Rock climbing in the Dolomites, Italy.

The Trenker crack (First Sella Tower) 180m, V-.

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A short but popular route on the first of the Sella Towers, the Trenker crack is an obvious one going up the center of the tower. A classic of the rock climbing in the Dolomites, it cannot be missed. The whole Tower is immensely popular, as, complementing this more alpine route, there are many sports routes (bolted) on every side. This description will only mention the crack as we did no other climb on the Tower and do not know which guidebook covers the sports climbs. The route goes 180m with a grade V-.

Protection: This is an alpine route, even though it is polished by the large amount of people climbing it, the route remains mostly unprotected. A rack of nuts and some slings will be welcome. The relays are all pitoned or bolted and the crux has a nice piton right above it.....

Access: from the "Passo di Fassa" restaurant it is a mere 10-15 minute walk. The Tower is the closest cliff to the parking lot and undoutebly you will be part of many souvernir picture as you make your way up. Follow an obvious trail to the base of the Tower, going below or above the Locomotive (a rock outcroping) and scramble your way up to the starting point (a bolt in the rock).

Route: The whole route has seen many climbers, as a result some areas will be polished and a bit more slippery.

First pitch is an easy III going up to the crack, up a few meters along it, then around a block to the relay. About 40m.

Second pitch is the most difficult one, rating at V-. Beware, the crux (3 moves) is very polished, but the whole pitch is quite well protected with a few pitons and one just above the hard part. 40m.

The third pitch continues up the crack at an easier III+, 40m.

The fourth pitch (30m, III) finishes the crack and lands you on a terrace slanting to the right. It is possible to make a relay here with some bolts. Do not continue up the crack, instead relay there.

Note: The guidebook mentions the possibility to relay at the end of the terrace, it is a nice and comfortable point, but there are no bolts or pitons.
The last pitch (40m, IV-) follows the terrace and goes up the crack that starts at the end of the terrace and, towards the end, traverses slightly to the left to finish up on a nice sunny platform. It is possible to climb to the top of the Tower, be careful as there are lots of loose rocks.

Descent: The guidebook mentions a descent, but we did not follow it and walked down a used path to the right (as you face the other towers in the background) that ends on a rappel point. Down a gully with the rappel and then follow the path (marked with cairns, (rock piles)). The path then meets the one coming from the climbs of thPiz Ciavazes. The lower part of the descent involves a bit of down climbing to reach the lower path coming from the parking lot (and, if going the other way, goes to that other face.).

There are many other climbs on the 1st Sella tower. We saw some bolted routes and some people climbing a really interesting crack with a relay in a small cave at the top. We do not know which books cover more in depth this area, but it looks like there is definitively a lot of intersting stuff there, worth investigating, especially for people who don't like hiking too much to a climb.....

The route painted directly on a photo.

The guidebook we used is the translation of a popular German guidebook:

  • "Classic Dolomite Climbs" by Anette Köhler and Norbert Memmel
    (ISBN 1-898573-34-4)
    102 high quality rock climbs between the UIAA grades III and VII
    Routes selected for their fine climbing, more solid rock, historical interest, inspiring mountain positions. Informative UIAA-style topo diagram for each climb.
    The ideal guidebook to one of the world's greatest and challenging, yet most accesible, pleasurable and historic rock climbing playgrounds.

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1st Sella tower from far

1st Sella tower from closer

The crack itself (smaller one on the left)

Leading the polished crux

The last pitch from above

From the summit a view on the second Sella tower

An interesting route for the future. Middle crack (notice the guy belaying from the cave)