After our adventure on the Eiger, Dave and I were after a fresh objective. We had a number of routes in mind spread out across the Alps but, wimps that we are, were keen to avoid any more cold bivi’s! Dave mentioned Bellavista in the Dolomites, a route he’d tried a decade earlier. It seemed to be the perfect objective; easily accessible, only has a couple of difficult pitches and it’s near the best pizzeria on the planet in a place called Misurina.
Bellavista was first climbed by Alex Huber in 2000 and free climbed a year later. The pictures of the route are just sensational showing climbers swinging their way through the huge roof of Cima Ovest, some 150m above the ground. The route had just received an ascent by the talented American climber Sasha DiGiulian and we hoped to take advantage of some chalked holds which might speed up our process of working the route.
We arrived early at the car park at the end of the toll road beneath the Tre Cime. Although we were keen to make an early start it felt so cold outside that we decided to get a little more sleep. We finally got round to the base of the route at about 10am, not exactly the alpine start we’d anticipated! I shivered my way up the first pitch, a relatively bold but fortunately easy pitch and we swung leads up to the 8c crux through the roofs. Conditions were poor for this pitch. The big roofs seem to have condensation sticking to their undersides for much of the time making the holds feel like they’d been slathered in soap. Dave made steady progress up this spectacular pitch climbing from peg to peg. This pitch is so overhanging that to get back to the previous belay you have to abseil down a separate rope for 50m before jumaring about 20m upwards! As conditions were so poor I decided to forego my attempt and we descended to the base of the route.
Unfortunately, just after pulling our abseil ropes down, Dave realised he’d left the car keys back up at the belay of the crux pitch. We both looked at each other in silence for a few moments, desperately trying to think of some miraculous way we could overcome this hurdle. There wasn’t. We ended up uncoiling our ropes quickly and linking the first five pitches in two to reach the keys just as it got dark. Dave jokingly said it was good endurance training for me. Plonker…!
We returned a couple of days later, but as we prepared to walk into the route I noticed the long range forecast on my mobile – rain for the foreseeable future. We’d had a good trip and with no hope of a dry day for the rest of our time in the Dolomites we decided to strip the route and head home early. It was a shame not to give the route a better attempt, especially as I have no doubt that Dave would have climbed it had we had a couple more days. I’m very keen to return for Bellavista next year though, it truly is an amazing route and one well worth putting in some winter training hours for.
Dave returned to ‘Bellavista’ three weeks later with Alan Cassidy. Despite horrendous, snowy, sub-zero conditions Dave repeated the route on his final day of trying – the only day when the rock was dry but the temperature was still below freezing! There must be something in that Irn Bru for results like that! Here’s a link to Dave’s blog for the low down on the ascent.