After a bit of confusion in Possa di Fassa about where to park and catch the taxi bus to the Rifugio Gardeccia (private cars are not allowed up the 20 minute drive to the rifugio) we caught the last taxi bus of the day at 6:45pm to make it up to the rifugio for dinner and bed. The evening light in the basin was magnificent.
Our only experiences with mountain huts has been in Colorado and in New Zealand where they are pretty rough. Here, however, they are very plush. Flush toilets, hot water showers and private rooms. It cost 28 euros each for bed and breakfast.
View of part of the Rosengarten group from our room in the rifugio.
Monday morning after breakfast we packed up and hiked the 1.5 hours up to the Rifugio Alberto
The Rifugio Gardeccia in the morning light
East face of Cima Catinacco, 2,981m, is the fine peak in the center. An 18 pitch 5.9+ route goes straight up the face to the summit. Something to come back for.
Rifugio Preuss has a fine vantage point
Looking back down the road towards Rifugio Gardeccia with Rifugio Preuss on the point
Looking up the valley where we're headed. The Vajolet Towers are the obvious towers in the photo.
We couldn't read the signs regarding the construction project but it was apparent these men were digging/jack hammering a trench for a water/sewer line down from the Rifugio Alberto
Iron cables to protect a few third class sections up the rifugio
This is what we came for! The Vajolet Towers. From left to right starting with the little one; Piaz, Delago, Stabeler, and Winkler. At 2805m, Stabeler Tower is the tallest of the group.
Allison standing in front of Rifugio Alberto
At the Rifugio Alberto we met Pietro and Valleria (in the door). Pietro was very friendly, funny and outgoing. He has climbed all over the western U.S. and while he called himself “old, ugly and a poor climber” we read enough into his stories to know he's definitely not a poor climber. The verdict is still out on the other two traits.
The photo that prompted us to come to the Dolomites--the March 2009 issue of Rock and Ice featured the “High Almighty, Dolomites Classics” with a cover photo of the extremely aesthetic 5.7 Southwest Arete, “Delagokante”, of Delago Tower.
After dumping our packs at the rifugio, we set out at 10:30am to climb the three tower linkup of the main towers. A guided party of three was on Delago Tower so we opted to start with the south face route (5.7) of Stabeler Tower. This a view on the approach to the towers showing the picture-perfect knife edge arete of Delago Tower.
Looking up the Stabeler Tower as we start the 5 pitch south face route at 10:50am
As we got higher above the clouds on the tower the view of the Alps got better.
One of us managed to not bring a belay device up to the hut so I got plenty of munter hitch belay/rappel practice
Allison traversing on the first pitch
Traversing the first pitch with a great view
P2 and P3 followed a wide groove
This bolt had a nut screwed on it so I could make better use of it by putting one of my nuts on it and cinching it up.
On the spacious ledge before the summit pitch
Looking down on Delago Tower where the guided group was getting ready to rappel
Topping out on Stabeler Tower. Of the three towers, this one had a summit register
On Stabeler Tower at 12:20pm
After a few rappels down between Stabeler and Winkler Tower, we got on this nearly 60m traverse across the “base” of Winkler Tower to get to the start of the Winkler Crack, 5.7ish
Above bulge, wide crack crux of Winkler Crack. This was originally done solo by George Winkler in 1887. After he summited he downclimbed the route. (!)
A great view of Marmolada and its huge south face. A well-acclaimed 5.10a, 21 pitch route called “Don Quixote” goes up the soute face.
Stabeler tower seen from the summit of Winkler Tower. Winkler is only 5 meters shorter than Stabeler.
Near the summit of Winkler Tower
Helicopters are used to sevice the huts and it seems Mondays are big day for resupplying. It was a noisy afternoon in the valley.
After five 30m rappels down Winkler we traversed this big ledge to head towards Delago Tower. At this point we had been climbing for 6 hours in the unrelenting heat on the south faces of the towers but we rallied for one more ascent, the route I was most stoked for, the SW arete on Delago Tower
The clouds in the valley were cool. They'd roll in for a short bit and then dissipate but the cool air was welcomed while they were surrounding us. This is the view of the Piaz and the Vajolet valley as we started the climb of Delago Tower
The climbing on the arete was outstanding. Amazing position and just plain fun, easy climbing. The clouds rolling in from the left gave it an eery, exciting feeling.
Allison seconding the second pitch. We linked P2 and P3
Allison topping out on Delago around 5:45pm
Getting ready to start the six 20m rappels down to the ground
Self portrait on Delago (the album should have at least one photo of me I suppose)
Shadow on Stabeler Tower
The last rappel. Time for a well deserved beer and latte back at the rifugio!
Hiking back to the now-obscured rifugio
Said beer and latte back in the rifugio
For 43 euros we got two course dinner with dessert, bed and breakfast the next day in addition to super easy access to the Vajolet Towers. First course was pasta ragu.
Then delicious polenta with beef and mushrooms
Pretty hard to beat the view from the rifugio
Cleverly constructed lighting fixtures in the rifugio
Tuesday we awoke to wind, rain and clouds at the hut. Apparently we timed things just right.
Back down at the taxi bus by 9:30am. The taxi bus was 8 Euros round trip.
The excursion to the Vajolet Towers ended the Dolomites leg of our trip and we found ourselves munching down on kebaps in Innsbruck in the afternoon. Tomorrow we're off on a huge days of trains (4 trains) to reach Marseille, France. We'll be in France for the next week visiting our friend Rick and sport climbing at Ceuse and the Verdon Gorge. More updates when we can!