It’s that time of year you begin to make big plans. For us, we delayed this to have a weekend to see family and go on some adventures and why not? Carpe Diem seems to be our 20-19 mantra. We thought to start the year trying out things we haven’t yet gotten round to do yet. For a while I’ve been in touch with Tommy Cardenelli, a local guide to Val Gardena. He’s been ice climbing for more than 20 years and offered to take us out to experience some decent routes.
And boy did we get a route. We met at Val di Fassa, a valley where it’s the epicentre for international skiers. Knowing we had to brace a -17 morning, we took to no cutting corner on gear. I managed to test out my new TRX Leather La Sportiva mountaineering boots. And my god do they keep up with the cold weather and tough routes. They also worked well the crampons and I felt pure comfort for the whole day. As they’re flexible around the ankle, it doesn’t take much to break them in. I opted out the typical purple and pink range producers seem to think all woman love and went for the male version, exact same boot, no variations, just a different colour. Of course adding Gore-tex to any mountaineering equipment adds £££ but it’s highly recommended so you’re not compensating for it out outdoors.
As the met at the bottom of the valley, we needed to gear up prior to hiking up to the first frozen waterfall. As these ice climbing routes are on trekking routes, they’re relatively easy to access but it saves time gearing up at a much higher altitude. Tommy made sure we had all we needed and gave a quick brief. It’s pretty much the same gear for rock climbing plus crampons and ice axes. The Trentino council are aware that these routes are popular for ice climbing and have placed permanent hooks en-route, which you won’t find in many places around the world.
Overall our route took five hours to climb. We climbed four ice walls, all progressively getting harder and more technical. I hope to return to face the biggest and largest frozen fall on the top of the mountain. The route rewards you if you’re able to make it to the top of the final frozen fall but having a trekking route back to the valley. However if you were like us and totally spent, we had to abseil our way back #zerocomplaints
We climbed in total around 200 metres. Its technical, and quite similar set up to rock climbing, however once you get the technique, it’s repetitive you’re able to push yourself further. You must have advanced grip skills and be able to deal with endurance. Tommy was able to instruct so clearly, and his invaluable skills pushed up beyond what we thought were out limits. He also made it look super easy, with his super calm nature, we felt totally within his hands. We found out a day later that a father of two died ice climbing only 50km from us, so to have a skilled instructor like Tommy is invaluable. Truly.
Our decent was as much fun as it was going up. Although by this point I was genuinely struggling to hold two ice axes in one hand and my abseil rope in the other. (Note to self, hang off a bar everyday to gain grip skills.). With some hot tea and biscuit stops, just taking in the scenery was second to none. It was beyond all my expectations and I’m totally hooked. I’d love to go back again and see Tommy. Cant recommend him any higher. He’s such a nice guy to spend time with, encompassed with his unreal skills, he’s the perfect guide. He’s a fully fledged, qualified mountain guide, with qualficiations as long as my arm. He can be there if you want to ski, rock and ice climb, hike, mountain routes and so on! Not only can you go to explore with him, but you can plan your trip and take him with you. Yes that right, bespoke trips with Mr. Tommy Cardeneilli. Good luck trying to book though as he’s taking clients all around the world. I believe this year will be Norway, Greenland and Austria. If you want to find out more about his please visit : https://instagram.com/tommy.cardelli?utm_source=ig_profile_share&igshid=1b4bm0hp9rach
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