MARMOLADA SOUTH FACE


Rifugio Contrin (2016m) This is an ideal back-up rifugio located at the head of the Val de Contrin to the west of the Marmolada. The south face can be accessed using path 610 up to the Passo Ombretta. The approach takes 1 hour 20 mins however making it less than ideal for an Alpine start. Rifugio O.Falier (2080m) The most popular start point for people climbing routes on the face because of its close proximity and comfortable accommodation. The rifugio comes alive at around 3am if there is a good weather forecast. All the approaches described in this book start at Rifugio O.Falier. The rifugio is very popular during peak climbing season and it is worth booking a room in advance. If full, there is a large cave 10 minutes to the north of Rifugio O.Falier on path 610, which climbers have been known to use. Passo Ombretta and the Marco Dal Bianco Bivouac (2730m) This small bivouac, owned and maintained by C.I.A.A (Italian Academic Alpine Club) perched on the south side of the Passo Ombretta can hold nine people. It is an excellent base for those making an Alpine start to routes on the Punta Penia buttress, like Tomasson. Space can be limited during peak climbing season, especially on the weekend. There are several nearby caves that can be used in emergencies. From Malga Ciapela - The town is easily reached via the Fedaia Pass SP641, from either Canazei to the west, or Caprile to the east. Once in the town, follow signs for the campsite 'Romantic Village'. Follow the small road alongside the river, passing the campsite and Rifugio Malga Ciapela, until you get to the end of the road where you park. During peak season it may be necessary to park further down the road at Rifugio Malga Ciapela. From the end of the road, follow path 610 which crosses a wooden bridge over the steam. After 40m the path forks - both routes lead to Rifugio O.Falier. Follow signs uphill towards 'Rifugio O.Falier' for around 35 minutes until you emerge from the trees into the beautiful Val Ombretta. Here you get the first proper view of the south face with Monte Serauta and the pillar of Piz Serauta rising abruptly out of the meadows. Pass the idyllic working farm of Malga Ombretta and follow path 610 along the right-hand side of the valley to reach Rifugio O.Falier in 25 minutes. From Alba - From Canazei, take the SP641 south in the direction of the Fedaia Pass. After 2.5km you will reach the village of Alba. Park at the large Ciampac cable car station at the end of the village on the right. From the southeast corner of the car park (top left as you're looking uphill) follow signs for path 602 on a large track and almost immediately you cross a wooden bridge over a steam. Follow the track uphill for 5 minutes until a sign to 'Rifugio Contrin' directs you onto a smaller path. This rejoins the main track occasionally; just keep following signs for 'Rifugio Contrin'. A further 15 minutes of uphill walking brings you to Baita Locia de Contrin. Turn left past the rifugio, staying on the 602, which takes you through a gate and out of the woods into the beautiful Val Contrin. Follow the valley and good signs to 'Rifugio Contrin' which you reach in around 50 minutes. For the south face of the Marmolada, continue 200m past the rifugio and turn left off the main track signed to 'Col Ombretta'. Follow path 606, and then 610, following signs to 'Ombretta' and 'Rifugio O.Falier' for 1 hour 20 mins until you reach the col. Here the Punta Penia buttress begins and the start of the Tomasson route can be found just downhill to the east. To reach the Marco Dal Bianco bivouac, follow signs to the south on path 650 to reach the shelter in 5 minutes. To continue to Rifugio O.Falier follow path 610 down steep scree to the east for 40 minutes. The south face of the Marmolada is one of the most impressive rock walls in the Dolomites, Europe and indeed the world. Rising for over a vertical kilometre in the centre, there are just under 200 recorded routes weaving their way through a sea of immaculate limestone. The routes selected for this guidebook are the most frequented and arguably the 'classic' lines. For a more in-depth review of nearly all the available climbs, Maurizio Giordani's book 'Marmolada South Face' is an excellent starting point. Grading The routes on the south face are major undertakings and should be prepared for accordingly. The exceptional rock quality is great for climbing but does make gear placements few and far between. As such the difficulties should not be underestimated since the UIAA grading system doesn't take into account the potential (or lack of) gear placements. This makes the routes feel stiff for the grade, a problem which is further exacerbated by the sheer length of the climbs. Logistics Many of the routes incorporate around 1000m of vertical climbing and some 30+ pitches. This prompts the crucial logistical question - do you attempt the route in a single day, or in two? Currently parties climbing on the south face make a pretty even split, with those climbing the easier routes generally opting for a single day and those on the harder routes taking two. The decision will depend on a lot of factors and is ultimately up to the individual parties to choose. All of the climbs in this book have convenient halfway ledges and niches for those choosing to bivvy on the face. These are detailed in the route descriptions. It is worth keeping in mind that taking gear for two days will almost guarantee that you take two days, whereas travelling super-light for one day can go badly wrong if you don't make it. Gear In addition to a standard Alpine rack, on the harder routes a cliffhanger/skyhook and a set of micro-nuts will prove useful. From a modern climbing perspective the placement of pegs should be avoided where possible. Despite this, on a face of this nature, it can be worth carrying a few in case of emergencies. Route Finding Navigating on the face is often difficult because the compact nature of the rock provides little in the way of obvious features. It is worth spending some time on the valley floor the day before the climb memorising the route and key features. It is also worth locating the start of the route which can be surprisingly difficult to find at 4am with a headtorch. Climbing Season The routes are usually most climbable from August to October. Climbing conditions vary greatly from season to season however and it is worth checking the state of the route with the Canazei Guides office or with Rifugio O.Falier. Beware of climbing any routes with large chimney/gully systems in unstable weather because these quickly turn into waterfalls.

Routes

8 trad routes (V...VII+)
Graded List of Routes
List of First Ascents
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Buttress (click for routes) No. of Routes Route Type Sunshine
or shade
Approach walk Other
Punta Penia
Punta Penia forms the highest point of the Marmolada and Dolomites with a summit reaching 3343m....
1
Trad
Lots of sun!
Uphill

120 mins

Punta Rocca
Punta Rocca at roughly 500m across is the narrowest buttress but provides the second highest point...
3
Trad
Lots of sun!
Uphill

60 mins

Ombretta
Ombretta is not a stand-alone peak but more of a long ridge-line characterised by numerous pillars...
4
Trad
Lots of sun!
Uphill

50 mins

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