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Ice climbing at Sottoguda, Italy
Photo by Alpine Ice Tour
The icefalls at Serrai di Sottoguda, Marmolada.
Photo by Planetmountain
Beppe Ballico climbing La Spada nella Roccia
Photo by
Claudio Zampieri on Clessidra (left) and at the belay of Cattedrale
Photo by Francesco Piardi
PORTFOLIO / gallery Portfolio: Sottoguda ice climbing

Sottoguda ice climbing

18.03.2009 by Planetmountain

A selection of icefalls at Sottoguda, one of the most important venues in NE Italy.

Positioned at the base of the Marmolada between the villages of Sottoguda and Malga Ciapela, the Serrai di Sottoguda is one of the most popular areas for ice climbing in the Dolomites. The short approach time and the sheer number of routes available make this area an extremely interesting "sports climbing" venue.

Getting there
The Sottoguda gorge is easily accessible. From Belluno drive up the Cordevole valley past Agordo, Alleghe and Caprile and continue as for Passo Fedaia. Before reaching Malga Ciapela turn off the main road and enter into Sottoguda. Drive through this village to where the road ends at the beginning of the gorge. Continue on foot to arrive swiftly at the base of the first waterfalls.

Grades
The waterfalls within Sottoguda will satisfy most ice climbers. Some pitches are protected by bolts and many have bolt belays. The grades of the routes vary between grades II and V, although the majority are relatively difficult. The waterfalls included in this article are all "true classics", the hardest of which, La Spada (the sword), is situated beneath the large bridge which connects Sottoguda to Malga Ciapela.

Icefall
Grade
Beauty
Cascata del sole
II/3+
The Cascata del sole is a great line which, given the right conditons, can be climbed in the sun. Starting from a wide base, the route narrows as it gains height into a small gully towards the end.

Cascata delle Attraversate
II/4
This icefall is often used by beginners when learning how to ice climb. The route starts on a slab then climbs the drip to the left. After this the route traverses right, as the name suggests, to belay on rock. A final pitch winds its way through the gully and climbs over a final steeper section to the belay on rock once again.

Cattedrale di centro
II/4+
La Cattedrale is located on the righthand side of the canyon and its imposing nature means that "The Cathedral" simply cannot be mistaken. The icefall is split into three main lines, and this central route offers vertical, not too sustained climbing and a splendid second pitch.

Cattedrale di destra
II/4
La Cattedrale is located on the righthand side of the canyon and its imposing nature means that "The Cathedral" simply cannot be mistaken. The icefall is split into three main lines, and this central route offers vertical, not too sustained climbing and a splendid second pitch.

Cattedrale di sinistra
II/6
La Cattedrale is located on the righthand side of the canyon and its imposing nature means that "The Cathedral" simply cannot be mistaken. The icefall is split into three main lines, and this central route offers vertical, not too sustained climbing and a splendid second pitch.

Excalibur
II/4+
Excalibur is undoubtedly the most beautiful icefall in the valley. Three steps connected together create an exemplary line, aesthetically perfect. The first drip which enters the water is highly characteristic... place protection immediately to avoid the cold bath!

La Spada nella Roccia
II/5
La Spada nella Roccia is a stupendous drip which forms from a cave. It was first climbed by Maurizio Gallo in the 1980's and represented an important step forward for piolet traction in the Western Alps

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