Dolomite Climbing Pioneers and Classic Dolomites Climbs

Guided

Luxury

from €1.280 on request

Climb the routes that shaped climbing history in the Dolomites.

  • Length From 2 Days / 1 Night
  • Trip Type Climbing
  • Activity Level Challenging
  • Start / Finish Alta Badia or Cortina d'Ampezzo
  • Dates This trip is available as a custom, private departure on dates of your choosing from mid June to mid September

Highlights

  • Climb some of the most scenic and best-known routes in the world, following the footsteps of the pioneers who ventured into the unknown to accomplish ground breaking climbs in the early 1900s
  • Enjoy climbing in an area that is a playground for climbers from all over the world
  • The Dolomites’ steep and extremely featured rock allows you to progress easily even on vertical ground

 

OVERVIEW

The Dolomites are a rock climber’s paradise. Sought after by climbers from around the world, there is terrain for every experience level here. What’s more, they are an important point of reference for climbers – the classic and modern routes here have made history in the world of traditional climbing.

On this unique, flexible itinerary, we would like to introduce you to some of the finest classic Dolomite climbs by following the steps of history, by climbing the routes first ascended by its finest and best known climbers. From Reinhold Messner to Riccardo Cassin, world-class climbers past and present have left an indelible mark on these peaks.

Day by Day

Below you will find a selection of some of the Dolomite’s most prominent climbing pioneers, background about each of them, and a few of their best routes – climbs that we thought you might enjoy. Neither the list of pioneers nor the list of routes below is meant to be comprehensive; it is meant for you to consider whose footsteps most intrigue you, which routes most fascinate you. It is an invitation to spark your imagination! 

Each day you will tackle one (or more) climbs. Read on, and begin to dream about which routes you will climb on your classic Dolomites climbing adventure! 



REINHOLD MESSNER (1944- )
Messner is renowned for making the first solo ascent of Everest without supplemental oxygen and for being the first person to climb all fourteen 8,000 meter peaks. He initially made a name for himself with groundbreaking ascents in the Dolomites. In 1965 he climbed a line on the north face of Ortler, and a year later one on Rocchetta Alta di Bosconero. In 1967 he made the first ascent of the northeast face of Agnér, and the first winter ascents of the Agnér’s north face and Furchetta’s north face. In 1968 he did the first ascent of the Mittlepfeiler on Sasso della Croce. The following year he soloed Philip-Flamm on Civetta in a short 8 hours, and climbed an important variation to the Vinatzer on the south face of Marmolada.

Sasso della Croce, Sasso Nove – Messner route (250m, Grade 5), climbedwith his brother Günther and with H. Lottesberger in 1965. This is an unusual and surprising climb for the Dolomites. It involves fun friction climbing up an incredibly blank limestone slab. Initially the climbing is disconcerting, but as soon as you start trusting the rubber in your shoes you will have a lot of fun and will wish the climb would never end.  It is located in a very remote area, right above a broad plateau of alpine meadows.

Sasso della Croce  Grande Muro (250m, Grade 7), climbedwith H. Frisch in 1969. This is the most popular route on Sasso della Croce. The highlight of the climb is a rightwards traverse up high, across a thin flake with the entire Val Badia right under your feet.

Seconda Torre di Sella – Messner route (250m, Grade 6), climbedwith his brother Günther in 1968. This is a fantastic outing for those with the skills to manage a grade 6 climb. The climbing is steep and sustained, the approach short and the scenery simply breathtaking.

Sasso della Croce  Pilastro di Mezzo (400m, Grade 7+), climbedwith his brother Günther in 1968. This is one of Messner’s best known routes, involving several very exposed traverses. The crux slab section can be avoided via the Mariacher variation, yet another exposed traverse. The short approach and descent, the scenery, and the historic significance of this climb make it a very worthwhile outing.

Mamolada  Vinatzer-Messner route (800m, Grade 6+). G. B. Vinatzer and E. Castiglioni climbed the lower half in 1936 while Reinhold Messner climbed the upper half solo in 1969. This is one of the most popular hard classics in the south face of Marmolada. It has very good rock throughout especially in the upper half, the Messner variation is a very classy finish, up steep exposed slabs.


ANGELO DIBONA (1879-1956)
Born in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Dibona was one of the best mountaineers of his time, making many important first ascents together with Angelo Dimai (see below) and L. Rizzi. He was known across the Alps and was one of the few people at the time that could make a living from mountain guiding, being one of the most requested guides in the Dolomites. Some of his clients were the Belgian king, the Hungarian countesses Ilona and Rolanda Eötvös, and the industrious Max and Guido Mayer from Wien. The Mayers wrote many accounts of the climbs they did with Dibona, and this helped establish him as a legendary climber and guide. After the war he kept working as a guide into his 60s. He completed more than 70 first ascents across the Alps, many of which were cutting edge at the time.

Roda di Vael – Dibona route (300m, Grade 4+), climbed with E. Broome, A. Verzi, H. Kelly Corning in 1908. The Roda di Vael is one of the most historic faces in the Dolomites. Dibona led the first ascent without placing a single piton! This climb offers incredible views of Latemar, a beautiful group of towers and peaks right across the valley.

Cima Grande  Dibona route (550m, Grade 4), climbedwith R. Eller and E. Stubler in 1909. This is a great way to climb Cima Grande. Climbing this route one has the feeling of climbing in the nearby north face, one of the most iconic faces in the Dolomites.

Torre del Diavolo – Dibona route (130m, Grade 6), climbedwith W. Stosser and F. Schutt. This climb involves one of the best known bridging (step across) moves in the history of climbing, having to make a long jump move between two independent towers. A very exciting and scenic climb.

Piz da Lec de Boe (700m, Grade 4+), climbedwith L. Rizzi, and with his well-known clients Guido and Max Mayer, in 1911. This historic climb is located in the heart of the Mesdi valley, where one has the feeling of being in a remote and wild place. The main difficulties are in the upper half where the rock is of very good quality.

Sass Pordoi – Dibona (800m, Grade 4+), climbedwith L. Rizzi, and with his well-known clients Guido and Max Mayer, in 1910. This is a wonderful classic route with varied climbing on good rock. One can avoid the long descent by simply taking the cable car down.

Odle, Sass de Mezdi – SW ridge, Dibona (350m, Grade 4), climbedwith R. Eller, K. Huter and G. Jahn in 1917. This is one of the great classics routes of the Odle group, and offers very varied climbing in good rock with a short approach.

Torre Grande di Falzarego (300m, Grade 5+). Angelo and Ignazio Dibona with G. De Stefani in 1934. Phenomenal climbing in a sunny wall with one pitch that is simply spectacular.


ATTILLO TISSI (1900-1959)
Born in Agordo, Tissi did not start to climb until his late thirties. Two years later he climbed a beautiful new route on Torre Triste, which was followed by a new route in the NW face of the Pan di Zucchero, also in the Civetta group. His 13-hour ascent of the Solleder route on Civetta was an impressively fast time. Before Tissi's climbs, foreign alpinists had been at the fore of climbing in the Dolomites. But Tissi and Giovanni Andrich, in climbing the huge soaring face of the Solleder route so fast, showed a bravura and nonchalance that captured Italian imagination. In 1933 Tissi guided the future King Leopold of Belgium in the first ascent of a 120-meter tower that they christened Campanile di Brabante (after the royal house of Brabant). During WWII, Tissi became active in the Partisan resistance. He was arrested and tortured by the SS and was freed by other partisans after more than a month of suffering. In 1945 he was elected President of the Belluno Province. He died in a fortuitous climbing accident in 1959. Attilio Tissi, the socialist who named peaks after the royal house of Brabant, has a street in Belluno, a via ferrata on the Civetta Massif, and a refuge on its west side, all of which bear his name.

Prima Torre di Sella – Tissi (180m, Grade 6-), climbedwith M. Guglielmini, G. Mase Dari and C. Aschieri in 1936. This is one of the great classics in the Sella Towers. It is such a popular route that in the first couple of pitches the holds are polished. The steep wall of the upper half offers great climbing.

Torre Venezia – Tissi-Andrich route (450m, Grade 6-), climbedwith G. Andrich and A. Bortoli in 1933. This climb epitomizes Dolomite climbing: an airy traverse half way up is the crux of the route and the tricky descent ensures that reaching the summit is very much the half-way point. Excellent rock quality throughout.

Torre Trieste – Tissi (650m, Grade 5+), climbedwith G. Andrich and D. Rudatis in 1931. This is one of Tissi’s masterpieces. Torre Trieste is one of the tallest and most impressive free standing summits in the Dolomites and the Tissi route provides an elegant and accessible path to the summit. In the upper section it is possible to climb the harder French variation (6+). At the start of the long descent one makes two rappels into a deep cave like chimney that feel more like spelunking than climbing.


EMILIO COMICI (1901-1940)
Born in Trieste, Comici spent more than a decade dedicated to spelunking before moving on to climbing. He started climbing in Val Rosandra, right outside of Trieste, and soon ventured to the Julian Alps. In the 1930s he started climbing in the Dolomites. In 1933 he climbed the NW face of Civetta, and added a new route on the north face of Cima Grande di Lavaredo – two great exploits that made him famous. He was accused of having used too many pitons on Cima Grande, but four years later he responded to his critics by climbing the route free-solo. His last great climb was the ascent of "Il Salame" in the Sassolungo group. He died while climbing with some friends on a small wall near Selva di Val Gardena.

Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Cima Piccola  Spigolo Giallo (350m, Grade 6+), climbedwith R. Zanutti and M. Varale in 1933. This is one of the best known routes in the Dolomites. It climbs a very steep line involving sections of breathtaking exposure.

Cima Grande – Comici/Dimai (450m 7+), climbedwith well-known climber Angelo Dimai and his brother Giuseppe in 1933. In its day this was one of the hardest climbs. Few classic climbs are as steep as this one. The first 8 pitches are on dead vertical ground. Because of its history significance this is one of the most sought after climbs in the Dolomites.

Cadini di Misurina, Punta Col de Varda – Comici (250m, Grade 4), climbedwith del Torso, in 1934. This is a popular climb involving chimney and crack climbing in very sound dolomite rock.

Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Punta di Frida – Comici (300m, Grade 6-), climbedwith G.B. Fabjan-V. Cottafavi-G. Pompai in 1934. It is a very enjoyable climb in clean rock, with a short approach and descent.

Prima Torre Falzarego (150m, Grade 4+), climbedwith S. del Torso and M. Varale in 1934. This is a great introductory climb to the Dolomites. It offers consistent difficulties up a beautiful arrete with breathtaking views over Falzarego Pass, towards Averau, Laston di Formin and Tofana. It is possible to continue on to the Torre Grande di Falzarego for another 130 meters of climbing.

Sassolungo, Salame –Comici (350m 6+), climbedwith S. Casara in 1940. This route is a masterpiece of great elegance, very involved, with a long approach and a long descent.


RICCARDO CASSIN (1909-2009)
Cassin moved to Lecco in Northern Italy when he was 26 years old and started climbing soon after in the nearby Grigne. He was one of the finest alpinists in the world in the period before the Second World War, climbing many new routes across the Alps. In the Dolomites, he climbed hard new routes on Torre Trieste and Cima Ovest di Lavaredo. In 1937 he turned his attention to the Central Alps, climbing a new route on the north face of Piz Badile. In 1938 the Olympic committee recognized his achievements by awarding him an Olympic medal. His 1938 ascent of the Walker Spur on the Grandes Jorasses was by far his most celebrated climb. In 1947, Cassin began designing and producing mountaineering equipment, and the company that bears his name continues to be a leader in the industry today. After WWII he remained active as trip organizer and expeditions leader, leading successful expeditions to GIV in Pakistan in 1958 and Mc Kinley in Alaska in 1961. With 78 years of age he was able to repeat his Badile route, 50 years after the first ascent.

Cima Picolissima – Cassin (250m, Grade 7-), climbedwith G. Vitali and L. Pozzi in 1934. Although this is the smallest of the towers in Tre Cime, its steep wall and hard climbing make it as challenging as all the others.

Cima Ovest – Cassin (600m, Grade 6+ A0), climbedwith V. Ratti in 1935. For many years this was one of the hardest routes in the Alps. The crux is a traverse that can be easily aided. The climbing is very airy, traversing right above the massive overhang of Cima Ovest’s north face.

Torre Trieste – Cassin (700m, Grade 7). Another Cassin-Ratti masterpiece, climbed in 1935. The upper part offers the best rock and the most exposed climbing with difficulties to 6-, and can be climbing independently by approaching from the side. Whether one does the entire route or just the upper part it is a phenomenal climb, very involved with a tricky descent.


ANGELO DIMAI (1900-1985)
Born and raised in Cortina, Dimai became a mountain guide in 1922. With his brother Giuseppe (1903-1946), he climbed many hard first ascents, especially in the area surrounding Cortina. The two brothers completed the first ascent of the north face of Cima Grande di Lavaredo with Emilio Comici (see above) in 1933.
Some of his most enjoyable first ascents include two new routes climbed with Hungarian Baronesses Ilona and Rolanda von Eötvös, one on Tofana di Rozes, one on Grohmannspitze. He also did the first ascent of another route well worth repeating, the via Comune on Punta Fiames.

Punta Fiames – Via Comune Dimai (400m, Grade 4+), climbed with J.L. Heath and A. Verzi in 1901. This is one of the best grade 4 routes in the Dolomites.  It has a very short approach and a fast descent and offers excellent views of Cortina d’Ampezzo.


ETTORE CASTIGLIONI (1908-1944)
Castiglioniwas born to a rich Milanese family, received a law degree, and was a music and art lover. He became one of the strongest alpinists in the period right before the Second World War. He was much more interested in exploration than searching for difficulty, and in his short life climbed over 200 new routes across the Alps.

BRUNO DETASSIS (1910-2008)
Detassiswas an alpinist and guide with a very impressive climbing curriculum and was well known for his profound humanity. When he was at his prime, he never used the heroic tones that were so widespread in climbing circles. He always showed modesty and respect for the mountains, as well as for people and life. His search was much more focused on the beauty of a line, the style in which an ascent was accomplished than in the mere difficulty. 

As it is to be expected from two individuals with such a degree of interest and concern for the aesthetics and style of their climbs, the routes Castiglioni and Detassisclimbed together are well known for their beauty.

Sella Massif, Vallon, Sasso delle Nove – Castiglioni-Detassis (250m, Grade 4+), in 1934. It involves stupendous chimney climbing in good rock. This is likely the Vallon’s most popular climb.

Sella Massif, Vallon, Piz da Lec – Castiglioni-Detassis (200m, Grade 4). Also climbed in 1934 this is a very tortuous albeit interesting route, that grows as one climbs higher and higher, with the best climbing near the very top.

Sella Massif, Vallon, Sasso delle Dieci – Castiglioni-Detassis (290m, Grade 4+). 1934 was a very productive year for the Castiglioni-Detassis team, and this route is also from that period. It climbs a classic dolomite style chimney, with many spectacular sections. The descent is also very interesting, with many beautiful and exposed sections.

Pale di San Martino, Pala di Rifugio – Castiglioni-Detassis (650m, Grade 5+). In 1934 Castiglioni and Detassis did not stop... This phenomenal climb has very good quality rock and is the best line on Pala di Rifugio, and rivals in quality any Dolomite climb. If one makes good progress it can linked to the Wiessner route in Sass de Ortiga, which combined results into a impressive 1000-meter climb.


ALBINO ALVERÀ (1923-2004)
Alverà was a mountain guide from Cortina d’Ampezzo and was one of the founders of the well-known Cortina climbing group, the “Scoiattoli.” Between 1942 and 1960, he climbed 11 new routes in the vicinity of Cortina, including some that have become great classics such as the Primo Spigolo on Tofana. He was also a very accomplished skier, having won gold medals in various competitions, and placing 23rd in the slalom in the Oslo Olympics of 1952.

Tofana Primo Spigolo (400m, Grade 5), climbedwith U. Pompanin in 1946. An excellent grade 5 route. The initial dihedral and middle section up an arrete offer spectacular climbing on solid rock with a lot of exposure. This is the most popular route on Tofana.

Tofana Terzo Spigolo (550m, Grade 5), climbedwith U. Pompanin in 1946. This is a longer and more involved climb than the Primo Spigolo. The exposed climbing just right of the arrete in the middle section and out of the cave up high are both very memorable sections.

Monte Averau – Alverà (200m, Grade 4+), climbedwith Pompanin, U. Illing and A. Apollonio in 1945. The traverse half way up is one of the best grade 4 pitches in the area. The summit offers some of the most scenic views of any summit in the Dolomites, offering 360-degree views from Cristallo to Antelao, Pelmo, Civetta, Marmolada, Sella, Lagazuoi and Tofana.


TITA PIAZ (1879-1948)
Piaz was famous as a climber but was also well known for his hard headedness, his helpfulness, his anger, and his high guiding rates. Born in Val di Fassa, the Vajolet hut became his home and the hut keeper his wife. At 20 he soloed the first ascent of the NE crack of Punta Emma, a climb that established him as one of the best climbers of his time. Although he often guided young aspiring climbers for free, his guiding rates were, in his own words, “cruelly murderous” because of being so high. In spite of that, he would at times threaten to throw his clients down if they did not climb fast enough! When not guiding he soloed a lot, completing first ascents and link ups. Once he soloed eight towers in seven hours, including two new routes. He became famous as the “Devil of the Dolomites” for his climbing ability, his anger, and for his dog “Satan” who would carry his rope to the base of the climbs.

Rosengarten, Punta Emma – Piaz (200m, Grade 5). He soloed the route in 1900. The strenuous chimney in the third pitch requires a good deal of drive and motivation. It is one of the most popular routes in Rosengarten/Catinaccio group.

Piz Pordoi – Maria Kante (250m, Grade 4+), climbedwith V. Dezulian in 1932. This is a five star climb, with solid rock, a short approach and an even shorter descent via cable car. It is one of the best grade 4 routes in Dolomites.

Torre Delago (150m, Grade 4+), climbedwith F. Jori and I. Glaser in 1911. It climbs a steep and exposed arrete. A Dolomite classic par-excellence.


HANS DÜLFER (1892-1915)
Dülfer was born very far from the Alps, in mid-western Germany. However, in a very short time he managed to “catch up,” repeating many of the hardest routes in Kaiser, Catinaccio and Tre Cime. He did some difficult and impressive first solo ascents, reaching the upper end of the 5th grade, which at that time was the highest level. He died in France during WWI.

Cima Grande – Dülfer route (250m, Grade 5+), climbed with Werner von Bernuth in 1913. Climbs a steep dihedral in the hidden west face, offering sustained and athletic climbing on perfect rock.

Cadini di Misurina, Campanile Dülfer – East ridge (300m, Grade 5-), climbedwith Werner von Bernuth in 1913. Although beautiful and on solid rock this route is seldom repeated so it offers a quality of experience that cannot be found in popular places such as the Sella Towers or Falzarego. The descent is thrilling, involving several rappels and tricky traverses.


Note: Beginner climbers in good physical shape can climb and enjoy routes with difficulties to grade 4+ (UIAA scale), while routes from grade 5 and higher should be reserved for those with previous climbing experience. See the grading section below under our Rock Climbing Trip Difficulty Levels. We will help you choose the best possible selection of routes according to your interests and skill level. 


EXTEND YOUR ADVENTURE!
You've come all this way, why not stay a little longer? Dolomite Mountains offers fantastic extensions that you can enjoy before or after your trip in the Dolomites. Explore VeniceVeronaLake GardaFlorence, or Milan, or any of the many other magical places found throughout Italy. There's no more perfect way to recover from jet lag upon arrival, or delay your return to reality at the end of your trip!

Cost

Guided Trip for grade IV - IV+ 
From € 1.280 per person (minimum 2 participants)

Guided Trip from grade V 
From € 1.420 per person (minimum 2 participants)


Cost Includes:

  • Trip briefing
  • Logistics and map of the area
  • 3 nights accommodation in B&B in Alta Badia or Cortina
  • All breakfasts
  • Local English, German, and/or Italian speaking Professional UIAGM/IFMGA Mountain Guide for 2 days
  • Technical climbing equipment
  • Local tourist tax
  • Italian VAT tax

Airport transfers available on request.

Accommodation

Want to learn more about our Luxury Hotels?            
Luxury accommodations in the Dolomites combine the ultimate in comfort and refinement. From five star hotels, Michelin star-rated restaurants, and pampering spas, just because you are in the mountains does not mean you cannot have a truly luxe Italian experience in the Dolomites! From the chic town of Cortina d’Ampezzo, a popular destination for the rich and famous, to the quiet and discreet luxury of San Cassiano in Alta Badia, you will find accommodations with credentials ranging from membership in the exclusive Relais & Châteaux to The Leading Hotels of the World! 

Want to learn more about our Hotels and B&Bs?
The Dolomites has a multi-faceted culture and history that is reflected in each village we visit, and we make sure to provide you with the most authentic experience of the region possible through the hotels and B&Bs we offer. Hotels and chalets are available in the larger villages, while agriturismos (working farms with accommodations similar to B&Bs) are more common in rural areas. And we always make sure you have access to inspired regional cuisine, and the best panoramas you can get in the Dolomites!

Want to learn more about our Mountain Inns & Rifugi?            
Rifugi – or mountain huts in English – are the classic accommodation for hikers, climbers, mountaineers, and ski mountaineers in the Alps. Set in spectacular locations high in the Dolomites, rifugi are accessible only on foot (with a few exceptions that are reachable by car). These marvelous establishments are open primarily in the summer, with a select few in winter, and offer meals and sleeping facilities.

The Dolomite rifugi are considered the best in the Alps. While some are dormitory style with bunk beds, many meet the standard of a simple guest house with private rooms and en-suite bathrooms, and each has its own unique character and charm. Bedding and linens are provided, hot showers are available, and meals are served in common dining areas – like a small mountain inn set high in the mountains with the most incredible vistas in the Dolomites. Whether you’re hiking in summer or skiing in winter, an overnight rifugio stay is not to miss on a Dolomite holiday.

To learn even more about rifugi in the Dolomites, check out our Rifugios in the Dolomites article, and learn about one of the best ways to experience these incredible mountains!

More info

Climbing route difficulty and skill levels:
Level 2: Advanced level, climbing grades 5- to 6-
Level 3: Expert level, climbing grades 6- to 7- 

Guided: Guide Ratio 1-2 climbers per guide

Still want more? Why not extend your adventure!
Dolomite Mountains offers fantastic extensions that you can enjoy before or after your trip in the Dolomites. Explore VeniceVeronaLake GardaFlorence, or Milan, or any of the many other magical places found throughout Italy. There's no more perfect way to recover from jet lag upon arrival, or delay your return to reality at the end of your trip!

Group Trip Dates

Trip name   Trip dates   Min persons   Trip status   Price    
25-30 Jul
2017
4
Available
€ 970
27 Jul - 3 Aug
2017
4
Limited space
€ 1260
8-14 Aug
2017
4
Sold out
€ 1640
15-21 Aug
2017
4
Sold out
€ 2790
16-20 Aug
2017
4
Limited space
€ 910
16-21 Aug
2017
4
Sold out
€ 970
26 Sep - 1 Oct
2017
4
Limited space
€ 2790
26 Sep - 1 Oct
2017
4
Limited space
€ 1640
2-8 Oct
2017
4
Available
€ 2790
3-10 Oct
2017
4
Available
€ 1560
3-7 Oct
2017
4
Sold out
€ 910
10-15 Oct
2017
4
Available
€ 970
14-19 Feb
2018
4
Limited space
€ 2290
21-27 Feb
2018
4
Limited space
€ 1990
26-31 Feb
2018
4
Limited space
€ 1270
25 Mar - 2 Apr
2018
4
Available
€ 2290
25 Mar - 2 Apr
2018
4
Available
€ 1600
4-9 Apr
2018
4
Available
€ 1350
11-17 Apr
2018
4
Available
€ 1990
18-23 Apr
2018
4
Available
€ 2290
18-23 Apr
2018
4
Limited space
€ 1270
17-21 Jul
2018
4
Available
€ 910
17-22 Jul
2018
4
Available
€ 970
22-27 Aug
2018
4
Available
€ 1460
7-13 Aug
2018
4
Available
€ 1640
7-13 Aug
2018
4
Available
€ 2790
15-22 Aug
2018
4
Available
€ 1560
25-31 Sep
2018
4
Available
€ 2790
1-8 Oct
2018
4
Available
€ 1780
8-12 Oct
2018
4
Available
€ 910
16-21 Oct
2018
4
Available
€ 970