“…the grandiose architecture of the Dolomites surges with terrible force – looking form the bottom of the valley, one has to twist one’s head upwards in order to take it all in. Monte Agnèr looms with its peak of a kilometre and a half; in front and beyond the more modest but not less charming of Pale di San Lucano. Less than 2900 metres high, the peak itself doesn’t amount to much in terms of height. But what other Alpine cathedral can boast such apse? When it blazes in the setting sun and the pale clouds begin to engulf it slowly, one is charmed into believing that such sight could not possibly exist.”
Dino Buzzati, Cordata di tre (A Roped Party of Three), in “Corriere della Sera”, June 23, 1956.
Monte Agnèr’s North Edge, standing at a towering 1550 meters, is among the notable mountain walls in the Dolomites. It competes with Eiger’s North Face for the title of the highest wall in the Alps. This remarkable structure owes its existence to a unique geological history.
The North Edge features nearly vertical rocky walls composed of highly erosion-resistant rocks. Such walls are more common at lower heights, and their number diminishes as they grow taller. To achieve its colossal dimensions, these sturdy rocks required significant thickness. Around 243 million years ago, a geological shift divided the Dolomites into two regions: one featuring a carbonate platform and the other experiencing rapid subsidence. This rapid subsidence led to the accumulation of over half a kilometer of layered limestone and dolomites. The rise in sea level fostered the growth of various calcium carbonate-fixing organisms.
Vertical growth (aggradation) prevailed over horizontal growth (progradation) during this time, culminating in a structure over a thousand meters thick—distinctive among Dolomite reefs.
In summary, Monte Agnèr’s North Edge is a product of rapid subsidence. This unique geological history created a formidable formation of thick, resilient rocks, defining this iconic mountain wall.
This summer, we had the honor of guiding Andrea on a big wall climbing. Considering his ambitious and climbing skills we suggested one of the most beautiful classic routes in the entire Alps and the the longest line in the Dolomites. It’s the Gilberti-Soravito route on the North Face of Agnèr.
The route, which is classic and extraordinarily beautiful, overcomes an initial clump of mugho trees and then follows the line of the interminable Spigolo for more than 40 rope lengths on excellent quality rock. Also it needs a overnight bivouac to reach the peak
This route begins with extended vertical sections, interrupted by short scrabbling. As you progress past the halfway point, after the bivy, the route becomes increasingly exposed, breathtakingly beautiful, and challenging.
Not only history, but also the British Mountaneering Council recently listed the North Ridge of Mount Agner as one of the best long routes on rock in Europe. Climbing a big wall means venturing on a long vertical journey, and we are truly honored to have been chosen to lead our companions on a wonderful, elegant and long climb. It establishes a deep connection with these exceptional walls; it is something to be experienced.