Avers Valley ice climbing / new variation Risiko to Thron in Switzerland
Ice climbing in Switzerland: on Saturday 10 February 2018 Matteo Rivadossi and Leonardo Gheza swung leads to establish a new variation to the famous icefall Thron, also known as Mostro d'Avers in Val d'Avers. Interestingly, at exactly the same time they were joined by a Swiss team intent on climbing the very same line… Rivadossi provides the report.
What about that flow to the left of the main icefall, the drip that starts immediately below the overhang? When you look at Thron, aka the "Monster of Avers", it’s simply impossible not to notice that huge drip. It’s most certainly been climbed before, but what about the exit through the roof? Convincing Leo proved easy, while Sergio, Daniele and Sarah planned to climb the classic, somewhat imposing Mostro which happened to be in perfect conditions.
Like on all great climbing trips, the next morning we all crammed into the packed car. And woke up from the senseless early start to the flash of a remorseless Swiss speed camera...
At the start there are various teams, both ahead and behind us. No point in pretending to be scandalized in this social network era… Anyways, the Monster is wide enough and several teams immediately start climbing parallel to each other. Obviously taking into account the friendly fire from above! And after a 4-hour car trip the incurable fatalism of all ice climbers - everyone knows - gets the upper hand as we all start upwards.
Two pitches later Leo and I reached the lefthand side of the ice. Words fail to describe how amazed we were when we discovered two Swissmen establishing a first belay exactly where we wanted to. Surely not? All of us here, at exactly the same time, with precisely the same aim? Even if this drip has always been here! Having said that, we shouldn’t have been surprised: the history of the mountaineering is full of races for first ascents and coincidences. Of situations that seem so bizarre that they’re difficult to put down to mere chance.
At this point there’s no use complaining about how, had we not stopped at that damn petrol station, then we’d have been well ahead! Well, we can always climb a bit further to the left! Leo races up the thin ice on the ramp while the Swiss place bolt and pegs on the diagonal rock ramp. Despite being the first to reach the base of the drip, he too politely gives way to the Swiss who in the meantime had stopped to place another bolt in the niche. I, discussing things with his climbing partner, don’t agree in the slightest with this act of courtesy ...
So all four of us are now at the first belay: the Swiss on two bolts to the left, we two meters to the right on ice. Neither parties are too embarrassed. On the contrary, I exchange two words with the first Swiss, far more agile than his partner, who confesses he doesn’t know yet where’s going to breach the roof. I let Dani, as he’s called by his partner, set off and then I trail about 10 meters behind. When he points towards the roof above, I break off right towards the line I’d had in mind all along. Great!
From here we all have our fun: smeared up on the airy arête while pulling on micro crimps, I then take a photograph of him as he hangs in mid-air after his fall. I then shoot out to the right, across a delicate slab towards the edge of the monster, while the Swiss climbs a ramp of mixed terrain. We take some more photos, crack some jokes and compliment each other for the beautiful feeling of friendliness.
I belay Leo up to the niche: the vertical compact pitch above the belay is his. I lovingly prepare a starting bolt and the fanged stalactite, then up he goes for thirty vertical meters while parties appear on the great Thron icefall. What a show! One last pitch and we join the Swiss once more. The Monster, and mistrust, is tamed…
by Matteo Rivadossi
Matteo thanks: CAMP - Cassin, Montura
TOPO: Risiko variation to Thron, Mostro di Avers in Switzerland