Dolomites, 8th-18th September 2008

Jen, Freya, dad and me headed for a break in the Dolomites. We flew to Milan Malpensa, hired a car, and drove up to Cortina d'Ampezzo - arriving at Campeggio Dolomiti (the campsite furthest South on the outskirts of town) at about 2am on Tuesday 9th September.

We arose as late as Freya would let us. The weather was good from early in the morning, and the camp site was full of red squirrels and birds (or 'eh', as Freya liked to call them)


We decided on an easy day, and headed for a walk up Val di Fanes to the cascades


A cable-protected walk (VF Giovanni Barbara) led down from above the cascades, along a narrow ledge above the gorge...


...and behind this waterfall!


The path contined through a narrow gap, then down to the gorge floor


This fall pours down below the previous one. We followed a cable-protected path along the gorge then back up lower on the same side, rejoining the path through the woods


Earthstars, an unusual fungus


Coral fungus


The next day Jen and Dad headed to Piz Popena Basso, a crag above Misurina to the NE of Cortina


They climbed the 4 pitch Mazzorana/Adler Route, finishing in the scrub near the top of the hill


A thistle


In the meantime, Freya and me explored the camp site and surrounding area


The next day I headed off with Dad to climb the NW Corner of Cima Cason d Formin, a delightful route Jen and me had climbed on our first trip to the Dolomites. This lizard scuttled away as we ascended the slopes below the route


Dad on the first corner pitch. A couple of late arrivers can be seen gearing up below


Me arriving at a belay in the middle of the route (photo by Cam Forrest)


At the top of the corner system


On the rubbly scramble above the corner


A flower in a crack


This horrible gully has to be ascended to reach the descent route. There's a short but nasty, damp and muddy step just below the belay here


Dad entering the bowels of the squeeze-chimney, the final obstacle before the descent. It seemed to be tighter than it was last time - surely the boulders must have shifted..?


Last time, Jen and me had headed down some steep loose scrambling with a frightening abseil to escape. This time, we discovered that we could ascend a short distance further to the right then simply walk off down a gully directly towards the Rifugio Palmier below, before heading round and down this huge scree gully


Looking back at the route from below. It takes the corner system left of the lowest rocks, forking up right from the obvious large corner, to finish between the second and third pinnacles from the left on the skyline. The large scree gully is hidden on the left, below the huge yellow wall


Walking back out


Freya had been keeping Jen entertained


On the way for pizza that evening


Snoozing at the camp site the next morning. The forecast was for rain and thunder to arrive early afternoon, so the plan was for Jen and me to do a quick route (Mazzorana) at Piz Popena Basso while Dad watched Freya


A fox ran away through the grass as we started up the path


The first pitch followed a corner line, climbing on the left wall. Above that a more broken section led to the base of an intimidating chimney, which ran 75m or so to the top of the crag. Belayed 15m or so below the top, I was not overly amused when the rain started. Jen quickly climbed the first half of the pitch and set a belay above an overhanging chimney, giving me enough rope to quickly finish the route. The rain became torrential as Jen followed the last section, and thunder boomed amongst the higher peaks nearby


We sorted the ropes quickly and raced back down through the scrub


Ducks in the lake at Misurina


A wee frog out enjoying the weather


Daleks, hiding in the drying room at the camp site. The weather forecast was poor for the next few days, so we decided to head to Venice for a couple of nights and see whether it would improve


Looking on the internet in Venice, the weather was forecast to be cold but pleasant for the rest of our trip, with snow higher up on the peaks. It seemed worth heading back to Cortina to finish off. We camped at "Camping Cortina" this time. This beetle was stuck on its back in the toilet block in the small hours of the morning, so I righted it and let it out.

For our last full day, Tuesday, we decided to all go up Monte Piana to the open-air was museum. We used the jeep taxi service to take us as far as the refuge, making the walk around the hilltop very easy






The view to the West. The conical peak to the right of the snow-capped hill right of centre is the Neunerspitze, which Jen and me had climbed on on our previous trip to the Dolomites


A broader view to the West, the fresh snow still lying on the higher peaks


Jen and Freya in a wartime tunnel


Looking NW, the Austrian Alps in the distance


Trenches looking out over the valley towards Austria


A memorial bell; the Patternkofel and Tre Cime in the background


Still recovering from the squeeze-chimney, it took some work to coax Dad back underground


An old wartime chamber, the doors and supports rotting away


Back at the refuge; the Patternkofel and Tre Cime in the background


How long litter takes to rot


It was a cold night, and the camp site was frosty on Wednesday morning. We packed up and drove West through the Dolomites then across past Milan to a motel a short distance from the airport


Freya took the chance to get some last-minute bouldering in, then we headed home