Trad climbing can be so daunting. Angus’ trad climbing kit is Scottish style, aka mostly nuts and only two cams. TWO. I know so many American and English trad climbing friends who have racks on racks of cams, and I’m sure they feel a bit safer falling on those. But nope, we have a mere two cams on hand and plenty of nuts to go around. Let’s just say as a newbie trad climber I’m not one to risk falls on nuts.
in fact, I’m terrified of falling on trad.
Last summer, we took a 2 week climbing trip to the Dolomites. There, I learned more on the basics of multi-pitch trad climbing. Of course, I went for the easiest routes as my fear of heights heightens (no pun intended) when I have to lead a trad route. After spending a few days climbing in Cinque Torri, we decided to stop by and do some climbing in Misurina. It was the perfect place to go, and although Tre Cime was a mere 15 minutes away, we couldn’t handle/didn’t have the time for long climbs.
This post will guide you through climbing in Misurina and all you need to know to do so, as well as more information on the Monte Popena Basso crag. Let me know what you all think!
Misurina is a small village about 30 minutes north of Cortina and is famous for its adjoining lake, Lago di Misurina. The pale, broad face of the Monte Popena Basso gives the town a photogenic backdrop for photographers and holiday-goers. It’s also one of the well-known spots to go climbing in Misurina, with lower grade trade routes for climbers. While there, be sure to check the weather forecast. On our first day, we were welcomed by torrential rain. On the second day, however, the sun burned all the clouds away.
Transportation by car: Take the Tre Croci Pass (SS48) east and follow signs for ‘Misurina for about 13 km. Turn left onto the SS48 and keep following signs for ‘Misurina’ for another 2km until you reach the obvious lake to your right. There are some paid parking spaces on the right as you reach the lake and across from the Albergo Dolomiti. There are a few free parking spaces on the lake shore as well, but these are harder to grab. It takes around 20 minutes to get to Misurina from Cortina D’Ampezzo.
Transportation by bus: From Cortina D’Ampezzo, the Dolomiti bus or other bus services (dependent on season) can take you to Misurina and the Tre Cime area. I believe we took the Line 30/31 bus, but again the service number can change depending on season. I would simply go to the Cortina bus station, ask the people at the counter and they can give you a more exact time table and which bus to take. You can also take a look at the Dolomiti website. This costs about 8 euro round trip.
There is a limited (and pretty expensive) selection of hotels on the Tre Croci Pass and by the lake itself. If you’re coming in the summer, I would recommend booking well ahead in advance to avoid high costs on limited rooms. We opted for saving money and instead staying at Camping Alla Baita, a campsite at the northern tip of the Lago di Misurina. There is also a campervan-only park opposite Camping Alla Baita. For more information on Camping Alla Baita, you can check out our Italian Campsite Reviews post.
Climbing in Misurina: Monte Popena Basso
There’s no way you’d walk or go climbing in Misurina and not see the Monte Popena Basso rising up to the west. It’s this big, mountainous ridge that’s dying to be climbed. In fact, it’s one of the best places to get some solid, easy trad climbing in without worrying about the hoards of crowds at Tre Cime or Cinque Torri. The east face of the rock gets the sun for most of the day, so you don’t have to worry about being too cold. It’s a great crag if you’re looking for a half-day’s worth of trad climbing.
Time: 45 min – 1 hr
Level: Medium/Hard, steep and unpleasant towards the end
From Camping Alla Baita, walk South towards the west side of the lake towards the Tre Croci Pass (SS48). Head towards the back of the Grand Hotel Misurina’s car park and you’ll see a tall white tower with a dirt path leading into the trees dating back from WWI. Follow this dirt back as it snakes through the woods and up to reach the face of the crag. When you get closer to the crag, you’ll see a steep dirt scree on the left. This looks like a potential way to get to the crag face faster, but is pretty dangerous and I wouldn’t recommend it. Instead, keep right, even though the crag looks to be just to the left of you. Walk right for about 5 steep minutes until you veer left at a fork in the trail.
The Climb: Diedro Mazzorana
Time: ~4 hours
Level: rated IV/Severe/5.5
This is one of the classic routes of the face. It was pretty difficult to find the starting point of this line. We almost started on the completely wrong track, but luckily there was a couple next to us who had another picture of the face. They pointed out a few features on the rock, such as the white scar on the left of the line on the fourth pitch, which distinguished the route. Diedro Mazzorana takes a logical line up the corner before it moves up the main face. There are great holds, a chimney and is well protected throughout. There are four pitches (IV, IV, IV- and IV) with all but the fourth pitch being 30 metres (the fourth is 35 metres).Angus and I took turns leading the pitches and had a wonderful time. There were belay anchors at the first and second pitches. I believe the third pitch may have also had a belay anchor, but I had missed it and kept climbing onward. The climb was well rounded, with good holds, good feet and even a chimney on the third pitch. We had our trusty Dolomites guide book on hand for the route description, and that kept us from getting lost. By the time we got to the top, it was mid afternoon and the view was incredible.
The descent back down was a piece of cake. Follow a well-trodden path north through the scrub. There are plenty of cairns marking the way. The path then turns east and leads back down to the base of the crag where the fork in the trail is.
Would you go climbing in Misurina? Or have you already been? Comment below!