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Our first experience in the Dolomites

Missing a cable car can make you appreciate a good Guide even more

A TRUE STORY by Mark Hense – It happened July 13, 2017

I can hardly state how excited, although thoroughly overwhelmed, I was for my first visit to Europe in 2017. It was going to be a whirlwind 2 weeks taking me and my wife from Zurich to Venice to Cortina to Chamonix and ending in Wengen Switzerland. Part of the excitement was that as a newer climber, I had planned to climb in all 3 areas, which was pretty crazy for someone who had only ever been on 2 or 3 multi-pitch routes.

Luckily we soon found ourselves in Venice for a full solid day of recovery, relaxation and food after a long travel day. I went to sleep on a full stomach, a happy heart and very excited to get into some mountains.
When we drove up to Cortina, it was pretty epic to get that wonderful sense one does as your ears start to pop as you gain elevation.

And when we arrived it was quite a great experience to see our first huge gondolas and find out we were staying in an Air BnB which offered us so many great views of the Dolomites. It was great to eat a fantastically cooked breakfast and enjoy some great Italian coffee outdoors and imagine what was awaiting us in those mountains we drove past.

Enrico, Mark & Jen

Maybe the most amusing fact was that I decided the day before our climb that my wife and I would attempt our first via ferrata.
I figured we could climb so I assumed we should tackle the biggest one I could find. So through some poor planning we spent a glorious 4 hours up on via ferrata Tomaselli only to realize the hike out was another 2 hours and that the lift was no longer operating for the day. My wife still curses the cable car at Falzarego Pass for our very long hike back to the car!

Needless to say, we met Enrico a little worse for wear the next morning. We told him of our previous day to which he stated “Oh, you chose to do the most difficult one”. campanile val montanaia

My wife simply looked at me and shook her head. I guess that is what she gets for letting me choose the adventures. The great news was that we got to climb beautiful 5.8 limestone for the day. Such interesting features to see for someone from Wisconsin. As we tied in behind Enrico, I commented how new the ropes looked. I soon realized he was joking when he responded “You can afford new ones when you buy the cheapest ropes.”

All in all, it was a wonderful route and seeing our confidence, Enrico was nice enough to give us an alternate finish which was a little more challenging and definitely fun.
After topping out, it was nice to get to walk back down and hear some stories from Enrico about exploring the mountains as a child and finding old war relics hidden in caves. We all shared a lovely drink back at our hotel before calling it a day.

The route we climbed

And as one last bit of fun, we ran into Enrico the next day as we ate some food and he passed by on his way for a haircut. Good times always with Enrico. Well, good enough that I came all the way to Kalymnos a few years later to climb again with him 😉

Mark Hense – www.areteconsulting.design


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