Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Val di Mello hit&run mission

I just got back home from a five day climbing trip to Val di Mello. Although it was short, this was a pretty cool trip. Thanks to Siebe for making it happen.
We planned to go climb on the 800-metres Qualido face, but our attention was drawn to a sustained 16 pitch endurance climb on 'Prezipio degli Asteroidi' called 'Non sei piu della mia banda'. It was a good decision, and the day we did it was pretty memorable including Siebe onsighting the overhanging 8a crack pitch (a beautiful, athletic handcrack!), getting shutdown on the 7c slabs and then the 3,5 hour descent through steep grass, stemming a wet gully and looking for trails in the dark.
There's a few particular things I learnt
- dirtbag climber travelling can be nicely enhanced via embracing some technology i.e. a smartphone with a foreign countries data plan, and I believe this does not necessarily take away from the travelling experience. It's just taking us a while to realize communication and travel have exploded to a different universe and planning a short-notice, hit and run climbing trip can be as easy as buying bread at the corner store.
- travelling light is so much more fun (Siebe provided all the gear, so I kinda just brought my shoes, harness and a toothbrush).
- some things never change a.k.a. going up is only half the job, can also be interpreted as 'ReadTheF***Manual' or politically correctly, 'study the descent beta carefully'
- I only knew Val di Mello for the bouldering there but never did the trad, so here it is: there is endless, amazing and heady runout slabs and few, select pure crack lines, but all of it is amazingly good on awesome granite. It's perfect.
- 'steep grass' is a style of climbing
- 'Non sei piu della mia banda' felt like a mini-Freerider and I think it would be a good testing run before going on El Cap because it has a good variety of styles (except no wide pitches) and is always really, really sustained, so you will have a big day no matter what (even Siebe was tired). So, to all aspiring granite warriors and Valley freaks, go for it.
- Siebe is a granite climbing machine (he just got back from a sailboat expedition to Greenland, and is about to spend next two months crushing routes on El Cap)
- it's been a while since I last dropped a shoe from a wall, but just in case I would have forgot, I tried it again, and it's pretty lame (but it earned us an extra half-rest day)
- I will be psyched to go back to Mello because it is a unique mixture of beautiful nature, lots of climbing, a friendly atmosphere and not many people. I really, really liked it!

Other routes I climbed: 'Lavorare con lentezza' with Siebe and 'Piedi di piombo/Oceano irrazionale' with a mixed french/belgian team (David, Laura and Romerique)
it's a bonus when your bivy has grapes, (hitching through Italy with Xavier)

Siebe following on 'Lavorare con lentezza' - a great moderate crack route
crux of 'Lavorare'
selfie with 'Prezipio degli asteroidi' in the back on the right
morning on the wall! not a very alpine start, we were climbing by 8.30, but it turned into a massive day of 12+ hours of climbing
Siebe leading on 'Non sei piu...' a 7a+ pitch

me following the 7c slab... la Pedriza style! it doesn't get much thinner than this
Siebe questing accross the same slab on lead

Siebe following up a perfect 7b thin hands
me getting pumped on the wild 8a pitch, overhanging and exposed! One of the coolest pitches for sure, athletic and pumpy.
mega wrecked on the summit! the descent that followed is sadly not documented, but mostly it was a lot of vertical shenanigans

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