Piz Ciavazes (Dolomites, Italian Alps; 9,272')

Piz Ciavazes is the massive block of limestone just west of Piz Pordoi. The Sella Towers are its westernmost outcropping. Its tremendous South Face contains many routes that span a wide range of difficulty. None of the popular routes actually climb Piz Ciavazes; they go up about half of the South Face and end at the amazing ledge called the `Gamsband', or Chamois Ledge. The entire length of the ledge contains a trail that conveniently takes one back to the easy descent routes below the Sella Towers.

A word on alpine ratings .


Little Micheluzzi ( IV+ )


A. Köhler and N. Memmel, Classic Dolomite Climbs (The Mountaineers 1999)

S. Stuflesser, Klettern rund ums Sellajoch (Lochner Verlag 1997)

The South Face of Piz Ciavazes from the Sella Pass Road

Date: July 27, 2004

Party: Dietrich, Paul, and Monique Belitz

Route: Little Micheluzzi

Equipment: alpine rack

Comments: We climbed as a three-person team with two single ropes. Time includes waiting in line for a total of about 90 minutes

Time: Start of route - Gamsband 5 hrs 45 mins
Gamsband - Sella Pass Road 1 hr 30 mins

Trip report:

We had planned to do the Third Sella Tower, but cold and windy weather drove us around the corner to the sunny, south facing Little Micheluzzi. Paul and I had climbed this route the year before, and we remembered the upper three pitches fondly. As on our previous climb, we were behind a large group of Swiss, but this year's group were very nice, so we did not mind waiting in line quite a bit.

We switched the leads around from what we had done last year, so Paul started out, then I led the second pitch with its succession of chimneys. After that we could have run up the easy gully pitches, except that the Swiss had by now hit the harder upper pitches and were producing a traffic jam. It seemed forever until Paul got to the cave belay that marks the start of the interesting sections, and when Monique started to follow she promptly got stuck in an offwidth and had some trouble extracting herself. This time Paul led the first and third of the harder pitches, while I took the middle one, and we discovered that on this climb one considers the crux whatever one happens to lead. The climbing on all three of the upper pitches is very good, though. Soon we climbed the steep grass slopes up to the Gamsband or Chamoix Ledge, which we followed back to the descent below the Second Sella Tower.

Photo Gallery:

Click the thumbnails to see a higher resolution image.

Monique at the base of the route Dietrich leading the second pitch Paul following the second pitch Monique on the third pitch Oh no, she's stuck! Paul leading the first IV+ pitch

Paul following the second IV+ pitch Paul high on the second IV+ pitch Paul belaying high on the route Dietrich following the last pitch Monique and Paul on the Gamsband The Gamsband. Marmolada in background.

Date: June 26, 2003

Party: Dietrich and Paul Belitz

Route: Little Micheluzzi

Equipment: alpine rack


Trip report:

This was our last day in the Dolomites, and since Monique was still sick, Paul and I started out alone to do the Little Micheluzzi. So far all other parties we had met had been extremely nice people, but here we finally ran into the legendary European asshole climbers, incarnated in a large and extremely unpleasant group of Swiss. They insisted on passing me at the first belay by lowering their leader down the short downclimbing section, and generally made a nuisance of themselves. The weather looked stable, so we sat down for a while and admired the views of the Marmolada to put some distance between them and us. The next pitches proved a bit disappointing, as they were low-angled and dirty. The upper three pitches, however, were superb. Great rock, a steep line, a lot of exposure, nontrivial route finding, and reasonable protection blended into a great experience. By now we felt extremely comfortable on this grade, and ready to try something harder, but it was time to go home. While hiking the Gamsband to the descent gullies we vowed to be back next year.