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20.03.2013

Spindrift – Laserz N-Face

It’s a little after seven in the morning. A cold wind blows over the ground and stirs up the snow crystals, which look like sparks from the blaze of a campfire in the light of our headlamps.  It’s been about an hour since Peter and I started.  For the last couple hundred meters, we walked through knee-deep powder to the bottom of the north face of the Laserz. We rack up and eye the 600 meters tall wall, which, in the dark, has built up in front of us, and only becomes visible now that it dawns.

It’s been a year since last time that we were here. I remember it well. I was almost in despair on the lip of the roof, the last hard section, only 150 m above the ground. I didn’t dare continuing up, or going down. I was stuck. For five minutes, ten minutes, I can’t remember how much time I spent on that spot. My psyche tried to convince me to keep going, but my reason kept me where I was. Now I see that the wall has changed and the conditions look good. I think it’s been worth waiting!

Peter leads the first pitch. I lead the second pitch. The wait definitely pays off! The thin ice that leads to the anchor isn’t as brittle as it was last year. One or two hits with the ice tool are enough to get a solid placement. The brittle ice wasn’t the only problem that stopped us last year, though. The main issue was the demanding fourth pitch, which follows an overhanging crack for forty meters. As it is often the case in the dolomites, the rock isn’t always super solid, and our gear is only as good as the rock around it. Last year, Peter and I brought one set of friends – not enough as it turned out.

I did not want to get in such a sketchy position at the roof lip again, which is why we brought a second rack of cams. The climbing hasn’t gotten any easier, but the additional gear makes it feel much more reasonable. Meter after meter I look for hook placements for my ice axes and cautiously climb along the overhanging arch. At the lip, I delicately move left onto the thin ice. It holds and I climb up the last couple meters until I find an anchor. Two more hard pitches and we finally reach the snowfield at half-height.

Above us, the terrain is easier and the next pitches would have been pure joy if it had not been for the relentless spindrift that hit us. It’s hard to say what makes the spindrift so annoying. Is it the cold that this icy shower brings, or is it the pain caused by the innumerable ice crystals when they scratch over our faces? 10 hours later we finally reach the summit. We briefly enjoy the views of the valley below us and start the long descent.

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