Space Shuttle on Kleine Rodelheilspitze, new mixed climb in the Dolomites
Markus Huber from the South Tyrol reports about the first ascent of Space Shuttle, a new mixed climb on Kleine Rodelheilspitze (Sass dla Lùesa), above Passo Gardena in the Sella group of the Italian Dolomites.
Peter and I actually wanted to repeat the mixed climb Ironman up at the Grödnerjoch pass. Since it wasn’t in condition we decided to go to Kolfuschg and check out the ice climbs there, but on our way to the pass I noticed a beautiful ice formation on Kleine Rodelheilspitze. I stopped the car and took a closer look at it through my binoculars. I immediately sensed it was what I've always been looking for.
I already knew this mountain well, because many summers ago I’d repeated some beautiful rock climbs on this peak.
We contained on to Kolfuschg nevertheless. Some of the drips were in condition and Peter wanted to climb one of them. But I pleaded with him "Peter we'll climb it another time, please let’s go back to Rodelheilspitze and take a closer look at the line, otherwise I won’t be able to sleep tonight." Peter very kindly let himself be persuaded him and we quickly drove back up to the Gardena Pass.
We took everything we needed for a first ascent and approached the face with heavy backpacks that pushed our snowshoes deep into the fresh powder snow. At the base I quickly realised that this was going to be precisely the line I’d hoped for.
Fully motivated we started up the wall and despite the lateness of the hour managed to reach the ice above the overhang on pitch 2. We abseiled in the dark and were completely satisfied with what we’d achieved. In order to complete the climb I had to return a second time with Peter and even a third time with Igor. On each occasion it got colder and colder.
When we’d complete the route the time came for the first repeat, on a very cold and windy day. -9°C, ideal for staying put in a nice warm Stube! The cold however couldn't stop us, our desire to make the 1st repeat was simply too great.
While climbing the second pitch through the overhang I had to give in to the cold and my lack of stamina. Peter lowered me back down to the belay, I pulled the ropes and set off again, Pink Point style. This time I was warmed up and much more agile, and I managed to free the pitch. Although really happy, I also knew that the last pitch would be really difficult. Luck was on our side though, the remaining two pitches went smoothly and we managed to redpoint them first go.
We returned late in the evening, and although we felt like two icemen just plucked out of the freezer, we were overjoyed and satisfied that we’d freed our Space Shuttle.
by Markus Huber