Escaping to the Dolomites by Silvio Reffo

The summer now seems to have come to an end. Months have passed characterized by the heat and the Saharan temperatures to the delight of the beach goers, but a bit less for those who love being attached to the rock by their fingertips. Therefore, for climbing, exhausting hikes high into the mountains was necessary to find a bit of relief from the temperatures or at least a temperature that allows you to breathe. So, having the beautiful Dolomites nearby served as the backdrop to some weekend climbing trips. In particular, I went to the valley of Landro.

This area between Cortina and Dobbiaco has many different sectors on offer with various exposures and styles of climbing. The rock is dolomite that when merely looking at it, it does not unleash a desire to get your hands on it, but the routes are very beautiful and mostly athletic. At these crags, I managed to climb a few 8a’s onsight and some 8b’s such as Regentanz and Minigolf Rechts in just a few tries.


At the crag of Pangea, on a super overhanging wall, I managed the 8c called All in the swingerclub. The line bolted by Hannes Pfeifhofer and with the first ascent by Luca Canon Zardini is characterized by the first intense part where it is necessary to climb quickly and precisely to save your energy for the second part; after a good rest the first boulder sequence begins and it is followed by an interesting traverse on sloping underclings with precarious footholds and with the last hard move on a pinch, anything but good, to get to a well-defined crimp and a much easier final part up to the anchor. Heading back towards Cortina, it is a must to stop at the crag of Campo Volpera, and in particular at the boulder of the Finanzieri, a true place of pure hard difficulty, where the likes of Luca Canon Zardini have opened many hard and above all short and bouldery routes. Of course, here the grades are not easy to achieve, just the opposite…

Continuing the tour of the Dolomites, after exhausting the energy of the big muscles, it’s time to take advantage of the mental ones and the feet on the slab at the crag of Laste. Climbing onsight on these smooth slabs is very difficult: in fact, I fell at the last bolt of some 8b’s on the onsight attempt, however allowing me to climb the route Zepping Lunga second try, a climb requiring resistance with an intense second part on small and distant holds.

I did not just go to the crag and I made some gambles and attempts in the mountains. About a year ago, Alessando Baù who is a strong mountaineer from Padova asked me to go with him to have a look at Nuvole Barocche on the North West face of Civetta. A famous line in the centre of the wall, opened in stages over a few years of attempts by the climber Venturino de Bona. The line still involves a lot of aid climbing, the challenge for Alessandro was to evaluate the possibility for the first free ascent of the route and therefore close the loop of an itinerary of such full on mountaineering. So therefore, one year later, we set off early in the morning fully motivated to check out the route. Standing under the route, the wall is very imposing and leaves you in awe. We start to climb the route and quickly gain the first 10 pitches. For my standards I am already well beyond the number of lines I would normally do in a day at the crag, but in this instance, only now does the interesting part of the route begin. After a little bit of time spent searching for the best sequence, it looks like the necessary hold is missing that is needed to put all the moves together, that was in fact originally aid climbed. What a shame! Sometimes it takes very little to make a climb probably impossible. The sound of thunder in the distance gives us a good excuse to head down and with a few fast abseils we find ourselves at the base of the wall with a bit of regret for having to rethink about the possible first free ascent but at the same time we are enriched with a great experience on such a wild big wall.

After countless weeks of hot temperatures, a change in the weather has brought some respite and thus allowing me to return to the nearby Arco di Trento. Here I visited the crag of Terra Promessa. It could not have been given a better name! In fact, the legendary Legrand and Co bolted this long and high wall on their travels pre-Rock Masters and it still offers great possibilities for new and futuristic lines to be bolted. Here I put my hands on Claudio Café. Years ago this line was given 8c/c+ but after the removal of some artificial holds, the grade seems to have settled around 8c+. The first part of the route goes up an athletic overhanging on tufas and then continues with intense climbing on small and distant crimps that pumps your forearms. In just a few attempts, on a very windy day, I found myself at the anchor of this difficult route, ticking yet another route at Arco.

Claudio Café

What is on the cards for the next few weeks?

On the weekend from the 11th to the 13th of September, I will be at the artificial lake in Milan for the international masters of Deep Water Soloing and I am expecting to take many falls into the water! It is an event that attracts all the top athletes in this discipline from all around the world to take on some hard problems up to 15 metres high above the water. It is a completely new experience for me that promises to be a lot of fun!

At the end of September, I will leave for the United States of America with my girlfriend Francesca. For the first week of the trip we will head to California and Nevada, a mini tour of the National Parks with a few obligatory stop offs for climbing in Yosemite, Red Rock, Bishop etc. From Las Vegas, we will take a flight to Lexington to visit the nearby Red River Gorges, a paradise for climbing. Here a few friends from Trentino will join me to discover the best of what this area has to offer, in the autumn it is crowded by climbers from all around the world. There is nothing left to do but start the countdown and leave motivated and fully physically prepared for this new adventure!

Silvio Reffo

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