Magic Fox, new rock climb up Torre dei Sabbioni in the Dolomites

On Torre dei Sabbioni (Marmarole, Dolomites) Alessandro Fiori, Pier Francesco Smaltini and Simone Corte Pause have made the first ascent of Magic Fox, a new multi-pitch rock climb in memory of Alberto Bonafede and Aldo Giustina who on 31/08/2011 tragically lost their lives during a mountain rescue operation on Mt. Pelmo. The report by Alessandro Fiori.
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Alessandro Fiori climbing the fifth pitch of Magic Fox
archivio Alessandro Fiori

For us from San Vito di Cadore in the Italian Dolomites, Torre dei Sabbioni has always represented difficult climbing up in the mountains. Located in the highest part of Val di San Vito, this tower has a history that goes a long way back; on 24 August 1877 Louis Cesaletti and Gian Battista Giacin reached the summit for the very first time and their ascent, past grade III difficulties, marked a turning point in the pioneering world of early mountaineering.

Famous climbers have all set foot on this tower, from Castiglioni at the end of forties to Livanos and his wife at the end of the sixties. Many routes were established by the strong Marcello Bonafede - Natalino Menegus partnership who used this tower as their backyard playground in the mid-fifties.

In the eighties it was Maurizio Dall'Omo (Icio) who made the Tower his second home, establishing a futuristic level of routes for that era, perhaps even for the new millennium. And it is exactly at this point where the story about our route, Magic Fox, begins.

On 31 August 2016 Simone Corti Pause, Pier Smaltini and I decided, after having worked together during the weekend as mountain guides, to take a day off and try Rosa Spinosa, one of Icio's historic routes up the NW Face of Torre dei Sabbioni.

We parked the car just above Rifugio Scotter and from there we walked an hour and a half past Rifugio San Marco and then on up to Forcella Grande, from where the tower first springs into view. From a distance we saw the black streaks and immediately released that the previous night's rain had soaked the black slabs tackled by Rosa Spinosa. Ever hopeful we walked to the start, around the base of the tower and up the first ledge that easily led to the start of the route, hoping that the breeze would quickly dry the line.

After a briefing we decided that the route wasn’t in condition and so we retreated back towards the SW Face in search of alternatives. Here I showed my climbing partners a logical and virgin line I’d noticed a few months earlier while looking at some photos.

The route would follow an obvious crack system at the start up towards a series of corners that led from the middle of the route all the way to the top. The rock looked great and the climbing exciting. After a second round of brainstorming we unanimously decided at 12:30 to start up this new line.

The route shares the first 3 meters with Diretta Livanos and then continues straight up the long crack all the way to the third pitch where this suddenly stops and gives way to a delicate slab which renders pitch 3 the crux. After having bolted the belay at the top of the third pitch at 17:30 we decided to end the day with a cool beer at Rifugio San Marco.

We let one day slip by and then on 2 September we returned to the base of the tower to continue our adventure. We had a long day ahead of us: four pitches up corners and a last final crack past overhanging rock, as sharp and pointed as Ninja stars. We managed to protect the climbing on this second day almost entirely with trad gear and in the early afternoon, tired but happy, we reached the Cumbre.

We shook hands, joked around and took a ritual selfie before abseiling back down. Only one thing was missing to end the day, namely a name for the route.

Various names passed through our minds as we rappelled, but one thing in particular made us decide what to call it, namely the date when we first started the new route, 31 August. For San Vito di Cadore, and not only, this is an extremely special day as 5 years ago two of our friends, volunteers of the mountain rescue squad, lost their lives due to rockfall while rescuing two injured climbers on the north face of Mount Pelmo. The name of our route recalls their nicknames and is therefore MAGIC FOX, in memory of Alberto Bonafede "Magic" and Aldo Giustina "Olpe".

TOPO: Magic Fox, Torre dei Sabbioni, Dolomites


31/08/2011 - Monte Pelmo, tragic accident during Dolomite mountain rescue
Alberto Bonafede and Aldo Giustina died this morning during a rescue operation in the Dolomites. Both formed part of the San Vito di Cadore Mountain Rescue service.

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