Almost every time I headed for the Alps I drove past or even through the Dolomites on the way to bigger mountains like Mont Blanc or the Swiss Alps. Last year I stopped for a few days in Arco, an Italyan climbing Mecca, just at the Southern edge of the Dolomites and I felt very attracted to the beauty of the place and the richness of the area. I knew that somewhere North, behind the high ridges of Dolomiti di Brenta lies even a greater paradise of rock walls and towers. The subconscious mind of a climber had already started to work and see itself visit the heart of the Dolomites.
One year later I took an opportunity to be part of a road trip in this area. Because I couldn’t exclude the climbing from the agenda, or at least not in the Dolomites, I planned to join forces for a couple of days with Alex Prigoana and Vasile Dumitrica (surely my most common climbing partners). Me and Alex had discussed for almost one year about what would be interesting to climb in the Dolomites. Of course we both had an eye for the North walls of Tre Cime di Lavaredo, but we also thought that Hasse-Brandler route on the North Face of Cima Grande could be a very interesting line to climb, in a more modern style than the neighboring Comici-Dimai, more overhanging and definitely a nice challenge for us.
For me the trip hasn’t started very well. Just after leaving from home I found out that I can’t drive my car outside the country with my brand new number plates (…Romanian bureaucratic system). We changed the car and unfortunately this new car broke down, 200 km later. We tried to fix the problem at a couple of services but the problem was way too complicated to be dealt with right away. After so many signs from fate that we should abandon the trip, we rented a car and continued against the odds. Bottom line was that we lost almost 48 hours on the roads, parkings, car services and Mc Donalds, and however we were still enthusiastic about the trip.
I got to Cortina d’Ampezzo very tired and confused. Alex and Vasile were already at Tre Cime, had already done a warm up route and they were ready and confident to get on Hasse Brandler first thing in the morning. I joined them late in the evening the day before the climb. We haven’t talked much about the route, for me it seemed that they had already sorted out the details and gear, so my best plan was to stick to their strategy and focus on my own climbing, try not to be tired or slow the team down. I went to sleep with these thoughts in my head and with some of the most spectacular views that I had ever seen. Great sharp ridges and rock spires sticking out from the darkness while the lights were all gathered deep in the valley far from us and our attention.
After just 4 hours and a half of sleep, we woke up. It was still dark and quite cold. We went around Cima Grande and Cima Picola to get to the North faces. Suddenly the view of these faces made me feel like this was another planet, cold and distant, and the climbing looked so damn serious. I asked myself again “why haven’t I tried to climb something else before, just to get used to this atmosphere?”. “Never mind, keep going now” I said to myself. “Questions like this will only make things worse”.