Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Europe Part 2: Another night on a wall.

Robbie sent Bellavista!

After a few wet days in the Zillertal where I didn’t get up much and Robbie managed to claw his way up Total Brutal we returned to the Tre Cime for Bellavista. The weather continued to be unstable but we kept working at it anyway. Conditions stayed bad with the rock feeling like soap covered marble.  I managed to unlock all of the moves of the crux pitch but didn’t put much effort into the epic linkage required. Robbie improved on days 3 and 4 although still struggled with committing to the sequences due to the nature of the rock, protection and exposure. We rested on Sunday the 3rd and spent time considering our options. Almost two weeks had past and I wondered how much more time this route would take. We decided that despite Robbie not having climbed through the crux of the pitch we would go ground up on the Monday and if shut down at the crux we would leave to chase another objective for a while. This was exactly the pressure needed for Robbie to go ‘amuerte’ on the crux.
Rest day dinner in the Dolomites.
Day 5:
We awoke at 5am and made our way to the base of the Cima Ouest. Luckily for me Robbie had decided he needed to lead the scariest of the pitches as well as the hardest to be happy with his ascent. This meant the initial 7b was all his and I had the luxury of a top rope. He climbed excruciatingly slowly and precisely as one slip would mean possible injury and he would have to repeat the pitch. He linked the pitch into the following 6c and I continued the linkage trend by climbing one super pitch consisting of the 6a, 7a, and 7a+ all feeling as though they had a good coating of butter. We were then at the roof and the start of the crux.

Robbie aided out the traverse powdering the slippery holds with chalk before returning to the belay. A small rest with some chocolate and fluids and he was off. He powered through the start of the crux where he had been consistently falling generally due to lack of commitment rather than fatigue. Suddenly he was at a jug rest having done the hardest slippery section of the route. Only a sequency endurance ~8a left to add on. 20m of power screams truncated by silence as he found rests continued to the end of the route.  As he reached the anchor for once all the hoots and hollering came from us rather than the tourists watching down below. He had even switched off from the fear of the position to skip several pitons which made following with some obligatory climbing very interesting.

I dropped our fixed rope from the belay so we could take it with us which meant we were now committed. No matter what we were gunning for the summit. We had played on the following 8a our previous day on the route and to our surprise found it to be closer to 7b+. Robbie wanted to lead this too for the true lead ascent and I was happy to be taken along for the ride. It went first attempt and we were through the roof and into unrehearsed ground. I thought we were making ok time and it would be just a matter of cruising to the top. Things never seem to work out that way though and we wasted an hour or more climbing some crazy run outs past a bolt and into choss on the 7a before we realised we were going totally off route. Once back on track we climbed three pitches, which were not straight forward, and occasionally scarily run out to ledge half way up the Cime. All the unique climbing of Bellavista was done and only the long easy slabs of the classic Cassin route originally done 80 years ago remained.

Unfortunately it was 6:30pm and with only an hour and a half of light left we had a couple of options to consider. It had been a dry day and the upper slabs although still wet looked passable. We could go for the top probably doing a large portion in the dark by head torch before a forced bivvy on the summit or we could have a forced bivvy on the ledge we were on which had a small roof and finish off the climb in the morning.  Some clouds had been building up but we hadn’t yet had the rain and minor thunderstorm we had had most other days. The weather had mentioned there was the possibility of no afternoon thunderstorm but with the clouds that had built up I wondered if it was just going to be delayed till later in the evening.  We were tired and took the less epic option of staying on the ledge with the small roof. It got dark by around 8 and the sky opened. Pouring rain, thunder and lightning for the entire night. Our decision not to blast on for the summit was a lifesaver. We huddled freezing in our down jackets and got little to no sleep.
Our sheltered ledge for the night half way up Cima Ouest.
 Day 6:
The upper slabs became a waterfall and everything was soaked. I traversed an easy pitch to the start of the upper route and belayed Robbie over whilst standing in a waterfall. I was now freezing and soaked. We made the decision to bail but didn’t know how as rappelling over the roof below would be impossible. I had a vague idea that there was a way to traverse all the way right, along the weakness the ledge we had bivvied on was associated with, which would lead to an exit from the face. I am not sure where I got it from but it wasn’t true. We monkeyed along a rail for two pitches past rusty fixed protection where the Cassin route traversed in. Eventually the Cassin route continued down and right on rusty pins in a way we couldn’t follow. Instead I climbed another 10m without gear and found a shiny new bolted anchor hidden around a corner. We knew a couple of German climbers who had climbed a new bolted 7c somewhere on this section of the face and figured that this must be it. There was even chalk on the holds. We couldn’t traverse any more right so we started rappelling. I had to back clip some bolts and swing around to reach the lower anchors but they kept on appearing and after an hour or so we were back on solid ground.

It was awesome to be part of Robbies achievement in freeing all the Bellavista pitches and a fun couple of days out getting stuck on a ledge yet again. Now we can do some sport climbing before focusing on another big objective. We are constantly talking about The Eiger although with the wettest summer in 30 years (apparently) it won’t be in good condition. We shall see what the weather does over the next couple of weeks anyway and maybe go play on it.
Made a timelapse of the sunset and managed to get this shot with some lightning in it.


Eckhard Bartens said...

Was nice meeting you at Auronzo. Still can't imagine what you guys are doing! Good look, Ecki

CC said...

We'll done guys.