Sport climbing in Cortina d’Ampezzo

Cortina d’Ampezzo and sport climbing

The many sport climbing rock faces around Cortina give climbing lovers around two thousand pitches to try out, a truly significant number and one which is growing thanks to the constant hard work and undoubted passion which has always been a feature of those working to provide climbers with a new and ever changing playground.

But it is certainly not just the number of pitches which attracts climbers from all over the world: sport climbing in Cortina means being in one of the most beautiful places in the world, set in a natural environment capable of treating visitors to indescribable views and unforgettable thrills.
Ernest Hemingway, who had seen a great many places, wrote thus in a letter to E.Walsh: “Cortina d’Ampezzo is the swellest country on earth. The people are good and square too. We spent the end of a winter there once, at the Hotel Bellevue. Liugie Menard proprietor. It is the loveliest country I’ve ever known”. (see here)

Yes, a beautiful place where forests and meadows have been collectively owned by the original community for centuries and the area has been carefully protected from building and abuses.

But let’s get back to sport climbing, the main theme of this post.

Crags and sport climbing

Difficulty

The crags offer routes of various difficulties and challenges; everyone can find a crag suitable for their abilities, from beginners to climbing experts. The latter can test themselves on some very difficult routes: the highest grade reached here in Cortina, for now, is 9a, there are also 8c+ and 8c routes and numerous routes range from 8a to 8b.

Beginners will have the opportunity to refine their technique on some well-equipped crags (Sass de Stria, Lagazuoi, Crepo Longo) that also allow less experienced climbers to have fun safely, without worrying about long falls, thanks to closely spaced bolts.

If you love (difficult) slab climbing, you’ll have your work cut out for you at Sòn Pòuses. It’s a crag that’s not very crowded, hard to encounter someone, perhaps because slabs are no longer in fashion.

Type of climbing

There’s something for everyone! From the smooth slabs at Son Pouses to the overhangs of Becco d’Ajal, from the short and intense pitches at Sasso dei Finanzieri to the long and sustained pitches at Rio Gere and Setsas.The sport crags around Cortina feature a variety of different rock types and features: crimps, pockets, slopers; yellow, red, grey, and black rock.
There are no ribs however, these are not found in the Dolomites.

Crags equipment

The Cortina Squirrels work hard to maintain the climbing cliffs at their best. All walls are well-equipped with bolts and chains at the belay stations.

The routes with outdated equipment are very few, and they will be fixed as soon as possible. As for rope length, I recommend a 70-meter rope. However, in some cliffs, such as Becco d’Ajal and Rio Gere, an 80-meter rope is indispensable for climbing the most beautiful routes.

On some faces, such as Cinque Torri, for example, where there are both sport climbing routes and traditional multi-pitch routes, helmets are advisable.
Otherwise, you need normal sports climbing equipment.

Climate

During the summer period, from the middle of June to the beginning of August, the climate is pleasantly warm during the day and fresh during the night.
From July to end-August there are sometimes thunderstorms in the afternoon. A warm sunny day can transform in a kind of hell in less than an hour. Considering the wind-chill factor, temperature can fall up to 15 degrees. I suggest that you always wear suitable clothing, however.

Crags

There is a specific page on climbing rock faces in the Cortina d’Ampezzo area but it is, in any case, an incomplete list. If you want to climb in this area I would recommend that you buy this guide to Cortina’s crags and sport climbs.

Guide to Cortina’s Sport Climbing

As far as climbing guides are concerned, last year Falesie a Cortina d’Ampezzo was published, an excellent book which I wrote a thoroughgoing review of here. The review is in Italian, but the guidebook is in three languages: Italian – English – German.

Some rules of environmental respect and behavior

When practicing climbing on the walls, it is crucial to respect the surrounding environment and follow some rules to preserve the natural beauty and ensure the safety of everyone. Although it should be redundant to remind mountain and climbing enthusiasts about environmental respect, I still recall some rules to observe:

  • Carry away everything you bring with you: do not leave any waste or traces of food. Also, take away cigarette butts.
  • Bodily needs: avoid relieving yourself too close to the climbing walls, for hygiene reasons and out of respect for other climbers.
  • Silence: keep your voice down to avoid disturbing other climbers.
  • Interact with respect: respect locals and other climbers. Maintain a positive and collaborative attitude.
  • Camping: do not pitch tents near the cliffs; in Cortina and surrounding areas, camping is only permitted in designated and authorized campsites. Do not light fires.
  • Respect access rules: some cliffs may have temporary or permanent restrictions. Follow local guidelines.
  • Equipment: do not remove or alter cliff equipment in any way.
  • Cars, campers: do not park on the grass.

When to go to the Dolomites?

The best time is from late May to October but November can be good too if snow has not yet fallen.
Whilst there are exceptions, Cortina’s winters are generally too cold for climbing.

Cortina d’Ampezzo

How to get there

Cortina d’Ampezzo is in the north of the Veneto region, 44 km from the Austrian border. There are no trains to Cortina itself and the nearest train stations are Calalzo di Cadore to the south and Dobbiaco (Toblach) to the north. From these stations you will need to get a bus to Cortina (40 minutes – 1 hour).

By car the town is less than an hour from the A27 motorway (Pian de Vedoia) and an hour and a quarter from the A22 Brennero Bressanone-Val Pusteria exit.

There are also bus services to and from Venice, Treviso and Bologna airports.
The Cortina Express Bus (www.cortinaexpress.it) and AVTO Bus (www.atvo.it) operate direct buses from Venice to Cortina d’Ampezzo. Go to the web sites for schedules and more information. The bus takes about 2-3 hours.

Accommodations

There is a huge range of hotels and B&Bs and four camp sites in Cortina. It is also easy to rent an apartment (but you need to book ahead or very little is available). More general information on the FAQ page.


Need more detailed information?
Write to me, I’ll be happy to reply! My English is not the best and you’ll find a few mistakes in my answers but I’m a local climbing guide and I can certainly be of help.