Steck, Wohlleben Link Three Dolomite North Faces in Winter
3/25/14 - Ueli Steck and Michi Wohlleben have enchained the classic north faces of the Tre Cime in the Italian Dolomites in less than 16 hours. This is the first time the Italian mini–big walls have been climbed back-to-back in winter.
Steck (Switzerland) and Wohlleben (a 23-year-old guide from Germany) began with the Cassin Route on Cima Ovest on the morning of March 17. The 2,100-foot route goes free at 5.11+ but is normally climbed at 5.10 A0. "We planned to climb it within 6 to 12 hours, depending on the conditions, but with running belays, simultaneous and fast climbing, we reached the top already after 3 hours 37 minutes," Wohlleben wrote in an online report.
After an hour of descent and a short break, the two started up the Comici Route on Cima Grande, a 1,650-foot route that also goes at 5.10 with a little aid. Again, the two stretched pitches and simul-climbed, and they made it to the top in 4 hours 47 minutes, just as the sun set. The snowy descent in darkness took more time than usual, but they were at the foot of the Cima Piccola by 9 p.m.
"We ate some bars, drank a lot, and started into the last route," Wohlleben wrote. "I think we were in a kind of tunnel, and the end of it was not so far anymore, but still to climb a route like this in the night, with crampons and gloves, was a little bit a mental thing." The pair climbed mixed ground up the base of the north face and then followed the classic Innerkofler Route (5.5) to the summit, which they reached shortly after midnight.
All told, they completed about 5,000 feet of technical winter climbing and snowy descents in 15 hours 42 minutes (base of Cima Ovest to summit of Cima Piccola). Two friends met them between climbs to provide food and drinks, but otherwise they were on their own. "We really pushed forward," Wohlleben said. "We went extremely light: no rap line, no stove, no hardshell, nothing."
Date of ascent: March 17-18, 2014
Sources: Uelisteck.ch, Michiwohlleben.de