If Marmolada is the Queen of the Dolomites, the beautiful Becco di Mezzodì, in my opinion, is the undisputed crownprince! Becco di Mezzodì – the ‘peak of the midday’. So named because if you look at it from Cortina at noon, the sun is directly above it.
Long a target of mine, I have tried climbing it via a difficult route and had to abandon after we climbed off route – by the time we got back on route it had become impossible to get to the top without spending a night on the rock somewhere. I tried climbing it again in 2012 with André and Andy via the easier via Normale. This time I got to the top of the crux pitch – a short distance from the summit. Ice rain came pelting down, and with only myself having completed the crux pitch which was getting wet and slippery, decided it would be wise to retreat.
Having cut our teeth climbing on Torre dei Sabbioni, I thought Barbara and I should get another climb under our belts before the end of our trip. The Cima Grande on Tre Cime de Lavaredo was my original choice. Technically easier than Torre dei Sabbioni, but also much longer. Then I spotted Becco di Mezzodì from Cortina. And I knew what our second climb was going to be: Becco di Mezzodì! One of the first peaks to be climbed in the Dolomites. A perfect second climb. And a perfect opportunity for me to finally get to the summit.
With Barbara not quite ready to hold the rope and belay on her own, we decided to check if Alessandro was available to join us. He was. We booked ourselves into the hut for Thursday evening with Alessandro due to join us on Friday morning. Which he did. Arriving shortly after breakfast on an eBike from his parents’ hotel in San Vito. I couldn’t resist teasing him about using an eBike, instead of his own internal engine, but can see the sense for a mountain guide wanting to get to clients quite quickly to use any means available to do so.
After a cup of coffee and a check that we have the right gear – harnesses, slings, screw-gate karabiners and helmets – we set off for Becco di Mezzodì. Forty minutes later we are at the base of the first pitch.
We tie into the belay anchor while Alessandro sorts out the ropes. Then he’s off climbing the first relatively easy pitch. When he’s safe on the belay stance we start climbing. First Barbara then I. From the top of this first pitch we climb on a short rope together until we reach the crux pitch. Again we tie into the belay anchor, and wait for Alessandro to lead the crux chimney pitch. Despite Barbara not having any experience climbing chimneys, which requires a push-pull or straddling technique, she makes it to the top relatively easily. Then it’s my turn. I’m climbing with a pack, which makes getting into a comfortable position to make the crux move a little harder. But once I get myself into a balanced position it’s a single quick move to get out of the chimney and onto the tower from where it’s easy to get to the top.
We short rope most of the rest of the climb and climb a grade III variation on the final pitch, avoiding the awkward traverse on loose stuff. Then we scramble over the multiple turrets and towers and rock bridges, and a little while later we’re standing on top of Becco di Mezzodì!
After celebrating reaching the top of Becco di Mezzodì, taking pictures, and just enjoying the splendid views and feeling of being on top of the world, we eventually decide we should start making our way down… On the second abseil, Alessandro suggests Barbara should control the abseil herself – i.e., instead of him controlling the device and lowering her. He will abseil to the bottom and hold the rope. Should anything go wrong with Barbara’s descent, he’ll tighten the rope and arrest her descent. Barbara soon settles into her comfort zone and makes her way down… Like a seasoned pro!
We do it again until we reach the ‘path’ at the bottom of the climb. The path is in many ways a lot more precarious than the climb itself. Steep, loose and slippery scree. We make good progress with Barbara and Alessandro short-roped together and me following behind. At the forcella we empty small stones collected on the scree slope out of our shoes. Then we make our way back to the rifugio and cold drinks.
Another perfect mountain day, and definitely one of Barbara’s favourite days out!
Guiding service on Becco di Mezzodì
Guides can be organised in Cortina or San Vito di Cadore. We’ve climbed with Alessandro twice. And really like him. He’s comptetent, confident, and great company! If you want to get in touch with him, Alessandro has a facebook page with contact details. He’s local. Grew up in the Dolomites and knows his way around. And he speaks fluent English. (We used a guide on a different trip, whose English was limited, which created a few problems.) Alternatively contact me and I’ll put you in touch with him.