Gran Sasso, Di Donato and Lemaire and the winter ascent of Il nagual e la farfalla
From 14 to 16 March 2012 the Italian climbers Andrea Di Donato and Bertrand Lemaire made the second winter ascent of the route Il nagual e la farfalla up Gran Sasso, Central Italy. The report about this outstanding ascent by Roberto Iannilli.
Andrea Di Donato and Bertrand Lamaire have carried out the second winter ascent of "Il nagual e la farfalla" up the Paretone rock face on Gran Sasso and their ascent has something truly special to it: they finally resolved the problem of freeing the "Farfalla", the butterly. And, what is more, instead of abseiling off the 11th pitch as during the first winter ascent, the two reached the summit of the first pillar of the Paretone, by climbing the route "Doponagual" and then finishing up "Alletto-Cravino", for a total of almost 900m of climbing.
"Il nagual e la farfalla" is currently the only route to breach the "Farfalla", the 300m high face which was formed after rock fall in 1850. This formation resembles two enormous wings of a butterfly, compact and smooth and is difficult to reach in summer, in winter even more so. Graded EX in the CAi TCI guidebook, the former aid climb was long considered the hardest outing up Gran Sasso. In recent years new climbs have heralded greater difficulties, but this remains the hardest if you take into account the difficult approach.
The first winter ascent was carried out by the highly talented climbers Marco Marziale, Luciano Mastracci and GianLuca De Rossi who on 16 March 1997 climbed up the "Farfalla" and abseiled off the top of the route, seeing that at the time it had no true exit. The route "Doponagual" was only added later and this, with another 550m of climbing, leads to the summit of Primo Pilastro, the first pillar, from where the eastern summit of Corno Grande can be reached.
Andrea and Bertrand's original idea was to climb the Farfalla and join the route "Lopriore" on the Primo Pilastro (which has not yet been climbed in winter), but on reaching the face they failed to find a suitable bivy and were therefore forced to climb leftwards, spend the night on the crest and reach the upper section of the route "Alletto-Cravino". They did all this in three day outing, from 14 to 16 March.
The free ascent was carried out by Bertrand who for a number of years has been literally shifting the horizon of the obligatory difficulty on climbs on Gran Sasso. An extremely strong boulderer, Bertrand took to the mountains as a more mature stage in his life and his route "L'erba del diavolo" is a firm reference point for all other climbs on Gran Sasso.
A man of few words, we are unlikely to hear his thoughts about the difficulties encountered on the Farfalla, and our only hope is to gleam further information from the somewhat more loquacious Andrea.
If Bert can rightly be compared to PierLuigi Bini, Andrea is the new Tiziano Cantalamessa. Competent on all terrain, highly determined both in winter and in summer and with an air to him which makes everything seem easy (I say this based on personal experience), Andrea represents both the present and future of alpinism on our mountain.
by Roberto Iannilli
Editor's note: this article was originally published in Italian on 21/03/2012.