The best time to go is from mid June to
beginning of October.
For the Mont Blanc area the early season is preferable due to the conditions of the glaciers. The popular north faces of the Dolomites usually don’t offer good conditions before
late July. For south facing slopes fall is the perfect time.
Rock quality and climbing style
The granite in the Mont Blanc area is unique in the world and of rare quality with excellent friction, hand and finger cracks. Yosemite climbers will find it very easy
to climb because the cracks are often laybacks and corners which take gear very easily. There is not so much “strict” jamming as you might know it from the US.
The steep pocketed limestone walls in the Dolomites
offer you sustained and demanding climbing. Sometimes very well protected with solid bolts, sometimes airy run-outs but always in a beautiful landscape. The rock quality can vary, but the topoguide rating system
prevents you from the worst.
In the Dauphiné – which is in the very Southwest of the Alps, you can find a bit of everything: granite, limestone, glaciers and last but not least more than 300 days of
Weather forecast and rescue
A reliable weather forecast exists nearly everywhere and should be consulted before attempting a longer climb. Helicopter rescue is available but not during bad weather
conditions. So first aid can be necessary in case of an accident.
Remember the emergency numbers 112 (inter-national), 118 (Italy) or 1414 (Switzerland).
Due to the lack of reliable English
guidebooks it is very difficult to localize the best spots. Up to now topoguide.de, too, offer only a German version of their popular guidebooks, but at least the topos are easy to understand and self-explaining.
If you plan a pleasant round trip to the European Alps, we highly recommend these ultimate guidebooks from topoguide.de.
These books set new standards in terms of first class quality
information. And they prevent you from the places you should not
go to. Both books cover more than 500 routes in the major areas like Dolomites, Mont Blanc, Bregaglia, Dauphiné and the Northern Alps. The authors climbed all routes themselves and described them in a detailed manner, illustrated with colorful and impressive pictures. The guides are written by climbers for climbers. Reliable topos, info on the necessary gear, a little bit of history, topical stories and first hand information from insiders. The concept is very similar to what you know from the supertopo books.
50 meter double
ropes, helmet and the usual standard climbing gear are taken for granted.
For granite climbs two sets of camming devices and some nuts are highly recommended. For limestone routes one set friends, some
nuts and 10–15 runners are enough.
Some glacier approaches require at least one ice axe and crampons, prusik slings and 2–3 ice screws. For the regular approach in the lower areas, however, trekking shoes are enough.
In every area
you will find many climbing guides waiting to show you their best spots. All villages have such an office.
The best area for English speaking climbers is Chamonix. In case of bad weather you can reach the Dauphiné within a three hours drive.
The Dolomites are also quite accessible because most of the routes can be reached in a few minutes to one hour from the main roads.
Betzenstein (Germany) January 2010
Nicole Luzar & Volker Roth
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