Cassin-Ratti – Torre Trieste

Mid may, while working our asses off, Jeroen and me are looking for climbing opportunities in the Alpes because we have 4 days off soon (and we cannot live without our climbing adventures like fishes need water).

Weather looks very promising but lots of the longer alpine routes in the western Alps are not in condition (too much snow/wet rock or too less ice).  So when we see that Ines Papert has climbed the route Donnafugata (750m, 8a/7a A2) at Torre Trieste (the so-called ’tower of towers’ in the Dolomites – part of the Civetta group – only 2.458m high), we are more than interested in this impressive piece of rock. No acclimatization issues here so ideal for a shorter trip.

Besides Donnafugata, there’s two interesting other routes on this tower we find out. Also more suitable for us, the lesser gods. The Cassin-Ratti (900m, 6c max) and the Carlesso-Sandri (900m, 7a+ max).

Torre Trieste. The Cassin-Ratti starts on the right and goes up the tower in the middle (pic: Jeroen)

The Cassin-Ratti has been opened by the famous Riccardo Cassin and Vittorio Ratti, from 15.8. to 17.8 in 1935! It’s a long, adventurous and demanding climb of > 20 pitches, with difficulties up to VII+ (F6c) or VI+ A2.

Footage of an amazing speed solo ascent of  the Carlesso-Sandri of the swiss climber Danni Arnold can be seen below (from 1:01)

We are not sure yet which of the two routes we want to go for. I slightly prefer the Cassin, Jeroen foresees a love affair with the Carlesso. Fortunately we don’t have to choose yet, both routes share the first 5 pitches, so we will see what happens..

After a long drive to the Dolomites, with lots of traffic, we arrive at the the parking in the beautiful suspended Val Corpassa at 4PM.  Cooking, eating, sorting gear out and off we go! We are lucky that a local famer takes our backpacks up on the dirtroad by car, which saves us some energy. On the way up we meet nobody else than the man behind the first ascent of Donnafugata, Christoph Hainz! He has just repeated his route. His first ascent was done in 2004 with Roger Schäli, and in 2007 Mauro Bubu Bole made the first free ascent (which means he climbed it without use of aid). Besides Hainz and his partner it is complety quiet here in this area, and we will meet nobody else during the coming days, we don’t understand why!

Last part of walking towars our bivy (pic: Jeroen)

Our goal for today is easy, finding a nice flat place to sleep. Thanks Niels for the help in this matter.. (after asking him for the second time where the bivy exactly was, he did the Cassin some years ago, he suggested us to book an ANWB vavaction next time because of our poor self-reliance :))

It turns out to be straightforward, and after we’ve installed ourselves at the bivy ledge, close to the start of the real climbing, we drink a beer in our sleeping bags and enjoy a beautiful windstil sunset. It’s hard to imagine the tranquility and beautifulness of moments like these..

The next morning, we start later than it’s light, apparently we’ve set our alarms a bit too late. No worries, it’s still early and after a small breakfast and coffee we start climbing. I lead the first pitch and instantly it’s ON! A slab, graded V-, with only one piton for protection.. Next pitches to the first ledge of Torre Trieste also prove to be harder than expected, but go smoothly. With medium packs on our back we have to pull really hard on the small crimps and pockets. Footholds are sometimes a bit slippery. Routefinding is not straightforward either; there are multiple options on some pitches, and it’s hard to choose (later on routefinding gets way easier btw) However, we are really enjoying it!

Jeroen climbs the 2nd pitch

During the first pitches we choose to go for the Cassin, which is slightly easier than the Carlesso. At the 3rd ledge we take a good rest, eat, and look up to the last 10 pitches of the climb.. it’s really steep, high and looks rejecting. Jeroen does a very good job by onsighting the 2nd pitch after the ledge, which I think is one of the hardest of the whole route. Although we are a bit tired, we climb the rest of the route without any problems. It doesn’t get easy, we have to work hard in almost all pitches that follow. And then, finally, we arrive at easy grounds close to the summit.

Sitting at the summit we realize we don’t have that much time left to do the complex and long descent before it’s dark. But we are relaxed, we know that there are some good bivy spots during the descent, we carrry a bivy bag and down jacket, have some food left, the weather is stable and most important of all things: in good company! Nonetheless, we try to descent fastly.

Suddenly, it’s complety dark and we find ourselves on a good bivy spot, 3 raps above the 3rd big ledge 🙂

Me somewhere during the climb. Steepness guaranteed! (pic: Jeroen)

Views from the top (pic: Jeroen)

We enjoy the evening, but the night proves to be a bit cold and my expensive gore-tex bivy bag gets totally wet inside. So only a few moments of light sleep, and I am happy when we start descending the next morning..

Jeroen at our bivy the next morning

Another thing I am happy about is that we didn’t continue during the night; we experience quite some rockfall and of course the rope gets stuck at some point. After 2.5 hours of rapping and walking, we find ourselves at Jeroen’s van, satisfied but tired. We drive to the nearby valley of Monte Agner, where we have a look at the famous north pillar of this mountain, while enjoying a cappucino in the burning Italian sun. Why do we have to leave already? I would like to find myself at another adventurous route -after a long night of sleep :)- so much! But we are also happy and with big smiles on our faces we drink a beer and eat a great Italian dish -polenta and local sausage-  at the village of Alleghe. Unfortunately duty calls and we start driving away from this place we love so much..

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