Here is a quick report of my first activation of Cima Occidentale / Westliche Zinne, SOTA I/AA-057, 2973 m asl on Monday.
Summit and Route
The Cima Occidentale / Westliche Zinne is one of the three solitary peaks of the famous “Tre Cime di Lavaredo” ensemble in the Dolomites. The easiest “normal” route is the same as the original first ascent by Michel Innerkofler and Georg Ploner on August 21, 1879.
The total difference in height is 400m, but the total climbing distance accounts for ca. 600m excluding the approach. The climbing difficulty is varying widely, from I/II to officially III+, but the key passage near the top has become more difficult due to a large block falling off in recent years; now likely IV+.
The main challenge of the route, despite the sheer length, is the large part of it that does not allow proper belaying, the large amount of loose rock, and the general quality of the Dolomite rock.
You can either stay at the Rifugio Auronzo at 2330 m asl or the camper-friendly parking area nearby. The toll for the road to the hut is 30 EUR for normal cars per day (ending at midnight).
You absolutely need stable weather conditions, as lightning and rain would be terrible encounters in these long, traditional routes; hence, autumn is in my opinion ideal.
In general, I would not advise this route without a local mountain guide, for orientation, speed, and safety. We did this on our own, but with a lot of prior Dolomites climbing; and still it was an adventure.
You should at least budget for 3 - 4 hours for the ascent and 3 - 4 hours for the descent even if trained and experienced. The 2 - 2.5 hours for the ascent in some guidebooks are really only for a party of one mountain guide and one client who walk simultaneously on a short rope through all grade II sections and know the exact route blindly.
- English: Mauro Bernardi: Climbing in Val Gardena Dolomites, 2016, https://www.amazon.com/-/de/dp/8868392259/
- German: Mauro Bernardi: Klettern in Cortina d’ Ampezzo und Umgebung - Dolomiten: Die schönsten Routen in den Dolomiten, 2018, https://www.amazon.de/-/en/Mauro-Bernardi/dp/8882669041/
We reached the summit by ca. 15:45 local time (13:45Z) and quickly set up my TinySOTA station, an @HB9BCB EFHW in an inverted-L configuration on a 5m CF mast. At 14:00Z I was QRT and sent “CQ” on 7.031 MHz; RBN worked like a charm, and by 14:02Z I had bagged the first QSO with @ON7GO. By 14:12Z we had to pack up due to the long descent.
A big thanks to all chasers!
73 de Martin, DK3IT
In the upper third of the route:
Traverse to the actual summit:
View to the Grosse Zinne:
The key challenge near the top (you have to cross the void):
Look back to the yellow tower; the route passes between the two parts of that tower:
Beauty of the Dolomites:
Rappelling to the lower part of the route: