Can you go climbing in the Dolomites during the short autumn days? The answer is Yes, if you go for those peaks with south facing walls. Between Alta Badia and Val Gardena there are many multi pitch classic climbs up to grade 5 doable in this time of the year, with easy approaches and quick descents without any particular issues.
The Demetz route on Grande Cir is a classic multi pitch you can climb almost all year round, it’s a fun climb about 250 meter high, on very beautiful rock and always in the sun. The approach is quite short, you leave the car at the Gardena Pass and you have to point at the steep scree below the Adam Chimney (watch out for rocks if you have other team ahead of you). Usually nobody follows the original second pitch, an overhanging crack with a tough move graded 6, you climb instead on the right of it, following a little overhang (pitons) that takes you on a comfortable ledge where you belay your partner.
Once you get to the characteristic little tower halfway up, you can decide to climb it to the top and abseil down the notch in between the tower and the main peak of the Grande Cir, or moving up towards the North, following an exposed ledge below the top of the pinnacle.
The last pitches of the original route follow a beautiful slab with couple moves graded V, protected by old pitons, on the East wall (Mauro Bernard “Climbing in Val Gardena” guidebook says to climb more on the south face, but it’s just his reccomendation…not mine!). Once you reach the wide ledge on top, you easily follow it towards the north and then reach the summit with cross. On the way down, justyou follow the easy path somewhere equipped with a steee wire and well marked, and you can go back to the car. A quick stop for a drink or even better a well deserved lunch at Jimmy Hut is very recommended when it’s open!
The Dibona route on Sass de Mesdì, is a classic multi pitch climb graded 4+ in the Odle mountain range, Val Gardena, and it’s among the most repeated routes of the massif. During the summer it’s worth riding the Col Raiser cable car to shorten the approach, otherwise you have to park your car in the hamlet of Daunei above Selva and start hiking from there. In the last part of the approach here you have a scree as well, but it’s more comfortable than the one on the Demetz route, the climb begins few meters below a grassy saddle (you can spot some bolts and slings on the next to you, it’s a little easy single pitch crag). The Dibona features a really nice climb, a couple of chimneys to send and many slabs with good holds, where old pitons and some threads show you the right direction. The panorama from the summit is magnificent over the whole Val Gardena, the Sella group, the Val di Funes, the Ampezzo Dolomites, Pale di San Martino and the Alps in the background. The way down is slightly more complicated than the Demetz, several little cairns mark the route down the East side, some section up to 3rd class to downclimb, but with some snow covering the rock the route finding would definitely get more challenging.
Compared to the Grande Cir, here on the Dibona at Sass de Mesdì you’ll be surrounded by an absolute silence and you can enjoy the mountain at the best.