Our first climb in the Dolomites: Torre Quarta and Torre Grande
A TRUE STORY by Jukka Kukkonen – It happened on July 8, 2016
I wanted to do something epic for my 54th birthday, so I contacted mountain guide Enrico Maioni in Cortina, Italy. He promised to arrange a week of mountain sports for me and my son Jon in July 2016.
In the morning of the 5th day of our Cortina Epic Week it was a bit cooler and cloudier. We headed out to 5 Torri for some rock climbing with our guide Enrico. Although we had practiced a little easy bouldering and indoor climbing in Finland, this was something completely different.
There were a wide variety of boulders all around. 5 Torri has about 130 climbing routes. One of them is Via Finlandia on Torre Grande (Cima Nord) by Matti A. Jokinen, a pioneer Finnish climber from our hometown Helsinki. There were lots of people in the area hiking or climbing already. We passed a recently fallen tower. The base remained, but the top had crashed down.
We put on our harnesses, climbing shoes and helmets. Enrico lead fixing our ropes with quickdraws to the bolts. We simply followed the rope, picking up the quickdraws as we went by. Soon we were about half-way with a tricky section. First there was a scary traverse under a protruding overhang. The people on the ground looked small as I looked down, searching for the next step. We cleared the horizontal part quite easily, but the next hold up seemed problematic. My son went for it first and made it without issues. I followed and soon we were on the top of Torre Quarta. I had scratches on my hands already but felt triumphant as Enrico lowered us to the ground on the other side.
The clouds cleared while we had a relaxing pause between the towers. My iPhone indicated there was a geocache just a few meters away. Enrico had never tried geocaching, so we showed him how to search. The GPS was a bit jumpy between these tall towers. After looking under various rocks we found it.
Then we headed for the tallest tower: 140-meter Torre Grande. Enrico lead us to Cima Ovest (West Peak), assuring us it would be easy. I couldn’t help thinking we were about to climb twice the height of Helsinki Olympic Stadium tower.
We were not finished yet. Five pitches up meant five pitches down as well. The safest way down was on the other side. We had to wait for some other climbers to get down before us. We carefully avoided dropping loose rocks. When rappelling down I hit my shin bulging sharp rock and got a nice scratch despite wearing long trousers. There was no pain, thanks to the adrenaline flowing in my veins.
Finally, we reached a trail down to the bottom of the tower. We quickly moved away as they were other climbers coming down already. They were perhaps too fast, and some rocks rolled down the steep slope. Soon we found our bags and stopped for some drinks and snacks. Then we hiked down to the 5 Torri hut. The restaurant was open, so we celebrated with drinks before returning to our hotel in early afternoon.
This was mentally one of the hardest workouts ever, and certainly, the most epic day of our week!
Grazie mille Enrico.