Never Give Up (VIII+/IX- [5.12b], VIII+ [5.12a/b] obl., 500m), Pilastro di Rozes, Tofana di Rozes, Dolomites, Italy. Andrej Grmovsek and Marko Lukic climbed the wildly overhanging (for the Dolomites) line in July; a month later, Grmovsek freed it with Luka Krajnc. [Photo] Andrej Grmovsek
Over the past few years, my friend Marko Lukic and I have climbed many splendid routes in the Dolomites, which offer some of the best hard alpine rock routes in the world. Having made countless repeats of existing lines, we decided to try climbing a new route on one of the Dolomites’ overhanging walls.
In the direttissima era almost every huge and impossible-looking overhang in the Dolomites was climbed with lots of iron and bolts. But some were overlooked. While climbing in Tofana di Rozes earlier this summer, I inspected huge, unclimbed roofs on the right side of Pilastro di Rozes. The idea was born, and Marko and I returned, inspired, to give the wall a shot.
We took a power drill and fixed ropes to equip each belay with two bolts; however, we used as few as possible–fewer than thirty, plus belays, over 500+ meters–to protect the climbing (all bolts, pitons and slings we left fixed). A set of cams to #3, a set of smaller tricams and slings are useful for protection–where possible.
It took four days of ground-up climbing, over two weekends in July, to complete the route. It begins right of A quarant anni dalla Cima and left of an unknown (perhaps uncompleted?) route. One-hundred meters of slab climbing lead to 300 meters of continuously overhanging terrain that climaxes with huge roofs near the top. The routes on either side “escape” left or right before the serious overhangs, whereas our new line takes a fantastic natural passage through them.
Andrej Grmovsek frees Pitch 8 (XIII+/IX- [5.12b], 45m). Luka Krajnc joined him for the free ascent a month after establishing the route. [Photo] Tanja Grmovsek
The climbing on Never Give Up (VIII+ [5.12a/b] obl., 12 pitches, 500m) is never extremely hard, but it is continuous and always serious. It’s difficult to compare it to our other ascents in the Dolomites because it climbs so differently; it is not our most physically difficult but certainly is our most complex. Perhaps a good comparison is a serious Marmolada route, like Specchio di Sara, where removable protection and long runouts are the norm. But Tofana’s loose and insecure rock is far from the excellent limestone you find at Marmolada.
In the middle of August I returned to free the route at VIII+/IX- [5.12b] with the promising youngster, Luka Krajnc. Marko was ill, but I’m convinced he will return next season to free the route–winter came very early this year to the Dolomites.
For my first Dolomites first ascent, it was exciting to find such an attractive and impossible-looking section of wall to climb. It awaits a repeat from whomever enjoys questionable rock combined with long runouts–expect a modern “old-style” climbing adventure. I also recommend a topo, especially because rappelling above the ninth belay is either very difficult or impossible.
Marko Lukic working through wandering Pitch 9 (XIII+ [5.12a/b], 45m). [Photo] Andrej Grmovsek