Steve & Judy Pardoe welcome you to Selva, Val Gardena

This is our Photo Album from our Winter Sports holiday in March 2000. Come and enjoy the Italian Dolomites with us!

On this page: Ice Climbing on a frozen waterfall near St Cristina, Val Gardena

On other pages from this holiday: Selva Intro Page
Selva Village
Mountain Hiking to Gamsblut

Ice Climbing

While we were staying in Selva for a winter holiday, I saw from their German/Italian* brochure that the Mountain Guides' Office offers a course in ice climbing, which sounded like fun. Our American chalet hosts Chris and Maria were keen climbers, but didn't speak German or Italian, so I arranged for the three of us to meet the head Guide, Reinhard Senoner, on Wednesday afternoon. After equipping us with the specialised gear (I had the plastic boots and crampons, but we needed to borrow harnesses, helmets and tools) Reinhard drove us to the nearby village of St Cristina, from where it was only a few minutes' walk through the woods to this awesome frozen waterfall.

Sorry about the colours on some of the photos, there wasn't a lot of light about, and the (digital) camera got a bit confused by all that blue, blue ice.

* Although Val Gardena is now part of Italy, it used to belong to Austria, and is still known as the South Tyrol. The native language of the valley is Ladin, an ancient tongue still spoken by 90% of the population. However, they also speak German and Italian, and place names can be spelt in three different ways. It's quite confusing for the visitor.

The Waterfall near St Cristina, some 50m high; and our Guide, Reinhard Senoner. In addition to fluent German, Italian and Ladin, he spoke excellent English, and can get by in French

The waterfall, with Chris and Maria getting ready to have a go with the ice tools, and Reinhard soloing the fall to set up a top rope, properly equalised off three bolts

My first-ever ice screw placement
A man with a tool ... Reinhard, walking down, and belaying Chris. He's blowing on his fingers, as it's cold work without gloves! Eventually he borrowed a spare pair of mine

Steve getting to grips with the ice : keep those heels down!

The ice was in ideal condition, and with a bit of practice our crampons and axes found good placements. I still managed to break the special hollow pick on one of Reinhard's expensive Salewa ice tools, and he wasn't best pleased. Neither was I, as it didn't make it any easier to complete the route

Steve finishing the route, and being lowered off

Now it's Chris's turn. For their first time in crampons, let alone on steep ice, he and Maria did a "good job", as they put it

Maria's turn to go. She's wearing rented ski boots : Chris was able to borrow a pair of leather mountaineering boots

Each of us climbed two routes, the second rather steeper and indirect, using a runner which Reinhard placed in the ice to protect us against a pendulum

The second route, Reinhard belaying Chris using an Italian hitch. The 50 metre rope was only just long enough, and we had to tie in with half-hitches instead of figure-of-eights

Afterwards, Reinhard asked me to belay him while he repeated the climb to recover the gear from the top belay, before abseiling off a single bolt. Belaying our Guide from an ice-screw I'd placed myself was a new responsibility for me!

It must have been clear that we'd not only enjoyed it, but had been keen to learn from the ice-climbing experience, so Reinhard very kindly spent some further time demonstrating advanced ice-screw techniques.

He showed us how to recover an ice screw after abseiling off it, by winding a piece of accessory cord round the shaft, fixing the end to a knot in the abseil rope, and pulling it to unwind the screw. He also showed us a Russian (Ablakov?) technique for making an ice tunnel, through which an abseil loop of cord could be threaded as an inexpensive, sacrificial lower-off.

He didn't have to do any of this, he was just a really nice guy: if you're reading this, Reinhard, thanks again for a great afternoon! And thanks also to Chris and Maria for their company, and for taking some of these pictures.

On other pages from this holiday: Selva Intro Page
Selva Village
Mountain Hiking to Gamsblut
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