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The first time I entered the Serrai di Sottoguda, the thing that struck me most was that huge, almost overhanging column of ice looming over the narrow road like a Sword of Damocles; it was the famous Spada nella Roccia (“Sword in the Stone”) fall. Shortly after that, I climbed it. I remember well the big thud I heard almost at the end, while I was climbing the last jump to get to the belay on rock. Everything was about to come down. This immediately made me recognize the precariousness of that incredible structure and, more generally, of these magical but accidental “toys.” Nearby, just to the left, right on the vertical axis of the bridge, you can find Roccia nella Spada, another exceptional dry-tooling climb (that is, the route includes some rock but is climbed using crampons and ice axes) – a route full of points where you’re likely to fall or be forced to use just your arms. This spectacular climb requiring maximum athleticism is the last frontier of difficulty – a sport climb involving many physical extensions and pure brute strength.
Continuing, the narrow gorge opens slightly, and to the right is the vast ice wall of Cattedrale. The left side is the most challenging, with a long vertical wall of 60 meters that does not relent over its entire length – a stellar grade VI journey that pumps the forearms. Rhythm, a lot of endurance and a great sense of balance are necessary to reach the trees where you belay.
These are the noteworthy climbs of the Serrai ... you have to try it to believe it.