Historic crags in Cortina d’Ampezzo

Eleonora Colli climbing at Colfiere crag

Sasso di Colfiere – Colfiere crag

Of Cortina’s many splendid rock faces, Colfiere crag merits special attention less because of its intense “finger pulling” climbs but more because it was one of the first low altitude faces to be developed and has been used by local climbers since the 1950s. The first to make use of this small rock face were the very young Franz and Armando Dallago, together with other daring Scoiattoli and Mountain Guides of the period.

The “old guys” equipped Colfiere crag with expansion bolts used to climb up its face with the help of aiders. At the time, however, they were certainly already training on the challenging traverse at the base of the face, almost twenty metres long and not requiring a rope, enabling climbers to train alone, without a partner.
The traverse is by no means easy and if you’re thinking of trying it I would recommend not getting too far off the ground, as it has taken a few ankles to the orthopaedic surgeon over the years.

As a boy I wore out my fingers at Colfiere crag, sometimes together with some school friends as I bunked off school.

At the end of the 1970s the face began to be climbed without aiders, perhaps sliding a finger into the bolts at the most difficult sections.

It was at the beginning of the 1980s that the crag was properly bolted for the first time and that was when the aid was finally eliminated, with the bolts being used only for protection.

The “Sasso”, as the locals generally call it, is still very popular with Cortina’s climbers today as it is so easy to get to from the town.

You can even go after work and it’s a pleasure to spend a few hours there on a long summer evening in good company, in the serenity of the woods at the bottom of Col Drusciè.

Colfiere crag

Peace and quiet is guaranteed as is the total cleanliness of the site. So make sure you don’t leave any litter so that this attractive gem doesn’t get spoilt!
At the base of Sasso di Colfiere there is a comfortable flat, gravely area; while the top is easy to get to on foot, too, from the left (south) so that top ropes can be set up, which is sometimes convenient.

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Sasso di Colfiere technical details

Access

From Cortina follow signs for Passo Falzarego initially and, at the village of Gilardon, turn right following signs for Piè Tofana (ski lift and slopes) and Lago Ghedina. A few kilometres further on, near a group of houses and a crossroads, turn right towards Lago Ghedina and park just a few hundred metres after the crossroads at a small clearing on your right.
Head uphill on foot up a gravel track, on the other side of the road, which takes you to the Sasso in 5 minutes. The rock face is not visible from the path because it is hidden in the woods.

The rock

The rock is fairly smooth and compact main Dolomite. Sasso di Colfiere is one of the many boulders which rolled down to the valley bottom 8,000 years ago, on the occasion of the Tofana landslide.

Alice Colli

Eleonora Colli

My nieces at Colfiere crag

The climbing

The main (east) face of Colfiere crag is quite steep. The climbing is on crimps and a few sharp pockets. The eleven pitches here are brief but intense and a challenge for the fingers. It has seen generations of climbers and the holds are thus quite well worn.
Round the back is an almost vertical slab which is very technical. On this side of the Sasso there are only four pitches but they aren’t much used, as the rock is frequently damp here.

The crag is 1,480 metres in altitude and the best period to climb it is April to November.
You can’t climb if it’s raining, but it dries off quickly.

Difficulty, pegging and pitch length

The difficulty ranges from 6a to 7a, with 6b being the most common, and there is a single 7b on the back of Colfiere crag. The grades are ‘old school’ ones and so even the 6a is quite tough. If you don’t know where to start, the pitch on the far right (facing the rock) is the easiest.
It certainly isn’t a place for beginners but it’s good training for the fingers.

The old bolts have been replaced recently with resined bolts and the lower-offs points are suitably equipped.
Pitch length ranges from 8 to 12 metres.