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Friday 11/02/11. A photo of Fabio Valseschini taken from Rifugio Tissi while climbing (with haulbag) up the NW Face of Civetta during the first winter ascent of Via dei cinque di Valmadrera.
Photo by Alvio Bona
The immaculate NW Face of Civetta, Dolomites
Photo by Nicholas Hobley
Fabio Valseschini
Photo by arch. M. Anghileri
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Civetta NW Face, first winter solo ascent by Fabio Valseschini


On Sunday 13 February Fabio Valseschini from Lecco, Italy, completed the first solo winter ascent of the great Via dei Cinque di Valmadrera (1350m, VI+ A3) on the NW Face of Civetta, Dolomites. After 7 bivvies on the mountain and an 8th beneath the summit, Valseschini completed the undertaking today be descending down the normal route.

While writing these lines Fabio Valseschini is descending down the Tivan path, heading towards Rifugio Coldai. He has been joined by some friends who walked up to meet him and his great adventure has now really come to an end. This is how we have chosen to break the news of this fantastic ascent - usualy we do this for ascents in the Himalaya which come to a successful end back in Base Camp. We chose to wait because we feel this is the way to give a sense and measure of this great first winter ascent of the legendary Via dei cinque di Valmadrera up the immense North West of Civetta. Valseschini summited after 7 bivies on the face, plus an 8th last night just below the summit. Another bivy beneath the stars once again, seeing that the small Rifugio Torrani was completely submerged in snow. One thing is certain: this test and adventure can only be fathomed by those who fully comprehend this passion which pushes men to alpinism and the great mountain faces.

But let's start at the very beginning. Valseschini's ascent is the first winter solo ascent of the legendary Via dei cinque di Valmadrera. 1350m high with difficulties up to VI+ and A3, first ascended back in 1972 in winter by the brothers Gianni and Antonio Rusconi along with Gianbattista Crimella, Giambattista Villa and Giorgio Tessari. All five came from Valmadrera, close to Lecco. The route is grandiose - like all those which adventure up Civetta's great NW Face. The route weaves a line between the classic routes "Diedro Philipp-Flamm" and "Via degli amici" first ascended by Reinhold Messner, Heini Holzer, Sepp Mayerl and Renato Reali in 1967. Unsurprisingly, the route has extremely few repeats to its name: that by Gianni Rusconi, Gianbattista Crimella, Paolo Crippa and Mosè Butti in summer 1983, that of Claudio Moretto & Rosy Buffa in 2003, followed by the first solo in 2004 at the hands of Nico Rizzotto. And now this first winter ascent, the 4th repeat and 5th ascent overall, by Fabio Valseschini from Lecco who summited yesterday at roughly 13.00.

Those wondering why the route has had so few repeats need only glance at the history of Monte Civetta. Or imagine, just for a second, being at the foot of that massive wall. Or simply remember the journey, full of uncertainties and more often than not devoid of any honour whatsoever, which accompany adventures such as this one. All you need to do is contemplate the 7 days and 8 nights spent alone, in winter, following a dream which most will probably fail to understand.

While waiting to hear about this adventure directly from Valseschini himself, we felt it important to remember and celebrate his alpinism, solo and perhaps a bit passè. Yes, because Valseschini seems to give his best on ascents like this one. Such as on his beautiful first winter solo ascent of the English route and the Via del Fratello, both on Pizzo Badile. And it's simply fantastic to think about his latest adventure, about his way of interpreting the mountains as a difficult and enthralling place for solitary journeys.





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