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Go back to First Sella Tower, Tissi.
From Sella Pass, we then drove over to the well familiar Rifugio Auronzo in the Tre Cime Di Lavaredo area in hopes of bagging another classic line there. Two years earlier we were lucky enough to climb two famous routes here: Spigolo Giallo
(VI) on the south face of Cima Piccola and Comici
(VII-) on the north face of Cima Grande. One that eluded us was the Cassin
(VII-, 12P) route on the south face of Cima Piccolissima. Despite the tower’s name, the route is in fact similar in the number of pitches to Spigolo Giallo but with a more difficult climbing and unlike Comici on Cima Grande the crux is not really “French-freeable.” Following a shifted sleeping schedule (jet lag and all), we woke up early and enjoyed breakfast in the refuge. By the time we got to the base, we saw a party of two one pitch up the route. We started up behind them. We ran the first two pitches together and caught up to the lead party atop the large ledge where the business begins. The three pitches above the ledge slowly build in difficulty, starting with a VI then a VI+ and finally the VII- crux. Looking back, I would’ve combined the VI+ and the crux pitches but the party ahead of us was breaking things up per guidebook and therefore so were we. Though apparently many of the European routes suffer from over-bolting (although I have not done enough climbing there to have a worthwhile opinion), Dolomite routes still have this nice adventure feel where essentially all fixed stuff is of the piton kind in various degrees of mankiness. Here too, I found myself at the crux bulge with two pins separating me and Shirley who in turn was hanging at a belay consisting of three interesting looking pitons. After considering things (i.e. taking an extended rest on the 2nd pin), I finally went for it and clipped an old tattered piece of cord 20 feet above with great relief to both of us. The rest of the pitch seemed easier and although a slight drizzle picked up we decided to continue following some discussion. Immediately after the crux pitch, the route does a horizontal traverse for a pitch and then follows easier (mostly V or below) terrain to the summit. Though the drizzle subsided, the wind picked up and so we did not linger much at the top and instead combined our forces on the descent with the two Polish guys from the lead party. Descent went quickly and efficiently.
Shirley at the Rifugio Auronzo at the foot of the Tre Cime Di Lavaredo (July 2010).
The Auronzo Hut at the foot of the Tre Cime Di Lavaredo group (July 2010).
Starting the approach to Cima Piccolissima (July 2010).
South face of Cima Piccolissima in the Tre Cime Di Lavaredo group. Punta Frida on the left (July 2010).
Starting up the Cassin route on Cima Piccolissima (July 2010).
Higher on pitch 1 (July 2010).
Shirley topping out on pitch 1 of Cassin (July 2010).
Leading pitch 3 (July 2010).
Shirley on pitch 3 of Cassin on the south face of Cima Piccolissima (July 2010).
Typical Dolomite route belay anchor. This one is from the Cassin route on Cima Piccolissima (July 2010).
Shirley arriving at the third belay (July 2010).
Shirley on pitch 4 (July 2010).
Arriving at the fourth belay (July 2010).
The steep crux of Cassin route (pitch 5) on Cima Piccolissima (July 2010).
Topping out on pitch 5. Photo by our Polish route companions (July 2010).
Shirley on pitch 5 of Cassin (July 2010).
The leader of the Polish team ahead of us at the sixth belay (July 2010).
Starting the traverse on the sixth pitch of Cassin route (July 2010).
Pitch 6 traverse (July 2010).
Leading the spectacular traverse pitch midway up Cassin route on Cima Piccolissima. Shirley belaying. Photo courtesy of another team on the route (P. Kowalski) & posted with permission (July 2010).
Looking back at Shirley from the lead of pitch 6 traverse (July 2010).
Sharing the sixth belay with our Polish route mates (July 2010).
A closer looksee (July 2010).
Shirley starting the traverse on pitch 6 (July 2010).
Shirley nearing the sixth belay (July 2010).
Starting up pitch 8 (July 2010).
Looking back at Shirley from the start of pitch 8 (July 2010).
Topping out on what is probably pitch 8 (July 2010).
Pitch 9 with our route mates above (July 2010).
Shirley topping out on pitch 9 of Cassin (July 2010).
Taking us to the summit (pitches 9 and 10; July 2010).
Shirley on the summit of Cima Piccolissima (July 2010).
Some wanker on the summit (July 2010).
Joining forces for the raps off of Cima Piccolissima after our climb of Cassin route. The north faces of the Tre Cime group are in the background (July 2010).
Starting the descent (July 2010).
Shirley rapping from Cima Piccolisima after our climb of the Cassin route…note the single bolt rap anchor, a typical European set up perhaps (July 2010).
Shirley hiking down with the mighty south face of Cima Piccolissima (& Cassin route) in the background (July 2010).
Cima Piccola in the background (July 2010).
Almost back to Rifugio Auronzo in time for dinner (July 2010).
Some views from the parking lot (July 2010).
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