Leonie and I headed off early again, this time to Passo Valparola a bit further on from Passo di Falzarego. We followed the technically easy Kaiserjaegersteig up to Rifugio Lagazuoi where we had a delicious hot chocolate and apple struedel to reward our efforts. Then we headed back down through a tunnel system that was built in the war. The tunnels were long and constructed right inside the mountain itself. Occasionally there were passageways leading to openings to the outside. From there there were views to the surrounding mountains and down to the Cinque Torri.
We left early again for the 5 towers. The plan was to do a multipitch route that we had been eyeing up yesterday. On arriving we weren’t sure whether the last pitch would be too hard for Leonie so we went and checked out a funky tower instead.
I lead the first pitch and then belayed Leonie from the anchor. She bailed after not long and instead continued belaying me from the ground as I went in search of the next anchor. I figured that the two pitches wouldn’t be longer than 60 m together and if they were longer than 30 m I could abseil back down to the first anchor.
It was pretty run out between bolts and I was not at all keen to fall but the route was very easy so it wasn’t a problem. I discovered the next anchor on a large rocky outcrop from the main tower. Leonie decided to try it again and made it up this time.
I set up the safety at the anchor so that we both had enough rope so we could walk around a bit. I then had a quick breakfast and started into the 3rd, errr 2nd pitch. The route headed off to the left and was sparsely bolted. I was again really not keen to fall. I managed it to the top and enjoyed the awesome view.
Leonie lowered me back to the anchor and I lowered her back to the ground before abseiling myself. It turned out the 60 m rope was long enough so that both strands reached the ground.
We celebrated with a cold drink at the nearby refugio before doing another climb and then heading back down to Cortina for some lazing.
Leonie and I got up at 6 am to avoid the crowds and drove up to the Refugio “Cinque Torri”. The weather gods were happy and the sun was shining. We ate breakfast at the car with the awesome rock towers of the 5 towers behind us.
We then headed slowly up to Averau. It’s a peak a bit higher up. There’s a short easy via ferrata at the beginning of the climb followed by an easy walk to the summit.
We headed back down via a Refugio for hot chocolate and cake and then it was time for some sport climbing. We found a bunch of easy routes around the 4 or 5 grade.
The towers are very impressive and the longer routes look very interesting. I eyed up a bolted 3 pitch route. There are also many longer trad routes. These I didn’t eye up.
Leonie and I set off for a road ride from our campsite at Cortina del Ampezzo. I was not particularly motivated by the cold gray weather but we headed up Passo Falzarego anyway. At the turn off to Passo Giau we ran into the Montana Dles Dolomitten race and cycled the next 40 km with many other cyclists. They had closed the roads for the race which was nice. No pesky motorbikes. From Passo Falzarego we had a short ascent to Passo di Valparola before a long descent.
With difficulty we managed to avoid crossing the finish line and navigated around the crowds to begin the ride up Passo Compolongo. On the descent the weather closed in and we had some nasty cold rain. It was localized though and as we continued down the valley we were back in sunshine.
We stopped for a pizza just after 5 pm and then decided to tack on another pass. It was a very nice sunny We reached Passo Staulanza after a short ascent and briefly pondered what to do. How would our track look like on Strava? If we continued we’d have a nice loop but it would probably mean arriving after dark with a long ascent up a valley to finish. If we turned back we’d have a loop with two ugly pointy bits. What a dilemma.
We decided against asthetics and rode back towards the pizzeria and then we began our ascent to Passo Giau. It was getting late and we were getting a bit tired but we first had 29 switchbacks to contend with. We arrived at the pass at 8:30 pm and took a few photos in the last of the light before descending to our camp site in Cortina for a late dinner.
The second day of the Tour Transalp was much nicer than the first. Instead of driving rain we had sunshine.
We started in Imst and again due to our second class status as two-day-entrants we were right at the very back. The first 4.5 km were neutralised but as is usually the case with neutralised starts the field was strung out over many kms and by the time the race started the good bunches were already gone. We did our best to try and move up the field a bit anyway and spent the first 45 minutes or so passing groups.
We decided we should save our energy and stay where we were but after the bunch wombled along at under 30 km/h we decided to go searching up the field a bit again. At some point we agreed with two other riders to work together and spent 15 minutes or so riding hard together which was much more enjoyable than wombling.
We were mindful that we still had to climb Timmelsjoch though so after stopping at a refreshment station we rode at a more leisurely pace until the climb. We cruised up the pass arriving at another refreshment stop at the top. The majority of the descent was pretty nice with fun switchbacks and long straights. Unfortunately there were two slow cyclists ahead of us causing a large traffic jam near the end of the descent. It took 15 minutes or so before we could pass and by that time many people had caught us up so we had a large group going into the last 30km or so.
Markus and I worked at the front for quite some time thrashing it out on the flat. It was great. Exactly what fun racing for me is about. We took turns with a strong British female team. After a while I decided we should let some other guys do some work and we dropped back for a bit. I stayed in the first few at the front but made sure I didn’t pull.
It was extremely hot so low and we really noticed it as we hit the next hill. Markus and I stayed near the front as we ascended and then descended through tiny weaving Italian roads. The last part of the race was along a narrow cycle path. I ended up at the front again and towed the Brits along for a while before I noticed that Markus had dropped off with the rest of the group. I was eager to push it to the finish line as my legs were still feeling frisky but Markus wasn’t feeling so fresh so we cruised.
A very nice stage and so much better without rain. Leonie and Angela turned up to the finish not long after we arrived.
We got place 5th and 6th in around 5 hours and 21 minutes. I felt like my legs had worked well but it doesn’t really say much as we had such a handicap to start with.