Climbing the face of the Boè-Vallon
Some advice from Manuel Agreiter, manager of the Kostner hut, Alpine mountaineering guide and ski instructor, who knows these mountains like the back of his hands.
Ever since I was I child I wanted to be a mountain man, maybe a park ranger or a ski instructor, but I always dreamt that one day I would be doing the job that, in my opinion, is the most wonderful in the world: An Alpine mountaineering guide.
Heading into the woods, climbing the trees and scaling all the biggest peaks around my home to see the world from up on high has always been my greatest stimulus. As soon as I turned 18 I passed the selection process to become a ski instructor. Shortly afterwards, I became involved in mountain rescuing, as a helicopter rescue technician for Aiüt Alpin Dolomites. This job, so deeply linked to love of the mountains, which gave me the chance to help people in difficulty, was a natural choice for me. My dream of becoming a mountain guide was always before my eyes and finally, a few years later, I managed to achieve it. I put a lot of work in, took courses, got my licence and now I have my dream job with the Alta Badia Guides school in Corvara, where I live. It is a source of immense satisfaction to be able to share the peace and silence of the Dolomite crags with my friends and clients.
Every day I am grateful for having had the good fortune to be born in these magnificent lands, and being able to call the Dolomites home. I love climbing, and being in close contact with rocks makes me feel completely at my ease. In winter there's nothing I like more than heading off on a solitary snowshoe tour and seeing my tracks intertwine with those of the forest animals. Oneness with nature is a part of me.
The other great love of my mountain-man life is the Franz Kostner hut in Vallon, which I have been running for 32 years now with the help of my wife Cristina and my son Matteo. Thanks to my father, I knew Erich Kostner very well; he dedicated his life to the evolution of the Alta Badia, and created the company of lift-facilities which marked the beginning of tourism in this area.
One day I met him here in Corvara and he asked me if I wanted to manage a mountain hut. I was speechless; before I had time to answer, he told me that he was renovating the old Vallon refuge hut which his father Franz had built, and that he had me in mind as the person to manage it. I was staggered and said yes straight away, although I wasn't sure whether I would be up to the task of managing the hut, so beloved by everybody.
Shortly afterwards I called him and confirmed my acceptance – I wanted to at least give it a shot. Although I was only 21 years old, I knew I was taking on an enormous responsibility. I sent my application off to the CAI (Italian Mountaineering Association) immediately and I got the answer I was waiting for a few weeks later: At last, I was the young manager of the new Franz Kostner hut in Vallon. From that moment onwards it became my home, and the start of an everlasting bond.
My favourite Vallon route is the "Gino Belumat" at the Pala delle Guide.
I opened up this route myself a few years ago, and dedicated it to my father-in-law, a man who is deeply in love with the Dolomites and who passed this love on to his daughter Cristina. The route is an extremely steep, beautiful line on excellent rock, and is wonderful in the early-morning sun. 6 pitches of around 30 m for a total distance of around 190 metres, technical level 6+. The anchors are equipped with chains and the intermediate protection points are bolted. It's an absolute treasure; never overly hard-going but never boring, and you have to follow all the stages. Exit the route on easy rocky land, and once you're back on level terrain, the no. 672 "Cresta Strenta" trail takes you back to base in a short time. Equipment: 6 quick-draws and a 60 m rope. Dry quickly in case of rain.