The first time I visited the Dolomites, I fell in love with the place. A three-dimensional mountain landscape with huge climbing cliffs. The Dolomites are a climbing paradise for multi-pitches, but also an ideal summer destination to enjoy sports climbing. These crags might not be famous for their hard routes or their spectacular rock, but for the incomparable place where they are settled. The landscape environment of the Dolomites is absolutely unique.
"Menhir" is a perfectly sculpted overhanging rock lost in a sea of trad climbing. There is no other climbing sector nor routes to warm up on, just this amazing line bolted by Christoph Hainz in 1994 and freed that same year by Hanspeter Eisendle—both climbing guides. The story goes they always looked at a perfect line on their way down from multi-pitches, until they finally decided to bolt it.
The quality of the rock is comparable to Ceuse or the Verdon Gorges, with finger-strength moves and technical foot placements. The route is 8b although it felt to me more difficult, between the logistics of the route itself and the crazy weather of the Dolomites that changes every day, the route turns out to be particularly demanding.
In the past, I might have climbed other routes as aesthetic as this one, and on similar rock quality; but it is not so often that I've run into sport routes in a mountain atmosphere like this one. It's just you and your partner, sharing beta, motivation ... and enjoying the view.
The first time we tried Menhir was more or less by hazard. The original idea was to try a multi-pitch route called "Diamante" located just a little bit further to the right, but at the end of the second pitch we found out that the third pitch was fully wet because of the rain from the night before. Once there we decided to go down and explore that little perfect wall (in comparison to the other multi-pitch surrounding it). When you look at it from a distance it looks as though it was split with a knife. And it’s also like that when you are standing in front of it, only this time it doesn’t look as small.
For me it is important to try a route that I like aesthetically; the line, the movement, and the area where it is. Menhir is perfect in that sense. The sequence solving game is the most motivating part for me, especially to try to climb it in the best possible way. It was very rewarding to climb it, and it is without a doubt one of the most beautiful and demanding routes I've ever tried. I'm also very grateful to my partner for being with me to try the route, and for sharing those motivational days with me.