Climbing in Dolomites, an experience not to be missed!

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Tom Smith blog writter
Tom Smith
Published: 08/04/2020
Updated: 1/06/2021

Climbing in the Dolomites is a must! If you are a climber, I believe that you should visit these mountains at least once in your lifetime. Also, it's a playground for all-mountain enthusiasts not only for the alpine and sports climbers but also for hikers, paragliders, race bikers, and oh so much more. And when you will be here, don't miss the thrill of climbing a via ferrata!

The Dolomites are surely one of the most beautiful mountain range in the world. Marvelous peaks emerge from green alpine meadows and vast forests of spruce and larch. The peaks change color constantly as the sun rises and travels across the sky during the day. You can admire many shades of pink and red in the sunrise and later the burning reds of the sunset. Well-marked trails allow excursionists to move around without any problem and enjoy views of peerless beauty.

When compared to the western Alps the Dolomites are particularly appealing to the pure rock climber for good reasons: impressive vertical peaks rising out of alpine meadows, relatively short approach from the road (this can be typically less than an hour), most of the routes can be climbed in a single day, no glaciers to cross to access the routes.

In the Dolomites various styles of rock-climbing routes can be experienced: single pitch sport routes, lots of multi-pitch alpine routes up to 1500m long, crags, via Ferrata, imposing big wall...

Let’s go to see!

Climber in the Dolomites enjoys the view

Climbing classic multi pitch routes

Talking about the Dolomites classic routes, there are lot of long routes at all levels of difficulty. Some route can be over 25-pitches long, however the vast majority of them can be climbed in a day by leaving in the early morning from your hotel or campsite.

On these long climbs route finding requires a good level of experience, as does assessing the quality of fixed gear on the route. The amount of protection varies from route to route: rest places with bolts and cemented in rings are quite frequent. On the most challenging sections there is often more frequent protection (sometimes much more than is necessary) but as soon as you reach easier terrain the pegs disappear and the route to follow is much less evident.

Be careful around old, rusty, time-corroded pegs! Though rarely indispensable, friends and nuts are come in handy.

The rock is not limestone (with a few exceptions) but is dolomia. The quality of the rock must also be carefully evaluated, because the dolomia can be very friable, particularly on the yellow coloured walls.
Anyway, the most repeated routes are usually safe, because they have already been cleaned by many ascents. Despite sometime the rock is not the best, climbing in Dolomites is amazing!

Two men climbing the Dolomites
Spigolo Dibona

Modern multi pitch routes

If you prefer sport routes, in the Dolomites you will find a good choice of vie plaisir. The modern routes are well equipped with bolts and the rock is almost always very solid. Climbing on these routes requires a combination of technical ability and a good level of stamina.

Sport routes are to be found at a large number of venues. All are well bolted, and all are in beautiful, amazing surroundings. Bear in mind that most of the modern multi-pitch routes requires a 6a climbing level at least.

Climber on the rock wall in Dolomites
Rio Gere

Sport climbing and crags in Dolomites

Speaking about crags, listing all the crags in the Dolomites would be an inconceivable task.
For sure, the area of Cortina d'Ampezzo you is a true paradise for climbers, not just for the classic climbers looking for reaching the beautiful Dolomite peaks: sport climbers will also find in the Ampezzo valley a fantastic place to play, with the added value of the natural beauty of the locations of the numerous crags in this area. A lot of rock to hang on to, since there are almost 2,000 routes! To get to most of them, you only must walk for about 15 minutes.

But it is definitely not only the amount of pitches which pulls climbers from all over the world: sport climbing in Cortina means finding yourself in one of the most beautiful places in the world, placed in a natural environment perfect for treating visitors to indescribable views and unforgettable thrills.

Climbing via ferrata

Last but not least, the via ferrata! The Dolomites is the place where via ferratas were born. The choice of vie ferrate in the Dolomites is infinitely varied, from the shortest and least demanding ferrata to the most difficult ones, which require a more thorough level of physical fitness.
These mountains are unequalled in the number and beauty of their vie ferrate offering not only strong emotions but more. Some of the routes go through the places of the Great War, which on the Dolomites left some of the most tragic and memorable legacies.

Where to go climbing in Dolomiti?

Where is the best place to stay?
Every Dolomite valley has magnificent towns which offer guests a wide range of services.
But there is no point in denying that Cortina d’Ampezzo is universally acknowledged to be one of the most beautiful mountain resorts in the world. Known as “the pearl of the Dolomites”, Cortina is surrounded by a ring of magnificent mountains.

It is in these mountains that we find the largest number of via ferratas in the Dolomites all reachable quickly and easily. Naturally there are plenty of mountain climbing routes too and many of them have justly gone down in mountaineering history. There are also countless paths that allow you to fully enjoy the beauty of the place, of course.

When to go?

The best time is from the end of May to October, but November can be good too if snow has not yet fallen. If you can help it, stay away from the high season.
Whilst there are exceptions, Cortina’s winters are in general too cold for climbing

Ciao, I’m Enrico Maioni, a mountain guide from Cortina d’Ampezzo, Dolomites.
I hope you found my post interesting. If you want to discover more about rock climbing and mountaineering in the Dolomites, my website Guide Dolomiti is a rich source of information. I will be happy if you want to take a look 😊

Click on the follow link: Dolomites Guide, information and advice about the Dolomites area.

Ready for the time of your life?

About the author
Tom Smith blog writter
Tom Smith
Tom Smith is a content writer, translator, educator and lyricist. He is also a passionate traveller and explorer of the human condition. Tom works and lives in Ljubljana.

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