Invisibilis on Marmolada, the long history of a new route by Larcher and Vergoni
Rolando Larcher and Geremia Vergoni recount the birth of Invisibilis (405m, 7c+ max, 7a+ obl.), the new route established over 5 days from 2009 to 2011 up the south face of Marmolada di Ombretta (Dolomites) and freed by Vergoni on 26/06/2012 and repeated by Larcher on 11/09/2012. A route that breaches fantastic rock up an outstanding face and that recounts the evolution and a style of climbing.
On tiptoes and fingertips, i.e. with great respect. This is how certain peaks should be dealt with, especially if there are other routes in the vicinity. Even more so if the rock faces are draped in history and are as beautiful as the South Face of the Marmolada, and if the nearby routes are like Specchio di Sara, the superb line established in August 1988 by Maurizio Giordani and Rosanna Manfrini up the incredible, smooth Marmolada d'Ombretta slab. This is why the story of this new route is particularly interesting. Climbed by Rolando Larcher and Geremia Vergoni, after sharing the first two pitches of Specchio di Sara the new line continues directly upwards, past magnificent slabs, first to the left, then to the right of Giordani and Manfrini's route. The name, Invisibilis, reflects the intentions of the first ascentionists or, if you want, is a manifesto of a climbing evolution that began in 1994 when Rolando Larcher made the first ascent of Coitus Interruptus together with Michele Cagol. 120m of 7c+, 8a, a variation start to Specchio di Sara. As Giordani wrote in his guidebook "Marmolada - South Face (Ed. Versante Sud) this was "the first route on Marmolada to be established with the systematic use of a drill and bolts, the pro is runout and the climbing extremely sustained, pushed to the utmost even during the first ascent." But this was nothing more than an attempt, "interrupted" as the name suggests, while trying to forge an autonomous line. Now, many years later and after numerous (beautiful and difficult) new routes, here's the "solution" to the old project. This is the story of Invisibilis that, using a magical sequence of holds through the middle of nowhere, reaches the top of a magical face. As the name suggests, there is almost no trace of the line: "In total, excluding the belays" wrote Larcher "only 12 bolts were added to 9 new pitches." It goes without saying that the rest of the climbing is protected by natural pro. While this may still not seem perfect to some, it's certainly an evolution.
INVISIBILIS, A LONG HISTORY by Rolando Larcher
The history of this route begins 19 years ago, when I established Coitus Interruptus. In 1994 I felt the time was ripe to apply some "sport climbing alpinism" to Marmolada. Michele Cagol and I found a sufficiently broad line to the left of Specchio di Sara and, with awe, took the first electric drill to the base of the Queen of the Dolomites. We began to forge the line, pursuing the dream of a magical theory of hand and foot holds that would perhaps lead us to the top. But this ephemeral path took us too far to the right, too close to Specchio di Sara.
Right from the outset we knew that our doings would be the viewed extremely critically, so we were careful not to make mistakes. Not knowing the exact line of Specchio I continued decidedly leftwards on the 5th pitch, but after only three bolts and after hours of failed attempts we decided to abandon our project. The magical theory had come to an end, or maybe we simply weren't up to it. We consoled ourselves by freeing the four pitches and considered our effort both honest and ethically in line with our attempted style of ascent.
Many things have changed since that distant October 1994, sport climbing alpinism with its concept of obligatory climbing has become widespread, I've established a multitude of new routes up Marmolada and repeated others, including Specchio. So I was curious to find out if I'd find a way slightly less to the left, seeing that there was still a corridor of unclimbed terrain even after the addition of Il Minotauro. I set off in October 2009 to find out more, accompanied by Geremia Vergoni. I belayed him up the first 4 pitches and then, excited, set off into the unknown. I climbed well, the rock was excellent as always and just as I began to get excited, everything disappeared once again! After several attempts I changed direction and via a long, unprotected diagonal traverse I reached the Specchio di Sara belay.
My initial bitterness soon gave way to the realisation that I'd reached the point where Specchio traverses left. So if I continued directly upwards, without adding any invasive bolts, I'd perhaps be able to make the most of another corridor, to the right, between Specchio and Il filo d'Arianna. With this in mind we descended, the day had come to an end and with it also that year's climbing season. I'd satiated my curiosity, but with incongruity: the first 4 pitches of Coitus are protected by bolts, while the new pitch needs nothing more friends, nuts and kevlar threads. Yes, the route might continue, but the style would change, so why not create something totally new and coherent?
We discovered the solution the following year: although there was no independent start, from Specchio's 2nd pitch we managed to continue directly upwards to join the other terrain. So with a lot of discretion, without placing any bolts that might confuse those repeating Specchio, I managed to put up a new pitch, while Geremia added another which linked it all together. On our next attempt we set off from our highpoint and since we were fresh we managed to continue upwards without leaving a trace, apart from our kevlar threads. So we could continue with untroubled. Yes, we'd touched upon Specchio, but with lightness and due respect.
The route required a further two days in 2010 and one more in 2011, the last with an injured shoulder while waiting for surgery. Thanks to the fixed ropes I managed to jumar my way painfully back up to the highpoint and belay Geremia as he made an exemplary surge up the new 10th pitch, the crux. Thanks to the easier terrain I also managed to give him a hand as I established the final pitch, a modest 6c which, that day, was particularly important, not only since it marked the partial conclusion of a long story.
The route was finally concluded the following year with the usual redpoint, Geremia in June and I in September, after returning from the expedition to Turkey. And now, thanks to in this 2013 thanks Paolo "Trota" Calzà, we returned for a photo session. We were really keen on this as we wanted to document the beauty and quality of this new route.
In all, not including stops in 9 new pitches, have been used 12 bolts. This itinerary, discretion and modest visual impact, continuing with the Latin language, we called it: Invisibilis. We are confident that the style, beauty and commitment, this route will become a modern classic.
In total, excluding the belays only 12 bolts were added to 9 new pitches. As a result of the discretion and modest visual impact we decided to call this route Invisibilis. We are certain that, due to its beauty and overall commitment, this route is destined to become a modern classic.
We would like to thank Dante and Franca at Rifugio Falier
Thanks for the support:
La Sportiva, Petzl, Montura and Totemcams for Rolando Larcher
La Sportiva, Bailo and Totemcams for Geremia Vergoni
Established by Rolando Larcher and Geremia Vergoni (7/10/2009, 22 and 26/08/2010, 27/10/2010, 9/07/2011
First free ascent: Geremia Vergoni on 26/06/2012
Second free ascent: Rolando Larcher on 11/09/2012 in 10 hours
Grade: 7c+ max, 7a+ obbl.
Gear: a set of friends from micro to # 4 BD, twin sets # 2 - 1 BD. We recommned BD only # 2 - 3 - 4, the rest Totem Cams
Rock: superlative limestone