By no means a walkover: Barbier - Bourgeois up Torre del Lago, with Ivo Ferrari
Ivo Ferrari retraces the route established by Claude Barbier and Jean Bourgeois on Torre del Lago (Fanis group, Dolomites) on 4 August 1964.
The Belgian alpinist Claude Barbier has always fascinated me, even today his incredible sprints "up and down" the Tre Cime di Lavaredo would provide food for thought... his countless solos, new routes and first repeats... In short, a "foreigner" completely in love with our Pale Mountains.
Many years ago, while descending from Via Castiglioni on the West Face of Cima della Busazza, I met his partner... She had come to see where Claudio had been and while my ignorance in foreign languages stopped me from talking and understanding much, her eyes sparkled while Torre Trieste seemed to catch fire!
To finish my "little" holiday in the Dolomites I recently woke up at six am; while my "family" was asleep,I snuck out of the van as my companion of many climbs was waiting for me... we quickly reached the base of the route, the Tower pointed straight up into the sky, towering beautifully above our heads and our desire to climb transformed into energy. We gained height one pitch after the next, only a few pegs indicated the logic of the face, sometimes what lay in store seemed impossible and I simply couldn't imagine the Belgian back in 1965 entering the folds of this mountain with hobnailed boots. Cracks and corners, small overlaps and mantles, the yellow section forced us to think carefully, "go for it" safely, but at times appearances can be deceptive and the Thank God hold always sprung into view.
Forty years ago magical "Friends" didn't exist, smooth rubber soles hand't yet been invented. But there were things like physical and mental strength, passion and courage. After having repeated countless routes, old and new alike, at times I find it hard to understand our climbing "history", I'm so perplexed by what man has achieved in the mountains that I begin to think I'm a wimp!
On Torre del Lago Barbier established a stupendous route, bold and in great style, a logical free climb worthy of a great climber. Perhaps it's a style that the younger generations don't appreciate all too much as the summit book indicates clearly, and even my climbing partner descended somewhat disappointed and unconvinced (and he is by no means a spring chicken). He loves bolts and safe terrain while I ... who has become increasingly confused, enjoy pulling on steadfast rock and playing with the lightness of more friable.
While climbing and descending famous peaks I've seen Mountains that are almost unknown and no longer "fashionable", my eyes accustomed to searching, helped by the mind, have memorised lines never climbed before. The time has come to say goodbye to the Dolomites, I'll now spend some time with Federica up some "classics". And if I discover I'm not a wimp after all, then next year I'll raid the box of pegs which I keep down in my cellar and give myself some of those "never climbed before" as a present...
Thanks Belgian climber! I've always admired you...
by Ivo Ferrari
Torre del Lago, Fanis Group, Dolomites
Claude Barbier and Jean Bourgeois (the lefthand route), August 1965.
Email from Anne Lauwaert, partner of Claude Barbier, which was sent to the Editors after the publication.
"Well thanks for mentioning Claudio. I remember well all those climbers I met during my pilgrimages in the Dolomites. We didn't need to talk. The mountains were there, Claudio had been there, we were there and we were just part of splendour and fascination. And as Claudio would have put it: Tangerine Dream and Rolling Stones. Later I needed to talk and answer to all those known and unknown friends and I wrote "La Via del Drago" and 20 years later "Le Grimpeur Maudit" . So. let's raise a glass of bianco con amaro and say cheers to the hobnailed boots and sparkling eyes."
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