Tigersoft, new winter climb in Brenta Dolomites
Winter mountaineering in the Brenta Dolomites: Simone Banal reports about the first ascent of Tigersoft, a new winter climb up the north face of Cima Brenta established with Fabrizio Dellai and Marco Zanni.
Stable weather, a slight increase in the temperatures and the cold spell that should continue for a couple of days. Taking advantage of the coldest days of winter Alessandro Beber and Matteo Faletti have just made the first ascent of CRAM, a great climb up the east face of Cima Brenta, In 2014 we’d given it a go but at the 4th pitch a sudden change in the weather forced us to retreat. This year, work commitments stopped us from joining them, so now the time has finally come to repeat their route.
Everything is set! The team is a good one, composed of Banal, Dellai and Zanni, we’ve been given the green light by our wives and all the gear is packed. All we need to do is go! Due to previous commitments Marco can’t start with us in the morning, but he’ll join us in the evening. We set off towards Madonna di Campiglio and take the Grostè lift, our backpacks a feast for the strongest Himalayan Sherpa: apart from all the classic hardware, we’ve also got a tent and sleeping bags for the first night at Bocca di Tuckett. The approach is fast and effortless: in just over three hours we reach our designated bivy spot. We pitch our tent, have a quick snack and then make a reconnaissance trip to check out the face, assess conditions and break a trail that will help our approach the next morning.
We descend from Bocca di Tuckett down the opposite side of the ascent route and notice that conditions are good: the snow is hard and there are no dangerous snowdrifts. As we climb back up to the col we marvel at the huge face that towers above us, with its multitude of lines that have formed this year. We also learn that two other friends, Mirko and Luca, intend to start up CRAM during the night in order to repeat it in a day starting from down in the valley. It makes no sense to be crowded on the same route when there’s the chance to establish something new, we’re simply spoiled for choice.
All of a sudden we make up our minds: during the descent we hadn’t noticed it, but above our heads a splendid corner almost 400 meters high stands out against the sky, tinged in beautiful hues of pink! We can clearly make out a continuous layer of snow and ice glittering its way up almost the entire mountain. We take a few photos before the sun dips behind Cima Brenta and it's time to return to our tent, prepare dinner and study the line. We tell Marco about our change of plans and he’s more than happy with the new program.
It is still nighttime when we start walking and as dawn breaks we’re already at the base of the route. We progress quickly, the ice is soft, the only problem is the runout pro. We place nuts & friends in the rock because the ice that plastered the face is too thin to accept ice screws.
Simone safely and elegantly leads the entire ascent, which offers sustained difficulties throughout, via an ephemeral layer of ice. The pitches are all highly satisfying, first past an impressively wedged block, then along a nigh vertical icy face that demands both technical and delicate climbing. We climb several pitches up some steep corners until the ice runs out, then we traverse right across hard snow to reach the arete of the right.
We are at the top of the face! The view is incredible, the ambient indescribable. We’re tired but happy to have made it, a totally unexpected adventure in beautiful surroundings. We descend via an exposed ledge to Bocca di Tuckett, pack the tent and start the return home, happy.
Only one thing still needs to be done: give the route a name. This proves easy: Tigersoft, the nickname of Federico, the recently born son of Simone, a member of the Mountime guides.
by Simone Banal
TOPO: Tigersoft, Brenta Dolomites
Links: FB Simone Banal, www.mountime.com