Speaking through Europe (part 1, Italy)

In the fall of 2022, I had the unique experience of speaking at international climbing festivals in 3 countries of Europe. 

As I planned the trip, I knew the 3 locations would offer very different experiences. But my imagination fell far short! Here, I’ll just share a glimpse of each one, so you can share in the some of the joy of the trip.

Oltre le Vette (Beyond the Peaks) was the first festival. I had always wanted to see the Dolomites, the mountain region in northeastern Italy famous for its impressive vistas as well as for its sports — skiing, mountaineering, hiking and climbing. As a teacher of Italian many decades ago, I taught the geography of the country, but my own experience of it was very limited. This year, I finally remedied some more of that.

I arrived in the town of Belluno in the evening, after about 20 hours of travel, and the next morning I got to check off one of my lifelong dreams — they took me climbing in the Dolomites! 

Our first stop:

 The first wall we climbed, just one pitch (up & down):

The wall we climbed was on this rock formation, called le Cinque Torri (5 Towers), for the crenelation-like formations on the top:

The day after I spoke at the Festival, we drove up to one of the high passes and started climbing this:

It was a multi-pitch, meaning that instead of going up & then back down, we went up a pitch (one rope length, about 200ft), then up again, and again…. Total of 6 pitches. 

At the top, a rugged little Madonna was waiting for us. Under her feet, in a tiny drawer, we found the register, where climbers can sign in for posterity. Proof that you made it!

And from the top, incredible panoramas in 360 degrees, including this view of Cortina d’Ampezzo, former site of the winter Olympics:

General view of one little corner of the Dolomite region. It’s so extensive, it’d take a lifetime to climb all the routes!

Then we had to get back down! That turned out to be harder & more strenuous than the climbing! But we made it by (a very late) dinner-time. 🙂 

I hated to leave the Dolomites, but more speaking events were waiting for me in Switzerland. Stay tuned for the next installment….

9 thoughts on “Speaking through Europe (part 1, Italy)

  1. Darn, the one time you came to Italy I was away in France. Let me know in advance the next time around!
    Has your book come out in Italian? I just posted a BBC article about Jackson Heights on my facebook page and mentioned my famous mountain-climber schoolmate while I was at it.

    • Yes, it’s been out quite a while now — “In Cordata con Alex,” from Mulatero Editore. Enjoy!

  2. Very nice, Dierdre! I didn’t know you knew Italian as well as French. Impressive!

  3. I love your blogs, Deirdre, and I was very excited for you to have this trip. It’s hard for me to imagine flying from the west coast to Italy and getting up the next day to go climbing. Jet lag be damned! You’re an inspiration!

    • I’d wondered about that, before I left…but for the first time in my life, I actually slept a few hours in the airplane!

  4. Been to Italy on four different occasions and absolutely love it. Along with Ireland, it’s a favorite destination. Visiting the northeast of Italy is a dream of mine as well. Looks like you had a wonderful time. I look forward to the Swiss leg of your trip.

  5. What gorgeous views! Such unique looking mountains, so distinctive. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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