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[TR] Dolomites - Various Kid-friendly routes 7/20/2014

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Trip: Dolomites - Various Kid-friendly routes


Date: 7/20/2014


Trip Report:

My wife and I wanted to do a cool mountain trip with the kids that would be super kid friendly, allow my parents to participate (they live in Austria), but still be inspiring for us and not make our heads hurt too much with logistics or drama, so we chose to visit the Dolomites, Italy for a few weeks this Summer. We rented an apartment, which is what the rest of Europe does in this area, in the Summer and Winter. Having an apartment with a kitchen is important, as South Tyrol is very expensive and you would not want to eat out every day, or ever. We ate out twice the entire trip. It was the way to go! We've been training our little boys Max (6) and Zac (5) last few years and they really turned out to be very fast in the mountains and unafraid of the situations we put them in. Probably the hardest challenge with the kids was working on their motivation to do even short approaches. So, in hindsight, the Dolomites was perfect as the access is unrivaled!


The weather was pretty unsettled in July so we fell into a routine of having about the first half of the day dry, and the latter half of each day threatened by thunderstorms, interspersed by rain days where we would just hang out. There were a lot of rain days, where we just went to the local market, or went to the ropes course, or some random playground.


Day A

We arrive in and stayed in Campitello di Fassa, a small commune just a few km down the valley from Canazei, which by any measure is a complete zoo. Campitello is much better.



Day B

We chose some easy stuff for the kids at first, as we did not really know what to expect. So we did the easiest via feratta there is: Grand Cir on the Gardena Pass. Hardly a feratta. The kids did it in fine style, were pretty bored, passed a lot of the adults going up and down the hill, and had the most FUN EVER! jumping on the trampoline at the Jimmy hut for hours! So, a success.




Day C

Summer and I decided to try some real climbing while my parents hung out with the kids, and this day turned out to be the best weather day we had the entire trip. We chose the Trenker route on the First Sella Tower, as a warm up. It is rated V, so...who knows what that means? It is very aesthetic looking, taking a large dihedral that divides a big face. The climbing was steep and basically only protected by fixed gear. Belays were mank. I got to lead the crux pitch, which was probably 5.7. We got in a queue behind some slower climbers but that was ok, until two Brits and their local guide showed up and we listened to the Brits slag the parties ahead of them for an hour or more while we waited. The local guide tried to be diplomatic but the Brits were complete dbags. Eventually, we all topped out and the route was fun! It started raining about a half pitch from the top.



Day D

We decided to do more of a mountain hike with the boys, and took the tram to Sass Pordoi and did a loop to the top of Biz Boe, the highest point of the Sella Group, and back. It was a decent day but at 3000+ meters quite a bit colder than the rest of the trip. We took a look at the Via Maria and it looks awesome! We wanted to do this route the entire trip but never actually got a full dry day.




Day E

Clearly Grand Cir was too easy for the kids, so we opted to go back for Picollo Cir/ Cir V, which is a bit harder, especially since we knew the kids would say yes if there was a trampoline party at the end.



Day F

Summer and I took another half day to ourselves, and, in the interest of doing as much terrain as possible, we elected to do a feratta instead of a roped climb. We launched into the Brigatta Tridentina, which all the doers of via feratta seem to rave about, it is very famous, at the Gardena Pass. The climb went very quickly for us, and it was really amazing to both see how much steep terrain one can climb very quickly in the Dolomites, how long the queue was to climb this famous thing in high season, and how many noobs were on this route completely freaking out because it was the first time ever in the mountains. It wasn't easy to help people here, as the thing is pretty much one-way, but it goes quickly. I found the deproach much more interesting and scenic than the ascent, but it was fun doing all that climbing at maximum speed, essentially soloing.





Day G

Its hard to keep track now of what order stuff happened, but we went to Venice for a rain day.



Day H

Summer and I ran for a quick half day and climbed the Steger route on the first Sella Tower, hoping to do the trip that mvs did at some point in the past, climbing Steger and then climbing the second Sella Tower via the Right Crack, which we saw up there on the first outing. Unfortunately, the rain started pretty much in earnest on second to last pitch, which is quite steep (Summer's lead) and then was really coming down on the last pitch, my pitch, through a wet overhanging chimney. The fixed pro was pretty good, and the crux move was a wet slimy hand jam but it got us to the top, and we bailed on climbing Sella II that day.




Day ?

We wanted to push the boys a little bit more, as Picollo Cir had turned out to be a walk in the park for them, they climbed literally as fast as we did on the feratta, and we also felt that Brigata Tridentina was a little too long of an outing for a 5-year old, so were looking for something steeper and longer but not TOO long. We opted for Piz da Lec, which is a Feratta on the exact opposite side of the Sella group from Campitello. After an hour driving and a couple of ski lifts and so on, we arrived at the base of what turned out to be a very steep climb. These things are equipped for adults, and adults reach, and so the kids cannot typically use the iron to advance on the rock on the steep sections; Piz da Lec was definitely like this - they had to climb the whole thing like a rock climb. The ladder at the top has yawning exposure, and we had the only child-meltdown of the trip at the top of the second ladder. Still, highly recommended as the walk-off is kind and the whole outing very balanced.



Day ??

Winding down towards the end of the trip now, one more outing to the Lagazuoi Tunnels for a bit of World War 1 history. It was already drizzling when we left the parking lot but were able to motivate the troops enough to get to the tunnel entrance, and the latter half of this climb is entirely inside the mountain. We emerged in a full blown thunderstorm, and ran for the tram station between strikes.




Wrap up


This was a great adventure for our little climbers, and was a pretty easy trip for us. We brought a full assortment of climbing gear but ended up using not that much of the rack. For the trade routes, seems you can get by with just a few supplemental pieces. The kids did great, it was pretty easy trip for them too they got lots of treats on the rain days and there were a lot of family friendly things to do




Approach Notes:

Northern Italy. Take a right.

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Holy F%$*&^g S#@t! What an amazing way to spend a week with your 5! and 6! year olds! What in the hell was I doing when I was six? Watching cartoons. Maybe camping out for a night. You're a great dad! To bad those kids expectations are messed up for life now.

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Great trip report. Those are some very fortunate kids for sure.


My wife and I have toyed with the idea of a Dolomites trip and have yet to get it done, this report should help.





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I got my first BB gun when I was six, but I certainly wasn't traveling the world climbing pointy things. Damn.


Kudos to you for making it happen, that's quite the impressive family outing!

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Just got back from the Dolomites myself. Hiked climbed Piz Boe from the La Villa/Stern and Alta Via 2 to Pass Pordoi. What a cool area. The high mountain rifugios are unreal.


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Yeah buddy. Choss monkeys rule!

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Thanks so much, Alex, for the report! Have spent a lot of time on the via ferrata routes in the Dolomites and it was great to revisit them via your TR! My eight-month old is still too young to take on these routes!


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Just wanted to echo a big thanks for this post! I hope to do something similar with my kids and this should help convince my wife!

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