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Substituting the belay bolts on the ice climbs at Sappada, Italy
Photo by Pierpaolo Pedrini
Substituting the belay bolts on the ice climbs at Sappada, Italy
Photo by Pierpaolo Pedrini
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Sappada abseil stations replaced on ice climbs

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At Sappada, Northern Italy, the local mountain guides have replaced the abseil belays of more than 50 ice falls. The report by Pierpaolo Pedrini

Sappada is a beautiful resort wedged between the Friuli and Veneto regions of Northern Italy where for centuries River Piave has run silently… and where, for centuries, countless waterfalls freeze over even in the mildest of winters.

Ever since piolet traction was invented Sappada has been a reference point for ice climbers in NE Italy (and further afar) and the key ingredients for its success are: easy to extremely easy approaches, a great variety of ice climbs ranging from roadside single pitches to 5-6 pitch routes high up in the mountains, and the right mix of water and cold that guarantees that something is always in condition.

The routes were put up by various climbers and to them goes all our thanks. Nevertheless, the in-situ gear varied considerably and remnants of how things have developed over time could be seen clearly: pegs, the first 8mm spitroc 8 (placed by hand) with aluminum hangers (argh), 8mm bolts, 10mm with handmade hangers, all the way to modern “commercial" bolts. Obviously there were contained plenty of tat, ropes and cords.

Someone, high up in the Sappada town council, has decided to invest in our low-impact tourism and help those who love what nature offers. Their first priority was safety: the local FVG mountain guides have now replaced the old abseil belays with stainless steel Kinobi twin bolts and abseil chains on more than 50 ice climbs. While removing the old bolts, some literally crumbled away below the first blow of the hammer!

Panels will soon be installed to indicate the approach paths and, just as interestingly, soon there’ll be an ice climbing meeting for the "old" and (hopefully) new ice climbers.

Sappada still wishes to remain an important reference point for those who want to use their ice axes and crampons and since this season is far from over, we’re sure it’ll still provide plenty of excitement for many.

Pierpaolo Pedrini, mountain guide


24/02/2014 - Sappada, new icefalls in NE Italy
Mountain Guide Riccardo Del Fabbro introduces the most recent icefalls at the historic ice climbing area Sappada in NE Italy.

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