Cimon della Pala: Giuseppe Vidoni and Gabriele Colomba forge new mixed climb in Dolomites
On 24/02/2019 Giuseppe Vidoni and Gabriele Colomba made the first ascent of Via degli Allievi up the north face of Cimon della Pala. About 700m high and with difficulties around AI5 M4, this is likely to be a new mixed climb in the Pale di San Martino group in the Dolomites
I got the idea of climbing a route up the North face of Cimon della Pala last autumnyear, when I climbed the mountain for the first time during a training session. As I reached the summit ridge, I was struck by the two opposing faces, and north, the first warmed and illuminated by the sun reminded me of summer, while the second, the north face, was already projected towards winter due to the dusting of snow that had whitened the slopes up high.
I quickly began dreaming about a line that clawed its way up this long and wild face, when winter would have covered all the rocks. So, after the first snowfalls, whenever I saw the mountain I tried to identify the most obvious line as I waited for it to come into condition.
This moment finally came during the last weeks of February, in fact the face seemed in ideal condition and the most delicate sections seemed to have beautiful drips on them, so typical of this particular winter in the Dolomites. The weather, too, worked in our favour with a long period of high pressure.
Without wasting a second I immediately asked Gabriele Colomba, whom I’d told about my plan a few weeks ago, if he wanted to join me on this adventure. He examined the line a bit, professed his doubts about the upper section, but he simply loves wild and unspoilt places too much to refuse. A weekend with far too high temperatures brought us to 24 February when, taking advantage of permission off work, we embarked on our journey.
The alarm rang at 5 am, earlier than usual for us at the barracks at Passo Rolle, and after a good breakfast we are set off at 6 am on our skis towards Baita Segantini and, from there, via a long traverse, towards the base of the Travignolo Glacier which in about half an hour led us to the start of the route.
Quick change of clothing, gear check and off we go! It’s time for the adventure to start! The first narrow gully quickly unveils its difficulties, but also its beauty as ice axes and crampons find a good purchase in the compressed, vertical snow, while on the easier angles sections we sink in just enough to not tire our calves. The route continues with a pleasant 60 meter pitch of good ice and after worked our way across a snowfield we reach the crux, with vertical sections of compressed snow, ice and a bit of rock, extremely delicate as this proves difficult to protect. Another long easy-angled section allows us to quickly gain height while the summit ridge appears above us. A further two mixed pitches and a long traverse lead us to the exit groove and then to the sharp and airy ridge and the summit, which we reach at around 3 pm.
After the ritual summit photos we quickly started down the Via Normale, past the inevitable section called "Bus del gat" that reminded me of my first autumn climb when it all started. Only Travignolo separated us now from our skis and a cold beer which we’d then enjoy at Capanna Cervino, accompanied by a delicious slice of Sacher cake, while the sun dipped behind the horizon to mark the end of our adventure.
After a lot of to and frowing we decided to call the route Via degli Allievi, dedicated to the course we are doing right here at Passo Rolle to become members of Guardia di Finanza Mountain Rescue Squad. A dream that’s s allowing us to combine work with our great love for the mountains.
by Giuseppe Vidoni