain stopped entirely. It didn’t though. Instead it got heavier again and windy and at some point it started to hail a bit. I gave my riding jacket to a guy who was shivering uncontrollably and we waited. We started again later but they had decided to reroute the race through the quicker route missing out the Drei Zinnen and the Tre Croci pass. I thought I’d missed out on the pass and that the riders who’d gone through earlier had ridden over the pass but it turns out nobody had gone the intended route.

It was quite nice to ride right at the back as I could ride my own pace. I time trialled along passing stragglers. The route took us through a gorge and we ascended to a low pass. I caught up to the main bunch after a while and rode back on and then sat in the bunch until we got to our lunch stop near Dobbiaco. Leonie was already there having arrived much earlier with just a handful of cyclists.

We opted to ride back at our pace before the race cars and ended up cycling with a group of perhaps 30 or 40 cyclists. We cycled along the main road mixing with the traffic which at times was a bit hairy. It was still grey to begin with but it improved as we progressed. The highlight for me (and something I’ll remember from my time in Europe) was leading the bunch over, perhaps, the last 10 km to Brixen. At one point I looked behind in a long corner to see 40 cyclists strung out behind trying to stay with me. I didn’t feel like I was pushing very hard but it seemed to be enough. I had to keep checking my pace so I wouldn’t ride off the front. It’s the best feeling in the world to feel fit and like your body is working as it should.

Not far before Brixen we had a huge tail wind and then a descent. The guy behind me couldn’t keep my wheel so well. His friend said something to him in Russian and he asked in English “do you need a change”. Nope my legs were fine and we continued our speedy approach to Brixen. After the descent the bunch gathered at a round-about. The Russian guys seemed pumped. One excitedly said to me “that was a great group ride” and another Russian guy, “thanks my friend”. I guess they probably also enjoyed riding a descent pace instead of the wombly speed we normally ride behind the race car.

We waited for the bus for a bit before driving in pouring rain slowly back to Bolzano.

We got out of the bus in Bolzano back into the heat and cycled to our camp site in the fading light. Another massive storm came through in the evening and Leonie and I sat in the tent hungrily devouring a fruit salad with yogurt followed by crackers and cheese. The temperature dropped with the storm and so did large balls of hail.