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Dolomites with Mountain Madness

Highlights of The Italian Dolomites

Since the begin­ning, Moun­tain Mad­ness has strived to pro­vide per­son­al­ized care for our guests. As a result, we pro­vide a lot of cus­tomized trips to des­ti­na­tions that no oth­er com­pa­ny serves. For me, this is great, since I can offer our ser­vices on my favorite moun­tains, with­out com­pro­mis­ing my moti­va­tion to go out there. After 20 years of climb­ing in many dif­fer­ent moun­tain ranges around the world, and giv­en my culi­nary back­ground, I must say that one of my most joy­ful des­ti­na­tions is the Dolomites. When I was giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty to put togeth­er a climb­ing trip to Europe, I had no doubts that this World Her­itage site would make every­body happy!

Beau­ti­ful view across Mar­mo­la­da, the high­est range in the Dolomites at 3343 meters/10,968′. R. Taglinger photo

What’s a per­fect climb­ing trip? I nar­rowed this down to three main ideas: effi­cien­cy in terms of climb­ing days vs trav­el­ing days, long aes­thet­ic routes that reach real sum­mits, and just as impor­tant, good food for the rest days. After run­ning two trips this sum­mer, I can say — and our guests can con­firm — that we have achieved these goals! In these two trips, we reached 11 sum­mits in 10 days!

One of the best parts of the Dolomites is the abil­i­ty to change val­leys; each place has its own weath­er, but all have high qual­i­ty climb­ing objec­tives. The whole range is full of beau­ti­ful peaks, all of them easy to con­nect by car, so plan b” is nev­er a prob­lem. We ran these two trips with the same ini­tial itin­er­ary, but along the way we adjust­ed the objec­tives. As an exam­ple, I want to con­trast the Tofana di Rozes ascent that we did with our first group, with the ascent to the Grande Cima di Lavare­do. Both of them are long, mul­ti-pitch routes through ver­ti­cal lime­stone walls, abun­dant with holds, but grad­ed dif­fer­ent­ly. Con­sid­er­ing that our two groups came from dif­fer­ent climb­ing back­grounds, it was great to give them both the oppor­tu­ni­ty to send a route with big dimensions. 

Jody on Sel­la Tow­ers (first group). Joshua Jar­rin photo 

Robert climb­ing on Sass de Stria Peak next to Falzarego Pass (sec­ond group). R. Taglinger photo

All this would be enough to catch any enthu­si­as­tic climbers’ atten­tion; how­ev­er, it is impor­tant to add that the flex­i­bil­i­ty and vari­ety of routes is not the only ben­e­fit. The major­i­ty of the climbs here would be con­sid­ered five-star lines in the U.S. They are long, airy, and incred­i­bly aes­thet­ic routes. Of course, there are many cliffs around the plan­et that com­bine those char­ac­ter­is­tics, but I real­ly appre­ci­ate when a long route fin­ish­es on a real sum­mit, which is what the Dolomites are all about. 

On the sum­mit of Cima Grande. R. Taglinger photo

After every good climb, it is nec­es­sary to rest and refu­el. For this, the Ital­ian huts make the moun­tain lifestyle a pret­ty lux­u­ri­ous one! This is how an aver­age day looks: Start the day off with break­fast at 7:30am in the lit­tle alpine town of Ara­ba. Then we dri­ve to the Falzarego Pass where we hike for 20 min­utes to the base of the Sass de Stria peak and climb ten pitch­es up to its sum­mit. The descent includes vis­it­ing the old trench­es left from WWI. Once back in the car, we dri­ve to Corti­na de Ampez­zo for a piz­za topped with speck (the süd­ty­rolean ham) and, since it’s the sum­mer, a cold aper­ol spritz. For the din­ner, a three-course meal; one of them is always a good pas­ta, and all of it is paired with good wine. Some­thing like this real­ly hap­pened almost every day!

Pablo enjoy­ing a well-earned beer after 16 pitch­es on Tofana di Rozes. R. Taglinger photo

Enjoy­ing local speck after climb­ing. Joshua Jar­rin photo

Our first sea­son on the Dolomites has come to an end. We are leav­ing the range with a pos­i­tive bal­ance in every aspect. Hap­py MM guests and there­fore hap­py guides. Now we are head­ing towards Switzer­land for a Mat­ter­horn exten­sion but we are already think­ing about next year’s trips to this beau­ti­ful part of Italy!

Andrea on her way to Cima Grande on Tre Cime di Lavare­do. Joshua Jar­rin photo

~MM Guide Joshua Jarrin