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Gianni Dorigo on the second pitch
Photo by Massimo Laurencig
Massimo Laurencig on the final drip
Photo by Gianni Dorigo
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First repeat of 'Per Leila', Julian Alps


On 16 February Massimo Laurencig and Gianni Dorigo carried out the first repeat of "Per Leila" (120m, III/6+), the elegant and daring icefall first ascended by Luca Vuerich in January at Cima Cenge (Val Riofreddo, Julian Alps).

The Julian Alps are a land of frontiers, of big mountains and profound silences. Mountains unknown to the greater mountaineering public, wild and still to be discovered. Where there are some icelines which have nothing to envy about those on the great mountains in the Alps.

Massimo Laurencig and Gianni Dorigo have now carried out the first repeat of one of these, "Per Leila" at Cima Cenge. "Last winter" Laurencig explains, "we ascended to Cima delle Cenge with other aims: after having repeated "Tridente" we stopped and admired the route "Contrasto", a few hundred meters lower down. We were immediatly taken in by the line and we promised ourselves we'd return soon. But a sudden change in temperatures made our project go up in smoke and our dream was stored away while we waited for colder temperatures."

The wait paid off. On 16 February the two returned with the route in mind but since the first two pitched weren't in perfect condition they opted to repeat the nearby "ice pearl", Per Leila, first ascended by Luca Vuerich and Marco Milanese in January this year.

A pearl of ice by Massimo Laurencig
Conditions have been good this year, the walls without snow and days with jus the right temperature to freeze well. We left early since the ski to the route is long, so as to be able to make the most of the day. Beneath the face we realised that the first two pitches of “Contrasto” were covered in a layer of crusty snow so we decided to check out "Per Leila". I'd got some information about the route and its difficulties directly from Luca a few days before and the first pitch seemed exactly as he had described.

A subtle tongue of ice on the first half of the pitch was followed by a technical roof. After 50m I established an Abalakov belay backed up by an ice screw, content in the knowledge that I'd be able to recuperate. The second pitch tested Gianni a fair bit: a mix of crusty ice which rendered climbing and protecting the route difficult. As if this weren't enough, the wind picked up and blew fastidious spindrift into our faces. The third pitch was a nice drip which we were forced to climb on the left, seeing that water dripped down the right... definitely not an option!

We abbed from an Abalakov down to the base of the route. We sunk knee-deep into the snow and examined the first pitch with other eyes. We didn't say a word until our sacks. The first sip of tea melted us... and our tongues. Our first thoughts went to Luca, his ability and how he managed to present us with this magnificent and demanding icefall which we believe is harder than the original grade he gave. Then we talked about the magnificent environment. And then... "right, we'd better head back otherwise we'll be late once again..."

Massimo Laurencig






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