adventures with Jen Olson

Dolomites with Sara and Geoff

Meet Geoff and Sara, a happy couple

I was fortunate to climb with Sara and Geoff in the Dolomites this past September. This trip allowed me to experience the magic of these historical mountains in the eastern Alps.

Bad Timing

Unfortunately, we timed our trip perfectly with some of the worst weather of the summer. Every day, tough decisions were made, but we made the best of it and managed to climb some rocks!

Sport Climbing near Sands in Taufers

Our trip started with a three hour traffic jam on a Saturday morning driving over Brenner Pass from Innsbruck. In the future I will try to get an earlier or much later start. We were chomping at the bit, but by the time we found a crag in the late afternoon, we found it seeping from recent rains.

The next day we awoke to rain and we ended up making a long trip to a dry sport climbing cliff, where we got in a really good workout!

Not my photo, as the day we climbed the 3rd Sella Tower we did not have any blue sky.

Summit of the second sella tower and the famous Messner route

We enjoyed the first half of the Vinatzer route on the 3rd Sella Tower and everyone enjoyed the crux pitch up a finger crack and through a roof, even though it was a little bit moist.

Then I made the tough decision to go down, as the weather wasn’t improving, and I was worried about some technical scrambling on the descent in the rain. So we rappelled from there and found our way into the descent gulley.

arriving at the big ledge before the crux pitch on the Vinatzer route

Getting a bit discouraged with the weather we packed up and headed from Val Gardenia to Cortina. On the way I managed to get a 170 euro speeding ticket for going 11km over the speed limit while trying to pass a dump truck. I was getting passed by locals all the time as I get car sick when I drive fast on windy roads! Nice italian hospitality.

rain on Sass di Stria, we managed to climb the left hand skyline route later in the afternoon, called Hexenstien

When we got to Falzerego Pass it was raining so we headed up the cable car to the top of Lagazuoi

The information in the cable car and for tourist about WWI was fascinating

The tourist book told us to take the cable car up and hike down the tunnels to avoid going against the crowds, but on this rainy day–it wouldn’t of been an issue to hike up the tunnels (which i would of preferred).

Enjoying Italian hospitality at the Rifugio Lagazuoi before descending the mountain

I loved the ledges, trails, paths, tunnels, trenches all initially built in WWI. It was not difficult to imagine what it might of been like

Helmets and headlamps required, i kept bumping my head!

Unfortunately, i am claustrophobic (felt nauseous, and headachey) and I didn’t really enjoy this experience. when there were opportunities to go onto ‘balconies’ or walk outside on exposed terraces, i was very happy.

ahhh, the relief of getting outside, scoping climbs and ski lines : )

In the afternoon, we managed to squeeze in this climb on Hexenstein.

the second to last pitch involves climbing over a chockstone into a rock crevasse, a very cool location on the mountain. These mountains provide lots of natural hiding places.

Savouring one of our few summits on the trip before hiking off through many trenches and walls built in WWI.

The next day we through our hands up in the air and headed to Venice to escape another day of rain and indecision.

In our short time visiting Venice, we did some great sightseeing, but mostly ate and drank wonderful food and wine

And of course we went to find the Glass Blowers on the island of Murano, we missed them, but bought some gorgeous glass jewelry and vases.

The Yellow Edge in the Tre Cime was our next objective. We shared the route with a few other parties. What a spectacular location!

Fun corner climbing for the first couple pitches

Crushing the stone

Shortly after this pitch the route traverses left and up into the final crux dihedral.
We got passed by a local which was also, a classic European experience for us!

We had a good day out at the Cinqui Torri after this and really enjoyed the route called the NW corner on the Torre Barancio.

Superb classic climb on this Torre up the obvious corner in the sun (photo from

I want to thank Sara for being so adventurous and strong and trusting me on this trip. I want to thank Geoff for his patience and care of Sara and ability to be supportive through bad weather and help with the details of guiding. I appreciate them both for all the amazing wine and fantastic food we devoured!


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