16th Outing: 9 August - Via Steinkötter-Hasse
Via Steinkötter-Hasse ("Steinkötter-Hasse" Route)→ Cima Bassa d'Ambiez → Southern Brenta Group (length 300m / diff. 7+ / opened by D. Hasse and H. Steinkötter in 1971)
Heinz Steinkötter was one of the great protagonists of Dolomites climbing, and not only that, in the ‘60s and '70s. His record is impressive: first ascents on the most difficult rock faces of that time, great ice and mixed routes, exploration routes on out-of-fashion faces (Palon, Monte Gazza, etc...), first winter ascents, expeditions, and so on... A German from Cologne, after he came to Trentino in 1964 the Brenta needles became his second home, at least ideally, and it seemed right to repeat one of his many routes on this particular massif.
For the second time this summer we went up Val d'Ambiez, heading towards the Southern Face of Cima Bassa where in 1972 Steinkötter opened a short but intense route together with Dietrich Hasse, another prominent climber of the period.
Re-traced in free climbing (the pitches on the cliffs were originally set in artificial climbing), the route turns out to be really nice, on excellent rock.
The greatest satisfaction is however to exchange a few words in person with "Old Heinz", as he likes to be called: white beard and quick eyes, he weighs his words as he speaks, gracefully dispensing the wisdom of a man who has been reflecting, trying to make sense of his experiences and a life devoted to action. When I leave, I find myself thinking how for some people one life is truly not enough for satisfying a feverish desire to get to know the world.
Access: starting from the village of S. Lorenzo in Banale, reach the "Dolomiti" bar at the entrance of Val d'Ambiez. From there, walk or book a jeep taxi (recommended) to "Rifugio al Cacciatore", then reach Rifugio Agostini. Next, follow the SAT 321 path leading to the Castiglioni via ferrata and turn right just before the start of the latter to reach the base of the southern face of Cima Bassa d'Ambiez. 1.20h from "Rifugio Al Cacciatore".
Return: cross an easy ledge for about a hundred metres, heading north, then come down on stones and gravels in the direction of Cima d'Agola, to the west (diff. 2 and 3). Reach a small fork first, then carry on to a larger one from which you access a narrow gully that allows to re-enter Val d'Ambiez (if there is snow in the gully keep on the ridge, just left of the gully, up to a final crag, and go over the latter by down-climbing (diff. 3) or with a 50m abseil (to be equipped - lots of jags)).
Alternatively, after exiting the route, climb up to the top and cross over to Cima D'Ambiez, regaining the classic return on the normal route.