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Spectacular New Route on Marmolada in the Italian Dolomites

 Spectacular New Route on Marmolada in the Italian Dolomites

by Andrea Gallo

December 29, 2001

Camp4 - Climbing News Archive

On August 12, Italian climbers Rolando Larcher and Roberto Vigiani completed one of the most sustained and spectacular routes in the Italian Dolomites. The new route climbs the impressive vertical and overhanging south west face of Marmolada (an extension of the very famous south face of Marmolada) in 11 pitches, 660 meters long (all pitches are 60 metres).

This year celebrates the 100th anniversary of the first ascent of the South face of Marmolada, the first route was climbed in 1901 by the Italian guides Bettega and Zagonel and ascends a series of chimneys not far from the new line. In the year following the south face saw an incredible activity while the south west face, due to the nature of the rock and the difficulties of its pillars, saw only marginal activity with few new routes (the Solda Route and the '84 Maffei route) climbed cracks between the pillars. The Messner route was climbed in 1969 via an impressive series of vertical slabs. It was the first route on the open face, very scary with little protection (real climbing?) and hard boots.

Roberto and Rolando called their new route "The LarcherVigiani", following the old traditional line on the face but they added something new to the original line of Marmolada.

It is their first route completely protected with bolts. They climbed it from the bottom placing all the bolts on lead with the use of hooks, but never using them for aid or resting, and they were prepared to retreat if they were not able to free climb all the sections during the first ascent. This rigid ethic turned out to be successful on this route. In fact,four years ago, Rolando, tried a new line on the south face of Marmolada but ended his project at mid height facing a difficult slab he was not able to climb without aid. He left what he thought was an open project. This route, known as "Coitus Interruptus" (250 meters, max 8a) is now climbed as a variation of "Specchio di Sara".

"The LarcherVigiani" route was climbed in four days during the summer of 2000 but was on August 13,2001 that the pair climbed it completely free on a fantastic day of perfect weather. They alternated leading pitches and the list of the grade is very impressive: 6c, 6b+, 7c+, 7b, 7c/8a, 7c, 7a bloc, 8a, 7b+, 7c/8a, 7b, 4. These pitches are bolted with long runouts between points with 7b+ obligatory sections.

They were stunned with their performance, but most of all was the quality of the limestone that made the team mad :) "the rock is exceptional, fantastic in some places...after this route and the route in Sardinia, it will be hard to find another wall of these quality".

In fact in 1999 the pair climbed the most impressive wall of Sardinia Island, via the route "Hotel Supramonte", a fantastic 400 metre line that ascends one of the biggest overhangs on earth: for the first 250 metres every pitch overhangs for more than 10 meters. The route went free at 8b with obligatory sections of 7c. This route became soon a milestone for long hard routes in Europe and saw ascents by the cream of Europe's top climbers such as: Stefan Glowacz, Beat Kammerlander and Pietro Dal Prư, the last two climbing the route completely free.

Rolando Larcher, 36, works as policeman in Trento. After years of sport climbing (8a+ on sight, 8c worked) and competition, he has turned his energy towards the surrounding walls of Dolomites, developing his own ethic of first ascent, he is a world traveller and in the last years left pieces of his art all around the globe. 1998 saw him in Madagascar, where with Eric Svab and Marco Sterni, he put up "Mai pi~ cosÏ" on the Tsanaroro Atsimo, 670 m max 8a+, 7b obligatory. He was also active in El Potrero Chico, Mexico where he created "Rest Day alla Pagoda", 200 metres, 7c/8a max, 7a+ obligatory.

Roberto Vigiani, 40 years, is an alpine guide in La Spezia, Liguria. He is a top level alpinist, sport climber (8a on sight, 8b+ worked) and bold first ascensionist. He has developed many sport climbing areas.

News and Photos Courtesy of Andrea Gallo

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